When It Hurts

When doesn’t it? No really, we deal with some symptom every day, at least I do. But there seem to be times of relief, reprieve, or remission for most people dealing with chronic pain or illness. Those times are wonderful, when you feel almost human again. The times when you almost forget that you have something that could flare up and change your world at any moment. But what is the best thing or things to do when it does hurt? A fairly personal question, as it can greatly differ from person to person and depends upon the type of pain you are feeling.

Number #1 for me when I am in pain is R.E.S.T.!

R=relax, E=eat healthy, S=sleep adequate amounts, T=talk (to someone who understands or can help in some way). Okay, I am really loving that acronym since I just came up with it and it really, truly covers the basic things you must do when you are in pain to keep your sanity and to help restore less pain.

Relax. Right, who feels like relaxing when they are in intense pain? Well, that is incredibly difficult, but we have to find a way to divert our minds from the pain. Sometimes something as simple as taking a bath and living in the moment where the warm water surrounds your body can provide relaxation. Maybe fluffing your bed pillows and lighting a candle as your pray or read. Maybe you are in the position to schedule a massage for yourself? It is also important to release your worries and fears when you are in pain, because they so often come flooding back in when the pain hits. Journaling, prayer, blogging, these are all good ways to relax and release those things. Pop in a new movie that you have never seen before to help you distract from the pain. I know this isn’t always possible, but sometimes you can get whisked away to another land, time, or life, and actually temporarily “forget” your pain!

Eat. Yes, we have to eat and when I am in pain I often crave “comfort foods”. These foods may not be the right ones to choose when I have a flare up though. I need to select foods that will not overload my body with sugar. That produces a reaction inside me that is just BAD! I need to choose foods that will help my muscles feel good: protein, and aid in digestion: fiber, and taste good, aka: variety: healthy dips, fruits and veggies and maybe salads with a new dressing or flair. Point is we have to eat and we have to eat healthy when we are in pain, or else we are just asking for more trouble. Oh, by the way, I haven’t mastered this, just so you know.

Sleep. Duh, right. We have to sleep. When we are in pain sometimes the insomnia kicks in. When we are in pain some of us feel better at a certain time of day that is not conducive to sleep, like me. I get a good 2nd or 3rd wind late at night. I think it is because I am alone, essentially, and the house is quiet. This is not good for me. It disrupts my sleep cycle. It means that I am setting myself up for another weird sleep cycle the next day. In order to get adequate sleep we are supposed to try to go to bed at around the same time each night, at a time that allows us a good 8 hours of sleep. Yes, it is 1:54 am right now. I am not in bed. I am not in a lot of pain right now, but I am asking for it tomorrow if I don’t “hit the hay” very soon. If I were to get to bed at 10:00pm each night, read, then lights out by 11:00, it would do wonders for me. This is something I am really working up to. I know I need to do this for myself and for my family. I also have to take some medicine to help with the sleep department. There are times when I can take less and there are times when I have to take a little more. Knowing that you might need some kind of assistance and being ready for it when a flare hits, is wise and provides you with the comfort of knowing that you have a resource to help you sleep if you are in pain that is keeping you awake. There are so many different ways to approach that issue, for me, I take something for anxiety. I get anxious when I am in pain and I don’t sleep well. For someone else, an herbal remedy may be the answer.

Talk. Talking to God. Talking to on-line buddies through emails or chat rooms for people who deal with chronic pain. Talking to someone who understands is so important. Allow yourself to acknowledge your pain. We don’t have to call everyone we know and tell them how much pain we are in, but sharing with one or two people that this is a hard time can really help. They might have a new idea on how to deal with the pain. They might be able to pick up some groceries for you if you can’t get out. You never know, but it is important to talk. Don’t be too stoic. We all know that we also have to watch that line of being too negative as well, but don’t let that stop you. Talk!

Good luck taking care of yourself when it hurts. I know that it is hard work taking care of me. Please take care of you and REST!

written 7.7.08

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