Posted in Coping with Chronic Pain

Does Your Environment Increase your Chronic Pain?

Good morning!

It’s Friday, March 10th and one week from today we’ll be in our new home. It seems as though this journey has taken forever since we first moved to the NC mountains on December 1, 2016. But that is because our environment was less than normal. Living in my brother-in-law’s home was full of tension, irritation, and bad vibes. A very stressful four months.

Another aspect of tension and worry has been the present President and his administration. Whether you voted for him or not, it is clear that corruption, instability, and overspending are evident in this administration.

As a chronic pain and fibromyalgia sufferer, I’ve found that almost everything I read about the current administration inflames my pain throughout the day. Why would this person and his proposals affect me in this way?

It boils down to stress and the fact I allow my environment to stress me out. And because stress affects every aspect of our bodies – our sleep patterns, attitudes, and pain levels – it can be difficult to control.

But, I did find an article by Helen White, a contributor to the Huffington Post. Diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome of the joints (HMS), a condition that features joints that easily move beyond the normal range expected for a particular joint. It is a benign condition per medicinenet.com, Ms. White has first hand experience with chronic pain and learned ways to tolerate and cope with her pain. (You can read more about this illness when you click on the highlighted typing.)

Ms. White’s article, “5 Things Living with Chronic Pain has Taught Me”, provided me with tools to live my life a little more stress-free and I briefly share her tips here:

LISTEN to your body and PACE yourself!

Without a doubt this is the hardest thing to do! I’m getting better at it, but I’m still not at the point to stop when my body gently gives the warning signs. No, I wait until the pain is full blown. Then it takes twice as long to control the pain.

Ms. White suggests “taking frequent breaks for gentle exercise and try to take things a bit slower.” She has a morning and evening yoga routine and listens to meditation CDs.

2-Have EMPATHY for others                                                                                                                                            

If your friend suffers from a Chronic illness, please don’t make suggestions on treating their pain. This isn’t helpful because unless you experience a Chronic Illness, you have no idea what your friend is experiencing.

I went through this experience in 2013 when my world literally fell down around me. As one who loves to dance, I began walking with a cane to alleviate my back pain and help with my balance. It was devastating and my bitterness came across on FB and toward my friends and family. And especially when someone tried to give advice about my pain meds and what I should do.

Thoughts of suicide were entertained – not one of my finest moments. However, by the end of that year, I realized I didn’t like myself. I vowed in 2014 I would change my attitude about my present condition and begin accepting my “new normal.”

3-PATIENCE!

First, you know your episode of pain will eventually ease off with your pain meds. It takes my pain medicine up to 90 minutes to kick in if I’ve gone past the next recommended dosage. However, I stay on top of my pain if my medicine is taken as prescribed. Don’t be a hero! Because you are feeling better and believe you can work longer, your pain will sneak up on you. Don’t wait until it is full blown to rest and take your next dosage. It takes longer for your medicine to take effect and you’ll be miserable.

4-KINDNESS – to yourself and others

Don’t beat yourself up if you have to take a day of rest. The chores will be there tomorrow. Your body comes first and as normal humans, we feel selfish about taking rest periods throughout the day, or even taking a whole day to relax to rest our bodies. Being a “get it done” person, I throw thoughts of unpacked boxes and rooms in disarray out of my mind. I relax and stop worrying. There is no time limit on getting the house in order.

For your family and friends who experience chronic pain, surprise them with their favorite cookies, a small potted plant, or a bunch of flowers on their “low” days. All it takes is a visit to let them know you are thinking of them. When in my lowest mental state due to chronic pain and a friend stops by to visit or phones, it brings me up and helps me forget my pain for a while.

5-Live in the PRESENT

Fully enjoy the moments when your pain is under control or tolerable…while at work, home, or with others. Every second counts when you have these moments so live life to the fullest! Oh, but don’t “over-do!”

You can read Helen White’s full article by highlighting the article title above. She goes into a little more detail for each plan of action and I’m sure you’ll enjoy her writing. She writes “down to earth” and I love a writer who doesn’t infiltrate their articles with words I don’t understand!

Thank you for your patience with this blog post. Over the last few weeks I’ve had a respiratory infection and then to make things just hunky-dory, developed walking pneumonia last week (March 31st to be exact!) Our little house is coming together, but the small extra “bedroom/office” has become the holding station for any unopened box. Ms. White’s article put me to the test because I must rest to get better. Of course, every time I get up I’m back in the recliner because I’m out of breath. The extra room will get done, maybe not as quickly as I hoped, but it will!

Have a wonderful week and please contact me with ideas, suggestions, and questions on future blogs. I’d love to write what you are interested in about chronic pain.

Carolyn