Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Patient Expert

Chronic pain is challenging to say the least.   Not only do we have to cope with the pain itself, but often we also have to deal with fatigue (being constantly in pain is exhausting) and difficulties with memory and concentration.   Over the years, I've gathered a few tips that may make your life a little easier or help you accomplish a little more.

Household Tips:

-  When you have a day you feel up to cooking, make double and freeze half.   Then when you're having a bad day, all you have to do is heat and serve.

-  Arrange your cabinets and closets so that the things you use most are the easiest to get to.   Keep the necessity of bending or stretching to a minimum.

-  Keep a basket of items you use frequently (pad, pencil, nail file, hand lotion, etc.) on the end table next to your favorite chair so you don't have to get up every time you need something.

-  Look for kitchen gadgets that make food preparation easier: food chopper, jar opener, electric can opener, apple wedger, etc.

-  If you live in a two-story house, keep a set of the items you use most often on each floor (i.e., hairbrush, scissors, diapers).

-  Save yourself multiple trips up and down stairs by setting things on the stairs that need to be transported so the next person going up/down can take them.   Using an attractive basket to accumulate the items in will make them easier to transport and keep the staris from getting cluttered.

-  Store cleaning products in the rooms in which you'll use them (bathrooms, kitchen, etc.) so they're always handy.

-  Keep extra plastic bags in the bottom of waste baskets and trash cans.   When you pull the full bag out, another is right there and you don't have to walk to another room to get them.

Memory Aids:

-  Make lists -- shopping lists, to do lists, gift-giving lists -- anything you need to remember.   Once it's written down, your mind is free to focus on other things.     Always keep your lists in the same place so you know where to find them.

-  Save yourself unnecessary trips to the grocery by keeping a pad and pencil handy in your kitchen and jotting down items you're running low on as soon as you notice them.   That way, when you make out your grocery list, you won't forget essential items.

-  Carry a mini digital recorder with you when you're away from your house.   Record appointments you make, instructions from your doctor, or things you think of that you need to do when you get home.

For the Ladies:

-  Clean out your purse so that you're not carrying around unnecessary weight.   Loose change is one of the biggest culprits.   You'd be surprised at how heavy three or four dollars in change can be.

-  Break the habit of throwing your purse over your shoulder.   The extra weight on one shoulder can lead to neck, back, shoulder and arm pain.   Try just carrying a small handbag or billfold or wearing a fanny pack.

Taking Care of You:

-  Experiment with pillows -- lots of pillows.   Whether your sleeping, watching TV or riding in a car, strategically placed pillows can provide you with the added comfort and support you need.   There are an assortment of specially designed pillows on the market to support every part of your body.   Experiment to find what works best for you.   If you can't find the perfect pillow, try making one yourself.

-  Take some time every day for you.   Soak in a bubble bath, lay in a hammock under the trees, curl up in bed with a good book -- whatever is relaxing and pleasurable for you.


-  Minimize steps in the grocery store by organizing your shopping list to flow with the layout of the store.

-  When you get ready to buy a new vehicle, consider a mini-van.   They're easier to get in and out of than most cars, SUV's and trucks.

-  Get help with tasks that are difficult for you.   If you can't afford to hire someone, trade services with a friend.   Or try to find something else in your budget that can be cut so that you can pay for help.   If a friend or family member asks what they can do to help, don't be shy -- tell them what you need.   They wouldn't ask if they didn't want to help.

_Now, it's your turn... _

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