The articles found below are those I have done for the pain diary app called Catch My Pain. It is a super app and most useful when trying to get through life when dealing with pain. It helps me to evaluate how different activities affect my pain level.
One Important Factor When Dealing With Chronic Pain
Pain can bring your life to a halt or it can bring the end to dreams, it you let it. Pain that is the result of an obvious happening, such as an accident can sometimes easier to deal with. Pain that sneaks up on you over time, because of illness like diabetes, or a treatment for illness such as chemotherapy, hits hard. Then there is the pain that hits for no known medical reason.
According to the Australian Pain Management Association:
“The greatest challenge of chronic pain may not be the intensity, not the nature of the pain, but the fact that the pain persists and that long term relief is a hope but not an expectation.”
In their article, they state that it is your attitude towards to your pain that will determine how well you are able to deal with it. They also talk about the attitude of others. It is your attitude that is the most important. If you have a strong proactive attitude you will keep moving forward. You will also be able to deal better with the attitude of those around you.
There is no single method that can be used by all. How you react to your pain is totally individual as it is your pain and yours alone. It is up to you to discover a way to build within yourself a positive attitude. This does not mean that your pain will disappear, or that you will go through life without those terrible down days. What it means is that you will find a way that works for you.
First you must accept it and go from there. Maybe down the road a miracle drug will come on the market or a new pain relieving treatment will be discovered, but you cannot wait till then. Use the Catch my Pain program to become aware of what helps and what makes things worse. Listen to your body. You will come to understand what it is trying to tell you and gradually you will find your tool or tools that help whether they be physical actions or mental.
Most importantly you must keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward with life. Come to know what brings you joy, what makes you feel good about yourself. On that black day, seek out that good thought or experience and chase the black away.
The Need for Perseverance
After your attitude, the other very important component of dealing with chronic pain is perseverance. I, for one, know this first hand. I underwent chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer and because of the overwhelming nature of dealing with cancer and the discomfort I experienced during my treatment, I fell into a ‘poor me’ mentality. I stopped doing… I stopped doing just about everything that required physical exertion. As a result, after the nine month treatment was over, my stamina was rock bottom. It was not long after that when I started to experience neuropathy. “Oh great,” I told myself. “How can I exercise and regain my stamina with this foot pain?”
My pain is not nearly as bad as some. As long as I wear the widest Croc clog I can, I am able to walk, but it is extremely tiring. Yet, I have found that if I persevere and make myself walk casually, I sleep better and I feel better. Yes, the attitude factor is needed at this time. I know how I respond to movement, to even casual walking, and therefore I must keep my attitude strong so that I will persevere. I do not have to do my whole route. Just doing a part of it is still good.
Whatever exercise it is that you can do, do not belittle it. You cannot look at it from the eyes of someone in good health. You have to look at it from your perspective! Maybe it is doing exercises while sitting in a chair. If so, do them and do them to the best of your ability. Set up a program or routine and do it as often as you can. OK, you have a day when your body or mind is totally overwhelmed; do not berate yourself for not being able to do it. Rest your mind and your body so that you will be ready the next day. Perhaps exercise or any real physical movement is beyond you. Perhaps massage or stretching in place is possible.
You say you are unable to do exercise of any kind? Use your mind. Find a goal and do what you can to reach it. Put your mind to work and make it grow. Behind all this, will be your attitude. It is how you look at yourself, at your situation and your life that will make it possible for you to ‘put one foot in front of the other’ literally or figuratively.
Here I have a link to quotes about perseverance. There are some great names and people who have much to say on the matter. Hopefully one of these quotes will reach out to you and help you to keep going when the times get tough. Me, I am going to do my best to get my act in order so I can say I did more than just write some words for you. I am going to listen to what I have written here and make it a reality.
Listen to your body!
Let’s talk about a subject that brings together all the subjects mentioned before! This includes your attitude, how your body reacts to pain and then your perseverance. As stated by Dr. Dommerholt, everyone reacts to pain differently. While the reason is not fully understood, it must be taken into consideration when any treatment or therapy is being discussed.
