Firefighter Reclaims His Life From Chronic Pain

Scott Madison was shattered when his doctors told him he would probably never go back to work as a firefighter and paramedic. Following two on-the-job neck injuries and fusion surgery, he was disabled by pain. The job that had been his passion for 16 years had become too physically demanding for him to continue.

Then Scott was referred to the Franciscan Chronic Pain Program at St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood. He began the intensive four-week program in August 2010. He remembers the first week as a struggle. He wrestled with feeling sorry for himself and pessimistic expectations about treatment. At one point, he decided it would be best to accept the reality of permanent limitations and consider another occupation. Eventually, his inner strength won out. "I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself," he recalls.

Over the next four weeks, he practiced different strategies to cope with pain. In describing one of the turning points for him in the program, Scott says, "I learned that I have more than one gear." He became more aware of his characteristic level of high intensity and gradually learned to pace his day-to-day activities.

Scott was surprised at how effective the relaxation and meditation techniques were for controlling pain. Using these tools, he was also able to decrease, and then stop, narcotic pain medications. "The relaxation and breathing techniques made a huge difference," he recalls.

Eight weeks later, his decision to keep an open mind and a positive attitude paid off. He had progressed to the physical activity demands required of firefighters. He is also much more active with his family and able to resume work on projects at home. "The Chronic Pain Program gave me the tools I need to be successful," he says.

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Scott Madison
Scott Madison