Pacing and Self Care

Most people who live with chronic pain tend to mentally block that pain so that they can function day to day.  I have to admit, I am one of those people.

While I was in chiropractic school, I developed pancreatitis.  I have a long history of a very rare metabolic disorder, which I’ll share about in another post.  I ended up having pancreatitis three times while in chiropractic school, each incident creating more pain and embarrassing ambulance transport.  Since I’ve graduated, I continue to have episodes and hospitalizations, however, I am much better at listening to my body before I get in to trouble.

The key is knowing when you truly need medical intervention versus alternative care.

Pancreatitis is not one of those things you want to play around with.  It requires hospitalization for IV fluids and pain medicine, as well as nothing to eat or drink.  I will say that once the medical emergency was over and I was able to return home, the first thing I would do was visit my chiropractor.  I needed to re-set my nervous system after laying in bed for 7-10 days and having lovely pain meds.  There were times I’d see her on a daily basis for a week, then maybe 3 times the next week.  I just innately knew that my body needed to be reset.

I’ve made the mistake of returning to work or school too soon after being hospitalized.  I had to learn the fine art of pacing myself, pacing my activities and allowing self-care.  Do you know how very difficult that is?  We tend to want to keep pushing forward, but sometimes pushing forward means relapse.

I live with chronic pain from my pancreatitis.  Some days the pain is barely noticeable, but some days my body is so fatigued from the pain, I have to pace myself to slow down.  This past spring, I attended two conferences back to back and a few marketing events scheduled every weekend.  I’d always take one day off after an event to recuperate, but this last time, one day was not enough.  Living with chronic pain is exhausting and your body becomes fatigued as you push through your pain.  I’ve had to learn to pace myself to slow down and take extra care of myself after exciting events.

For some people, that fatigue happens on a daily basis.  You quickly learn the fine art of prioritizing your activities.  See the page about the Spoon Theory here. Even people who don’t live with chronic pain have felt the effects of their body protesting recent adventures.  Think of that time you drove 8 hours to get to the beach, but more importantly, the 8 hours it took to drive home from the beach.  While the vacation was relaxing, sleeping in a different bed with different pillows and the long stretches of driving without moving can be taxing on your body.  There is a reason for the comment “I need a vacation after having a vacation.”

Take the time NOW to take care of yourself.

See your chiropractor to have your nervous system re-set: Release any subluxations in your spine and muscle tension in your body that prevents you from being YOU.

Give yourself the gift of therapeutic massage.

Take that extra day off to release not just the physical tension, but the mental and emotional tension you’ve been holding on to.

Find your passion and PLAY.

Make sure you have a support team of people with whom you can talk about your pain or the many emotions involved in chronic pain.  Make sure they are compassionate and have earned the right to listen to such privileged information.  Have someone special who can look after you and remind you to take a break.  My husband is often reminding me to take a break when I get involved in yard work.  I even have my travel buddy look after me to remind me to stop and take a break when I go to conferences.  Your support team is extremely important.

I have been caring for chronic pain survivors for 25+ years.  I truly understand what my patients are going through: the fatigue, the pain, the relationship strains, the anxiety with depression, the insominia, and especially the drive to keep going despite all the pain and those frightening moments when you feel you just can’t take one more moment of torment.  I have earned the compassion to assist you.

Please reach out if you would like a consultation on how to manage your chronic pain isssues.

With Love & Abundance,

Dr. Cynthia

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Posted in The Empowered Patient Series.