“My body thinks something is gravely wrong, but my brain doesn’t have a clue what to do about it, so it starts racing to the worst possible conclusions.”
Well, this amazing quote literally sums up ten years of my life. Following my bike accident, chronic pain (which was not a common term in the 90’s) began to get worse and worse. My body (head/brain) knew something was wrong: I knew it was not normal to be in physical pain twenty four hours a day/seven days a week. Each doctor, surgeon, or specialist had a different diagnosis and/or treatment. None of which turn out to be correct because what I had was CRPS. I had never heard the term chronic pain until I drove to Minnesota and spent a summer at the Mayo Clinic. When the doctor said the term, I was stunned. I remember his face and my first response: “No kidding, I am in pain non stop. I know that. I am here to find out why and to make it stop.” I was an angry, angry girl: pain had changed me. It still amazes me how awful I was to this man, who was the first person to finally tell me the truth. I went through a grieving process for about a week before I entered the PRC: learning how to manage pain naturally and accept that there is not a cure.
I am going to a bit repetitive so I apologize to all those who have been reading this for a long time. I am going to go through a day in the life of me, well the Jessica who first started managing chronic pain naturally. With that said, I do not judge any of you that take medicine for pain, are searching for a cure, lay in bed all day crying, even many of you who self medicate just to take the physical pain away: I was there too! Here is literally the schedule I utilized when I first started this journey of accepting chronic pain and using tools to manage it naturally. Many of us are visual people and need to write out our days and plans, hence the grocery lists I make each time I go shopping but yet always forget to bring it to the store. Here we go!
1. Morning stretches: stretch each part of your body from the top of your head to your toes. Take ten minutes to do so.
2. Exercise: Ok, so I started with a DVD from the library and yes it was Richard Simmons (I had never exercised in my life) but gradually started to love it more and more and now people around my town would call me the exercise fanatic. If they only knew pre Mayo Clinic Jessica. Walk for ten minutes, go a simple yoga DVD for chronic pain, dance, just move your body in any way shape or form that raises your heartbeat.
3. Meditation: Take twenty minutes and lay down with deep belly breaths. Use one of your CD’s to help you through a guided meditation. (This is the one I first despised. However, I learned to actually love it. Plus, it works over time.) Use a CD by Louise Hay or anyone that guides you through an imagery meditation.
4. Run errands: grocery shopping, library, college campus etc. (I literally wrote this down so that I had a direct schedule so I would not over do it)
5. Do a five minute breathing exercise. Five for Five: Breathe in for a count of five, hold for five seconds, breathe out for a count of five. Do this five to ten times.
6. Study, Clean, Cook: basically the to do things I now write down ten years post Mayo Clinic
7. Eat healthy dinner and read: make sure you are not demonstrating pain behaviors such as rubbing your face head or neck: do not bring attention to your pain.
8. Sleep: put your clock in your dresser drawer so you do not continually look at the time. If you cannot sleep read or have a snack. Whatever you do, do not lay there thinking about pain.
I understand how ridiculous this may look to many of you. It looks so simple but if I had not used something like this, I would not have done each thing I needed to do. I had to use a to do list for managing chronic pain naturally for about a year until it was engrained in me. I still write down a to do list each night before sleep and some of the above are on there such as exercise, meditation etc. but this to do list above eventually just became my lifestyle. Plus it always helps to check something off such as exercise or even morning stretches. Makes you feel accomplished!