Thank you to our partner, Dr. Jill Kirby, for this content. You can check out her blog for pieces such as this one and more at her website.
Having chronic pain brings a mix of emotions. You feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, guilty, isolated…the list goes on and on. You get tired of the merry-go-round of emotions. Some days you feel good and some days you feel bad. There is no rhyme or reason and it’s impossible to predict.
But one feeling that many of us feel is out of control. We feel like we have lost total control over every part of our lives. Chronic pain effects every decision we make about everything we do.
For example, you need a new car. You go to the car lot and look at a very affordable, late model sedan. It’s in your price range and it has a ton of room for your family.
You ask the dealer for a test drive. He gives you the keys and you proceed to get into the driver’s seat. The car drives great and the sales person tells you that there is a sale and the car is $1,000 less than the sticker price. Now you know this is the right car! It drives like a dream, has tons of room, and it’s a great price.
You drive back to the car lot and the test drive is over. You open your car door to get out and then it hits you: you’re having trouble getting out of the car. The car sits too low and your knees are stiff and painful which means you can’t bend them enough and put your full weight on them to get out of the car.
Or your back is aching and, because the car sits too low to the ground, you can’t stand up straight when you get out of the car. You’re hunched over and as you close the car door the edge of the door hits your shoulder. Now you’re going to have a nasty bruise on your shoulder and a little embarrassment because you know that this entire scenario looks bizarre to an onlooker.
You end up getting a pricier SUV because it sits up higher and is easier to get in and out of. A decision that was out of your control because your pain prevented you from getting the car you really wanted.
How do you gain control of your life instead of letting your pain control your life? It’s just like eating an elephant — one step (or bite) at a time.
First, take it slow. Don’t try to tackle all your symptoms at once. I used to get so disappointed in myself because I didn’t get everything done on my ‘to do’ list. But now, I just do what I can do and what I can’t do, I put off for another day. I prioritize what needs to be done and I also plan for tasks that require my sharpest mind to be done in the morning.
Second, keep yourself isolated. I know there are days when it’s just easier to sit on your couch and not speak (I do this too) but don’t make this a habit. Pick up the phone and call someone. Have an actual conversation — not a texting conversation. Your mind can only focus on one task at a time so when you’re concentrating on what another person is saying, your mind can’t think about the pain. Even just a few minutes of conversation can help!
Finally, learn about the condition that’s causing you pain. Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal! Read trusted websites such as webmd.com, medlineplus.gov, and of course, my website: https://www.thevoiceofchronicpain.com/
Don’t let your chronic pain control you. YOU can control your chronic pain!
Until next time ~ Dr. JB Kirby