The Stages of Cleaning for a Chronic Pain Survivor
Daily living is demanding enough with chronic pain, but to even think about having to clean on top of it all makes it almost intolerable! That's without a doubt difficult for many of us!
Stage 1: The Haunting: For many of us, the smudges, dust, dirt, piles of papers, toilets, showers, dishes, and laundry needing to be washed, folded and put away is always there…in our thoughts, in our line of sight…haunting us!
What I really hate is when the floors get so ghastly the bottoms of my feet gather small pieces of debris as I walk through the house! And if you’re like me, with nerve issues, those small pieces stuck to my feet aggravate my nerves shooting impulses all the way to my brain, infuriating me, who I must add, was aggravated already by the disorder around the house!
That sounds pretty dreadful doesn’t it! Well, if you coexist with chronic pain and your house is in disarray, it pretty much illustrates what it can be like!
Stage 2: Getting out of Bed (Because it just ain’t gonna happen unless this step is done)!: Just getting up out of bed, taking care of one’s self (bathing, dressing, doing ones hair, makeup, etc.) is a enough work to throw most of us back into bed to try and subdue the pain in our nerves and muscles before we can even think about enduring the rest of the day!
Stage 3: Procrastinating: Cleaning is something many of us cut back on whenever and however we can. Usually this act is committed without any thought or effort whatsoever! That is uncomplicated! We are extremely capable of THAT!
Stage 4: Repeating Stage 1-3 all in one: Harrumph! That is until things get so horrible we become besieged by it all and end up tossing ourselves into bed, throwing the blankets over our heads and crying! A bit much some might think…not for many…been there, done that!
Stage 5: Accomplishing the Task and Overdoing It: This stage accomplished to tasks all in one! That is usually a good thing, right? When you are finally able to clean, and if you’re like me, you are well acquainted with what happens! You most likely cross over that very thin line of, “Ohhhhhh, crap! I shouldn’t have done that!” This in interweaved throughout the cleaning process.
Stage 6: Arrival of Anguish: “Rebound pain” - as the physical therapist calls it! (define rebound pain link) It imprisons you in bed for days, pleading for recovery!
Stage 7: Recovery: “Recovery” for someone existing daily with chronic pain is defined as, “a lower level of pain that is unbearable; although unbearable, it is more manageable than the current level of intolerable pain one is currently suffering from. (I made that up! Pretty sad isn’t it? But, you know exactly what it means!) It leaves you praying and wishing for the lower level of pain, the pre-cleaning pain, which you tell yourself you will be thankful for.
Stage 8: Starting over at Stage 1: Sounds pretty pathetic, eh? Sadly, this is reality for those of us surviving chronic pain. After suffering all this, we then proceed to persist on this endless cycle! Because if we don’t do what is required, it won’t get accomplished!
The Inner Turmoil of it All
How does one even think about taking care of one’s home when the pain is so excruciating? For a Type A (add a link for definition) person like me it can bring about a lot of stress.
Not only does it set off stress, but many of us are embarrassed and humiliated to be incapable of performing what others (others, defined here as “those without chronic pain”) perceive as an uncomplicated task.
Honestly, those uncomplicated tasks are tremendously complicated for many of us suffering chronic pain. Just think of all the different activities it involves: lifting, bending, reaching, twisting, stretching, pushing, pulling, and repetitive movements. These movements can seriously affect even those not suffering chronic pain! Trying to complete these tasks for those that do suffer is beyond daunting. I'm worn out just writing about it!
On top of the stress, embarrassment, humiliation and the physical intolerance we endure, I have witnessed many express how they demean themselves for not being able to care for one’s home as they use too. For many of us, it is a pride issue. There’s nothing wrong with that. It is our home! We find contentment in having things look nice and orderly! And to not have the ability to do what it takes to achieve what we would like, as things use to be, leaves us struggling, not just physically, but emotionally. It is really a loss of a part of our selves that runs deep into our hearts. This is a tough reality for many of us.
What to do?
So, in order to achieve having homes our hearts desire and defeat some of these horrendous emotional and physical effects of cleaning, we need to try, as best we can, to incorporate some techniques into our days to make it easier on our bodies. Hopefully, this will also help with lifting our hearts and making us not feel so defeated!
There are different ways to achieve the same task. I try to incorporate, as able, some time management, work simplifications, energy conservation and joint protections techniques taught by occupational therapists to make tasks easier and more doable.
In my next blog post I will share the first of several ideas to be presented. (PART 2)
Hopefully, you will find these suggestions and tips manageable and helpful in your daily life with chronic pain!