Yesterday I had my sixth and final rtfMRI scan in the chronic pain treatment study, and this time I alternated between using the successful strategies for increasing and decreasing my pain found during the previous scans (the affective strategy, using the feelings of anger, discouragement and frustration for increasing the pain, and the evaluative strategy of thinking about a day when I had little to no pain for decreasing the pain) with the new coping strategy, where I thought about how bad things would get if my pain just got worse and worse every day until I was completely disabled by it to increase the pain, and then thought about how good things would get if my pain went away little by little every day until it was gone completely for good to decrease the pain.
This was another strategy that seemed really abstract to me, and I felt really detached from it while practicing it at home. There was some overlap with the sensory and affective strategies, because while thinking about how bad and how good things could get for me, a lot of emotions and physical feelings came up. I found out that some people do better if the sensory and affective strategies are placed in a specific context or scenario, so some overlap is natural in the evaluative and coping strategies, and it wasn't like I was doing them wrong or anything like that (which had been a minor concern of mine).
So after 8 scans yesterday, the winning strategies for me are the affective for increasing my pain and the evaluative for decreasing my pain. Whoop-de-doo.
Boy, am I glad that's all over. I was getting really tired of practicing those strategies. I was getting really tired of lying in the scanner for 45 minutes, thinking about one particular strategy for 60 seconds at a time and then switching at the drop of a hat to a different one for 60 seconds, and then back again, and so on (my brain fog doesn't make it easy for me to concentrate the way the study required). I was also getting tired of all the paperwork to fill out before and after each scan. I know it's all necesary for the study, but nevertheless it became tiresome. I've reached my burn-out point with it all.
There is still some homework to do, but it involves keeping a simple pain diary for one week, and then I have my first follow-up appointment. There is a second follow-up in 2 months and a final follow-up in 6 months. And then I'm free to live my life, strategy-free if I so choose. Whoop-de-doo.