Are You Trapped in a Life of Chronic Pain?
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Very often, I get tragically sad blog notes from individuals who are trapped in their homes due to chronic pain. Many are also trapped in their minds, their social lives are non-existent and their families and friends don’t “get it.” This entrapment can be a lonely place. I know this from my personal experience with chronic pain.
To others, those of us who live with chronic pain are an enigma. The range of emotions and reactions are great in us and toward us. It’s almost impossible for someone else to know how you feel. This can include beloved family members, friends and acquaintances as well as physicians. I’ve met more than one doctor who has given me a bored look as I drone on and in my mind I’m saying, “Hey buddy, I’m a nurse. I know the male anatomy and I know how to hurt you. That would teach you a bit about pain and maybe then you’d listen to me.”
No, I haven’t actually carried out that fantasy. That would be labeled assault and I’m much too refined for that; or am I? Do we often feel rage? Of course we do. I think it must feel a little like house arrest with the ankle bracelet except we have pain in far more places on our bodies than just one ankle. What do you do when you feel that entrapment?
Here are the best three ideas I have for you if you are entrapped due to a life of chronic pain.
1. Get out of the house. If you can walk, roll, slide or shuffle, go out onto the porch. If it’s too hot, don’t stay very long. If it’s rainy and cold, don a jacket and a hat. Look around. Check out the neighbors, the traffic or someone’s flowers or shrubs. Look up at the trees, majestic in their constancy. Observe the birds and see what they’re up to as they display that freedom you long to have. Just take the few steps necessary to get out.
After a few attempts at this you may feel like walking up the block if you can manage it. Visit with a neighbor, the mailman or a passing dog. If you can drive, go to a mall, a grocery store or a department store. Walk in, look around then walk out. If you can or want to buy something, that’s okay but it’s the air-filled presence of your fellow humans that you need. When you look around, you are reminded that perfection is rare and most likely a myth, in others as well as ourselves. We’re all grounded by some flaw, some misery or some emotional stress. Life is fluid and it can change drastically from day to day for everyone. You are not alone in this world.
When you return home it will undoubtedly look a big cluttered, stinky, may be dusty and disordered because of the lousy level of energy you’ve been suffering. It’s probably a bit dark. Open a curtain or a blind and let some sunshine in. If you have any energy left, clean one area. You know, it only takes approximately 45 seconds to wash a dirty window and the clean glass will allow more of the outside to come in. One window is all you need to do today. Now you can rest and you will feel better about it. You’ve experienced the stimulation and probable exhaustion of doing something. Welcome back to life.
2. Take a look at your medical care. If you don’t know much about medical issues you at least know whether or not you are making progress. If your current physician isn’t helping you or even listening to you, consider getting another opinion. It’s nice if you like him/her but it isn’t necessary. The important thing is you are paying for a service. It’s a very important service because your life is important. You matter…say it again, you matter. Your life is ticking away and you need to be getting as much from each day as you can muster. Is this doctor helping you to achieve that? If the answer is no, ask friends, call the local hospitals or go online and find a new doctor. A second or third opinion may surprise you and bring much needed answers. All doctors are not alike. They have differing views about everything, including you. Faint heart never won good health. Now I realize good may be a stretch but livable is possible. First of all, you have to believe in the possibility of recovery on some level. If you can’t see it in your mind, work on that. Status quo can get you into a lot of trouble. Your health doesn’t stand still. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. Which one do you want? You are a living creature and we living creatures need movement, nutrition and stimulation, both mental and physical. We also need love and friendship.
3. Reach out to someone else. If your family doesn’t understand, try to explain. So often, our families are the last ones to understand because they are afraid for themselves. Is whatever you have going to affect them? Families don’t like change and think they know you when they don’t know you at all. Your malady may be an inconvenience. It may require them to do more work, live with less income or face change. Nobody likes change…well, that’s just the way life is and often it comes without an invitation.
Try to find a support group at your local hospital or come online with one of our groups. You need others. You may not realize it right now, but you still have a great deal to give from the depths of that pit you’re in. Others need you. Call an old friend. If they don’t “get it”, or don’t seem to want to hear what you’re going through, move on to another friend or relative. Remember it is not just your life that has been shaken. All humans face hardship, disease or the fall-out from someone’s thoughtless actions. We all have a story to tell. Share yours and listen to theirs.
You deserve to get out of that trap. Gnaw, chew, fight and educate yourself out of it. Life is too good to be wasted and so are you.
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