Many of us who are chronically ill have encountered the words pain management in every single support group and in every doctors office for so long now. But what is it really?
When I first started needing pain relief and stronger meds I was scared. I worried that I would begin down a path where I would need more and more relief and stronger and stronger drugs, thus making myself more unable to think clearly and function. It’s a hard decision to make and so many of us struggle making these choices… but sometimes it gets made for us.
Unless someone has faced real keep-you-up-all-night pain, and then had to do that every day over and over than you can’t know how hard these choices are!
I still don’t know whether we manage our pain or we manage to endure it. I think that we try to achieve a little of both and in the best ways we know how.
Pain management for me means trying to use every tool and technique I can! I use heat therapy in the form of warm showers, heat packs, rubbing and massage. I use TENS machines on various muscle groups and joints. I try physical therapy in the form of stretching and range of motion exercises (assisted). And of course I use pain medications.
I try to do as much movement as my body will physically allow me on any given day. That’s been the management plan for the past ten years and it hasn’t changed much for me. I do it because I need to be doing something to help myself for my own reassurance.
Most people will never know this type of pain and have to endure it; it’s both a blessing and a curse. I only wish that those who have no real understanding would be less inclined to judge or offer advice.
This year I have added a lot more mindfulness and breathing techniques to my toolkit. I have also had to increase my current pain medication dosage… We do what we must!
Will this be enough? I honestly don’t know but it has made me embrace even more solitude and quiet times. I can understand why animals will withdraw and hide in places when the pain is too much. It is instinctive amongst all living organisms.
The one thing I have discovered in all of these years is that when people say “oh I suffer terrible pain levels too and I just keep working despite of them…” they clearly have no understanding of the type of pain levels faced by these diseases. None at all. These pain levels are not something you simply keep working through. They are pain levels that require medications, rest, emotional strength, stoic resolve and sometimes hospitalization!
In short these are not simple topics when it comes to chronic pain management, and each person deserves enormous respect for coping with what they have to. Hopefully one day something will come and help change the endless suffering for so many out there.