4 Things I Avoid to Keep My Pain Levels Low
In August of 2017, I went to Chicago for the Midwest Chronic Pain Education and Treatment Expo. It was a really great event full of vendors showing off unique products and services that help those of us with chronic pain.
As well as, some amazing speakers sharing interesting info on a variety of treatment options. It was also full of people in pain.
While I’ve attended support groups with others who are in pain and I talk daily online with others in pain, I’ve never been in a situation where I was surrounded by so much pain.
In addition to hearing the stories of pain from others, I was surrounded by a lot of activity, noise, lights, and smells (despite many warnings in the literature to NOT wear cologne or perfume). As a result, I found myself in pain.
While I was there supporting Oska Wellness and very proud to do so, I was in a weird cross-position between being there supporting a sponsor but also as a patient.
Hearing so many people talk about their pains, their illnesses, their surgeries, and all that they go through and have been through, brought pain to the top of my focus – something I’ve worked hard to avoid.
Within just a couple of hours I realized I was in more pain than I’d been in months. My whole body was abuzz. I did my best to ignore it and I pushed through it, but I was definitely feeling it.
What was really interesting is that as soon as the event was over and I was back to only being surrounded by a few trusted friends, my pain decreased back to a level that I could ignore.
This whole situation brought to mind a few things that I’ve done to help decrease my pain, or rather things that I’ve avoided because they increase my pain.
While support groups aren’t all bad, most of those I’ve found (in-person and online) become really negative, drama-filled places where people are focused on their pain.
All of the talk is about pain, a topic I prefer to avoid. I once had a friend ask me how I could write about chronic pain so much and not constantly feel it. My response was “you don’t read my blog much do you?”
There’s a reason I don’t focus on pain in what I write. Focusing on pain brings it to the top of your mind, and when you bring it to the top of your mind, you feel it more.
That’s not to say that support groups can’t be great. Support groups are a very valuable tool, especially in the early days after diagnosis.
It’s hard sometimes to choose who you spend your time with and when an energy vampire is a family member, especially if they are a caregiver it can be really bad. But, you have to ask yourself, is that caregiver actually giving care? Or, are they making you feel worse?
I love fairs, theme parks, concerts, all the places that are full of stimulation. But, I have to be careful about the time I spend in those places.
I try to go to smaller venues for concerts rather than huge arenas. I try to avoid theme parks when they are packed with people.
I can still enjoy those things, I just have to make good choices when I do so. I also have to plan for that stimulation and plan for a quiet place to relax -either alone or with people who don’t suck my energy – after it’s over.
I do a really good job of not thinking about my pain. I have to be having a really bad day for me to note my pain, and an even worse day if I mention it to someone else.
If I end up in physical therapy or at the doctor and they ask me my pain level I really have to stop and think about it and assess my body, because that answer is NOT top of mind.
There have been times I’ve been surprised to realize just how much I hurt when I’m asked that question, and other times when I’m happy to realize that I’m not thinking about it because the pain is barely there.
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