Health Adjacent: Chronic Pain

Health Adjacent: Chronic Pain

It''s possible to live well with a chronic illness...all you need is a little strategy and a sense of humor.

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"Im in too much pain to go to the ER." This was the statement I made to my partner after 4 days of extreme, chronic pain.

"What do you mean youre in too much pain? Thats what emergency rooms are for, right?" She asked incredulously.

I shook my head...ah, the innocence of the able-bodied. The last place I ever want to go is the ER. I could be laying on my bed, bleeding out, limbs missing, in and out of consciousness and Id be more likely to say, "do you think a couple of Band Aids would do it?" than go to the emergency room.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the vast majority of people with chronic pain feel the same way. Why? Because it is a) the worst place to go if you are in pain and b) you risk being branded "drug-seeking".

If I am in pain from head to toe, the idea of getting dressed, navigating my way to the car and getting to the car already seems like a daunting task. But Id gladly do that if I didnt know that what awaits me on the other end is a 2-3 hour wait in incredibly uncomfortable chairs, next to other sick people, probably carrying Ebola and other contagious nasties. And if you think you are in pain on an average day with Fibromyalgia, try adding something like the Swine Flu to it.

I might even be willing to risk increased pain and contagion, just to make the pain stop for a few

Love this interpretation of chronic pain by Jilly999 via Flickr, link below.

blessed hours. But the risk of being labeled drug-seeking? Thats just too much of a gamble.

I explained to my partner, "honey, if I go to the ER for pain, theres a chance that they might think I am faking it to get narcotics. If they even so much as hint about that in the report and my doctor sees that, it could jeopardize my ability to continue to get pain meds on a regular basis."

Listen, the last thing I need is to risk the only med regime that has ever worked (and Ive tried them all). So instead, I pray for it to pass or for me to pass out (which sadly never happens). If it doesnt improve, then Im calling my doc to make an appointment. Thats better than going to the ER, but still risky if I do it too often.

It truly sucks that people in chronic pain have very few options in managing breakthrough pain. Ive had a doc or two who would make my pain med prescription variable (take 3-4 a day, as needed). But thats been the exception, rather than the standard. And if I take my pain medicine more than prescribed I will run out of it before I can get it refilled (not to mention thats breaking the law). And nobody wants to see what happens when I am completely unmedicated. Further, there are times when the meds I have just dont cut it. I need a stronger intervention.

Theres this interesting thing that happens to people (medical and non) when they know you are in pain on a daily basis. They tend to take your complaints less seriously. "Well, you have to expect that youll be in pain, thats normal for people with fibro." No shit, really? I had no idea....thanks for clearing that up. Of course I know that I will be in pain every day. I am an expert on pain, I am the Queen of Pain, I know more about pain than most people will in a lifetime. If I am coming to you about it, that means I am at a category 5 and am in dire straits.

We all reach our ceiling. And when that happens, we need to be able to do something about it. No one should suffer needlessly. There has to be a way to deal with these episodes more effectively. Im thinking about creating a pain crisis plan and getting my doctor to sign off on it. I cant tell you the number of "pain contracts" Ive had to sign with doctors, essentially agreeing to not take license with my meds and to random drug testing. Maybe its about time they sign something that assures me of their commitment to effectively treat my pain, particularly in extreme flares.

Ill have to ponder this a bit more. In the meantime, Id love to hear what youve done to manage your pain when it is out of control. Leave me a comment below...

Posted at 06:15 AM in Chronic Pain Permalink

There are many kinds of illnesses and injuries that cause chronic pain. I happen to have the granddaddy of them all. Fibromyalgia affects the nerves and soft tissues in the body, causing me to experience much greater pain than if I had a "normal" body. For instance, last night my youngest

Some days are just meant for staying in bed

accidentally kicked my knee while we were sitting together. It was a slight kick, but it felt like a burly dude in steel-toed boots did it.

If I didnt have strategies for coping with pain, I would be a) very depressed and b) drunk all of the time (which, in combination, sounds a bit like my first year away at college.) So, Ive gathered some pain management techniques to help me through the day. Actually, I have so many that this is just my basics. Ill write about more as we go along.

Meds: Take your meds, as prescribed. This seems like a no-brainer, but lots of us try to hold out as long as we can before taking them. Taking them sooner rather than later can help fend off a building pain cycle. If your meds arent cutting it, see your doc, pronto.

Napping: I love me a good nap...and pain is exhausting. Take a nap...maybe two...and give your body and mind a chance to relax.

Heating Pads: Listen, Ive amassed quite a lot of these guys. I have the kinds you microwave (good for places where there is no outlet) and those that plug in. Right now I am digging the Sunbeam shoulder heating pad. Its magical!

Alternative remedies: In a recent post, I mentioned that I like Noxicare as a pain relieving lotion, particularly because I can still use a heating pad with it. I also am a fan of Salon Pas patches and Tiger Balm. I dont know why those things work, but they do relieve pain. The patches and balm are on the strong smelling side and cant be used with heat, so plan accordingly.

Comforting fabrics: when Im feeling yucky, I cuddle up with this insanely soft (and warm) turquoise blanket. I wear the softest, baggiest clothes I can find. I have a particular arrangement of pillows (including my zebra striped body pillow) that I position around me for support.

Feeling Special: I look for small ways to add a little luxury. A favorite candle, a fantastic hand cream, a special coffee...by pampering myself a little, it improves my mood.

Ive noticed that when I feel ill, I tend to deny myself comforting measures. I get into a serious mid trap where I tell myself that because I am sick so often, I dont deserve to be comforted or treated as special. But thats ridiculous...I mean, yes, most people reserve special attention and behaviors for when they (or their family) are ill. But I say, why wait? Why not treat each other and ourselves with the same level of compassion and gentleness all of the time? Why not look for ways to increase our comfort, pamper our bodies and celebrate the small pleasures every day?

If everyone did this, Im pretty sure we would achieve world peace in a matter of days.

Posted at 10:53 AM in Chronic Pain Permalink

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