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A Profile of Pain and My Management of it

As part of the goals I set for this year, I've said I want my pain to be better managed, and I want to be more functional. I've even described some of the efforts I've made to get my pain under better control. In some ways, that's the focus of this blog, but in others, I haven't focused as heavily on how I'm doing with the pain. I think it might be helpful for me to describe what I'm doing, why I'm doing it and what I'm noticing. I'm doing this publicly, since I feel that open honesty is important. However, there may be things I choose to be vague about, for example, exact names of medications, to protect some of my privacy. That said, I hope this helps others to know that I am working to do something about the pain, and what I'm doing so that if you're looking for options, you'll know what has worked and what hasn't.

Medications: We've adjusted several of my medications to try to manage my pain better. I have a long-acting patch which releases a steady stream of medication into my blood. That level is better than I ever got on pills. I also take breakthrough medications, and because I have a baseline pain reliever (plus other mmeds I've been on forever), the breakthrough medication does actually help with the severe pain. We've also adjusted medications so I'm sleeping somewhat better at night. Sleep is so vital when you're in pain. And yet, it's the hardest time to get sleep when you're in pain. Finally, I've started using a very small amount of a medication to help with anxiety. That's important since anxiety heightens pain, and does a number on my nervous system. Also, we're addressing the nausea, which means I am starting to want to eat again. That makes healthy food easier to eat.

Physical therapy: As I've written before, I did start physical therapy. We've been working on the leg in question, but doing it less directly. My physical therapist is very smart about not making the pain worse. She knows that making the pain flare will only make recovery harder. She's shown me techniques for desensitization,, so that hopefully my foot and leg will start to perceive touch and temperature as sensations, not as pain. She's noticed the way I move, and is working with me to make the way I move healthier. Finally, she's given me new orthodics which I am tolerating okay. As I tell people, physical therapy doesn't always make the pain better, but I function better with the pain.

Psychological support: As part of my new year's resolutions, I said I would seek counseling. I have, and I have been working with a psychologist at the campus counseling center. We talk about thought patterns which make me more anxious. We talk about any difficulties I'm having. I can't believe I've waited this long to seek help.

Supplements: In addition to trying to eat healthier, I've added supplements as recommended by the psychiatrist who suggested the medication for anxiety. Magnesium Malate, Vitamin D3 and Omega3 (really refined fish oil). These help with mood, but also with chronic pain. So far, I've noticed an improvement in the muscle pain I get which reminds me of when I was hit by that car last year. My mood does seem better, but it's hard to tell what has helped that, could be the depression/anxiety med, could be the supplements.

Relaxation: Since I'm on spring break, I'm trying to use relaxation more. We will see how that goes.

Music: I'm using music as a distraction when I can. I also use some favorite music as a reward for a job well done in physical therapy.

Environmental adaptations: I've now been living in an ADA accessible room with some wonderful women who "get it". The bars next to the toilet and other adaptations really make a difference. Not falling does wonders for the psyche.

As you can see, I really use a lot of different techniques. But these are only a few of them. Coping is important, and I'm looking forward to sharing more techniques again soon.

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