Chronic Pain: What They Want You To Know

🔹The NIH reports that 25.3 Million American adults suffer from daily pain.

🔹The NIH reports that 25.4 Million American Adults category 3 Pain (on a 1-4 scale).

🔹The NIH reports 14.4 Million American Adults category 4 Pain (on a 1-4 scale).

Chronic Pain is defined as an ongoing or recurrent pain, lasting beyond the usual course of an acute injury or illness or more than 3-6 months and which adversely affects the individual’s well being.

🔹American adults with category 3-4 pain were more likely to

  • Have worse health status
  • Use more health care
  • Suffer from more disability

If the above statistics weren’t enough maybe the ones below will open you eyes.

It is said by the NIH that nearly 100 MILLION Americans suffer from chronic pain, & 1.5+ BILLION people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. Also 1 in 10 Americans report that they experienced pain daily for three months or more.

I know someone reading this is going to be thinking “Why, do I want to read another story about another “addict”?” Well, to that person I ask that you keep reading! Not all who live with chronic are addicted to narcotics and jonesing for the next high. There are SO very many of us who are NOT very far from being addicted and spend a great deal of time trying to spread the word about the use of legal pain medications. No matter how we chose to deal with the pain, we still have to live with chronic pain each and every day. Day in and day out with pain. THAT….NEVER…..GOES……AWAY….. Chronic pain is about so much more than pain meds. Honestly, it is about finding the best way for each of us to live life with chronic pain. Trying to find a way to just survive each and everyday. Trying to just get through each hour, each day, each week, each month.

Here’s a couple questions that get asked a lot! Do some choose to use legal pain medications to treat their pain, or do some choose To stay away from pain medications? The answer is easy! Yes, to both. Some use strictly pain medications, while others use a mix of holistic options and pain medications, and others chose solely they holistic methods. It’s a personal choice that only you can make for yourself. Are some getting medications illegally?? Yes! But you can’t judge all 100 million of us who deal with chronic pain in The US for the one (or more) bad apple you’ve come in contact with. You have to think about this. Would you want to live a life always in pain? Always hurting? Having to take the pain into account when planning anything, even just a trip to the grocery store because you never know when the meds might wear off or when the pain might become so unbearable that you can’t finish whatever task or outing you’re on.

I wish people would remember that I am still me. I am not lazy. I when folks(family, friends, strangers) think I am a burden. I feel guilty every time I sat no to someone due to my health. Take the time to understand before you judge-Conversation doesn’t always have to be health related. Lastly, it is not a competition who hurts more or is sick in some way. Complete strangers want to one up me at the doctors office – not impressed. ~ Tammy, Canada

People in general don’t understand pain. Pain is something you feel when you stub your toe, twist your ankle, jam your finger or even for a few short days after surgery. But in general when they think pain, they think acute pain. Until you’ve live chronic pain it’s not something you can wrap you mind around fully. You just can’t understand that it’s not something that just goes away in a few minutes or a couple hours or even a couple days. It may never go away. Ever. It may be something that we have to wake up to every day for the rest of our life.

We’re not looking for sympathy, but a little empathy would be very appreciated! ~ Amanda, Ohio

All we want from our families, friends and the public as a whole is a little empathy. We just want people around us to show that they care. That they have an interest in learning about what we are going through on a daily basis. It means the WORLD to us when people ask questions about what we are going through and what they can do to help. And it means even more when they ask how our pain is. I can’t even explain to you how much it means when someone asks that 5 word question. “How is your pain today!?”

“Even when I look normal, I am still in pain. On my worst days for chronic pain, I wore the most makeup. I put on my mask to fake being well, not fake being sick. I can’t take pain pills due to my stomach problems, so I just have to do less and rest when I am in pain. I can work hard for a few days. But then I pay for it with my sore joints and have mandatory rest for a few days” Megan ~ Georgia

There are a lot of days I spend in pain, but you would never know it. I wake up and put my “cape” on and about my day. I have a husband and three little people who depend on me to be there for them. Honestly if it were not for them I would wallow in my misery. Not every day is good, but there is something good in every day. Kyndle ~ Missouri

Megan & Kyndle hit the nail on the head when they both speak about their daily pain levels. As well as when they speak about how they deal with it. Like many, instead of saying anything they put on their CIW (chronic illness warrior) cape and fake it till they make it. There was a study done in 2012 on the Lupus Community by the American News Report. During this study this study it became clear that there is a true gap in communication between those with Lupus (and most likely all chronic Illnesses) and their families. Their study found that 87% of lupus patients downplayed their symptoms need order to not upset their family members. In many cases they don’t want to share how they feeling so they don’t have to deal with looks of pity from others. Or hear the “Oh you poor thing!” That’s not genuine. But mostly people don’t want to worry and stress their families. If they don’t tell them how bad it really is then their family won’t be able to worry as much. It’s awful that a person can’t be honest about how they are feeling and where their pain level-is at for fear of upsetting their friends and family. We (those with chronic diseases) should never have to or choose to hide our pain from anyone. But especially from those we are closest to us.

