Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

I was reading an article I found on twitter about having a sex life while experiencing chronic pain, and was like “oh yeah, cool so I’m not the only one who feels this way.” And then was also impressed by some of the tips the author wrote about to make sex easier or for there to be less pain. Okay, so despite the fact that I’m single AF and that I’m not super into the hookup culture of the millennials, I do occasionally want to have some. And when I do, I don’t want it to hurt me. I want it to be fun and to feel good, kinda like everyone else wants. So what do we do and how do we do it? (pun intended)

Photo credit: Nuovo Artistic Photography

Honestly, in addition to not really being into hookups, when I have in the last year, the sex was uncomfortable and/or painful. Mostly in my hips. The pain took away from the pleasure, which is kind of the point of a hookup. As a result, I’ve ended up avoiding them most of the time. I should also not that any ideas I’ve come across and am sharing below, are geared toward sex with a partner you’re in a relationship with. As for how to make the hookup less painful, depending on your level of comfortability with the person, my best suggestion is to just level with them. “I have chronic pain, let’s see what we can do to make this awesome for both of us.” I also wouldn’t hold my breath on the response…

Image from: http://www.myhealthtime.ie/sex-advice-for-people-with-chronic-pain/

Okay so what can we do with our partners to make it easier and still fun and pleasurable? The below are based on my own experiences with my ex, as well as from articles I’ve read about the subject.

  1. Communication. Your partner has to know what feels good, what positions are comfortable, and what doesn’t work. A lot of this you may learn through trial-and-error, and as soon as you figure it out, talk about it. My guess is your partner doesn’t want you to be in pain anymore than you want to be. The better your communication is, the better your sex will be.
  2. Pillow Under the Hips. Obviously this doesn’t work for every position but a) make sure you’re having sex somewhere decently comfortable. Shaggy’s song about sex on the bathroom floor really isn’t for anyone, let alone anyone who’s a chronic pain warrior. b) this really only works in the missionary position, but hey that’s better than nothing. The extra support and comfort usually makes hip pain a lot less.
  3. Positions. If there is a position that sucks for you, don’t do it that way. Pick another one. Maybe that takes a little bit of creativity out of it, or maybe it allows you to be more creative. It all depends on how you look at it (power of positivity!).
  4. Oral. Requires less movement for you. Just sayin’. Plus it’s always fun.
  5. Sensual activities. If you are having a super bad flare, engage in some activities that aren’t sexual in nature, but sensual instead. Take a bubble bath together, have your partner give you a massage, lie in bed naked. It’s not a perfect sex solution, but it will probably make you closer in many other ways.
Image: from: http://www.oprah.com/health_wellness/sex-life-with-chronic-pain

The best advice I can give, is be CONFIDENT, be YOU, be a sexy GODDESS (or GOD for those men reading this) because that is who you are, chronic pain or not.




Exercise, Part Two – How Much is Too Much?

So I spent the summer mostly outdoors on my time off from work. Sitting on patios, whether writing or drinking with friends, or eating, or anything really. The wonderful summer weather is the best! I also spent a great deal of time, doing outdoor activities for exercise. Let’s take a break from yoga inside the apartment and do something to enjoy the short summer season we get in Canada. I still maintained the daily exercises my chiropractor and physiotherapist gave me, but included more physically active things to. Some for better, and some for worse.

IMG_2229Hike at Dundas Peak.

For Better:

The daily exercises. These include two types of stretches for my hips, and two specific hip exercises done at home. A stretch for my back, and a back exercise. A stretch for my arms as well. They also include some leg exercises, to keep my strong, and a number of core exercises. Is it weird that I like doing planks? And I literally always have (since I was eleven or twelve).

Kayaking. I am by no means going to be a speed kayaker. No do I have any interest in being. My friend and I rented some kayaks and floated down the Humber River for two hours. It was awesome. Great, light exercise for the arms, and the option to go at whatever pace you want. If you’re feeling particularly strong, go for it. If you’re feeling some pain or like you need to go slower, do that. Kayaking gives lots of options.

Epic Hikes. I love finding new places to go for amazing hikes, in and around my city. Some hiking I did alone, some I did with friends, and some with my younger brother (who is a bit of a slave driver). The views and scenery are priceless, and again, there are options to go at your own pace. None of the hikes were advanced by any means, pretty much anyone could do the trails. But the pace is entirely set by you, and it’s a great source of exercise, regardless of how fast you go.

IMG_2016Kayaking down Humber River.

