Oh great. Here is yet another blog article trying to tell me how to live with pain. What does this writer know? This writer lives with 6 invisible diseases…and all of them have caused pain. Hereditary Hemochromatosis (iron overload), Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (sensitivity to light, skin blisters), Hashimoto’s Thyroid (autoimmune…caused extreme stomach issues), Epstein-Barr Virus (felt entire vertebral column flare-up), Depression from pain, and Fribromyalgia (when anyone touched my skin, it felt like a slap).
Over the last three years, the pain continued to get worse. I opted not to be on the pharmaceutical drugs due to the fact that HH is a genetic condition and no doctor could tell me for sure if the drugs would make my liver worse. So pain it was. But I wasn’t going to stop there. I continued my search for things to help me cope that were going to work with my body naturally. What did I find?
- Turmeric milk. Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory properties…due to the active compound curcumin.
- Relief. Building on that, I take this product because it has ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, but even more than that it also includes turmeric root extract, as well as yucca root, which has long been used for osteoarthritis as well as inflammation of the intestine. Ah-ha. Hmm. Remember my stomach pain before? Better within weeks of getting on this.
- Restorative yoga. Yoga has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol. Do you think I might have been stressed when I moved if my whole body felt like it was on fire? Yes. Just a little. The difference in restorative though, is that you get to use comfy bolsters, blocks and blankets. So we made little nests, and sat in that pose for 5-15 minutes depending on what it was. I had a hard time at first, but learned to let go of my expectations of what my body used to be able to do. The poses became second nature.
- Vinyasa yoga for back pain. I graduated to Vinyasa…honestly, only because a friend pulled me in the direction my mind was afraid to go. When she suggested restorative, I gave it a try. When she said that I could do Vinyasa and possibly teach one day, my mind shut her down due to the pain. “She has no idea how much moving hurts.” Said the mind…but the heart wanted to get better. Thankfully, it’s pretty strong, and said “Let’s do this thing!!!” And so I did. Almost 200 hours later…the girl on fire. Literally.
- Meditation-like thoughts. When I felt myself go into the dark place of pain, I would literally stop and say things to myself like “I am breathing in. I am breathing out.” I didn’t come up with this on my own. I read part of a Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are Here, except at the time, I didn’t want to be there. ha. So I never finished it. But it did teach me to focus my breathing.
- Friends checking in on you. This part became difficult. Not many people were in this category. When you are in pain, people slip away. They do. It’s not their fault, but it is in the human nature to be uncomfortable when you don’t know what to do. Most don’t climb down in the hole with you. Watch this short video to get the full meaning of “The Power of Empathy”. Rarely can a response make something better, says Dr. Brown, what makes something better is a connection.
So my friends, I leave you with my connection to you. I am in the hole with you. I have climbed down there. I will hug you. I will give you that love and connection to your pain, but the next step is on you.