Keep in mind that of all the chronically ill patients that take pain medications only 5% become addicts. When hearing about the opioid crisis, sadly they have combined illegal and legal substances together. Most of the deaths that are occurring are those due to illegal substances. Chronic patients are being denied medications because of this serious problem. ~Amy, Michigan

The CDC just recently to release more accurate numbers than those that had been reported. In the 2018 Annual Surveillance Report of Drug Related Risks & Outcomes by The Centers for Disease Control they state that “14,487 out of a total of 325.7 MILLION people in US died from LEGAL PRESCRIPTION opioids.” That’s .000004% of the population. This is much less than the numbers we have been hearing as lately where the CDC has combined death by legal prescription meds & death by illegal illicit drugs. Is the updated number too many? Yes, honestly even one is too many. But it is not quite the problem that is it being made to seem it is. People have been using pain relieving products for YEARS, more than we can even begin to conceive I’m sure. Are the products available now a thousand (or more) times stronger than the stuff our Great-Grandparents used. No doubt! With evolution and change of society comes evolution and change in medicine. I think for most of us that is the way we would like it to be. Can you imagine dealing with all the conditions and injuries we have to deal with or potentially deal with now but only having access to the pain relieving methods that they used in 1800’s?? No, it’s not effective. Are there people who abuse narcotics? Absolutely! With just about anything you can find abuse of it in some way. With the evolution of cars comes the abuse of speed. With the evolution of technology comes cyber crimes. I digress, there always has been and always will be abuse of medication in some meaning of the word. I just wish everyone wouldn’t assume that just because you have the medication prescribed to you that you are an addict.

I never knew pain, until Lupus knocked me down and I never knew strength until I got back up” ~Christall, Missouri

Chronic Pain SURVIVORS are just that!! Survivors, because we survive each and every day to live another day to tell our tale. Myself and many other United States Pain Foundation, WEGO, Chronic Disease Coalition Advocates, and many many more Advocates work so hard each and every month to share stories of chronic pain survivors and to show that not all those who take pain medications are doing so illegally or are addicted to them. Many of us take pain medications to get through the day but many have also made the choice to use other available methods. Really we just do what we have to do to get by! We want to spread the word this month especially as September is Pain Awareness Month that there are all KINDS of chronic pain conditions. Many that you and I might never even consider. So please if you get nothing else from today I hope you get this. If you meet someone somewhere and learn that they deal with daily chronic pain don’t assume the worst. Don’t just jump to the fact that they are an addict simply because they choose to use medication to treat their gain. Or that they are going to over dose because in most cases that’s not the case. We are all just trying to survive another day with our chronic pain.

With Love,

Amber

Exercising with Chronic Illness

Exercise is not something I have talked a lot about in previous posts. Because it’s not something I have been doing. And it’s not something I enjoy, or to be honest know that much about. But honestly it’s time! The cardiologist cleared my heart and we are looking at my lungs. But recently a doctor that I love and respect very much reminded me that the shortness of breath and high heart rate I have been experiencing could be something as simple as deconditioning. So it’s time for me to get back to exercising. And to make getting fit a priority. As I started researching how I should get back into the fitness world I thought others could use the information as well. So today I wanted to share a bit of information on what kind of exercise is good for those with chronic illness/pain and joint issues.

Before we get into any suggestions about exercise I wanted to remind you about a few things.

  • Before beginning any exercise program you should ALWAYS contact your physician to get the okay.
  • You should always start with low impact and go slow! You can increase your impact and intensity slowly.
  • Always move at your own pace and never try to keep up with someone you are with or with a class.
  • Lastly if your pain level increases by more than 2 points from where it was at the start of the exercise you should stop &/or modify that specific exercise to try to ensure that you don’t cause a flare.

It is recommend that everyone do a combination of stretching exercises, strengthening exercises and cardiovascular exercises! Stretching will help to increase flexibility, loosen any tight or stiff muscles, as well as improve range of motion. Everyone should be doing some stretching EVERYDAY!! Strengthening will help to build up muscle strength. And cardiovascular exercise has a plethora of healing benefits. Now let’s look at what specific cardiovascular or aerobic exercises you could be doing.

1. Walking – is an excellent form of light aerobic exercise. It helps to bring oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, helps rebuild stamina, boosts energy, and will reduce stiffness and pain. Other options of low impact aerobic exercises would be riding a stationary bike or using an elliptical.

2. Yoga – Practice the most gentle kind of yoga you can, preferably the Hatha form of yoga. This kind of yoga is a combination of postures, breathing, and meditation that will reduce the physical and physiological symptoms of pain. A study that was published in the Journal of Pain states that participants reported significantly less pain when doing yoga. Yoga will also help to build endurance and energy while improving sleep and concentration.