For Worse:

Softball. Okay, so I participated in a charity softball tournament with my workplace. We raised a ton of money for Sick Kids Hospital and it was totally worth it. However, softball is terrible if you have chronic pain. The motion of swing the bat. Sprinting from base to base. Even throwing and catching can take its toll on your arms. And god forbid you have a injury because you’re running too fast and fall forward, but crawl to base so you don’t get out (yes, that was me). I was dead for days after. Probably not a sport I’d do more often than a once a year charity tourney.

Bowling. The one indoor sport I did in the summer, which also happened to be with work. Oh my god, what a killer for the arms. I was in so much pain after, it took my physiotherapist and chiropractor weeks to fix me up. My chiropractor suggested that if I want a light activity, ping pong is the option. Bowling is not. I guess I learned my lesson.

IMG_2074 2Softball for Sick Kids.

The most important note: keep physically active because it is good for you and your chronic pain! Just don’t overdo it, and if you’re unsure about the sport or activity you’re going to try out, consult your healthcare professionals before you play. They’ll help you prevent injury and advise if it’s okay. Now that we’re heading into winter, I’m sure I’ll have another exercise based post for your in a few months, after I have some fun with winter sports again!

Let’s Talk About Diet Again

Since this is consistently a topic of conversation in regards to Autoimmune Diseases and chronic pain, and something that I personally struggle getting on the band wagon with, I figure it would be a good time to bring it up again. Post Halloween-sugar craze but pre-Christmas delicious-food-time. The Paleo Diet is specifically what I want to talk about. I tried it for the second time in the past year, in August. I failed miserably after a week. There’s more than one factor that goes into why I struggle with sticking to it. As well, I’m constantly back-and-forth on whether it will work. The research on diet is constantly changing and what everyone says works now, probably will be totally different in ten years. Now, I’m not discounting Paleo by any means. My boss swears by it. He feels better than he ever has (after suffering from IBS), and has a lot more energy. I have a chiropractor friend who also swears by it, as does my own chiropractor, and though my naturopath also says it’s great, she admits that she doesn’t quite stick to it either.

paleo-tableImage from: http://thepaleodiet.com/

There definitely seems to be more people in support of the Paleo Diet than against it. Many people, chronic pain and/or autoimmune disease warriors who have become symptom-free after using the diet. Though in many cases, this is in combination with exercise, massage therapy, water therapy, and additional supplements, indicating that it may not be diet alone. That being said, through my vigorous internet research, there doesn’t seem to be enough scientific studies done to see if it actually does have the beneficial purposes it claims to have. There are currently a number of studies under way, so hopefully that helps to clarify, but we won’t know until they are completed. The food on the “good to eat” list of the diet, are all definitely good to eat. No one would doubt that for a second. And a lot of the foods on the “bad to eat” list are also, not great to eat. Again, no doubting. Though some of the foods (particularly the night shade vegetables) feel weird to be on a “don’t eat” section. There are numerous benefits to the diet, aside from reducing chronic pain. Such as weight loss, and mental clarity.

paleo-foods-paleo-food-list-paleo-diet-recipesImage from: http://interweave-consulting.blogspot.ca/2016/02/michael-mosleys-paleo-diet.html

So why do I find this diet hard? The number one reason is cost. I don’t make a lot of money, and the amount of money it costs to maintain this diet is super high. Even modifying it doesn’t reduce the costs by a lot (for example, I can’t afford to buy grass-fed meat, so both times I modified it with just regular supermarket bought meat). Reason number two, is that I’m a foodie. I love food, particularly from different regions of the world, and find it hard to give up those foods altogether, for a more basic diet. Yes, this is entirely my issue, and I probably should get over it, but when you’ve grown up eating food from everywhere, it’s difficult to eat rather plainly. Third reason, is that both times I tried the diet (the first time for 3 weeks, and the second for 1 week) I felt incredibly hungry all the time, and extremely exhausted. I read that you have to make it a month before those feelings subside, but since I already suffer from exhaustion, especially during a flare, the last thing I need is to feel more that way. I do think this diet is worth a third attempt, just so I can make it past the one month and see if I actually feel better physically after, but we’ll have to see.

IMG_0486Spike the vampire dog hopes you had a great Halloween!

I would love to hear from any other chronic pain warriors who find themselves in the same boat as I do. Trying this diet, but finding it difficult for the above, or other reasons. In the meantime, for November I’m definitely going alcohol-free because I feel a good liver cleanse is always a good thing. Hopefully everyone had a great Halloween!