Surviving the Holidays… Alone and Without Heat… And With Chronic Pain

Okay this could literally be three separate posts, but since this is what happened to me this Christmas, it’s going to be one. The Christmas (or whatever religion you celebrate) holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. And for those of us who fight chronic pain on a daily basis, we all know that stress can just make things worse. Cooking, cleaning, preparing to deal with our own families and our inlaws, if we have them. It can be a total mess. Putting our bodies into complete distress. How can we possibly survive?

IMG_0919Spike and I made each other warm on Christmas

The answer is mindfulness. Take a few moments whenever things get too crazy and do some deep breathing, or meditation. Start your day with yoga. Yes, your body is probably going to hurt, but remember, pain is perceived by the mind. Taking some time for yourself can be extremely helpful in times of stress.

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My holiday’s were stressful for different reasons. For one, I work in retail and live in a different province from my family, so I wasn’t able to see them for Christmas for the third year in a row. We’ll see what the future holds, and luckily I’m going to see them (in a warmer climate) in a month from now. But it’s still hard, and stressful, and lonely. On top of that, I live in the basement suite of a three story house (each floor is rented out separately). Our furnace stopped working on December 23. We’ve been using space heaters since and it’s dreadfully cold, especially in the basement. Now we have to evacuate the house as the hot water is also not working… Stress. My body is in turmoil, but again, I’ll make sure to practice a lot of mindfulness the next few days, and do some exercise as I stay at a hotel.

IMG_0922This is what I need tonight… We’ll see what the hotel situation brings…

Stay strong during times of stress, my chronic pain warriors. We are all in this together.

That Time of the Month…

I don’t know about you, but having chronic pain has made my menstrual cramps a thousand times worse than they were before. Sure, going on birth control has helped, and to be honest, I don’t want to ever experience that kind of pain in that region until I’m giving birth one day. Until then, whatever I can do to quiet the pain I will. From some trusted internet research I have discovered that a lot of women with lupus rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic pain related illness have the same problem. Or that the menstrual cycle itself is causing flares. Pain causes pain, I guess.

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What can be done about it? A lot of rheumatologists will advise additional drugs, or perhaps a higher dose of whatever you are taking, depending on the severity of the flares and if they are happening every month. Alternative include using that good ol’ birth control, to at least quiet the pain a bit (still doesn’t take it away though). Or chat with a naturopathic doctor about other alternatives, such as medical marijuana, magnesium bis-glycinate (natural muscle relaxant), and any other natural solutions. Menstrual cramps are bad enough for a lot of women anyway (though I know women who get virtually none, I’m not sure how they lucked out with that), and having chronic pain can just make them that much worse. Any tips anyone might have, please share. As with most things to do with chronic pain, it’s more about lessening it, as opposed to getting rid of it completely.

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Is this fair? No. Nothing about this is. It’s all about the attitude you take though. We know our little red friend is coming every month (unless you’re planning on getting pregnant, which I personally have no intentions of any time soon), so the best we can do is prepare ourselves. Not to worry about it though, just know when it’s coming, make sure we’re taking what we need to as far as supplements and medication, and keep that positive attitude shining through. Perhaps we need to call in sick to work, or maybe we can make it through the day with that smile we practice all the time. Luckily, we’ll make it through, because we always do. Because we are warriors.

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Forgiving Yourself

It’s easy to become trapped, when you’re living with chronic pain and/or chronic illness into thinking it’s your fault. Or into thinking you’re a burden on your friends and family. Or into thinking that life would be better for everyone without out (there comes that depression and anxiety we’ve discussed before).

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I’m not religious, or particularly spiritual (however, may the force be with you all – yes the new movie comes out next week!!!). That being said you are where you are for a reason. It may not be a good or a fair one, but still here you are. Personally, I’ve flipped my view and it has helped me a lot. If I hadn’t had chronic pain, I would probably never have thought about going back to school to get a Masters in Counselling Psychology to become a therapist. I want to help other people deal with the emotional consequences of their chronic pain. I.e, I want to help people like me. A reason. Not everyone’s reason may be so clear but trying to find one will help you forgive yourself.

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The other proven way to forgive yourself, is to repeat some daily mantras, until you believe them. “It is not my fault.” “I forgive myself.” “i am loved.” “I am not a burden.” Basically any that you can think of that fit your situation or help you feel better. It’s not just saying these though, it’s believing them. You have to believe them in order for mantras to work. Whether you say them out loud, or just in your head, try them out. (This can be applied for a lot more than chronic pain and chronic illness, there are mantras for everything). If you’re having trouble coming up with some on your own, the internet is a wonderful thing full of many. Same with some of those Apps I’ve mentioned in previous posts.

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Finally, talk to someone about how your feeling. It can be a close friend, a partner or spouse, a family member, or a therapist. Whoever it is, make sure they truly understand how you feel and hopefully they can be the support you need as you forgive yourself.