3. Tai Chi – The benefits seen with tai chi are very similar to those seen in those who do yoga. Tai Chi is a very low impact kind of exercise where the participants slowly, gradually and gracefully preform a series of movements. Studies show that this form of exercise may even be better to relieve fibromyalgia pain than yoga!

4. Swimming & Water Aerobics – Any exercise in the water is good for people with chronic pain or joint issues. It is also an excellent alternative to walking for those with mobility issues. Being in the water provides a low-impact cardiovascular exercise that helps to keep you moving without putting added stress on joints and muscles.

The last point I want to make applies to all people. Not just those who are chronically ill. It is something I have struggled with love you whole life not just the last six years since I’ve been diagnosed. I don’t know about all of you but if I don’t have an accountability partner I am less likely to stay accountable and stay on track. If I have someone who is checking in on me a few times a week saying hey how is your diet, and how is your exercise routine going? I am more likely to actually stay on top of those things. So I strongly recommend finding someone in your life to be that person for you. So make sure you find someone to help you stay on track.

We took a brief look at some exercises that are good for those who have chronic pain or have joint issues. So maybe this will give you an idea of where you could start. I did not cover stretching directly because most people have a basic idea of how to stretch. I also didn’t cover strength training, because it can be very complicated and vary dramatically from one person to the next. However, there are articles for reference on both below. If you do plan on starting a new exercise plan please let me know what you plan on doing. I know for me having an accountability partner works best for me. If I don’t have someone to keep me accountable then I won’t stick to my plan as well as I do with that partner. So that is also something for you to keep in mind. If I can help you in any way please let me know. I would be very happy to help!!! I hope this helps some of you. Below are some articles for references on exercise with chronic illness for you.

With Love,

Amber

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise-and-chronic-disease/art-20046049

Expert Advice: How to Overcome Obstacles to Exercising with Chronic Illness

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971

https://www.fmcpaware.org/exercise/strength-training-for-the-person-with-fibromyalgia.html

Setting Goals For The New Year!!

Happy NEW YEAR Friends!!! I can’t help but sit here and reflect on all the things that happened in 2017. There were ups and there were downs, sadly this year was full of downs and not so many ups. But that’s just life. The world throws all sorts of things at us all the time and it’s how we deal it that really matters!!! I also can’t help but think about what I want out of 2018. I won’t be setting resolutions because I seem to never follow through. So this year I will be setting goals. Both short term and long term goals so I have something to always be working on. And I want to share with you how I set my goals.

When I set goals I use the acronym SMART to set them.

S- Specific – what exactly you want to accomplish. What is you want to do. For me a specific goal would be that I want to do some sort of exercise for 10min 1-3 Times a week.

M- Measurable – This means how you are going to measure your accomplishments and how you will know when this goal has been achieved. For example, if your goal is to make $10,000, make sure you have a time frame. I want to make $10,000 by December 31 so it is measurable.

A- Achievable – Make sure you set goal that are achievable and not so far in left field that it will never happen. (For example, don’t set the goal to run a full marathon in three months when you can’t run 100ft currently. A more achievable goal would be to say you will walk/run a 5K by the end of summer.)

R- Realistic – Make sure your goal is something you can actually do. For example, setting a goal to become president of the United States for most people would not be realistic. A goal of become a local representative or sitting on city council. That would be more realistic.

T-Timely- This one is the easiest. Simply when do you want to accomplish your goal? One month? Three months? A year?

I’ll give you an example of a smart goal. I want to start exercising 1-3 times a week for at least ten minutes, by doing yoga or walking in the house (too cold right now to be outside). I want to be doing this in full by March 1st!

That is just an example. But I have several long term and short term goals that I will be working on. Another bit of advice I have for you is to write your goals in a place you will see them. For me, my goals often are out of sight out of mind. So I will write them on a dry erase board that I see every day. You could even write them on a mirror you use everyday. Just put them somewhere so you can be reminded of them daily.

I can’t say that I’m sad to see 2017 go. It was one of the harder years I’ve had with all the health issues I have had. And losing the ability to drive due to my health has really been hard. I feel like I’m 15 again and have to ask someone to take me everywhere. I know many of you have had a rough year as well so we are going to take 2018 and make it ours. I am going to do everything in my power to make this a positive year both with my business, and in my personal life. And I encourage you to do the same!!! Set goals, and use them as a point to work toward. I feel like if we don’t have something to work toward we become stagnant. For us spoonies it is so easy to focus on the negative. We have so many bad days and get bad news often. But if we can focus on something positive, Life might be a little more positive. I know you are thinking that it is easier said than done, but it will really make a difference. I will be honest I get stuck one the bad things all the time. But this year I am going to work on being positive!!! And I am here to help you with your goals if you need me to and help encourage you along the way!!

Feel free to share some of your goals in the comments. If you share your goals with others I feel that you are more likely to work to accomplish them! So share with us!! I hope and pray that all of you can make 2018 a positive year!

With Love,

Amber