truth about pain management
People ask me what I do to manage my own pain, without taking pills. We say we don't want to take pills, but we live in pill mentality. I realize the extent to which I am always waiting for the silver bullet (even as I say I know there is no such thing as a silver bullet.) Deep down, we so wish that one thing would work.
Despite life-stopping migraine and musculoskeletal pain, I have never taken a prescription. I feel it's a slippery slope I don't want to slide down. When I have to work, and I'm in extreme pain, I take Excedrin Migraine. I'm not telling you to do that. I'm only saying that I have managed my pain with only OTC medication...and as little as possible of that. (Nothing I'm writing is a suggestion for you. It's an example of what I do, that might or might now work for you. Only you can decide.)
Below is a very long transcript of my day in pain. Or at least the way I approached yesterday. I don't always have the time and energy for all these things.
Sometimes I lie there feeling sorry for myself and that's it. We're all human.
I believe the trick to chronic pain is to keep your nervous system moving. It's settled into a go-to pain pattern, so give it something else to focus on. Imagine the neural connections in your brain lighting up in a different pattern as you flood it with all these different inputs.
The photo above is me still trying to flood by brain, even though I had no more energy to physically move.
I am breathing into my lower abdomen. I am listening to music. I am pressing the "gates of consciousness" acupressure point on the top of my head. I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am honoring my body because it's a sacred vessel.
Below is a stream-of-consciousness account of part of my day. Today I am almost back to normal. If you make it to the end of this run-on sentence and any of the ideas are interesting to you, get in touch and I'll tell you more about it.
2.7.21 so much pain
yesterday felt it coming on
sitting a lot, twinge in low back
beat myself up for sitting too long
second guess that, because
sometimes pain comes from too much movement, too,
call myself out as liar…*too much* movement is not my problem
get up and move. i complete the low back pain qigong youtube video that i always do
pain still lurking though so i get the brilliant idea to take excedrin migraine, the only otc pain relief that works for me
i am one of those anti-med people, but i am not superhuman so sometimes i take it
i lie down
waiting for that heavely spread of relief throughout my head neck and shoulders
that doesn’t happen
the pain level goes back up
i remind myself this is why i don’t take medications
i go to work in pain
the walk to work in fresh air helps a little
i breathe and relax during the one massage i have to do
i go home and spend the night barely getting through things i need to do, then
try to watch tv to take my mind off it, then go to bed and “breath into the pain” all night
actually half the night
i have to get up, move to the couch and get some ice
i can’t wait to get up and move
and get coffee
but not two cups, only one
while drinking coffee i press,
tap, and pound on acupressure points throughout my body
sometimes i just pound whether it is an acupressure point or not
any sensation is better than the pain
i stop and apply reiki for long minutes, breathing...
then i pull my hair
stretch out my legs
yoga: cat cow pose
press my palms over my eyelids and breathe in deeply
until i can’t stand that
get up and shake my arms, my hips, roll my neck, bounce up and down onto my toes, then heals pound into the earth, shake everything
lie down on back, legs up on couch, pillow across mid back, slight arch, pillow under neck
i am starting to feel better
hot shower, dr. bronner’s lavender soap with a scrubby thing, also vigorously with a course back brush, really hot water, aim water at neck while i write alphabet with my nose, take shower head off and aim it at my low back, stretch and move around
i take a hit of cal-mag which sometimes helps
now i sit down at laptop. i have some pictures to edit. that is light work so i can feel sort of productive but not too taxed
butt starts to hurt from sitting
up again, walk around house, moving in all weird directions, shaking, dancing, ok swearing a little
i sit down and do an eft tapping rant
good. more energy moves
now we come to the photo
i am out of moves. it three hours until it will be 24 hours since i took the last excedrin. you are only supposed to take them every 24 hours. i don’t want to take it again. i decide it is good enough that the pain is less and will move through soon enough
breathing and gratitude
i get out my earbuds. this is another thing i do:
i listen to the “vibration” of the pain: the throbbing in my head, the weird high pitched droning or ringing, and all the other messed up vibes that i just feel because i do reiki.
then i find music that can take over and rearrange all those vibrations. sometimes it is chanting. sometimes it is music with binaural beats or healing frequencies. sometimes it is really loud tribal house.
people think of those singing bowls when they think of sound healing. but you can do it with any frequency that feels good. it could be words. a guided meditation that resonates with you
it is the idea of a tuning fork. overtake your pain vibe with another vibe.
you will have to experiment. sometimes the “healing” vibe would not be pleasant if you weren’t in pain. it’s a weird synergy. i used to know someone with a trauma background that could only calm down with high pitched screaming metal. once i was really, really stressed out. i tried it. it calmed me down. you can look up the research on that. i don’t know it.
so that is what i am doing in the picture
this is the music i happened upon that felt really good to my body and brain. it was random. never heard it before in my life. brought to to bliss. it was the bass and the message
song: Holding On: Atella, HOBBS, Digvalley
then i got up and danced around. you have to move your hips a lot. a lot means a lot relative to your pain. if you can barely move them, that’s a lot. don’t hurt yourself. most people are stuck in the hips. maybe you aren’t. none of this is for everybody
the point is you have to try to give your body new sensations. you have to become super sensitive to what it wants
that’s another thing i do
i do it seriously, not with any sense of irony or holding back
i say: body, i’m really sorry you’re hurting. i’m sorry if i hurt you. i’m listening. tell me what’s really wrong.
then i get quiet, i breathe. and i listen
it will probably tell you. you probably knew it already, but chose to keep ignoring it. that’s ok. give yourself a break. we’re all human. none of us are doing what we are supposed to be doing 100% of the time.
there is nothing we are supposed to be doing. we just are. we are hurting and happy and trying and living and loving and hating and forgiving and not forgiving and holding on and letting go. we are human.
if you awaken to what i just said, it might help you relieve your suffering. even if it doesn’t relieve the pain.
the other thing i do, from hawaiian spirituality: ho’oponopono. it’s the idea that everything is already right. and we can make it more right. it’s right that our body hurts. something is wrong with our relationship to it. that’s all right. we are human. we can choose to make it more right with acknowledgement and love:
this is the ho-oponopono prayer: i’m sorry. please forgive me. i love you. i thank you.