Some days, I know there are not enough Band-Aids in the world to cover all my areas of pain. Colored, striped or Snoopy designs, they don’t matter when your everyday needs are so great. The following aren’t real bandages of course, but metaphorical ones to aid, to soothe and hopefully to inspire each of you who also have daily pain. These are just a few remedies and assists I have found to make this life with pain not only bearable but doable and often enjoyable in spite of the pain and many times, actually blessed.
1. Don’t get sucked into the “failing health” way of thinking. Between you and I, that might be true but you don’t have to tell the whole world. Each year brings new drugs, new remedies and new approaches. Your mindset has a significant influence on your health each day of your life. Never underestimate the power of your mind. There are no rules, therefore, you don’t have to sit down on your backside and slide into the slime pit of despair. I know that would appear to be the easy thing to do but it falls short of reward, joy and peace. Are those possible? Yes, they are.
2. You should avoid, as if they were lit firecrackers, all individuals who want to dump on you, compare sad stories with you as in “mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the sickest one of all”, or talk excessively and obsessively about their own health…or yours. There is sharing and there is competitive comparing. If you share, do it for your benefit or another’s not to roll in, be maudlin about or compete with someone who obsesses about the ill way of life. There are neurotics in this worldwho enjoy misfortune and wallow like pigs drawn to a big puddle of mud. If they don’t have enough problems of their own, they are waiting to tell you how to handle yours or to tell you theirs are worse than yours. What is this, some sick contest, and I mean sicko in the mental sense of the word. If they do not have edification or your best, most fruitful life as their intentions, move on. It’s difficult because sometimes these are old friends, even family members. Be frank, be honest and be kind as you must put yourself first in many destructive relationships in this way of life, in order to survive.
3. Try to fight against every part of your malady, injury or disease that is trying to suck you under. Remember sometimes life physically hurts but that’s doable; just keep moving, planning ahead and breathing in air as you take one step after another. Move what can be moved, stretch any part of you that can be stretched and keep on truckin’. You may have to use a cane, a walker, a crane, a hoist, a wheelchair or a loving arm; just move. Lethargy is no friend of yours. I know, there are days you’ll be certain your rear is attached to the bed with Velcro, just remember there are two parts to Velcro and it is meant to be taken apart.
4. Don’t let yourself fall apart. The chances are, if you used to be a cute, pretty or handsome individual, you still can be. Sick, older and infirmed does not equal ugly so don’t help it happen. Take pride in your appearance, think about hygiene and when it becomes difficult, remember any exercise is good exercise. Brushing your teeth counts. Rubbing lotion onto your arms, feet and legs counts; especially if you literally count to forty while you massage it in forty times. That’s forty times your arms will be exercised each day. Climbing stairs counts as does all daily functions. Keep counting on your body to come through for you. If you give up on it, it might retaliate and give up on you.
5. Think about what you eat. Read a book on nutrition frequently or even a good, beautifully photographed cookbook. Food is fuel but it is so much more than that. If you don’t eat a well-balanced diet, take your vitamins and minerals each day. Become aware of what you are putting into your body. Try to include all of the major food groups when you eat each day. In other words, get protein, via meats or cheese, etc; carbs via breads, desserts or pastas and rice; sugars via fruits or obviously sweet treats. Some of us have learned we get along better without meat products in our lives and stick with the vegie groups. We each are so different, be sure eating is pleasurable and not a punishment. Drink plenty of liquids but do try to avoid the chemically filled drinks such as soda and overly sweetened juices. This isn’t a dietary treatise, just be aware because many of us who live with diseases and pain do not prepare many meals and have to eat frozen food straight out of the microwave on pain filled days. Just watch the fast foods with all its bad fats and fillers. Unfortunately, the delivery services and food of the cook your own variety are very expensive.
