Monday, April 26, 2010

Making friends with pain………

So, you have found yourself with a new constant companion…..pain.  It’s like you woke up to find that you’ve got a new BAD boyfriend.  You know the kind, very demanding, always needs to be the center of attention and doesn’t give your needs any thought.  This new ‘friend’ is incredibly rude. He’ll interrupt your day anytime he gets the urge.  He’s very inconsiderate; he doesn’t care if your sleeping or if you have plans with someone else.  He won’t take the hint; he doesn’t understand subtly. You would really like to ditch him; but, he never seems to leave for long.
Unfortunately, the prospect of kicking him to the curb isn’t a reality.  So what’s a girl to do? Well, you’re only option is to get to know him WELL.   You should get to know him very well.  After all, he is now intimately involved in your life.  Welcome him in as part of family. 
  • Recognize that no one lives a pain free life. Everyone experiences pain.  There are merely different levels of pain.  Some are just given more than their fair share. My ‘healthy’ sister called when she had a thumb injury.  She asked me how I lived everyday with pain.  My answer was that I accept it as part of my life. For me, pain just IS. 
  • Stop asking, “Why Me?” That’s an unanswerable question. No one can tell you why you were blessed to get your particular condition.  Yes, I said “BLESSED.”  Start asking “Why Not Me?”  What do I have that makes me a good candidate for teaching others?  How can I make a difference to someone else suffering?  What am I teaching my children about overcoming adversity? When you start seeking those answers, life will blossom. 
  • Realize that pain is just another sensation.  There is hot and cold, hungry and full, rested and tired, angry and serene, and comfort and pain.  It’s just part of the spectrum.  It does tend to be one of the longer, more frequent parts; but, it is always on the chart.  It’s more a matter of degrees of pain.  Is this pain bad enough to stop me from enjoying a movie?  Do I need to take more medication?  Could I go out and enjoy coffee with a friend?  Those are the questions I ask now.
  • Recognize that pain can be a helpful reaction.
    We know not to touch a hot pan; because, if we do it will burn us and it will hurt.   For me, head pain is a measuring stick.  If my pain continues to climb after taking medication to stop it, I should seek more medication.  If I ignore that pain, I will end up in the ER.  If I pay it the proper attention, it will go away.  I don’t allow myself the opportunity to say, “If only I had done _______ sooner.”  Frequently, this means everything else stops, so I can care for myself.
  • Don’t let guilt inflict additional pain. After 16 years I had to quit working. This set me into a major identity crisis. Who was I, if I wasn't a travel agent.  I decided that I was a Personal Health Specialist! Granted, it was my own personal health; but I had to have a title to feel worthy of being someone. Now, I've given up the title.  I don’t have to be anything other than ME in order to be happy.  Sick people have a right to find happiness and to enjoy life too.  Just because I enjoy an activity doesn’t mean I don’t have an illness, need help frequently, qualify for assistance or am cured.  Enjoyment produces endorphins which create emotional elation, stress reduction, improved immune systems, and decreased pain perception.
Pain will always be part of my life; it’s not going to break up with me.   I can’t run away from it or divorce it.   Since it is going to be such an integral part of my life, I might as well learn how to live with it.  Wait, I should say, I might as well learn how to live WELL with it or is that, in spite of it. All I know is that I can’t control the pain, the only thing I can control is my attitude toward it.
Quote of the moment: Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the
overcoming of it.   -Helen Keller