Sunday, August 5, 2012

Living With Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain is one of those things you cannot explain to people who have not experienced it (or witnessed it daily in the lives of loved ones). It becomes a lifestyle, in some cases a lifetime of appointments with experts, experimenting with potential `cures` and making modifications when it is just too difficult to live `normally.` ``What`s wrong with me?`` can become the overwhelming focus of your existence. For myself, more than 20 years of headaches, body pain and fatigue have become a sometimes depressing reality. I`ve gone through many cycles of despair, acceptance, and renewed determination to look for answers.
In some ways the struggle has prompted me to make positive lifestyle changes. I`ve become increasingly aware that, while we cannot control everything - there ARE things we can do to at least attempt to help ourselves.

For myself, this has included switching to organic foods, as well as health and beauty products, wherever possible. It just makes sense to me that if my health is already ailing, it can`t be good to bombard my system with chemicals, pesticides, and artificial ingredients. This is a choice I can make for my own health, but also for the environment (it is always good to remember we are part of something larger).

As always, lifestyle is key. No matter how many appointments we make it to and experts we consult with, it is our daily activity that is going to make the biggest difference. Adequate rest, exercise, nutrition, and hydration create the basis of good health - for everyone. From there we can work on creating our own health `program` and work on our particular challenges.

It can take a lot of ``digging`` to learn about the underlying causes of pain and illness. There is seldom only one contributing factor (as tempting as it is to seek that one magic cure!), and it is to our benefit to develop a holistic understanding of our health; to see all aspects of our mind, body and spirit as being related and interdependent. I highly recommend doing a lot of reading, and consulting with several alternative health practitioners in order to develop this understanding. Unfortunately, in my experience, the mainstream medical system is not likely to be very helpful in this pursuit. Some of the health challenges I have investigated include:

chronic fatigue syndrome
sleep apnea
HSP (Highly Sensitive Personality)
food sensitivities

Using products and services including:
massage therapy
herbal remedies
special diets
dental appliances

An area I have typically neglected is physical exercise. When you are constantly exhausted and in pain, it seems counterintuitive to push yourself to get active, when all you want to do is rest. However, I have proven to myself on several occasions that this is indeed a necessary component of recovery. At some point I took a break from normal life and social stresses by going to work overnight in a warehouse, where I was physically active stocking shelves and moving product for the duration of every shift. To my surprise, I became stronger and my warm muscles provided some relief. Recently I`ve decided to take action again, and invested in a set of Zumba dvd`s. Being naturally averse to sports and exercise classes, I have come across something I can do at home, and so far it is working. I`m enjoying it so much, I haven`t even tried all the different workouts yet. And, I`m learning some dance steps - a skill I have always wished to learn.

Even now, it is a work in progress. Some things change over time, while others are stubbornly persistent. However, I have to believe that the answers are out there - we just have to keep looking.

All of these topics and more are explored further on my website:, as well as my other blog postings. Thank you for visiting!

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