6. Read a daily newspaper or a weekly news magazine. Get your head outside of yourself. There is a huge world out there full of healthy, some sick, innovative and wonderful human beings. It will remind you that you are not alone. Keeping up with the outside world will also help you to keep your perspective and find numerous individuals who also must face life as a challenge. You are a member of a vast array of humanity. Some days, if the news is too heavy, and there is nothing you personally can do to improve it, don’t be afraid to turn the TV off.
7. Give a portion of what you have to charity of some kind. There are so many who need help in today’s world. There are children’s hospitals, veteran’s organizations, food banks, etc. Even if you only give one dollar it will come back to enrich your soul as well as helping another fellow human who needs you. Remember we are part of a human chain or brotherhood…be a link.
8. If you don’t like your doctor or are not getting relief, help or hope from him/her then look for a new doctor. Most people forget doctors are a professional group. If you didn’t like the job your plumbing was doing, well, get another one. Why do we consider doctors differently? Those of us with chronic pain succumb more easily than most to depression and discouragement. Reach out toward any source of inspiration whether it is your faith in God, the beauty of a sunset or the awesome sight of a bird in flight. Let your mind give you strength when your body has little of it.
9. Don’t be an idiot. Be wise. It’s okay to be an independent thinker but you are paying this doctor, or your insurance company is. If your physician gives you a medication, take it. Take all meds exactly as they are ordered to be taken. Keep them in their original bottle or another container that is labeled. One of my sistersused to carry her medications in a plastic bag when she traveled, loosely mixed together. Don’t fall into the bad habit of doing that. You may find yourself in the Emergency room one night trying to explain to an ER nurse or doctor you take “two of the red ones, one of the little round yellow ones at night and I don’t knowwhat all the white ones are.” Another good idea is to put your meds into those weekly compartment plastic containers so you don’t have to count them out when you are half asleep in the morning or half way to bed at night. I keep a running list of my pain meds and muscle relaxants because I do sometimes forget what time I took one of them. My oncologist had a big laugh when I told her I do that. She said, “Oh my, that’s the nurse in you.” I still think it’s a good idea. If you’re given advice to exercise or stretch, then do it. Reach with your heart full of hope, believe in tomorrow and look up, never look down except when you’re afraid you’re going to trip. I know this is scary, this whole endangered health experience. You can still fight when you’re afraid and perhaps, you might fight a little better. Courage my dears, courage.
10. Remember, each day, the fleeting quantity of life. We are not going to live forever so try to truly LIVE your life, don’t just exist. Try to find joy in your spouses, your children, your pets and your friends. I know it sucks when you also lose quality in life but there is always a way to adapt, to change, to grieve for what once was and move on. Don’t get stuck.
11. Bring, buy or cut out something from a newspaper or magazine that will makeyou laugh. Put it where you can see it every day. Rent or buy a DVD that’s humorous, read humor or even the comics; just smile or laugh each and every day. That’s a medical modality. It’s good for your health, your heart and your mind. You can’t find better medicine than that. Flee from TV shows that only deal with blood, guts or the occult. I know they are popular but they do not lead to a positive way of looking at life.
12. Be fanciful, believe in magic and look for the fairy dust in life. Refuse to embrace invalidism or those who encourage you to do so. This includes moaning, sighing and self-pity. Crying is allowed as a release valve or preferably if you are crying on behalf of someone else it’s a powerful connection to others. If you must behave in a bitchy manner, make it quick, get it over with and get on with the business of living. If you need to cry, cry; then dry it up and get back to life. The same goes for irascible behavior.
13. This last one I like to call the X Factor. Find your own personal dwelling place for peace and fulfillment. You will never find it by being bitter, whining and complaining constantly. Remember, martyrs all end badly. Be true to your own better safe and be your best by being just that. You and I owe it to those around us, who probably love us, to be your best and not your worst. God loves you and created you for the best life possible and will see you through and help you find that person within yourself. Trust, have faith and always have hope. Keep that pain in its place and don’t let it dictate your life. Leave that kind of power to the greatest Power there is. I will try. Will you?