Art eases veteran’s pain

Scott Kerschner
Scott Kerschner, pictured here, displays some of the art he created to combat his chronic pain. (Courtesy Photo/BC Gazette)
A Charlevoix veteran has found a unique way to manage his chronic pain
Scott Kerschner, pictured here, displays some of the art he created to combat his chronic pain. (Courtesy Photo/BC Gazette)

A Charlevoix veteran has found some much-needed pain relief from an unusual way – a pencil.

It all started 3 1/2 years ago when Scott Kerschner was diagnosed with chronic pain.

“They found that I had degenerative disc disease in my lumbar spine,” said Kerschner.
“It caused me a lot of pain, and even made it hard to focus.”
Kerschner quickly found that the battle would get worse, as his pain spread to his neck in the form of 2 bulging discs, and he saw his quality of life change.
“I spend a lot of my time going back and forth to appointments at the hospitals downstate,” explained Kerschner.
Things, however, began to look up 9 months ago when Kerschner read a study online about use of art to combat chronic pain in cancer patients.
“It was actually very interesting,” Kerschner said.
What Kerschner found interesting was that acute pain – the pain you feel when stubbing your toe or burning your hand – affects a very simple part of the brain, which transmits the pain impulse to alert the rest of your body.
Chronic pain, however, also physically affects the mood centers of the brain as well.
“I found out that the chronic pain was actually physically affecting my moods, and causing me to become very depressed,” recalled Kerschner.
The study explained that by keeping the right side of the brain – the artistic side – active, the focus can be taken off of the pain, and the patient can feel some relief.
“I started drawing, and now work in graphite and colored pencils,” said Kerschner
More importantly, Kerschner has noticed a difference in his life.
“When I’m doing my art, it’s almost like I’m mentally transported to the drawing that I’m doing,” said Kerschner.
“The pain drops away while I’m working, and for a while even after I’m done, even for 1-2 hours.”
That is no small achievement, at least not to this patient.
“For anyone in chronic pain, an hour of relief is like a chain being lifted away,” Kerschner explained
“Before I started to draw, I was on 4 potent medications for my pain,” said Kerschner
These medications, he explained, made it harder to focus, and while they dulled the pain, the side-effects had a significant impact on daily life.
“Now, I’m being tapered off of one of the medications. One out of four – that’s a 25% improvement in my book.”
Kerschner lives at home with his wife Mary and son Garrett, whom he takes care of during the day.
Anyone interested in learning more about Scott Kerschner and seeing more of his art can go to http://bit.ly/HMztMo

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