Tag Archive | walk again

Getting back to “normal”

Having the ability to cook without worrying about falling has helped me feel more confident. Using my LifeGlider has given me the use of my hands while having better balance. I have always enjoyed cooking for my family, but when I lost proprioception and balance it was almost impossible to stand and cook using a regular walker because I had to constantly had look a my legs/feet so that my brain could register where my legs were at all times otherwise any slight weight shift would send me falling. So blessed to have found a great device that allows me to stand up straight, walk more correctly all the while being safe.

His promise is unchanging

Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.
Psalm 119:50 (NLT)

Some days are great and it easy to feel the energy and build on it. Those day are when we do things like get outside and do a little gardening or step up our workouts. Yet on the days when our body hurts and feels sluggish it becomes difficult to see the positives. But God’s promise to walk with us, to love us and to get us through brings life and hope back to us even when our pain is at an 7+ and our legs feel like they have weights on them as we walk through mud. Regardless of what is going on His promise remains unchanging.
Lately, I have had some tough days where all I can do is take my meds and rest. I have always been an active person who would much rather be outside doing something rather than to be a couch/bed potato. But I have had to learn that with an Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury and Chiari Malformation that it is okay to take time to let my body rest and heal. So, on those day I read, draw or binge watch something on Netflix or Hulu. Often it is a combination of all those things. All the while remembering that God is with me and not let the negative thoughts creep in.
Once the negative thoughts start running through it makes it much harder to remain hopeful. Then the pain becomes overwhelming and causes many of us to fall into the “what if” stage. For example, what if there is a major earthquake, how am I going to get out, or what if this time I do not improve, and my symptoms just keep getting worse? Silly thoughts that the enemy loves to put into our head. Of course, we have a choice, we can keep going down this negative and dark path or we can STOP, say a prayer and ask God to help us control our thoughts and then begin thinking about all the good things that tomorrow will bring. Now, there are times when tomorrow repeats the same pain, but if we keep looking forward and stay hopeful most of the time the pain gets better and we are off to our next project or adventure.
If we stay hopeful, we will keep moving forward even if we take little steps. In time we will look back and realize how far we have really come. God’s promise gives us comfort in those times of difficulty and gives us hope to hold on and let Him carry us through. Stay strong and allow the good thoughts power you instead of letting the bad ones drain you. God will never break His promise. He will always comfort us and bring us through.

Motivate one another

 

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness ,knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness , mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

1 Peter 1:5-7

Motivate: to provide with a motive IMPEL

Impelto urge or drive forward or on by or as if by the exertion of strong moral pressure.

We can all motivate each other via our actions and our words. Each morning we open our eyes we have an opportunity to choose to be positive or negative. Those of us living with chronic illness and pain may find it difficult to be positive when we hurt, but even a simple smile and making eye contact can change someone’s day.

Each of us have an opportunity each day to motivate each other by doing things with love and showing others via good works. There appears to be turmoil everywhere we look. Recently in my small city of Yucaipa protests were held. Most were peaceful, but one got out of control. People were fighting, business owners took up arms, and both sides behaved in a negative manner. Negative behavior like this creates separation and brings people down instead of brining us together and motivating change.  We are all human and not the color of our skin nor the way we dress.

Instead of being negative we can motivate each other by supporting one another and respecting each other’s views even when we do not agree. But we must first learn to listen to what is being said and not just hearing. There is a difference between hearing and listening. We can hear something without really listening. For example, we hear sounds all around us at any given moment, often we just tune out the background noise, but if we concentrate, we can pinpoint where each sound is resonating from and what is making each noise. When we really listen to what we hear, each of the sounds has meaning.

Have you ever heard someone talking but not really listened to them? I know I am guilty of this. For example, when one of my children was trying to convince me to let them participate in a particular event and I have already decided the answer is no because I know I’m right and they are wrong. So, I continue doing the dishes and making mental notes of what I need to buy at the grocery while half listening. My actions show them that their words are not important. But when I take the time to really listen to them and make eye contact, I find that they have some good ideas that I had not even considered. Often their ideas are quite different than mine, but that does not mean that they are wrong. We must be careful not to make someone else’s words our background noise. Because when we really listen, we build bridges instead of walls.  So, before you respond negatively take a moment, really listen, and think about what is being said. Sometimes people say things because they have experienced a situation that we cannot comprehend. The old saying,” You can catch more flies with honey” …comes to mind because a small act of kindness such as listening can change a person’s view and heart.

