Monday, March 23, 2015

Functioning with Chronic Pain: Part 1 Getting up and out of Bed

I've decided to do a series of living with chronic pain.  the reason is because I have chronic pain from arthritis and fibromyalgia and the day to day chores can be daunting.  I want to share what makes my days go a little easier.  My days aren't perfect, but I do my best.
 Today's post is about getting up, out of bed AND being productive.  Sometimes this is the most difficult part of living with chronic pain. 

I will admit that there are days when I don't get out of bed except to go to the bathroom and to eat.  Those are my really bad days.  When you have chronic pain, it's ok to excuse yourself once in a while and have a "stay in bed and watch tv/read/sleep day.  It really is.  You don't want to do this too often because your body needs activity, but once in a while, when the pain is too much to handle, you have someone to watch the kids or take care of the animals, or whatever is needed, take a mental health day and stay in bed. 

Most days, though, I want to be productive.  I don't want to be laying in bed.  I'm sure if you have chronic pain, you do too.  I want to get up and get things done.  However, I find out if I do too many things, I pay for it later.  You have to learn to pace yourself.  I'm still learning this from many past experiences. 

Give yourself extra time to get ready for work in the mornings, you can't just jump out of bed and quickly get ready.  Sometimes it takes a little extra time in the shower, or a little extra time getting dressed.  This is ok, just plan for it.

Give yourself a little extra time to prepare something to eat.  I take many medications in the morning that I can't take on an empty stomach.  If you do too, you want to eat something.  For me, it's something as easy as a piece of peanut butter toast or a breakfast granola bar.  Just something so that the medications aren't floating around in there all alone. 

Be patient with yourself as fibromyalgia and medications for it can cause brain fog.  This means you may have a hard time finding the right words to say in certain situations.  This is very embarrassing for me when I'm doing my public speaking or out socially with friends.  I've come to say things like "I've started a new medication that causes brain fog, so please excuse me if I mess things up a little or seem a little at a loss for words, I really am".  It usually gets a little laughter and a few nods of understanding and it breaks the ice a bit. 

Pacing yourself comes in handy when going out with friends or family.  I find that by the time evening rolls around, I'm completely and utterly exhausted.  Going out socializing is often the last thing on my mind.  On days that I have something planned, I try to either sleep in a little, if I have that luxury, or try to sneak in a little afternoon nap.  If these things are not a possibility, I try to keep that day light in activity, knowing that I'll be going out later on.  I also make sure I'm dressed comfortably, as fibromyalgia has made it impossible for me to wear heels any more or really tight clothing. 

I have learned to slow down, but at the same time, I want to enjoy life as much as I can.  I don't dwell on what I can't do, but appreciate what I can.  So you can't go out and dance the night away, you can go out and have dinner with a friend.  You may not be able to endure a loud concert like you used to, (I can't), but you can enjoy an evening at a piano bar.  There are ways to adapt and enjoy life even with chronic pain. 

It's a diagnosis, not the end of the world. 

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