As many of you know, I recently injured my back again being much too optimistic about how far I could walk. This is an ongoing problem I have had all my adult life since lifting an overloaded case of albums (as in LPs), along with subsequent whiplash injuries, surgery and medieval torture!
Periodically, I need to have osteopathy and rest up for some time. I’ve been struggling this last few weeks, so I am taking some time off to have some treatment and give my body a break. It’s been a physically demanding few months with all the house refurbishment and family birthdays, not to mention 7 weeks of watching sweaty men in lycra, cycling Les Tours de France, Spain and Britain! I need to take better care of myself.
Pain Awareness Month – a personal reflection on Chronic Pain (but don’t worry, this isn’t a moanfest and I suggest tips to help cope!)
This is Pain Awareness Month and boy, have I been aware of pain 😉 Chronic pain is a widespread but often invisible disorder, it interferes with every part of your life and affects those around you as well as those in pain. It affects mood, mobility, the ability to work or create, family relations – I have missed so many important family events, often having to let people down at the last minute – and you can lose friends very quickly.
It is difficult for people, especially the medical profession and often some family members, to understand why one day, or even hour, you can do something, but the next day it is completely impossible; why – even though you’re smiling – you are still in deep, often agonising pain. In this photo, I had had no sleep for a couple of nights due to deep persistent pain, but I was up on Christmas morning ready to join in the family gift-swap.
You are often damned if you do and damned if you don’t: over the years, I have been regularly taken to task for not trying hard enough, then berated for trying too hard and making things worse! It can be impossible to find the right balance.
I have had to spend long periods of time in bed – I’m talking months and even years at a time – unable to look after my children, but I have had people say to me: ‘you’re in the right place’, when it’s cold or wet, or ‘I wish I could lie in bed all day and not have to go to work!’ Don’t say it!
Doctors can only offer me prescriptions for pills that don’t work and make things worse with their side effects. So I choose natural therapies like craniosacral osteopathy for realignment (a gentle form, not the bone-crunching type!), music and aromatherapy oils for relaxation and meditation, herbal remedies for inflammation, homeopathic gel for bruised muscles, audiobooks for stimulation, heat pads for spasms and poor circulation, Rescue Remedy for shock and stress – and my diet helps. It includes copious amounts of raw chocolate! And laughter really is the best medicine.
(Raw cacao is a mood booster and anti-inflammatory and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise;-) It contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries, is a rich source of magnesium which is heart-healthy, helps relax muscles and prevent depression; it contains more calcium than cow’s milk, iron, zinc, B vitamins, omega oils and protein. And it tastes amazing).*
The regular giving of thanks helps prevent and reduce the onset of depression when dealing with chronic pain. Starting a gratitude journal when severely depressed saved my life. Knowing you have to write something down at the end of the day makes you look for the positive and helps to change your mindset. Nowadays, I don’t need to write it out but I express my appreciation every day, even for the little things, especially for the little things. And even when at my worst physically, I still try to perform random acts of kindness.
Thinking of others, looking outwards instead of always looking inwards at my pain, helps me cope. It is partly why I began this blog, to pass on what I have learned and researched in the realm of diet, health and wellbeing, in the hope that someone reading it might be helped just a little bit to improve their lifestyle, their health and their outlook and enjoy a happier, healthier life.
Juicing for Health
Juicing and adopting a vegan diet eased my aches and pains by reducing inflammation, removing extra weight from my joints, resetting my hormones, calming and relaxing me, providing energy and a positive outlook – you can read about my first juice fast and the positive effects on my health here: Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!
Keep Calm, Plants Have Protein!
Altering my diet has improved so many health issues: since changing to a plant-based diet I no longer use an inhaler or have asthma attacks; losing the extra weight reduced the pressure in my spine, improved my mobility, brought my cholesterol levels to normal and improved my digestion. Pain causes tension, which impedes digestion. In addition, years of pain medication has damaged my stomach lining. Dietary changes also helped cure a sudden-onset itchy scaly rash that almost drove me mad. (see How I Juiced My Skin Clear).
(There are several posts in the menu about the nutritional and environmental benefits of adopting a vegan diet).**
Looking and feeling better does have its drawbacks however! People sometimes think that because I look healthy, smile, study, make cards and write a health and wellness blog, everything is hunky dory in the pain department. Sometimes it is hard not to feel a bit of a fraud when I see myself through other people’s eyes. The more I do the more I am expected to do, my health improvements tend to be taken somewhat for granted. I, however, appreciate every little thing I can do, but I do have a tendency to get over-confident and my body will soon let me know how it feels about that!
I’ll be signing off on Tuesday, 12th September but I have scheduled some posts for while I’m away to keep you on the straight and narrow, so don’t be off bingeing on doughnuts and chips just because I have my back turned!
See also Brigid’s excellent and positive post on coping with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Illness, also using natural methods.
*My favourite raw chocolate is from the award-winning The Raw Chocolate Company It’s vegan, gluten-free, organic and Fairtrade.
**Some posts about changing to a plantbased diet:
Veganuary – results
Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?
Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?
Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet
Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?
Plant Powered New Year
Please Note: these are my personal thoughts based on experience and research. Please see a doctor before reducing or stopping medication or beginning a juice-cleanse for the first time.
Copyright: Chris McGowan