When we take the time to listen and treat others with love and respect, we motivate each other. We encourage change and promote togetherness not division and malice. It takes a lot of self-control to surrender to the fact that others may have a better idea or solution to a situation. During these trying times we all can be the catalyst to help urge others to keep moving forward by showing others that their words and lives matter by listening and not just hearing. Listen to others just as our Father listens to us because it brings hope, understanding, and motivation for change.

 

High pain days, what can you do?

pain

 

Living with chronic illness often means learning to navigate the daily pain and stiffness changes that can be exacerbated by fluctuation in temperature and sometimes food. It means being aware of what your body is always telling you and doing something about it before it is too late. For example, when temperatures rise into the upper 80’s and above, I must be extra diligent with drinking water to stay hydrated, doing my best to stay in cool shaded or air condition places,  and watching for signs my body is may be becoming over-heated. Because of my SCI and Chiari Malformation my body does not sweat normally, I only sweat shoulders up, which means my body cannot cool itself off properly. So, whether I am relaxing in a pool or indoors I must make sure that I do not over-exert and get overheated. In cold weather I must bundle up but make sure I do not become too warm. .Becoming overheated or getting too cold can mean increased headaches, more allodynia which in turns triggers spasms in my back, across my tummy, and down my legs. This usually means having to lay around for the next day or two and/or sometimes longer. So, on high pain days what can you do?

Give yourself permission to recover and accept help

It is not always easy to have to admit that your body is rebelling and that the only thing you can do is find a somewhat comfortable position, take your medication, and just rest. I know for me this is difficult. As a wife, mother, and grandmother I am supposed to be the one that takes care of everyone else not the other way around. Not being able to get up and take care of my family makes me feel down. I hate feeling like I am letting those around me down. But the reality is that our family and friends understand. They only want you to get better. It is perfectly okay to ask for and accept help. Our bodies are telling us Stop! It is time to rest and recover.

 

Distract yourself from the pain

We are all different and like different things so finds what works best. For me sometimes it is putting on my VR helmet and immersing myself in a game, go swimming with the dolphins in Ocean Rift or use the meditation application. I have used this method on many occasions and find that my pain will drop from an 8+ to 5 in about 15 minutes. After about 45 mins. I can remove the mask and relax some.

Another way to distract myself is find a sitcom or movie to watch. With all the different services out there like Netflix, Hulu, and Fire Tv it is impossible not to find something to watch. I often find comedies, old reruns of I Love Lucy, or a great movie on the hallmark channel often help distract my mind from focusing on the pain as much. Look, when your body revolts find ways to make the best of it. Whether you are engrossed in a game or coloring do what helps you distract yourself from the pain.

Remember this is temporary

When our bodies misbehave it is easy to fall in the trap of beating ourselves up. It is extremely easy to lose sight of the fact this is only a temporary setback. Often, especially when things seem to be progressing, a minor setback like this seems much more than it really is. It can feel like this is going to last forever and then we start playing the “What if game.” What if I do not improve? What if this means I must start increasing my medications? What if the medications start making more lethargic? And, so on and so on.  Our minds are powerful and if we allow the negative thoughts in, we risk increasing our pain and discomfort. This usually leads to longer recovery times. It would benefit us to remember this is only a hiccup on journey.

Our bodies are complex and sometimes temperamental. Living with high levels of pain is difficult and can drain our ability to cope and cause us to lose hope. It is important to remember that these setbacks are just temporary, and our journey will resume shortly. It is okay to take the time to recover and accept help. This does not mean that this is going to be how things are from here on out. Let us do our best to allow ourselves time reset and recover.

 

Dear Lord, thank you for being the light that guides me through the storms. You renew my faith, hope, and my spirit. Help me to always find You even the most difficult of storms and give you praise through it all.

