I am NOT a doctor. This is purely my own living wisdom for me.
I live with chronic pain. In the last few weeks I am hearing more from some friends about their lives with chronic pain, and frankly, I am so used to it (40 years now) that often I don’t notice it, consciously. On bad days, it feels like a knife in my spine, or someone’s used my body for a punching bag. Pain can feel overwhelming. I take strong drugs at those times, unless I have to drive.
Mostly, though, I don’t notice it unless I put my mind to the problem, like right now, as I write this, I am aware of the places that hurt, as they say in the doc’s office, on a scale of 1-10, about 3-4. By the end of the day it will be closer to a 7, mostly because I have to do some shellacking today and that means from time to time I will be leaning a certain way over a piece of furniture and that will cause a spasm. (And I have to work, its our business!) Hip, lower back, and shoulder stemming from my neck, all hurt this morning, and probably a mild muscle relaxer will keep me off pain meds today. I’m careful about pain meds, because they are addictive, and they also put me in a bad mood if I take them for any length of time.
I don’t “notice” my pain this morning because it is not a 6-7, and I have turned my attention elsewhere. I am not saying this is for everyone, but it helps me. I ignore it. I don’t mean I ignore it and lift heavy boxes and do the stupid things that will cause me grief. I mean, I treat it like a child with a tantrum and send it to its room, not to be paid attention to until it can play nicely. I don’t discuss it, and really don’t complain much. When my mom had real pain for the first time, she constantly complained. I know it is startling to people when they first experience pain, and they can’t believe I live with it almost every day, because they figure I can’t be in as much pain as they are because they would know — I’d tell them, right? No, but when I first had it I told everyone, and thought about it all the time. Gradually, however, I saw that it didn’t help me much to talk about it, and I read about a Roshi (Zen master) who had very bad cancer and rarely took pain killers (he could not teach on them) and took his attention and placed it elsewhere. I tried that, it took a long time, and now it is a habit. I turn away from the pain.
I don’t want to make anyone who has chronic pain feel badly if they cannot do this, and understand I cannot do it when it reaches a high level — and to the drugs I go! On the other hand, if it helps me, it may help you too, even some of the time.
I’m no doctor, but I use HerbPharm’s tinctures, and find they are the best tinctures. Ed’s got the herbal wisdom. He has some good sedatives, some of which make for mild muscle relaxers, and a good pain response made with Willow Bark. I highly recommend care when trying tinctures (I usually try 1-2 drops to see how I react when trying a new tincture), and working with a naturopath. Tinctures may be natural, but they are strong drugs! Don’t mix them with regular meds without a doctor’s or pharmacist’s okay.
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