Friday, January 1, 2016

Making Attainable New Year's Resolutions with Chronic Pain

 Making Attainable New Year's Resolutions with Chronic Pain

I would like to wish everyone of you that comes here to read my blog a very blessed and happy new year! I started this blog back in April, 2015 with the goal of helping just one person! I had no idea how to set up a blog, nor do I consider myself a writer. (But, I did get A+'s in my English classes in college.). I do have to say that it's been an interesting journey for sure! I have a lot of goals as to what I want to include in this blog and I just can't seem to get it all on here as fast as my heart desires!

My husband was a huge influence in encouraging me to start this, for he seen me grieving over the loss of my career in occupational therapy and told me I needed to use my skills to help others, which he knows is my hearts desire. My pain specialist, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, encouraged me as well. At every visit he would look at me in the eyes and ask me what I was going to do with my life! He would say that I have a lot of skills that I should use to help others! He would then stand there and wait for an answer, as if he didn't have other people to see! After many visits I finally told him what my thoughts had been, he said to me, "I like that! I am seriously interested in seeing that when you are done!" Then he gave me names of books to use for research and ideas he would like to see included.

Anyways, as the year went by, I would watch the amount of people visiting my blog and it has grown to over 13,000 visitors since April. I am amazed at that! That is 12,999 over goal!

I just want to thank you all for blessing me by visiting! I am praying for a wonderful new year of helping others on this chronic pain journey! I am hoping what I share will help others have the  tools they need for living a new "normal!" You are all a part of this journey and I welcome any suggestions or advice that you feel would help others as well! Seriously, this blog isn't for me, but for all of us living in chronic pain.

 Please be sure to subscribe by email or hitting the subscribe button on the top left column so you won't miss any articles! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Exercising and Chronic Pain-the Reality

We all know that living with chronic pain is hard. Very hard! Many of us start the new year full of motivation and enthusiasm wanting to make changes and improve our quality of life, but the dark cloud of living under constant pain, for me, moderate to severe 24/7 pain, this can deplete our motivation and doubt can creep in. Does this mean that we're doomed? Does this mean that we have to fail at resolutions in doing the best we can with our health, as well as other goals we want to have in our life? Definitely not! There are a few simple steps we can do to ensure...wait a minute...I need to back up... nothing is “simple” living with chronic pain! We all know that everything we do has that extra added weight of intense, deep, gripping, burning, overpowering pain that leaves our bodies almost floored with even the inability to stand. Words just can't ever seem to describe it, but we all know what "it" is! "It" is there with everything we do! Kind of like the “Vulcan grip Spock (aka. FSNP, for Famous Spock Nerve Pinch) would perform on people on Star Trek. (Someone reading this that doesn't experience this type of pain as we do would probably say, "If you wouldn't focus on it so much maybe it wouldn't be there so much!" They just don't understand the neurological damage that occurs to cause this. And hopefully never will! I just don’t believe anyone could think their way out of Spock doing that to them!)
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Anyways, back to what I was saying before I got off track on "simple"! For those of us living in chronic pain, even though we have this to deal with and it causes us to lose control over many things in our lives, we can still take control over some areas of our health! Especially such things as what we eat, the activity we have every day to keep our bodies as healthy as possible, and being as social as we are able, leads to psychological health (there's a lot of goals for other categories one can choose to attain, but for simplicity I just want to look at the biopsychosocial areas of our lives). There are some steps we can take to ensure that our resolutions can last!


Make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). If your goals are vague, immeasurable, unachievable, and unrealistic for where you are at physically and don't have a timeline that it could be achieved in, it just may be too difficult to have within your grasp! It needs to be something you can do, broken down into small steps. Click here for a free SMART Goal PDF template!

For instance, I had a goal to walk 2 miles a day. That was not physically attainable; even though I attempted this for six weeks during physical therapy after my last of three spine surgeries and I was determined that is was what I need to do to get better. Never mind that I was diagnosed with this failed back surgery syndrome 3 years prior and central pain syndrome 1.5 years prior. I was going to fight it! And I did, at two other previous 6 weeks sessions in physical therapy as well! Along with doing whatever I determined my body to do with gardening, painting, cleaning and a vast array of other things I was not going to let my “issues” stop me from doing!  My husband said I was the only person he knew that went from painting to vomiting, back to painting. Yes, I push it to becoming physically ill. When the central nervous system decides it has had enough it lets you know. And if you push past the pain, it’ll get so bad you vomit. Just in case you were wondering. (I thought that was funny! “Just in case you were wondering.” however when I read this to my hubby, he was not happy, not at all.  I said, “I guess only a person living with chronic pain for five years could laugh at that.” (And then there are the people that think I don’t work or try hard enough and am really not in that much pain…I wonder if they ever pushed themselves to that point? Nope, cuz if they had Central Pain Syndrome I am sure they would know it and would not question me!) Anyways! Back on track!

My pain specialist pointed out the reality of this to me. He said that my attempting to push through my pain was not going to work for me and that I was just doing myself harm. My damaged nerves were going to push back! He said because I was not able to do 5 to 10 minutes on the treadmill at physical therapy without spending 3 to 4 days in bed afterwards due to my neurological condition, Central Pain Syndrome, caused by nerve damage in my spinal nerves, my multiple spine issue, as well as several spinal surgeries (failed back surgery syndrome).

The doctor pointed out, that for me, I needed to do 2 minutes, every 2 hours, 10 to 12 times a day. So I did what he suggested! And I could tolerate that! Of course it wasn't pain free, nothing is anymore, but I could do it without being in pain 3 to 4 days after! All of us have to do, and can only do, what our physician or physical therapist recommend is safe for us! 

So my sensible goal, per my pain specialist, for walking is: Walk 2 minutes, 10- 12 times a day, 5 to 7 times a week.

I do set my alarm on my phone to remind myself. I also walk on commercials two times an hour if I am watching a lot of television.

  • I am not in bed in severe pain 3 to 4 days a week!
  • Lowers my risk for blood clots due to inactivity
  • Increases my serotonin and epinephrine levels in my brain, decreasing depression and increasing energy
  • Increases my muscle strength and tone
  • Increases by balance
  • Decreases by risk for falls
  • Life satisfaction
  • Optimism
  • Self-esteem
  • Sense of mastery and feeling in control
  • Having a purpose in life
  • Ability to carry out daily routines
  • Ability to be independent
  • Quality of life
Note: Due to the complex nature of physical ailments that cause chronic pain we all need to be able to set goals for physical activity according to what our personal doctors say we can physically tolerate! Know this goal is for me and only you and your doctor can decide what is safe for you, so please do not take it as advice.

Here some information on "Exercise and chronic disease: Get the facts!" by Mayo Clinic that you may find helpful!

More on making healthy goals in my next blog!

As always, if you have any suggestions on what you would like to have covered in this blog please feel free to let me know!

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