You have noticed that you seem to react to pain so much quicker than your best buddy. It starts to upset you. Perhaps you have been criticized because of this. Wimp is becoming your nickname. Hopefully this scenario is not true. Let us suppose it is. Some how you have to rise above this and recognize that your internal makeup is not the same and that you have to approach your pain and responses to pain logically and not emotionally. Your pain is real. If you ignore the warning signs and try to push on, there can be serious consequences physically and emotionally.
OK, now you are an older and wiser individual and realize this. You still wish you could overcome this tendency. Stop a moment and look around. Look at some top athletes. I am going to use two tennis greats, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. Look at their style and look at the consequences. Federer does not play a power game, he plays a ‘thinking man’s game’ of tennis, tennis has changed into a power game. Nadal fits right in this category, but at what price? Yes, Federer has a problem with this power game, but he still plays a great game. I wonder where Nadal will be at 31 years of age. If you watch tennis you will notice that Nadal, after a long absence due to injury, has made some changes in his game… more Federer-like.
I admire both players, but when it comes to my life and my pain, I will choose the ‘thinking man’s’ approach to pain. I will listen to what my body is telling me. I will follow the therapy that is given me, but I will also tell my therapist how it is affecting me. I am the one who feels the pain. I am the only one who can listen to what my body is telling me.
I will keep my attitude positive, I will become familiar with my body’s response to pain and I will persevere.
Sleep And Its Importance
I do not know how to express my need for good sleep. If I get a good night of sleep, I can handle my pain so much better. I am sure we all have this need and are also aware of how difficult it is to get good sleep when you are dealing with chronic pain. Sleep medicines can do the trick, but should only be done under the supervision of your doctor. Even over-the-counter (OTC) are not to been used without care.
These medications may help you sleep, but if you take them for an extended period of time and stop, your problem will be worse. This is called the rebound effect. Even the OTC variety can give you a ‘hangover’ the next day. The search for a good sleep medicine, without dangerous side effects, is an ongoing search in the pharmaceutical world.
Those individuals dealing with chronic pain are usually not able to get in the heavy-duty exercise that will bring on sleep naturally. For some, just walking from room to room is a challenge. I am in a classroom for 5 hours 3 days a week. I am fine while in the classroom, as teaching is my passion, but as soon as I leave there my feet and legs feel as if they are made of lead. To be physically able to do this I need 9-10 hours of sleep.
I was able to join a gym that had a pool for a short time, run by our local hospital. They had a hoist that enabled those in wheelchairs to be let down into the therapy pool. This one individual, once she was in the pool, was able to stand and do the water version of Tai Chi exercises. Perhaps there is something similar in your area.
There are forms of chair exercises one can do, as well as yoga for the chair bound. Here is where your attitude and perseverance come in. If you were able to do the above, do you even care? I know I can get myself to take walks, but my self-discipline needs strengthening when it comes to plain old exercise. I have a nicely designed list on my wall. I see it every day! Do I do it, even a part of it daily? I wish I could say yes. I know it helps me sleep better, but… I am trying to improve!
As I have mentioned before, I cannot take many Rxs. The last time I tried, I ended up taking 4 pills just to be able to take the one they felt I needed. I said “No way!” I have to make use of my mind to find my sleep. Meditation, the soft sound of the waves and even a mp3 hypnosis app make up my arsenal for getting to sleep. This is after I strap on my sleep sleep mask, hook it up to the hose and turn on the machine. Not too long ago though, I woke up wondering what was wrong. I had done everything but turn on the machine! Way to go, Barb!!
I know I have not given you any real revealing bits of knowledge about sleep here, other than mentioning its importance. Out side of your pain regimen, this is the one other area that must be discussed and strictly followed according to the directions of your doctor.
In the near future, a resource page will be put together with listing of videos, apps, and other activities that can help us on our journey with this thing called chronic pain. If you know of one, use one and like it… share it with us to be put on list. If you visit our Facebook page, you could put it there. We are in this journey together. Yes, we are all on different levels, but it is still the same journey and sharing what we know with each other is a good thing.