During our time at home

As everyone is dealing with the changing times it is bringing higher stress levels, more anxious moments, which can lead to eating more comfort foods and less activity. For those living with chronic pain like me, it can be a period of increased pain and discomfort.  Yes, rest is important and can be beneficial, but long periods of inactivity, lying around with no purpose or focus, sitting around focusing on our worries can be harmful and often exacerbates the pain. 

I have adopted a few things that may help you as well. First, if my body is really tired and I did not get much sleep the night before I allow myself a day of rest knowing that maybe after a short nap that I will get up and do something small like stretch or go outdoors for some fresh air (weather permitting). It can even be as simple as sitting up in bed dangling my legs off the side and do some small leg exercises. Sometimes my Allodynia is so bad that very movement causes me pain, and, on those days, I must take extra meds and let my body rest and heal.  But I do my best to get up every day, shower, brush my teeth and get dressed. Being inactive for long periods of time only makes my pain worse and maintaining a normal routine gives my day a sense of direction.

Next, I make sure I am continuing to eat healthy. If you are like me, during higher stress moments I want to reach for comfort foods, such as french fries, bread, chips, and other foods that really don’t have a lot of nutrients in them. But these foods are high in sugar, carbs, and salt which for people living with chronic pain can exacerbate your symptoms. So, as we go to the grocery store and see that the fruits, vegetables and other healthy choices are dwindling, while the candy and snack foods are abundant, Please Don’t Be Tempted. Studies have shown that pain gets worse with processed foods.

I also make sure I am staying as active as possible and I get regular exercise. When weather permits and I get outdoors and go for a walk. Because of my deficits I have to make sure I have someone to walk with me for safety reasons which makes getting out a bit harder. There are a variety of indoor activities you can do to stay active. I do Yoga with an instructor (can be done virtually) at least two times per week.   By moving and getting our hearts pumping we also release endorphins which help reduce the pain.

Getting outdoors as much as possible is also important. Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stay locked indoors. Take your dog for a walk or make yourself and your family a picnic lunch and sit outside in your backyard like I did recently. Cut some fresh flowers and bring a little bit of the outdoors in to brighten the mood. Enjoy the warmth of the sun and fresh air.  It can help lift your mood instantly.

During times like this it is easy to fall into the negativity trap especially when most of what we see and hear is negative news. We all know that stress worsens pain. Do your best to destress, talk to family and friends, just knowing you are not alone helps. We may not be able to hang out with our family and/or friends right now, but we still require those connections.  You can use things like Skype, Face Time, or WhatsApp or whatever works for you to keep in touch. We may not be able to reach out and hug them, but we can still see and hear them.

It is important not to become isolated because feeling alone only leads us to overdo and/or do activities that cause or exacerbate our pain. We can still assist each other with things like food runs, chores, and/or cleaning. If you know someone with deficits or with chronic pain, ask them what they might need assistance with and if you are the one that is in pain or has a deficit, please ask for help.

While it may be appealing to get everything on your to-do list done, pace yourself. Overexerting yourself will just exacerbate the pain and make it harder to cope. I know personally that when my body is over tired my pain goes up quickly and my ability to deal with the pain diminishes. Don’t attempt chores you’re not up to or know are unsafe.  Getting on a ladder, mopping the floor, or lifting heavy items can wait until someone else is available to help.

We have all wished at some point that we had extra time to catch up things. Many of us have wanted the time to organize your drawers and closets, put together a photo album, mend clothes, or many other things. Maybe you have wanted to start a craft project or puzzle why not give it a try. Why not use this time to reconnect with our inner artist?

It is important for everyone to take one day at a time and to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Our body requires at least 7-9 hrs. of sleep to function better. I know firsthand that does not always happen when you live with chronic pain. For many of us each day is a struggle. Please let’s do our best to stay connected, help each other, get some rest and heal physically and emotionally. God has promised that when we seek Him with our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). He has also said what we ask for in prayer and believe we will receive (Mark 11:24).  He is the greatest healer and He is with us. So, no matter what tomorrow brings, we’ll get through it together.