I am not going to blow smoke up your a$$ and tell you that it’s possible to live pain free or that you can do whatever you please despite your chronic illness/pain.
Living with chronic pain is often exhausting, disappointing, and frustrating.
BUT, there are things you can do that may make it possible to do more of what you want and to enjoy the life you have.
*Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. Meaning that at no additional cost to you, I receive a commission when you make a purchase through my links. The proceeds earned fund the giveaways I host in my Facebook groups.
First, let me say that I am in no way suggesting that everyone is the same. We could have the exact same illnesses, be the same height, weight, etc. and still have completely different experiences. However, there is something to be learned from those who have the same or similar pains yet are doing what you wish to.
Do they use a mobility aid?
What is their activity level between planned outings?
Do they have support of family and friends?
How do they relieve or reduce their chronic pain?
If you’re like me, stress aggravates and increases your chronic pain.
Never choose an activity or vacation destination without researching it beforehand. Search online for videos, pictures, reviews, and blogs for information.
I do not blog about accessibility at Disneyland because it is a popular subject because it isn’t, but those who do follow my Disney blog and are members of my Facebook group have all thanked me for providing the information that I do.
Find bloggers who travel with the same or similar chronic pain. Even if the location is practically in your own backyard, it’s always helpful to find out what others with the same limitations or accessible issues have to say.
Two years ago I had an opportunity to meet my fellow Psoriatic-Arthritis.com contributors in Philadelphia. Knowing that I would need to bring a mobility aid and would be using it to go between my hotel and the office, I used Google maps to view my walking route with street view.
During my research, I discovered construction that made using the sidewalk impossible. By knowing this ahead of time, I was able to redirect my walk. I also knew what the terrain was like and was thankful that I didn’t have to deal with any hills.
Look for as much accessibility information as possible. Again, knowing what services or how accessible a location is before visiting will make it easier to decide if it is one you should visit or not.
The more you research your destination, the more prepared you will be and the less you will have to stress about.
Listen to your body
Living with chronic pain requires us to listen closely to what our bodies are telling us.
Sometimes, it’s easy. For example, after breaking my ribs, I knew that going anywhere on my own was not an option. During my recovery, what few outings I was up for required my having someone to drive me, push my wheelchair, and assist me. There was no willing myself to do what my body wasn’t ready to do.
If your body tells you that walking more than a mile a day is too much and requires days to recover from, plan to use a mobility aid for outings that require a lot of walking or standing.
If using the electric shopping cart at the grocery store or having your groceries delivered gifts you with the energy to cook dinner, then do it!
By using a rollator/transport chair combo, I walk when I am able and my family pushes me when I cannot. It also allows me to alternate between walking and being pushed throughout the day. Click here to learn more about my favorite mobility aid!
I know how it feels to have a spurt of energy and think, it’s now or never to get as much done as possible. You may also think that if you push to get more done at once you will have time to other things later.
Unfortunately, that way of thinking doesn’t work when you have a chronic illness like fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, CRPS, or one of the many other painful illnesses.
Typically, overdoing it with a chronic illness results in less time to do more because of the time needed to recover.
Listen to others
Again, I am not insinuating that everyone is the same or that if you do what I do you can do the same, BUT, listening to someone who has similar pains/symptoms may provide you with ideas to improve your life.
Before I made major changes to my life, I asked others who were doing better than I was or doing what I wanted to do how they did it. I wasn’t ready to completely overhaul my life, but I did start making baby steps. Those baby steps are what led me to where I am today.
Learn from your mistakes
Stop repeating behaviors or physical actions that trigger flares or increase your pain.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t do something again, but that the next time you try it, you do it differently.
For example, if spending the day at Disneyland on foot is too much, try using a wheelchair or electric mobility scooter the next time. If that doesn’t work or only helps a little bit, look for other ways to keep your pain from escalating.
If long road trips are too hard on your body, try shortening how far you travel or the amount of hours you spend sitting in the car.
You can learn a lot about how what you eat affects your body/illness through journaling. Download my eBook for free for details on how I track and discover what foods increase my pain and inflammation. While I will agree that there is no one specific diet that makes a difference, what we eat does matter.
Learn from other’s mistakes
Talk to those who have experienced improvements or that are doing what you want to do. Again, not saying you have to do what they do, but it can’t hurt to listen. You never know what you will learn.
I not only learned how those things helped others, but how to avoid the mistakes they made.
Let go of thinking that what you do or don’t do doesn’t matter. Everything action makes a difference.
Let go of thinking you have to prove yourself to your friends and family who don’t have chronic pain.
Let go of thinking that your life is over or that a cure being found is the only thing that will improve it.
Let go of behaviors or actions that increase your pain.
Let go of unrealistic expectations.
Do what you can, when you can, and move as slow as your body requires.