Many of us live in chronic pain everyday and have to muster the energy to go about our daily lives. Whatever the pain you feel, it is important to honor it. The more pain, the more difficult the day. Sometimes pain is just so overwhelming we have to lie down and do nothing just to get through it. Other days the pain is barely there and we rejoice. Here are some few facts about chronic injury and illness and how to survive through them.
According to the CDC, in America, 7 out of 10 deaths are caused by chronic diseases with heart attack, cancer and stroke taking up 50% of all deaths. These illnesses cause great pain before death. Some people acknowledge this pain and do their best to work on reversing the progression of the illness. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability, with nearly 19 million Americans reporting activity limitations. I am one of these individuals. To counteract the pain I feel, I constantly work on myself. Most people would have no idea I am in pain. This is referred to as “invisible illness” and approximately 96% of people who live with an illness have an illness that is invisible. These people do not use a cane or any assistive device and may look perfectly healthy, (US Census 2002).
The biggest health risk factors of chronic disease are lack of physical activity, tobacco use, poor nutrition and excessive alcohol consumption. This also plays a part with arthritis and other disabilities. So first and foremost, for my own injury, I eliminated ALL those areas. My nutrition has become better and specifically designed for my physical and chemical make-up. Yes, there was a point I smoked tobacco (I attribute this to the coming-out-of-the-closet angst years) and I quit that years ago. Alcohol has become nearly obsolete, I tend to sip a single beverage every 3 weeks or so. Lack of physical exercise has never been a problem for me, but in this specific case, I had to completely change the form of exercise I practiced. No more running, jumping, climbing, dancing or sports. Cautious and intensely focused yoga practices I have had to take up. And to my surprise, I actually enjoy yoga and thrive in its field.
Because of all of these positive changes to my health, I do better most of the time. I work part-time for my father’s Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury practice. I know what most people with chronic pain and illness do. They pop pills and sit on their butts. They lose mental clarity from all the pills and some medications cause even worse side effects. Some people lose their teeth, some gain weight, others get internal illnesses. Yes limiting medications IS important. When you have chronic illness, you have to move. The body cannot rid itself of the toxic junk within it without moving. Our internal organs do NOT enjoy lack of movement. So move, but do it cautiously! If you are like me and have physical limitations, you NEED to be doing yoga and Egoscue. There are so many types of movements and postures to help the body heal itself, but you have to get out there and try some of them.
You have to also eat well. There is no way around this. Toxins in our bodies only foster cancer and disease. Poor eating habits also inflict undue stress to the internal organs which leads to more physical pain. Eating healthy nutritious foods have been proven time and time again to improve the value and length of lives.
Should you feel severe pain, you need to use the pain medication infrequently (for the really bad episodes) and stick to natural supplements for pain reduction. I am also a supporter of medicinal marijuana, as those with higher CBD levels can really have a positive effect on reducing pain symptoms. There are tinctures and edible forms too. I see positive effects from limited use.
You can’t put tobacco products in your body. Period. I know it sucks if you are a smoker, but if you must, get a vaporizer.
You have to limit your alcohol. Seriously, turn to yoga instead of using alcohol to get away from the world. Enlightenment is a far better high with a better feeling the morning after.
Sleep is super important. On days when you have done so well and you still feel pain because you slept wrong, you need to take time for yourself. You need to rest. Our bodies cannot operate without proper rest, meaning at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Both chronic injury and illnesses hurt physically and emotionally. Each disability negatively impacts our lives with negative emotions. It is important to find some ways to work through all the emotions to save yourself and your social life. We tend to let the agony drift into our relationships and cause undue stress unto others. Therapy is ok and there are plenty of inexpensive and even free mental health facilities around, just use your friend, Google. If you need that, or a Pastor, Rabbi, or guru, use them! It is important to have professionals give you tools to learn how to cope.
Help yourself through the worst times by focusing on each present moment as it comes. When the pain is the worst, breathe. Slow the mind and find a comfortable position. And just be. One moment at a time. Keep bettering yourself and live better. We have to learn to work through each moment today so we can have a better tomorrow.