Advice from a Chronic Pain Warrior
When we receive severe diagnoses, it can shake us to the depths of our souls. And many times, we don’t hear anything the doctor says after that. The last thing you need to do is sit down and give up. Let’s review a few things our doctors may or may not have expressed to you at that initial appointment. These are some things I neglected to do and have learned the hard way about it.
Don’t Give Up on Your Mind
One side effect of Fibromyalgia is called Fibro Fog. It can be frustrating because you can’t think clearly. Don’t let this get you down. Use your brain as much as you can. Download some thinking games and do some every day. Try to do the things you have always done, just maybe a little less. If you get tired, by all means, stop for a while. Don’t give up on your mind.
Don’t Stop Exercising
When I received my first diagnosis, my doctor said, “Try to exercise every day, even if this is just 10-15 minutes. You may only be able to walk to the mailbox and back, but do it.” Our bodies need movement and if we don’t move it, it will start to deteriorate. Just walk.
Don’t Let Your Bones Get Soft
For those of us who are auto-immune compromised, the chances of acquiring osteoporosis are multiplied greatly. Don’t wait until you are 65 to get a Dexxa (bone density) scan. Get one at least by 50. Your doctor probably told you to walk 10 or 15 minutes a day. You don’t need to go fast just do some walking. I learned the hard way that if you aren’t getting some weight-bearing exercise, your bones will become soft. On top of lack of exercise, some medications that are used for Fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis cause bone loss. Keep track of this by using this online risk assessment and check into some exercises that are good for holding off osteoporosis. Truthfully though, just daily walking is all you really need.
Don’t Give Up on Healthy Foods
Before my diagnosis, I was completely off sugar and eating healthy foods only. When the pain hit me like a hurricane, I was no longer preparing my own food. I ate whatever I was served… because that was what I was taught. If I had it to do over, I would continue to insist on healthy foods. There are so many reasons, weight gain being one and other diseases showing up for another. Trust me, fibro is enough on its own. And RA can be daunting if it isn’t caught early. Don’t give up eating healthy.
For most people with chronic pain, sugar equals pain. If you need a sweetener, use stevia extract. It’s VERY sweet so use sparingly. I like to use the liquid form. Either way, make sure it is pure stevia. CHECK THOSE LABELS. At least check, Sweetleaf and Kal brands were pretty dependable. (Some brands will try to trick you, Stevia in the Raw is half sugar.)
Don’t Skip Your Doctor Appointments, or Dental & Eye
Another thing my doctor told me (and my disability attorney) was “Don’t stop seeing your doctors.” Sometimes we get feeling kind of good so we stop visiting the doctor. Your doctor can do tests and make sure that you are REALLY as good as you think. And it keeps them aware of what is going on so when you so desperately need them, they have records.
I haven’t had a chance to write on these things but I’m in the midst of realizing regret after ten years. At the time, I didn’t have any dental or eye insurance. There were so many expenses piling up, so I stopped seeing my dentist. Now, all these years later, I have broken and missing teeth. On top of that, when I learned that I have osteoporosis, I had to wait to start treatment until I could get the teeth repaired. (Having good teeth and being able to chew your foods, is important for the digestive system and your heart. Don’t Stop Seeing Your Dentist.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can take its toll on your eyes. Be sure you are seeing more than an optician each year. Chronic Dry Eye can be serious and lead to other diseases.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Your Feet
Your feet support your entire body. Don’t neglect them. If you have been wearing heels, STOP IT. You are essentially walking around on the balls of your feet. And you will pay. I ended up with Neuroma of the foot. Sometimes this leads to surgery and really nothing can help it. Count this as pampering yourself. Massage your feet. Soak in the tub with some Epson salts. If you can’t get in a tub, do a foot soak.
Stay Up-to-Date on your Vaccines
With auto-immune disease, comes the danger of getting other diseases. As a matter of fact, you are probably twice as likely to pick up other community diseases. Don’t wait until the CDC suggested age either. You need to start early. Pneumonia and shingles can pop up much earlier. (Instead of 65, get those vaccines by 50!) So check with your doctor. And take his advice about all vaccines.
There is more. I am sure.
These are some of the major things that I have learned and regretted along my 11-year journey. Really, this is good advice for anyone.
Feeling Your Pain;
Read more about my Journey With Pain in the link below:
Other Helpful posts by some of my Fibro Friends
From Sue Ingebretson at Rebuilding Wellness
Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia Dolores Invisibles
Musings on the Life with Fibromyalgia
Me Myself and Chronic Illness Blog
Shine and Conquer
Foods to Eat for Fibromyalgia
Looking for the LIght
The Back Pain Blog
Pastor’s Wife (retired) & Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.