hronic pain by definition
is pain that does not go
away, that lingers with
you, that makes almost
every day miserable, and
that may alter your life-
style in a negative way.
Ruth Stella MacLean has met her chronic
pain problem head on since 1989 by writ-
ing about it and exploring ways to help
others deal with their pain.
A 1963 Sussex High School grad, MacLean
completed a diploma in nursing in 1966
and was a registered nurse at The Moncton
Hospital until 1977. She had always wanted
to be a forensic accountant, so she came to
Mount Allison as a mature student in 1979
to study Commerce.
After graduation MacLean secured a job
with The Moncton Hospital as a systems
analyst, and later became a certified man-
agement accountant, then the first direc-
tor of ambulatory care, which included
managing the pain clinic.
But a 1989 gall bladder surgery left her
with massive clotting that threatened her
life and led to painful nerve problems
throughout her abdominal area. Even the
renowned Mayo Clinic could not help her
and she had to quit her job. That left her
at home, in pain, unable to walk -- and
bored. Realizing other people must also be
suffering in the same situation, MacLean
began to write about her pain and how to
deal with it.
"It was imperative that I stay busy some-
how," she says. "I found no books on the
topic, so I eventually began to write jour-
nals and logs on yellow note pages about
my own pain -- how to measure it, how
to cope with it -- and how to get the most
out of life generally."
Those writings turned into a book,
Successfully with Chronic Pain.
"Your mind controls your pain and the way
you deal with your pain is as individual as
your own fingerprints," she says. "A person
with chronic pain has to think outside the
box and not let others limit their thoughts
as to how to deal with the pain."
MacLean says the first step is coming to
grips with the fact the pain is not going to
"With acceptance, you can then learn to
heal and get your life back," she says. "If
you can stop thinking of yourself as having
pain, and if you can get your pain down,
and quieted enough to think of yourself as
someone without pain, you can begin to
live a more normal life. Positive is the best
mindset tool that you can have to combat
MacLean says each person needs to trust
themselves and experiment with how to
make every day more livable.
"They can put a man on the moon, but
they can't solve chronic pain. So, we who
suffer with it have to find ways ourselves
to make us feel better... by every means
possible, within our own imaginations,"
MacLean continues to give speeches,
workshops, and interviews about her bat-
tle with, and solutions for, chronic pain.
Her web site is:
by Sue Seaborn
We who suffer with it have to
find ways ourselves to make
us feel better... by every
means possible, within our