Friday, January 16, 2009

Mrs. Crankypants: Living with Pain


While I've done my fair share of tolerating pain in the past, I think I'm out of practice (which is a good thing!) Every 7 - 10 days, the pain from my recurring mastitis resurfaces, and I find that I become irritable, short-tempered, and downright cranky. I wish it weren't so, but it seems that the days of gritting my teeth and smiling my way through the aches and pains of my ailments are over. I say that's progress - since it means that my standards for healthy, pain-free living are higher than they used to be. In fact, I'd like to think that they're back to normal.

So what am I to do with the couple of hours where the pain from the infection seems intolerable, but eventually passes? I've tried a couple of things - all of which have worked pretty well:

Keeping my plans - Last week, when the pain came on shortly after I finished nursing, we were getting ready to leave for church. I considered staying home - but you know what? The pain wouldn't have subsided any faster, I couldn't have slept it off, and since Johnny and Deirdre were headed to Mass anyway - there would be no one home to complain to. So, I decided to go - and it worked. The pain, thankfully, lasted less than an hour, and my mind was sufficiently distracted for most of the time. We had plans to go out to eat afterward, and I was relieved that we could keep them. It's always such a bummer to have to reschedule a good meal due to pain and suffering.

Taking a hot shower - I've tried this several times, and it seems to work pretty well. The only downside? When I step into the shower, I instantly relive my years of taking hot, scalding showers to numb my body from Lupus pain, which wasn't ever a fun experience.

Exercising - I guess maybe I like this one because with Lupus pain, I could never pull this off. But with the pain localized in a body part not so affected by walking or running, burning a few calories seems to help.

Running errands and cursing up a storm - I'm supposed to be honest, right? One morning, I was in such pain - I had to get out of the house. Deirdre, Johnny, and the boys were sleeping, and I knew I needed to let off some verbal steam. I needed to pick up a prescription (for the infection, ironically) anyway, so I hopped in the car, pulled out of my driveway, and let my tongue run amuck. Thankfully, the drugstore's only a couple of miles from my house, so I ran out of choice words by the time I got there. But you know what? I felt a lot better, and Deirdre didn't have to get out her earmuffs.

Of course, with chronic pain, sometimes these workarounds aren't so successful. I just read that my nearest hospital offers a pain management program, designed to "help those with chronic pain return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life." Sounds good to me!

They're offering a free pain management lecture later this month - a valuable seminar for anyone fighting Lupus, Arthritis, etc. I'll include the details of the lecture below, just in case there are some Northern Virginians reading along who are interested. Let me know if you attend!

Pain Management Lecture
Presented by Talal Ghazal, MD
Inova Mount Vernon Hospital
January 22, 2009, 7pm
Register by calling 703-750-8800.
Lecture is free, but registering is encouraged.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

you're absolutely right...no fun staying home on your pity pot when no one's there to hear you...while it's a great idea to let off some steam (and a lot of choice words) do be careful not to let it interfere with your driving.
Distraction is best...keep on truckin little one.

Sara Gorman said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I definitely counted to "10" before I put the car in reverse. No need to add "road rage" to my list of ailments. :)