PARK CITY— Pain is a necessary signal our bodies send to alert us that something is wrong, but sometimes never-ending pain can be debilitating. One Park City woman is developing strategies to learn how to cope when the pain doesn’t go away.
Gauri Mohan knows how to keep busy. She's a phenomenal chef, a veteran gardener, and she's even earning a master's degree in cybersecurity. From the outside, you'd never guess that she's also in chronic pain.
"I am in pain right now,” Mohan said in an interview. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis about five years ago.
“When you have it (pain) all the time and different parts of your body, you can't pinpoint it. It's there,” she described. Mohan calls it a moving pain.
Intermountain Healthcare's Liz Young, instructor of the Living Well with Chronic Pain class at Park City Hospital, said chronic pain takes many forms.
“It can last weeks. It can last years,” she said. “Chronic pain typically is something that's not going to get cured."
She said the key is learning how to manage it, “and still have a quality of life, have some fun, be able to still recreate,” she added.
Mohan enrolled in the class and said she is learning that sleeping, mindful breathing, staying active, and eating right all help her pain. She even grows lemon balm, an anti-inflammatory herb, among others in her yard.
But she said distraction is the best tool to manage her pain. “I realized if I distracted myself and just kept smiling, it's mind over matter,” she said. “That's my way of telling my body: 'It's OK. You can deal with it. You can still move.'"
This is one of the reasons Mohan is a master of so many trades, like planting flowers. “They help me forget my pain for a short while,” she said while gardening.
Mohan and her husband go for walks around the neighborhood to get out of the house. "You see flowers and birds,” she said.
When necessary, Mohan doesn’t shy away from taking a break. She recognizes her limits and knows to give herself some time when fatigue kicks in.
“Sleep is probably the most important thing for our body because that's the only chance our body really has to recover,” Young said.
Mohan said some days are slow, and some days she has the energy to do it all.
She’s come to accept her limits and knows how to push herself when she can. “But it is what it is. I think I got it because I know how to smile through the pain, and that's my secret,” she said.
The Living Well with Chronic Pain Class at Park City Hospital is a six-week program for anyone who feels limited in their daily activities because of their pain. Upcoming classes are planned for Cedar City, Layton, Richfield, Ogden and Bountiful.
Young said the class offers a chance for patients to meet others who share similar experiences. “They're all looking for the same thing. They're looking to connect. They want other people that they can relate to,” she said. “They can just listen, because sometimes all you need is just someone just to hear you.”