When Chronic Pain Steals Your Joy

23 Jan

Pain.

We’ve all felt it in one degree or another throughout our lifetimes. Stubbing a toe. Smashing a finger. Or one that I am constantly doing -running my hip into the corner of our washing machine (i’m convinced the thing moves every now and then…)

But chronic pain is another thing entirely. This is an excerpt from webmd.com –

                  “Tens of millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain — pain that lasts longer than six months.

Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous,

merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating.

                      With chronic pain, signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or even years.

This can take both a physical and emotional toll on a person.”

Over the last almost nine years of dealing with migraines and other health problems,  I have felt my share of the ’emotional toll’ that this pain causes. I am glad to say that I have been able to keep a positive attitude and outlook on life overall but the days when it feels like the world is about to crash and I can’t do anything to stop it? Yeah, those days aren’t fun.

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Take today for instance, I just got back from an impromptu lunch date with my OH but feel like I could just curl up in bed and not move until he comes home. Not only does the sleep sound divine (!) but there’s something about. . . sigh. Chronic pain sucks the life out of you at times. What do you do about it? Let it take you under and hold you there? Not a good choice, as appealing as that can sound sometimes. Here’s some of what I do to get me out of the black-vortex-life-sucking-negativity-thinking:

1 – get involved in an interesting story – be it a book, tv show, movie – getting your thoughts off the pain and the question “when will it end?’ is key.

2 – surf Pinterest for fun crafts or recipes or whatever interests you – but don’t go to the ‘exercise’ area…that might just make it worse.

3 – have your friend (or mom or relative! – anyone who you feel comfortable being in pain in front of) come over and just sit and talk. About what books you’re reading. What you want to do this summer.What the kiddos are up to. Whatever comes up. just relax.

4 – Take a nap! -This one is huge. Whether it’s a short one or a long one – whatever you can fit in. Take one. Sleep improves attitude ( have you been around young kids late in the afternoon recently? yeah. it’s a fact. sleep helps mood)

5 – Tell your spouse – this is one that I don’t do quiiiite as well at as I should. I can tell him I’m in pain but admitting my optimism is wavering? For some reason, that one’s harder. But it makes all the difference! Once they know, they know. You feel better for having told someone and they know not to say-that-one-thing-that-just-might-make-you-bawl-all-night. Just saying.

6 – This one should have been at the top honestly, but PRAY about it. God knows what we each are going through. And what better comforter could we have than the One who created us and loves us unconditionally?

7- Treat yourself – a hot bath, a special cup of tea/hot chocolate/coffee, pedi/mani. Whatever makes you smile, do it.

8- Remember it’s just how you’re feeling. Not reality. Honestly, this is a big one. It can be so easy to let our emotions take us wherever they lead, but they are often (read: quite often) wrong. Remind yourself that this is just a moment of doubt and frustration.

9 – Count Your Blessings. I love this one. I do it a lot when I’m in pain and am relegated to the couch once again. I have a wonderful husband. I am part of a crazy and big family. I have a warm and dry – and cute!- place to live. I have a cute puppy (all 80odd lbs of her) that takes naps with me. etc…etc…

10 – Do what you can to get rid of the pain – Again, this one should have been higher on the list…. You know what you can do to at least ease the pain. Do it! Even if it seems too much of an effort – it’s worth it. I drink tea, use essential oils, have eye/forehead pillows that all help alleviate the migraine.

It is a fact that long-term pain affects all aspects of the body. the mind/body link can actually make the pain worse. In my case, as one who suffers with migraines, sometimes the dreaded anticipation of one coming on can actually bring a migraine on. It’s a horrible cycle but it’s true. Another excerpt from webmd:

“Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and fatigue interact in complex ways with chronic pain

and may decrease the body’s production of natural painkillers;

moreover, such negative feelings may increase the level of substances that amplify sensations of pain,

causing a vicious cycle of pain for the person. Even the body’s most basic defenses may be compromised:

There is considerable evidence that unrelenting pain can suppress the immune system.”

All this to say – don’t give in to the emotions that drag you down. It will, really, only make it all a whole lot worse. Stay positive, stay focused on what you’ve been blessed with – and please, eat a bit of chocolate for me?

I hope this helps friends. I know that chronic pain is something that affects a lot of us – and if you ever need a listening ear, I’m just a click away.

~Laura

* here is where I got the info from webmd : http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/understanding-pain-management-chronic-pain

2 Responses to “When Chronic Pain Steals Your Joy”

  1. michaela January 23, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    Thanks Laura for this relevant and timely reminder as many of us do face health struggles. I would add to your list from mine with reading and meditating on God’s word, especially the Psalms, praying for others and perhaps even sending someone a text or email of encouragement, listening to worship music to get the focus back on Christ and listening to teaching/testimony from other believers, and getting outside for a walk or just a few minutes of sun or fresh air! Praying tmrw is a better day!

    Like

  2. viktorija January 24, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    I know you’ve suffered from migraines for a long time, but this was such a descriptive post…it helped put me in your shoes, if just for a little. I’m sorry that this has been your cross. 😦 sending lots of love your way.

    Like

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