By Nicole DePalma MS LMT Three days after my fortieth birthday, I was hit by a car. Chronic pain and I have had a journey together ever since. Perhaps you’ve suffered an accident, an injury, or a …
By Nicole DePalma MS LMT
Three days after my fortieth birthday, I was hit by a car. Chronic pain and I have had a journey together ever since.
Perhaps you’ve suffered an accident, an injury, or a have or had a job that required repetitive movements over a long period of time. However we got here, many of us live with some sort of chronic issue(s) that can go anywhere from mild to downright “ten” on the “how bad does it hurt” scale. Since this type of pain is a daily reality for a good part of the population, the question then becomes, how do we manage this? How do we decide how chronic aches or pains will affect us? Just like the intensity of chronic pain can range from mild to severe, our response to the effects of discomfort can range from the old “can do” attitude to “throwing in the towel”. Each one of us has decisions to make about our wellbeing and the steps we take to maintain the best health we can gift ourselves with.
Perhaps the first step in beginning a journey with chronic pain is to get the best diagnosis we can (if that hasn’t been established already) and having a good discussion with our health care team about what is known about our condition( s), and what is known about protocols to manage that condition(s). If your health care team feels that we need to move to a more specialized team to get at deeper answers and treatments, then that is the step to take. When it comes to our health and well-being, knowledge is power, and the more we know, the better-informed decisions we can make for ourselves. Besides these visits, ask our providers for a deeper dive into research materials, or if we feel you need it, a second option, or other resources we want to learn from to help make good, sound decisions and an action plan.
Now we go from “knowledge is power” to “you can lead a horse to water…”. All the information in the world and advice from good people won’t do anything unless we act on that knowledge. What do we do with what we know? How willing are we within our circumstances to take steps that may help alleviate the level of pain we live with, and have better outcomes over the long haul?
Do we need to build a posse of Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Instructors, Coaches, etc. to work with us? Do we need to take classes or gather materials that address our issues to get on top of state-of-the-art information to help us make more informed decisions about our chronic pain? What we know about what’s presently being done to deal with our issue(s)? Are there any study trails out there we could be a part of? But all of this being said, it boils down to what are we realistically willing to do to help our situation?
We need to look at our lifestyle, our living situation, our “day-to-day” to figure out what’s going to make sense to incorporate into our action plan into for we really live. For example, if pool therapy is something that would help us feel better, A. is there a pool nearby to access, and B. would we use it?!! Or if physical therapy is recommended for our issue(s), what type of barriers are there to us getting PT, and are we willing to overcome those barriers? Examples here might be, does your insurance cover the cost of PT, is there a Therapist that knows a good deal about your issue(s), and do you have a good relationship with that Therapist? PT can sometimes be painful. Are we willing to work through that in a session and while doing our “homework” to move toward our goals of feeling better over time? Sometimes we need a list of pros and cons for action steps to see if the pros are going to outweigh the cons of moving forward. Boil this down to its essence: ultimately, we’re the master of our ship. What we do or don’t do will determine our future.
Here is where we need to look at our attitude toward our pain, and the “right here, right now” of how its affecting us. Has the pain totally immobilized us, have we discovered what movements, foods, variables “set things off”? Have we found some things that give us relief from the intensity of the ache or pain? Have we given any type of protocol enough of a chance to see if it (they) will actually make a difference in how we feel? Do we find that we get emotionally drained from our anger, despair, or irritation toward our pain that our mental well-being gets sucked into the pain vortex? If any of the above apply, and believe me, I’ve had those days along my journey, then we can allow this emotion to drive us to a new way of responding to our health, or do we sink in it. Let’s not sink!
Let me offer a quote from Albert Einstein, “A problem cannot be solved with the same consciousness that created it.” Or the Great Philosopher, Bob DePalma (my Dad) used to say, “Fact are stubborn things.” (I really hated it when he pulled that one on me!!!) If this is the case, we have to look at our situation clearly. We’ll need to dispense with the “yeah, buts”, and the “I wish”, and the “why me?” for a while. Of course we’ll throw those feelings out there once and awhile. Sometimes we need to get that out of our system. But we have to come back to owning the skin we live in and how we’ll treat it. I’ll offer these steps, and I hope you may find some use to them: 1.Get a diagnosis, and feedback from health care professionals about what is known of your issue(s), and what is known about available treatment.
2. Follow up with your own research, ask questions, and get a second opinion if needed.
3. Look at possible barriers to your action plan. Develop a pros and cons list to each barrier, and what you’re willing to do to overcome those barriers.
4. Look at your attitude and behavior toward your pain journey. Are you incorporating an “Einstein/DePalma” reality check to your well-being, or the “throw in the towel” attitude?
5. Get a Posse together to help you achieve: the health care team, the “go get ‘em” team, whatever group of positive people you need around you to help you, cheer you, and listen to you when you need it.
6. As “tough love” as this all may sound, please Dear Reader always remember that this is the body, mind, and soul we live in. How do we take care of that? How do we honor how all of this tries minute by minute of every day to take care of us?
7. If we make choices based on self-care and living in gratitude for what we’ve been given the still works, still is good, there will be a way for us to move along with our chronic aches and pains as hard as times may be. I’m right there with you! Cheers.