Occupying the Mind…

I have spent the last couple of weeks focusing on occupying my mind away from the intense pain I have. This does help quite a bit, though there are days no matter what you do the pain gets to you. What did I do? I am so glad you asked, I focused on crafts. They are enjoyable to me and keep the mind very busy. Since Halloween is this month I had an area where I worked on props for our Halloween haunted walk for the trick or treaters to get their candy. I add a new prop each year and I have to make it from scratch since money is not available. This year I created a zombie head and hand, which turned out very nice. B made a box for it so it looks like it is coming out a window, he used wood he had laying around. It actually looks a lot like a ticket booth. I wanted the head to move so I put it on an old oscillating fan. I also worked on sewing projects. I have used up most of the material I had in a bin now though. I made check book covers and wallets and a purse for a friend. So I moved from one craft station to another. Because I cannot sit for long periods or stand or walk. Being sure to take breaks often and not over do it, which would create a much worse state of pain intensity! I also worked on crocheting when I had to recline, I made a pretty cool purse.

Keeping your mind busy does work. It helps you stay focused on something other than the pain. The pain is screaming at you and even one moment of silence, allows the pain to have a voice and consume your thoughts, which also intensifies the pain levels. The only problems is this, how can someone keep busy all the time when there is only so much you can do for free…. Money may not buy happiness, but it sure can make life much easier. I often clean to occupy the mind, but I have to be very careful there! Bending, pushing and pulling are all things that can and will send me to the floor in tears.

A friend of mine, back from high school, gave me an hour massage and a 30 minute aromatherapy soak at a spa. She is all the way up in IL and I am down here in GA. So very nice of her. I had thought that if I could get a massage, soak in a hot tub and relax, maybe I could reset my pain levels. She suffers from intense pain in her neck, shoulder and down her arm into her hand. I was super excited and went to my appointment for my massage and soak. I asked for a Myofascial massage because I did not want to risk the pain a deep tissue massage could cause. I have had several deep tissue massages back before I was in this pain and they were great, but I feared the level of pain one would cause now that I am in so much pain and even pressing on my lower back hurts very much! The massage therapist was sweet, but she said a Myofascial massage would not help me and she then went a head and did deep tissue. I was scared, but I figured she knew what she was talking about and I sucked it up thinking it would all be better when it was done. I could feel every one of my lumpy spots that are connected to pain when she went over them, some sent shooting pain down my leg. After the massage I felt the least amount of pain I have felt in three years. I then was taken to the aromatherapy soak and I made it about 20 minutes before I became to hot and had to get out, but I felt good and relaxed and mostly pain free. This lasted about an hour, then I had a deep pinching pain start in my right lower back (which I had never had before, it’s always been my left side) and then shooting pain down my right leg. Holy crap! The pain I have on the left side was now going crazy on my right side. Yikes! I had trouble walking and when I finally arrived home I wobbled to my room to take my pain medication along with my anxiety medication and a muscle relaxer. I then spent three solid days wishing I never had the massage in the first place. More intense pain than I already was dealing with. There went that idea of a massage and soak helping my pain levels. The therapist did say my back was so bad that I would need several 90 minute sessions, I don’t think so, even if I had the money for that! I am still battling extremely high levels of pain. I am at the top of the charts in pain and focusing on anything with my mind has been almost impossible. Not to mention, the major lack of support I have in my home life. My home life is more like a giant stress and negativity chamber! I often hide in my room or bathroom just to find peace. Well, I checked massage off the list of possible things to help my pain levels. I see my pain doctor this Thursday, but I always end up seeing the PA who I can’t stand! I feel like I am rushed in and out and they have not tried anything else after I refused any more epidural steroid injection after the dozen I had with no help to my pain! So, I have my list to remind me to state, “what can we try next?” Don’t get me wrong, without my pain medication I would not be getting out of my bed. I just know there are other things to try and one might work or help at the least. The numbness in my toes is spreading and the intense pain in the ball of my feet has also spread. Muscle spasms all up my legs and back. When I asked the PA before why he could not give me more coverage with pain medication, he said it would cause me to sleep all day. Really!?! The medication does not make me tired. I get a window of time where the hard edge of the pain is lessened and that is when I can focus on occupying my mind more. Maybe for most people the medication causes drowsiness, but it sure does not do that to me. What is the purpose of pain medication? To help people that are in real pain! I have noticed that when someone is really in pain, the medication does help take the edge off the pain and it does not make you high or messed up like when drug seekers go after the medications. The simple fact that is am dressed, with makeup on and present in your office wide awake, should tell you I am not being negatively effected by the medication.

Well, it never fails, I get on a rant and ramble on too long. My point is and was, that occupying your mind does help keep you focused off the pain. Just finding what you can do and setting up some kind of stations to do those things is the first step. Do not get down on your self for having bad days. Allow it to be what it is. It is ok to feel down and hate the fact your life has become a mountain of pain, just do not allow yourself to dwell there. Feel it, acknowledge it and move forward. Keep pushing each and every day. We have to be kind to ourselves, just like we would if we were our best friend. Hug yourself, tell yourself it is all going to be ok and look in the mirror and smile when you feel the darkness of despair. It works! The act of smiling, even when depressed, releases chemicals that help us feel better. I tend to laugh even when I am very down, as I look at myself and force a smile on my face. These simple things do make a difference in our lives! Hang in there….