I have always known the importance of self care when I was a RN on a busy floor. When I got in my car accident and developed chronic pain, that is when I knew self care was needed daily, every hour. From having to take medications to using heating pads and ice packs, self care was so important! I have always thought of self care to be related to health. Chronic pain is anything health related so I assume self care is needed especially among the chronic pain survivors.
I remember when I was a RN, I would go get myself a pedicure or drink a glass of wine at a vineyard. My self care days were different then. For people with chronic pain, self care looks a lot more simple. We have to remember to take our medications, rest, and even shower. Those with chronic pain do not go out to get a massage or pedicure while drinking a glass of red wine. No. Instead here are a few ways we cope…
The first thing on the list is canceling plans to rest. This one is a big one. As sad as this may sound, chronic pain sufferers seem to be unreliable because our health is unreliable. When I used to work full time and struggle with chronic pain, I would preserve myself for my job and life functions because this was crucial. I know I am not the only pain sufferer who feels this way. Even though I do not work full time currently, I still have to preserve myself for those important days. These days include doing Youtube video content, writing in my blog, and playing with my dog. Also, putting time in my relationship and paying bills.
I worry and feel like a horrible person when I cancel plans on friends and family. Although those who love you will understand your situation, we still do not like to cancel plans on our loved ones. But it is part of the reality and honestly, like a requirement for us. For example, I was supposed to meet one of my best friends who lives almost two hours away from me. We decided to meet in my city since she knew I have chronic pain. We were meeting on a Saturday around noon for lunch and getting possibly pedicures. I was so excited for this plan. I also feared the idea of having to cancel due to having extreme pain. Lord be hold, the day finally came. It was about 8am and I woke up with a migraine. Of course, I have neck and back pain like my usual. I knew I had to take care of myself first and use the self care card on her.
I decided to text her and tell her what was going on. She simply said, “Oh girl don’t even worry!!! I love you no matter what!!! I totally understand!!! This is all part of the healing process and we will get together soon!!! I promise!!! Don’t even feel bad. Just focus on taking care of yourself!!” She responded in this supportive way. Imagine if she was not understanding? People with chronic pain would possibly lose friendships over this! I am lucky to say that I have some good friends out there who understand my situation.
The next one is personal hygiene. This one seems so simply but it is overlooked. If you do not experience chronic pain or chronic illness, it can be difficult to understand how showering and brushing your teeth can be agonizing. Imagine your body hurting. You really do not want to get up from bed and have to move to the bathroom. We know how important taking care of your hygiene is but experiencing pain can be demotivating. It is so powerful that it can sway your actions to thinking, “No, I do not have to do that right now.” Taking care of our personal hygiene will help us feel better but it also takes effort and motivation to make that happen. When your pain is so bad that just opening your eyes is bad, you will understand what I mean.
Lastly, physical activity. This one is probably the most difficult one to do and takes the longest. It is tough to get the proper exercise when you are in chronic pain. It is hard to even walk for a mile. I also think it is not just about the present pain that I will be experiencing but also the aftermath. Will I be suffering after I walk for a mile? I dislike having pain and anyone I know does not like it either. I dislike having to put up with it all the time. There are days when my chronic pain flares up, that I cannot do much. Doing stretches is probably a good start for me. I will do that for awhile.
Thanks for reading!!