At one point or another in life, everyone will end up in physical pain. If you are lucky, you will take some Advil, the pain will subside, and you will go about your day. If you are unlucky, the pain becomes chronic, and affects you physically and emotionally.
Major Tip To Live By When In Pain: Don’t Go Making Major Decisions!
Here is a perfect example of how pain can cloud your thinking: (Disclaimer, I am not telling readers NOT to get a flu shot. There is no scientific proof my pain and the shot were 100 percent correlated.)
About a week ago, I got my flu shot. At first the pain was localized to where I was given the shot, no big deal. As time passed, something seemed amiss and I ended up with pain up and down my arm, through my neck and shoulder blade, and down my back. The worst part is that nothing even came close to taking the pain away. I took 3-4 ibuprofen every 6 hours and nothing changed. Icy Hot felt nice and distracted me from the pain somewhat, but it always roared right back shortly afterward.
During this time span, I had a major decision to make regarding my employment. Without going into details, the situation was not perfect, but definitely palatable under normal circumstances. However, since I felt horrible, I was ready to just say “forget it” and chuck my job to the wind. I was hurting and sleep deprived and I just didn’t want to deal with anything. So, I wanted to take the easy way out and just walk away (bent over, with a cane, and very slowly).
I also wanted to take a break from writing. I am not just saying “I think I will take a day off from writing” type of break. I am saying months-long break. I had just switched my theme to Thesis, made modifications, and I was willing to just move on! I didn’t feel a creative thought in my head, and writing didn’t sound fun anymore. I probably would have sold my site for fifty cents if asked at the right time.
Actually, nothing sounded fun, except maybe sleeping, which was nearly impossible.
It became obvious that time was the only thing that was going to help my situation, and thankfully, it resolved itself in about 7-8 days. However, there are millions of people out there that deal with chronic pain daily, and there may be no end in sight. How do those individuals get through each day? People still need to work, pay bills, make decisions, etc, and pain just makes life so much harder (in my opinion).
During this past week, I did spend a lot of time laying on the couch, and I thought a lot about how I could possibly use my experience to help others. The following is what I came up with: (Reminder, I am not a doctor!)
Additional Advice For Pain-Sufferers
- Don’t go it alone. If you do have any major decisions to make when you are miserable, make sure you involve a third-party. Another perspective might be necessary, as yours might not be very accurate.
- Be willing to accept help, and ask for help. You will want to feel better as quickly as possible, and there is no need to be a martyr. People do like to help others, so reach out when you need to.
- Try to sleep. I know it is hard to get comfortable, but try to rest. So much healing occurs when the body is taking a break, so make sure you give your body a lengthy period of rejuvenation. In addition, take a look at your pillow and see if it or the mattress need to be replaced. Neither item has an endless lifespan, and maybe your body needs to move on to a different ‘sleeping arrangement’.
- Avoid stress if you can. Bad events are magnified when you are in pain, so try to minimize negativity in your life.
- Consider alternative healing methods. Many people find pain relief through acupuncture, joint manipulation/adjustments, meditation, etc. Keep an open mind and you might just find something that works for you.
- Eat and drink right. It is easy to want to just grab a burger and just ‘be done’ with dinner. However, your body needs healthy foods, and so does your mind. Think about how bad you can feel on a good day if you eat terribly. Then magnify that by ten when you don’t feel well. Even if you eat out, there are still healthy alternatives. Also make sure you drink plenty of non-caffeinated liquids because pain can be caused by simple dehydration.
- Evaluate how you sit at work and at home. Is your desk ergonomically correct? Sitting at a desk all day can cause a surprising amount of discomfort. If you do have a desk job, make sure you get up and move around frequently, even if your chair and desk are perfectly set up.
- Think about your pain, and take note of anything that provides relief. Maybe long baths provide some relief, or a ten minute walk in the sun. Just focus on cause and effect. Know what makes you hurt and know what makes you feel better. Write it all down so you have something to reference if and when you see a doctor. Keeping a pain diary may also help you detect patterns and recognize ways to avoid pain in the future.
- Consult your doctor. Some pain is commonplace- your lower back aches after working in the yard all day for instance. However, some pain can also indicate illness. For example, pain was the first symptom I had when I had Shingles and when I had Lyme Disease. Seeking immediate treatment most likely lessened the severity of both illnesses for me, so do not hesitate to see a doctor if something unusual seems to be going on.
- Step on the scale. Have you gained some weight? Extra pounds can put an incredible amount of stress on the body. I know it is hard to get out and exercise when you feel like you can hardly move, but try to make lifestyle changes where you can. Instead of reaching for comfort food to feel better, try to eat something tasty yet healthy. Try not to give in to your pain, try to move around as much as possible.