Pain Related Paperwork: From Pissed Off to Peaceful

Has anyone else (other than me) ever felt so pissed off with Chronic Pain related paperwork that you would rather poke pencils into your eyes than continue to deal with it? Do your muscles tighten up when you see these acronyms: FMLA, STD, LTD, COBRA, SSDI, SSI? Or how about Work Comp, Medicare or Medicaid? Don’t worry, I’ve got some good tools that will help you drop the anger, pick up peace and move on.

When it comes to my own pain related paperwork, I have been known to get impatient, brash, irritable and angry. Part of it may be because I know the system well and I have little patience for the limits of bureaucracy. Another reason may be because I am human and I live with Chronic Pain. Living with Chronic Pain and trying to navigate the stumbling blocks that are of out of my control is frustrating. Red tape and the barriers within a dysfunctional system seem to also trigger my fear and trauma-based responses.

Is my anger justifiable? Yes! Do I have the need to be heard and feel validated? Yes! But what good is it going to do me (and my Chronic Pain) if I hold onto the anger and let it fester?

I recently came across a great quote by Mark Twain:

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

I have also heard that having a resentment is like drinking poison that you have meant for someone else.

It is important to validate the anger and at the same time avoid getting stuck in it. If this happens, my energy is focused on the anger and not on managing my pain and moving on with my life. So how can I use my tools of organization, patience and acceptance when I’m fighting my own pain related paperwork battles?

A good organization and filing system is a MUST for those of us living with Chronic Pain or Chronic Illness. At one point I had 10 FMLA cases open between myself and my child. The only way I could keep track of my time away from work and which case it was under was with an Excel spreadsheet. The For Dummies folks give some great suggestions and most of these I follow.
Shredding Documents - 141/365+1
Nothing drives me batty like too much paperwork lying around. In fact, I’m feeling a little crazy right now looking at my desk while I’m typing this. 🙂 About a month ago, I started the daunting task of going through all of my medical, Short Term Disability and Family Medical Leave Act records. I hated having the boxes of them on my bedroom floor and in my office. So, I decided to purge the paper but save the info! Yes, I did indeed scan them ALL into the computer and saved it to a back up hard drive and then to a USB. The USB will go in a fireproof safe in the case of a catastrophic event. Now I am just waiting for a good time to have some cathartic release while burning the papers in a campfire.
Timing is everything when I am attempting to engage in my battle against pain related paperwork. I have learned to be mindful about when, where and how to attack it. If it can wait 1-2 days, I will specifically plan a time during the day where I will sit down with the paperwork and make the related phone calls, payments and do the filing. I check my body and mind to make sure that I’m in a good place because I know that I will need to handle the stress of the paperwork. I increase my patience threshold by doing some deep breathing, use essential oil and I make sure to take breaks. I don’t want to overload my Central Nervous System anymore than it already is.
Document and follow up
notebook with pen
Make sure to document EVERYTHING. I document phone calls (including who I am speaking with), any relevant information, date, time, reference number, etc. I usually document this on a smaller piece of paper and staple it to the bill or document that it is related to. If you’re having difficulty getting anywhere with your paperwork and you’re running into dead ends, look for advocacy groups or patient advocates that can help.
Serenity Prayer Coin
After spending the past couple of years dealing with pain related paperwork, I’ve had to come to accept that there is no way around the “system”. It takes time for providers to file and insurance companies to process claims. It takes time for the doctors to fill out disability related paperwork. It takes multiple phone calls to correct an error. My consequence for not having acceptance is usually increased pain. Saying the Serenity Prayer is calming, even if it is rote.

Another reading that helps to put things in perspective is from page 449 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

And Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Having acceptance leads to serenity and peace.

Pain Camp is a safe place to share your thoughts, experience, strength and hope.  Does pain related paperwork frustrate you? What are some other tools that you use? 


Photo Credit: D73, baasiilb15, Harpo42, gemb1, ctinawholesale, Tom Frundle Photography at






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