fear-to do, or not to do with chronic pain

No matter what I do, it hurts. The chronic pain will be there.

This is the thought process I go through with migraines. Not my other chronic pain, because I have limits, pacing, and moderation to consider there. But migraines are a different type of beast.

No matter what I do it hurts… therefore I should do nothing.

I could go this way. I know I will have a migraine every day. So why should I plan anything? Why should I want to go out and torture myself with noise and people, scents, and light. Then there is the drive there and back. The fatigue. Just trying to focus. I’d be miserable the whole time. At home, I control the noise, the light, and the scents. I am comfortable. I can minimize the pain at least.

Fear and chronic illness sometimes go hand in hand.

Is it fear? Is it that fear factor that prevents us from pushing where those limits exactly are? Maybe it is a little. When migraines become so predictable we don’t always want to deal with those consequences AND something else. It seems like overloading the senses. Maybe my migraines intimidate me sometimes. Maybe that pain just wins before it starts sometimes.

No matter what I do it hurts… therefore it does not matter if I go do something, it will hurt regardless.

But I then think, if I never go out with a migraine, I literally will never go out. I am going to get the migraine whether I stay home… or go out, so why not go out. As long as a) it will not be an excessively noisy environment b) it will not be an excessively bright or flickery or eye torture environment and c) not a massive amount of people for they are noisy and the scents all comingle. I am allowing myself to go out, have fun even though I will be in pain. I plan on that pain and prepare for it. If the migraine starts early I treat it aggressively and maybe in fact that timeout window will be free of it. I relax and even meditate before I go out. Keep the brain calm. I take meds with me if the migraine gets to a high pain point. And I leave early if it gets intolerable. No harm no foul. Either I enjoy a mellow night with friends or I have to leave early. That migraine would have been there anyway. Like exercise. People say exercise will trigger a migraine. It does for me. But, I will get a migraine anyway and I need to exercise for chronic pain. It doesn’t do it every time. Sometimes I have a migraine, lower level pain, and exercise, for a short duration. Not saying that is fun, but it is necessary for the FM.

It is the same thing with work. I have to work with migraines. And I consider that to be necessary. I do it. I persevere. Bravo me. But Why not with things I enjoy? Yes, there will be a migraine… but that is predictable. I have a life to live as well.

I feel a lot better thinking the second way. I socialize more. This makes me happier. I get out of the house. I feel less isolated.

The hard part is that migraine pain is very unique. It is not like the rest of my chronic pain. I cannot pace myself and not make the pain worse. It is what it is. Gets worse on its own. Obviously, I could do things like shake my head and make it worse, but pacing will not help. Moderating my activities will do nothing at all either. Do or not, it will be there. Any activity is a horrific bad choice. Therefore choices for socialization are limited and mellow. The only thing that is the same is limits because it is chronic pain and we have a limit to the pain we can handle.

It is also different because with fibromyalgia, for example, I can move more slowly. Change positions a lot. And just help minimize the pain. It would not stop me from going to a BBQ. Even a flare-up as long as I had someplace to sit. A Migraine is this constant, high pain, in the head. It makes every movement painful. Makes it hard to think through. Makes all the senses acute. Migraines take over your mind and take a lot of your focus and concentration. Due to the location, I suspect. It is harder to ignore. Therefore harder to want to do anything at all to aggravate it or move.

I think the key for me is I don’t know what intensity of a migraine I will have. I know 99.9% of migraine will happen. Likely will already have one. But I do not know the intensity. And I can have a good time at a 6 or 7. 8 is difficult and I will consider leaving if what I have on me does nothing. Generally, once it reaches an 8 I will try to treat but will leave if it doesn’t work. So a 9, is moot. I’m at home with a 9.

So there are these very severe limitations. But I choose to go out there anyway. Because it makes me mentally and emotionally feel better. I am not always successful and just can’t go as planned on some days. Other days I have to leave real early. But I do get out.

So I will not fear the pain. I have to learn to live with it. Understand its signals. When is enough? When is too much. Play by the rules. But live with it.

More posts on chronic illness fears

6 Chronic illness fears

Chronic pain: fearing to try and self-worth

Knowing the past is fearing the future
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