Living With Chronic Pain

There is so much to the meme in the picture that is true. Awesome things will happen today if you choose to not be a miserable cow. How we live is often how we choose to live. When we have chronic pain, we can choose to lay about licking our wounds or we can choose to get our asses up and still live life to the fullest extent possible. Every day, we have choices to make in how we are going to live and get through the day.

But that is easy for you to say!

Look, I absolutely do get what it is like to live with chronic pain. I damn well know that living with chronic pain makes day-to-day life difficult for all of us who live with it. Chronic sciatic pain from a spinal injury ten years ago touches every single part of my life, from hygiene, to cooking, to relationships, to sleeping. I’ve been living with chronic pain since I blew my spine out at L5 S1 ten years ago in an accident at work. I know what it is like to be dropped to the floor in pain that can and does turn on the water works of tears from my eyes. I have had the experience of having to learn to be able to once again walk normal because of a damaged sciatic nerve. But never the less, I made the choice to over come the pain and to live life to my fullest. We can choose to live isolated in our homes because we hurt, or we can take life by the horns and kick its ass instead. Either choice we make, still leaves us in pain, so why not learn to embrace the suck and drive on instead of cowering every time the pain gives us a bad time.

If you also live with that pain as your constant companion, you’ll probably relate to these 9 things all too well:

 You never know how you’ll feel in the morning

When you live with chronic pain, every day is an adventure. That goes double for the start of the day. We never know how much pain we’ll wake up with or how it will change throughout the day. But just because we might wake up in pain, it does not mean the pain will be bad once you have got up, hydrated your body and begun some movement. Often, how we feel in the morning is no indicator of how we will feel later, unless we choose to give in to the pain instead of overcoming it.

People don’t seem to understand what “chronic” means

Loved ones often mean well when they tell us things like, “Hope you feel better soon!” The reality is, the pain doesn’t stop, so it’s hard to know what to say. For my chronic pain, it is something I will live with the rest of my life. No matter what I might do, I will always have pain or discomfort to some degree or another.

“Have you tried ___?”

Again, people mean well and want to help. That said, I have been to professionals to get help with my pain conditions and I have done a ton of my own research. Those of us who suffer, know our own bodies best. If I am sharing frustrations about pain, it’s usually because I am venting and not in search of a pain relief strategy. I have been on narcotic pain medications that only left me with an addiction to them. I have tried numerous stretching techniques that work in the moment. What I have found is the best pain relief for me is to get my ass up and move. I work out four days per week and when the weather is nice,  I like to get out and hike.I have found the best pain relief for me is to get my heart rate elevated that gets well oxygenated blood moving through my body. I have found that vigorous exercise not only distracts my mind from pain, there is also a release of all natural pain relief from within our bodies through the release of endorphins and dopamine. Have you ever heard of a runners high? It is real and can also be obtained from heavy weight training.

Some days are easier than others

I’ve been dealing with varying levels of pain every single day for the last 10 years. Some days are a lot easier. Other days are an absolute struggle fest. Still, I refuse to be defeated even on the worst of days. There are choices to be made in how we proceed through the course of our day.

You LOL when asked questions like, “Do you have any pain today?”

I can never avoid laughing at this question. I usually feel bad when I do. I know the person asking isn’t doing it out of malice or a lack of understanding, but because they might feel the need to ask. If you know I suffer chronic pain, then you can rightly assume I have some degree of pain no matter what time of day you might ask if I have any pain. My pain is chronic, it never leaves me.

Doctors without pain don’t always understand

Healthcare providers are amazing people. But too often they will turn to a medical treatment for your pain rather than getting you to do anything physical that might relieve your suffering.

Managing pain is more than pills

Patches, kinesiology tape, exercises, meditation, self-care … These are all a part of the chronic pain toolbox. Too often people want pills to treat their pain over trying anything else that might initially bring more discomfort at first, such as physical therapy exercise and stretches. People are adverse to pain , pills are the quickest and easiest form of pain relief, yet can also lead to destruction of lives.

The relief you feel when painkillers start working

Pain can greatly affect our lives, it can influence how we interact with others. When relief starts to hit, it helps to eliminate so many of those symptoms of pain. Hell, if we do not get too settled into our sofa’s, we might even become productive! We can go back to being ourselves instead of someone struggling to survive the day. Conversely, we might lose all color from our world. Early on in my case when I was still on narcotic pain relievers, I found that I only existed and was not living. Hence the reason I made the choice to learn to just live with and deal with my pain.

Still, medications don’t completely remove pain

Pain is still a constant companion. It’s always with us, even when we’re on medication. Oxycodone never made me quit hurting, it just made it where I did not dwell on it so much. What I learned through my personal experience is that as long as I took pain medications for chronic pain, my pain would never go completely away. I was just a drug addled individual who still lived on pain. Ten years later I live a full life even with the pain still there. Today, as a serious weight trainer, my chronic pain helps to keep my ego in check when lifting heavy weights.

Both through my email contact here on the website, and in person, I often get asked about how to deal with pain, to which I will always tell the individual to exercise and strengthen their body. That being said, I will also always tell them to ensure they have their doctor’s clearance before beginning any exercise regimen. I always recommend strengthening exercises as building strength is important for stabilizing the joints and preventing future injuries. For people living with chronic pain, adequate core strength is especially important. It helps you maintain proper posture and balance and reduces the risk of injuries that could lead to more pain. Regular workouts can boost the production of feel-good endorphins, including dopamine, and reduce chronic pain. Plus, besides preventing your muscles from weakening, and your joints from stiffening, a good workout regimen  will help remove extra pounds from your hips, thighs, and midsection. Face it, it is not rocket science to figure out the closer you are to a healthy body weight, the better your body is going to feel. If you should weigh about 130 to 150 pounds and you are obese, you are going to have unnecessary aches and pains.

What you do with your chronic pain is a personal choice. You can choice to let it kick your ass each and every day, or you can choose to live life to your fullest despite the pain. It is a choice to be made, I know what I chose for myself, and it works better than laying about licking my wounds in the hopes it would magically disappear one day. That is not going to happen any time soon now is it…

 

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