10 ways to cope with a chronic pain flare up.
You may very well know the feeling. You’re in bed, at work or walking out and about and it hits you. That pain is completely personal. For me it feels like some sod has hold of my left ovary and is twisting it to high heaven. Whatever that feeling is, you will know it as the inkling of a flare up. For me flare ups happen one to two times a month, where my daily chronic pain is replaced by pain that I would describe as at least an 8 on my own pain scale. I’m usually confined to my bed, off my tits on pain killers and usually don’t surface for at least a few days. This sucks, but is (unfortunately) a reality of my illness. I thought I would share with you all some things I’ve found, help me cope.
1.Stop what you’re doing.
I find this one of the hardest things to do, but it’s so important. Whether you have endo or not, if you suffer from a chronic pain condition and a flare up hits you, it’s important to allow yourself to stop. We are so good at carrying on, pushing through and often doing ourselves more harm. My advice to you (and let’s be real to myself an awful lot of the time) is cancel those plans, call in sick to work and get yourself to bed. This is often this biggest battle but my view is this flare ship is coming all cannons blazing either way, you matters well whether the storm somewhere comfy.
That’s all for the ships and sea analogies I promise.
2. Surround yourself with allies and helpers.
Whether that’s your partner, your friends, your family or your cat. Let someone know things aren’t great. This might not be someone who lives with you, it might not even be someone who lives close by, but it might be someone who can help. If you live with a partner or family member they may know the signs quite well by now, but still let them know whats going on, allow them to help you if you can.
3. Don’t be afraid to use the treatments that YOU know work for YOU.
Whether that be prescription painkillers, acupuncture, complementary treatments or just your trusty heating pad, no one has the tight to tell you you shouldn’t use something that works. It can take quite a long time to find a treatment for your symptoms, and sure none of these will stop a flare up BUT they may help. Personally I find strong pain killers and bed are my only saviours, and I try my best to explore other treatments for my chronic pain when I’m able to.
4. Eat well (whatever that means).
When i’m marooned in bed (I’m sorry last sea pun i promise), making a meal is the last thing i think i can achieve. Also eating a meal seems pretty impossible at these times too. You may want to eat, you may not. You may want to eat snacks and junk food, you might want to nibble on a carrot but either way try and stay fuelled. Whatever that means for you. Try making self care packages when you’re doing okay, with some snacks and pre-prepped meals for when times aren’t so good.
5. Don’t forget to take care of your mental well being too.
When you have a chronic pain condition it sometimes can become all about your physical health, but keep in mind your mental health is important too. When i come out of a flare up i often feel mentally and emotionally drained, so even if my body has recovered i usually try and give my mind some time to heal too. This can include something tiny like having a bath, having a friend over to visit or watching a movie with my boyfriend. These things sound insignificant but there’s very little room for small things that bring joy when you’re in the midst of a flare up, and its important to make time for them when there is.
6. Don’t become a prisoner (If you can help it).
You get into a cycle when you experience chronic pain and it’s flare ups. Everything can become about that pain and that flare. You may stop yourself doing the things you once enjoyed for fear of bringing on another. I often tell myself (quite sternly), to stay in bed even if I think i may feel up to sitting in the garden or lying on the sofa or even taking a short walk. Rest, sleep and recover but if your body is telling you it can do something other than lie in bed this afternoon try and make it happen. Sit in your garden with a book, watch TV on the sofa, walk around the corner to the shop to pick yourself a treat or cook yourself something tasty. Seriously this will really help with number 5.
7. Use social media (wisely).
When I’m stuck in bed, twitter and instagram can be my saving grace, but it can also be my downfall. It can provide me with people who really know what I’m experiencing. Connecting me to people and blogs that know what having a chronic pain condition is truely like. It can uplift me, but it can also do the opposite. Spending hours scrolling through beautiful photos of people doing beautiful things might not always be conducive. So, sure connect with those online friends, read those blogs (if it helps), but don’t be against putting down your phone and remembering that what you’re sometimes seeing on social media just isn’t real.
8. Find (achievable) ways to make yourself feel good.
It’s all too easy to begin to think that because you’re ill the only thing you should be focusing on is that. Find things that bring you joy when you need it. Don’t wait until you’re better or the flare has past, you deserve joy now. For me? Face masks, baths, cheesy movies and a little retail therapy. It doesnt matter if you have no reason to buy that dress or focus on some skin care, if it makes you happy it is reason enough.
9. Push people away when you need to.
Yes allow people to help you when what they are offering is actually going to be of some use. Don’t feel obliged to text that friend back, have that family member over for a cuppa or listen to your mum on the phone for hours if it’s not what you need. Be selfish.
10. Lastly and by no means least, be fair to yourself.
Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Those plans can wait, work will carry on without you and the important people in your life will still be there when you return.
If you lovely lot have any of your own chronic pain coping tips and tricks comment down below!