Living with Pain

I experience pain daily. Some people can’t say that, and I’ve never really been able to relate to them. Especially the ones who say “I never get headaches”. I used to get headaches most days in a week. They make it difficult to focus, and while taking painkillers (sometimes) helps, it often results in a continued inability to focus (thanks ibuprofen).

My job puts me at a computer for 40 hours a week. After 5 years of university, that puts me at way too much time at a desk. What had been neck tension headaches spread into my shoulders and arms. It’s called referral pain. Basically the nerves that start in my neck are getting irritated and taking their irritation all the way down my arms. It’s a difficult thing for most people to understand, because unlike most pain, unless it is properly targeted, trying to strengthen the muscles will often just make the angry nerves angrier. I stopped wearing necklaces, then earrings. Eventually, I had to give up knitting. (Try not to cry for me, knitter-friends, the story gets happier).

One day, over 2 years ago. I got tired of the headaches and the pain. They’d been getting more and more frequent. I went to physiotherapy. I was there once a week for nearly a year. A year. That’s over $3000 on just trying to not get worse. I changed my work chair, got a split keyboard, stopped using a stupid magic mouse (the only magic they perform is giving the user wrist pain!). I got(/get) up every 15 minutes from my chair, begrudgingly, usually. Finally, I got in to see a “specialist” (there are technically no specialists in physiotherapy). Finally, there was someone who could help. Instead of just staying afloat, I started improving. Slowly.

Eventually, I was able to knit again. These days,ย I will have up to 3 headaches a week, but on good weeks, I might not have any headaches. My arms don’t bother me as much, and I only go to physio once a month. I do still do targeted exercises every morning for about 30 min though.

What strikes me in all this is how we get used to a certain level of pain. Now that I have improved, headaches that I probably would have used to brush off drive me a bit crazy–a mere 1 ibuprofen banished headache. My arms used to be painful every day, but now one day is enough for me to attempt to throw in the towel (but throwing inevitably hurts so I don’t end up doing it).

The body can adapt to a crazy amount. Even this completely unnatural lifestyle I lead, sitting all the time staring at a screen. Holding my hands at weird angles. I have faith that one day, things will be better than they are now. Will I ever be what’s considered “normal”? I have my doubts.

However, I am incredibly grateful the pain levels I’ve adapted to are as minimal as they are. They could be so, so much worse. You see,ย I started thinking about all this after reading a post on The Other Courtney about the incredibly brave Brynn. Brynn deals with a horrendous illness on a daily basis that I, personally, can’t even imagine. It helped remind me to be grateful for the health I do have, and also spend some time marvelling at what humans are able to overcome, even just emotionally.

What are you grateful for today?

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11 thoughts on “Living with Pain

  1. I have headaches almost every week and it lasts 2-3 days. Like you, my job requires me to face a computer 8 hours per day and more when I get home because of the blog. I’m afraid I’m getting too dependent on pain killers. Our company nurse advised me to see a neurologist because of my headache record in the clinic. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    • That sounds brutal! I definitely hate taking pain killers, and I think that was probably a huge motivator in wanting to get better. Have you tried physiotherapy?

      • No, unfortunately not. I hate taking pain killers too but sometimes the pain is just so excruciating that it feels like my face and my skull are getting ripped off that I give in. I also tried herbal products in the past as well as reflexology but the headaches keep coming back. I think it’s about time I have this checked.

  2. Good post. I’m grateful that I’m in good health and that I can still carry my photography equipment, I can still shovel dirt in my yard, I can still toss people around in Aikido (and they can toss me as well). That’s for reminding me that I have it still pretty good.

  3. Great post, and it’s very true that it’s amazing what we can adapt to! I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with chronic pain, though. While you know there are much worse things out there, it still doesn’t make your pain feel any better. Pain is pain and at the end of the day, it just sucks.

    Have you ever tried hypnosis for your pain? I know I’ve talked a lot on my blog about hypnosis for eczema and other conditions I’ve used it for, but it also does wonders for pain. She made me a “pain management CD” and I’d be happy to give you a copy if you like! She used hypnosis to give birth to two of her children, no other medications involved. Said it didn’t hurt at all, and it was such a wonderful experience. INSANE right? Anyway, let me know if you’re interested! Thanks for this inspiring post!

    • Wow, hypnosis for pain free child birth? I just…can’t even imagine. I am very intrigued by your offer by also kind of scared…is there room for something to “go wrong” with the hypnosis?

      • I know your feelings exactly, I was absolutely terrified to try hypnosis the first time. And to be totally honest, sometimes I still even start the CD and wonder, “what if I get ‘stuck’ in hypnosis mode??” Hah! I have spent hours and hours talking to my Mother in Law about it though, as she’s been hypnotizing people for over 20 years. There is no way to get “stuck” in hypnosis, and now that I’ve done it, I can see why. It’s really just like being in a very, very relaxed state. I’ve even opened my eyes during it before and looked around, and it doesn’t break they hypnosis, but you are in complete control. The best way I can describe it is you know you can open you eyes and stop the hypnosis, but you don’t want to because you feel sooooo good and relaxed.

        Something that also helped me to be less afraid is hearing that we are actually in and out of stages of hypnosis all the time!! Have you ever driven to work and when you got there, don’t remember driving there at all? You just kind of go into auto pilot and do it naturally. That is actually a state of hypnosis! Interesting, huh? When we get really into a deep daydream, sometimes we can get into a state of it too. Sometimes I listen to a hypnosis CD and when it ends I just think, “I feel relaxed, but I’m not sure I was totally hypnotized.” But 98% of the time, I “wake up” and feel refreshed, relaxed, and sooo much better than before. So really, I have experienced 0 negativeness from it.

        Anyway, let me know if you have any other questions or wanna try it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. My father lives with chronic pain. It’s not something I would wish on anyone, and I’m so glad yours has improved a bit.

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