So you’re having a bad pain day? Yeah, it happens. Often when we’ve done too much the days before or if the weather is changing, or you ate something that your body isn’t happy about or just because.
Whatever the reason, here are 5 easy ways to get through it and do some self-care.
- Don’t feel guilty about having a bad pain day. It happens, it’s part of life and it will pass. Sometimes it’s one day or a few. Sometimes it’s a week or more. I’ve learned the hard way that if you try to push through the pain you’ll only feel worse. Hopefully, you’re able to let your family and friends know that you need to rest and you’ll need some extra help. If you have a church or synagogue let someone know that you could use some help with errands, meals, laundry, pet care, etc. Yes, it can be humbling but in my personal experience people like to help. The times I didn’t ask for help I caused a LOT more damage to my body that could’ve been avoided if I set aside my pride. For example, before my neck fusion, I single-handedly put together a solid wood bunk bed for my kids, because I knew I’d be unable to do much after surgery. It ended up really hurting my neck and back for no other reason but stubbornness and pride. I would kindly suggest not to do that. Also, a good tip is to have some ramen or microwaveable foods on standby if you have kids, so they can make themselves and you something to eat. Above all, don’t feel guilty for being in pain! When you’re feeling better you’ll handle all the things you can’t right now.
- Breathe. Sometimes the chronic pain can cause muscle tension, and at least for me its made worse because I’m a shallow breather. Breathing oxygenates the blood which our muscles need especially to help them relax. Taking deep breaths is so important. You can find free apps that can be download on your device to help guide you through some deep breathing exercises. Or, just slowly count 4 breaths in and 8 out. You can pick a word to think while inhaling and exhaling, like “relax” or “peace”. It’s a great way to refocus the mind and relax both the mind and the body.
- Take advantage of the downtime. We live in an era where people are constantly “doing” but rarely take the time to be “still”. It’s a shame because we aren’t allowing ourselves to just stop and enjoy whatever we have around us. Maybe you can out in nature like a park or beach? Or if you have a yard, porch, or deck that can be enough. I saved money from dog sitting all summer and got myself a hammock which I highly recommend. It’s in our yard under a tree that I’m allergic to. I take my allergy medication, grab a blanket, a book, something to write in, my phone and headphones and kick it in the hammock. The gentle rocking back and forth is very relaxing. I put my headphones in and listen to music or I’ll listen to a podcast and tune out the world and the pain. Something about being outside is so good for our body and mind. The sun feels great on my skin and the warmth it gives often helps lower the pain level. If the pain is really bad, laying in the hammock may not be an option so I spread a sheet out and just lay on the grass. My neighbors may think I’m strange but I don’t care. I’m practicing self-care, taking advantage of the downtime and living my best life. Who knows, maybe they’re actually jealous?
- Call your doctor. If you’re anything like me, you might put on a smile and hide the pain whenever you go to the doctor. I don’t know why since the whole point of going to them is to get help and keep an accurate record of what’s going on. I hardly show how I really feel when I see them, probably because of having past doctors treat me as if there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Even after the Ehlers Danlos diagnosis and having on record a two-time dislocated patella, a pain management doctor said that my knee pain was a side effect of my pain meds! What the heck? So the MRI that showed I have no cartilage along with bone on bone in that knee wouldn’t have anything to do with the pain? Really? I got a new pain doctor after that. Anyway, The point of that is this, if I wasn’t persistent in making appointments AND calling the office on my really bad days so they could hear and understand that I am NOT exaggerating, I am really suffering, I don’t believe I would have the caring team I have around me today. They trust me because I am always honest with them, I do my part by staying as active as I can, eating as best as I can afford to, and doing my research so I can explain to them more clearly what I am going through. I don’t just take what they tell me and accept it. I research things and ask questions. I am respectful and put together as best as I can be for every visit and I let them know I am willing to work with them, but I also don’t let them ignore me or brush me off. I try to always communicate with them in a very respectful way even when I don’t understand or agree. Year’s and years ago when all of this started, I was much younger and felt guilty for asking for help. I think I felt that I was weak for having so many physical issues and that I was a bother. I didn’t have my voice, I didn’t advocate for myself. Many times I’d be brushed off and judged by my appearance, perhaps you can relate? Back then Ehlers Danlos Syndrome wasn’t known like it is now, but even now I am having to educate some of these doctors about what EDS is. I’ve even printed things from medical websites and handed it to them. In my mind, the more doctors that are made aware of EDS, the better the treatment we will all receive, and the less judgment and disregard we will all get.
- Hugs. If you have kids, a spouse, friends, dog, cat, horse, whatever you have, or even a pillow, give and receive hugs. Hugs are powerful even if you’re hugging a pillow.
So there you have it, 5 thing’s I’ve done and would suggest to my closest friends when dealing with the bad pain days. I have several other tips that I’ll save for another post.
I’d love to hear which one you might use or are already using.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, I really hope it’s helpful and enjoyable.
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Until next time! 😉