According to WebMD, some ways to reduce chronic pain include exercise, meditation, avoiding alcohol, cutting smoking, practicing (sic) better eating habits, keeping a pain journal for doctors, scheduling relaxation and distraction. (source:- ThirdAge.com ).
Let’s look at those a little more closely, from my perspective, because some are nonsensical, and not just for me.
Exercise – Simply not possible, as it causes excruciating pain. I know exercise is officially recommended for those of us with arthritis, but for that to be possible, most of us need better drugs.
Meditation – Possible for me,** but not for everyone, and not wildly reliable.
**I can’t tell you how I do it, whether it’s an acquired skill or something innate, but in the right circumstances – not always – I can tune out my pain, and much else. I’m not asleep – though I sometimes slip over into sleep – and I’m aware, more or less, of what’s going on around me, but pain is reduced to a sort of irritating background buzz.
Avoiding alcohol – Simply wrong. I mainly drink in the pub rather than at home, which, because it makes me sleep afterwards, will get me 8 hours or so free of pain (Pain is present even when I sleep, intruding into my dreams, my subconscious generating horrendously violent night mares as it attempts to rationalise the pain). However, while I never got the habit of drinking at home, I have, of late, started to. Not a lot – six bottle of beer lasted 3 months, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s 3 months – but I’ve found having a drink on seriously bad days, when pain and depression are at their worst, to be beneficial (I’m not depressed all the time, mercifully, just occasionally – I think most chronically sick people are depressed to some degree, it would be hard not to be). I’ve taken to drinking Jack with Stone’s Ginger Wine, which go together quite well, and about 2oz of each, just the one, will mellow me out nicely (my ex, who, along with a load of other MH problems, suffered from depression, always said that she felt best about one-third drunk). So on the worst of days, Jack & Stone’s are a regular feature, to lighten the darkness just enough. And an occasional bottle of beer in the evening, just for the hell of it!
Cutting smoking – Don’t smoke, never smoked, so irrelevant. Not convinced of efficacy anyway.
Practising better eating habits – Rubbish. Eating habits have no effect on pain whatsoever. Gourmet food has exactly the same analgesic properties as cheese on toast, which is to say, none. Eating the food you like rather than that which is supposed to be good for you will make you feel generally better – won’t make you hurt any less though it just might make it more tolerable.
Keeping a pain journal for doctors – What? How will that lessen my pain? The only way I could get even moderately effective analgesia from my GP was to tell him I was very close to killing myself because of the pain. And, to be honest, I don’t know how if that was a lie or not.
Scheduling relaxation – You try relaxing while in constant severe pain – there is no position in which I can sit or lie that doesn’t hurt. A lot. And for many people, especially with young children, being able to schedule anything is a miracle.
Distraction – Finally! Yes, this does work, and distraction is, along with drugs,** my most useful tool in dealing with pain. It generally takes the form of losing myself in a book, or in that very rare beast, a totally engrossing TV programme, though constantly being jolted out of the zone by ad breaks isn’t that great. **Sorry to be boring, but that’s prescription drugs, Dihydrocodeine (60mg every 6 hours, Paracetamol (with DHC), and occasionally, Naproxen (those, I bought).
By the way, Codeine is officially considered to be as efficacious as DHC. It’s not. DHC has no cough-suppressant effect, though, and for those who need it, Codeine Linctus will need to be continued. I find DHC far less constipating than Codeine, though.
Music can help too, on headphones, turned up to 11. Just try concentrating on anything else!
Yeah, I know, some bugger is likely to comment and tell me I’ll go deaf. That would be the least of my worries and, frankly, I don’t care.
The question is, though, why isn’t “Effective Medication” right at the top of that list, instead of not being there at all?