The Good, Bad, and Ugly Days with Pain
At the risk of sounding like some classic old western movie, if you have pain, then you know about the good, bad and ugly days. As soon as that sun rises, you could be facing a good day that rides into your life like one of the good guys on a white stead. Or you could be faced with a dirty rotten scoundrel of a day. Because your life is unscripted and unpredictable, you need some advice about how to get through your good, your bad and your ugly days.
Contrary to popular opinion, the good days should not be shot off in a torrent of chores and errands just to get things done. That boom of activity will leave you busted down on the trail later on. The boom or bust activity pattern is a difficult way to stay in control of pain. Instead, cherish and savor the good day with a sustainable pace. Do not try to accomplish everything at once. If you are able to pace yourself well enough, the next day might be another good day.
What if you are facing a bad day? The pain level is just above tolerable and you are getting a bit cross-eyed. Bad days are the best times to reach into your saddle bag and dust off an old self-management tool that was helpful in the past. For example, that old heating pad might come in handy or that TENS unit could do the trick. What about those things the physical therapist showed you years ago? Remember, you cannot build a barn with just a hammer. All the tools in your saddle bag are needed to relieve the pain on the bad days.
Well partner, sometimes those bad days are no comparison to the downright mean and ugly days when there seems to be nothing that offers relief. You could just lock yourself in dark room feeling helpless and depressed. Or you could go to the emergency room and become annoyed. Even the apothecary does not help much on those ugly days. No matter how ugly the day, just remember that it is only temporary. You can survive if you circle the wagons by connecting with friends, family or professionals who can help you. By staying connected, you can stay alive to ride another day.
As the sun sets on your day and you ride off into the sunset, keep yourself at a good pace with the saddle bag at the ready and your compadres close. You never know if tomorrow will bring a good, a bad or an ugly day.
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.