When I first decided to write this blog post, I hadn’t really thought about what I had learnt from living with chronic pain but I had spent a lot of time thinking about how to cope with the pain.
When people say ” I’m in pain” or “I’m hurting” most people will try to give them advice on what medication to take or the quickest way to get rid of the pain. When you are living with pain every day there are no quick fixes and medication only last so long.
One night after everyone had gone to bed, I sat down at my desk and wrote down everything that I learnt from my pain. The list was quite long but they could all be linked back to the ones I’ve written below.
#1. Acceptance is the way forward.
It took me a long time to accept this was my life from now. The first year of having the leg ulcer I tried to carry on living the same as I did before and I cause more pain and more problems. Once I had accepted that the pain was going to be part of my life for a long time and I learnt new ways of living my life, the pain actually got easier to handle.
#2. I am not a victim to my pain.
Yes pain is a big part of my life but it’s not the only thing happening in my life. I used to run my day-to-day life around my pain, not go out with friends, not take my children out because I knew that the pain would spoil our day but now I don’t let my pain rule my life, I am not a victim any more, I monitor my medication and carry a back-up with me so I can live the way I want to (as much as possible) and start enjoying life again.
#3. Running away from my pain never works.
Trying to ignore my pain and taking numerous tablets to make it go away made me really ill, I ended up having a mini break down, not being able to cope and I was a complete mess. I had to stop running from the pain and really start listening to my body and listening to my pain. By doing this I noticed that there are so many different types of pain. Stinging, burning, throbbing, Now I listen to what my body is telling me, I know exactly what problem is causing which type of pain. when the dressings are stuck it causes a pulling throbbing pain, when I have an infection it feels like my leg is on fire etc…
I am not a patient person and I never have been, this was a hard lesson to learn. When I’m in pain, I get quite snappy and very irritable, I want it gone now! I want to see the specialist to get my leg fixed now! Small things really really bug me. Like people taping their feet, eating with their mouth open and people making the most annoying noises. Over time I’ve had to deal with the fact that the doctors and specialist can’t see me now and my leg can’t be fixed now. My pain medication doesn’t instantly work and the small things, are just that, small things and there is no real reason to get stressed about them, just let them go over my head. Learning to be more patient has reduced my stress levels, which helps to keep my pain at a bearable level.
#5. Its OK not to be OK.
With all the things I’ve written above, this doesn’t mean that every day is a good day or I can cope with everything, believe me I can’t. I have at least 1-2 bad days every week and living with the pain has taught me, it’s OK not to be on top form every day, I’m not a super human, I have a lot to deal with and I have limits. Its taught me when I need to rest, its taught me when I need to stop and ask for help. People aren’t going to judge me for not being able to do everything.
#6. My mind and body are so much stronger than I ever thought it could be.
Before having this leg ulcer, I really couldn’t handle pain very well. Everyone knows that person that moans about the slightest stomach ache. Yup! That was me. As time went by, the ulcer got bigger and so did the amount of pain. My body naturally handled it the best way it could. Pain is a signal your body sends out to let you know something is wrong. It Sends out anti-inflammatory chemical to help with the healing and pain but that wasn’t always enough. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t be able to take any more, it feels like the pain is literally ripping my body apart. I thought physically I wouldn’t make it through the night but my mind would kick in and help me cope with it. Once I could quieten my negative thoughts and started to listen to my mind it would really calm me and remind me of the coping techniques I had learnt. When my body was in crisis with an excessive amount of pain, my mind would kick in and take over. Both body and mind are so strong when they work together.
#7. There is so much more that I want to with my life.
Living in pain means there are limits to what I can do and this has made me realise that before having the leg ulcer, I missed so many opportunity to spend proper quality time with my family, I’ve always been rushing here, there and everywhere else instead. Now its lovely spending all this extra time with them and I’m determined to spend more time with my family and not let life get to busy. Not being able to do much due to pain has taught me, there is so much more I want to do with my life, so much more I want to accomplish. I want to show my children they can reach their dreams and goals, there may be bumps on the journey but they can achieve anything. At the moment I can’t do all the things I want to accomplish but at least for now I know what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have a plan now.
These are the top 7 things I’ve learnt from living with pain. Pain affects people in different ways and it’s such a personal feeling. No-one else can feel your pain. There is so much that we can learn from pain. Things we never knew about ourselves.
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