I've been going through a really tough time lately, which I'm sure all of you understand. I seem to be in a flare that is going into its 7th month and am struggling to find some relief. Despite the fact that I have suffered from chronic pain for 16 years, up until two years ago I was able to finish my Bachelor's degree, start my Master's degree, work full time, and have an active social life. Now I have trouble just getting up and walking to the kitchen. I had to drop out of school, three courses away from a Master of Arts in Education. I had to give up my job. And I've lost my social life, as well.
Pacing has always been an issue for me. I hate when things are undone or not completed, so I tend to get started on something and not stop until it's done - despite the pain it causes. My son constantly reminds me to pace myself, rest more, or simply let him do it. It's hard to give up that control. In my former life, I always had to be in control.
What makes symptoms worse?
- Lack of sleep
- Physical exertion
- Not enough movement/too much movement (trying to find that fine line, the happy medium)
- Being able to complete something I started
- Getting things done
- Being able to successfully reclaim some area of my former life
Last week my target was to clean my room, bathroom, and put away laundry. I was only able to put away the laundry. I learned that I should set small, attainable goals and targets each day. Some days my target may be to just wash my hair, others to just rest, and some days I may be able to clean half my room. Small and attainable goals are the key to pacing.
Note: This was a huge breakthrough for me, though it seems so simple. I used to be the person always doing something, despite my pain (up until 2-1/2 years ago). I worked all the time, went to school full time, kept my house clean, raised my son alone. It was exhausting, but I managed. Now I can no longer manage and that was the hardest part. I would try to do the things I used to be able to do and the result was being confined to bed, writhing in pain for days, sometimes weeks. I'm learning to accept my limitations and pace myself.
As I share my postings for this self-help group, I would love to read your responses to the questions I have had to answer in my assignments. What makes your symptoms worse? What are you doing to manage fatigue and pain? Etc, etc. I believe we can learn from each other's responses.
Gentle hugs and pace yourself,