I had the best intentions to do a weekly update of my pain management course. Which was due to last for seven weeks (well 8 if you count the week we had off in the middle.) I also missed a week due to the fact that I couldn’t find childcare for Boo but I attended 6 out of the 7 weeks. So, I thought I would do a round of up the course as a whole rather than trying to catch up and spreading it out even further.
I am not going to lie, I found it really hard, and throughout the second half of the course, I found it even more difficult. It was intense and there was a lot to take in. I feel like I have picked up a lot of useful bits of information but it’s really up to me to work out the best plan for myself going forward. We covered lots of different topics, Psychology, Pharmacy/Pain Medications, Physiotherapy/Exercise, Mindfulness, Diet and Goal Setting. I missed the Diet week – which I am sad about as I think there is the potential for great improvements in how I feel if I overhaul my diet, but I don’t know where to start if I am honest. If you have any recommendations I would love to hear them!
I found the Psychology elements really tough going, and listening to it all made me feel worse. They usually spread the psychology talks out over the 7 weeks but as we had a psychologist covering for another area we had her for two weeks and most of the 4 hours session was psychology – which was heavy going. I know it was important to listen and to get what I could out of it, but I do feel it left me feeling less positive.
The Pharmacy/Pain Medication talk came on week 6 – it was really informative and also eye-opening. What really stood out to me is that, for all we know and all we can do, there is no pain killer that is 100% and is going to make Chronic Pain go away. There is no magic pill – I guess it saves me time trying to look for one, but it was a little disheartening too.
Physiotherapy/Exercise was the best session for me – we did a few minutes of exercise each week. I could see myself getting ‘better’ each week as we recorded our efforts. I didn’t do more every single week, but it did become easier. This was amazing and I can’t wait to see the long term results. This part helped me, because it is something I can control in a way. I can choose to do my exercises and it’s up to me to pace myself so that I don’t overdo it and cause myself a flare-up. It’s nice to have a bit of control over something that feels like it controls my life most of the time.
I have an appointment with the Physiotherapist who co-ran the course early next month to get some specific exercise to help with my hypermobile knees and hips which are currently causing me the most pain/issues. I am going to work as hard as I can and hope for some improvements by the summer. The biggest reduction in my pain levels can be achieved by working on my hypermobile joints and making the muscles supporting them stronger. It feels good to have an area I can work on.
I found Mindfulness really difficult to start with, but it’s getting easier. The Occupational Therapist who co-ran the course told us that the more we practice the easier it will get as our brains make those connections for relaxing and meditation. I found one exercise in particular is really helpful, which involves focusing on a single word which I find relaxing and repeating it mentally with each breath, for about 5 minutes. It does help, though I don’t get the chance to fit it in each day.
As I said earlier, I missed the Diet session, which I really am sad about. So any suggestions would be really helpful. And this is something I am going to devote some time to looking in to next year for myself.
I probably ‘failed’ the goal setting session – if there was a pass/fail as I was the only one of the group not to come up with a goal. I just can’t think past Christmas right now, there are things going on in my family which I have purposefully not blogged about and I just don’t want to be looking forward too far. (Sorry to be vague, but I can’t blog about something that isn’t mine to share). Maybe come the new year I will be able to set myself a goal in time for my review appointment with the OT in late January.
Reading this back it comes across as really negative, which is not how it was at all. What the course highlighted for me is that there is no quick fix, no magic pill, it’s going to take work and it’s going to be slow progress. Which is not really what you want to hear when you are in pain and struggling, but I have to hold on to the fact that there is hope, there can be improvement and I can be the driving force behind it.
If you would like to read more about my experience on my Pain Management Course, or about my Fibromyalgia diagnosis you can read all about it here.