Today I woke up with a migraine. It was at a 7 out of 10. I leapt into action. Well, I shuffled slowly into action. This image represents what I did today to manage that migraine:
It was a non-medication day, you see. Sort of like a medication failure day. Or medication insufficient day. And all the above is accurate, aside from the fact I never did work that nap in. Sadly, because the migraine did work its way upward as the night progressed. BUT for the day I got it down to a 6 and I maintained. Yes, indeed, I maintained my 6 all the way into the evening where it worked back into a 7. But a successful pain management day.
But look at the list, man, look at it. I lay down with ice which generally if you do that for 20 minutes you can reduce your pain by 1 level. Not on the list, but I hydrated myself and made sure to eat. I slathered migraine balm on me (In my case I use Japanese mint oil these days). Did that three times that day. It chilled for a bit and when I felt it creeping up I hydrated myself again. I have this CBD lotion with menthol in it I am doing a review on, and I rather like, so I put that on my neck, shoulders, forehead, temples and my very aching jaw. About three times that day. I will again meditate before bed.
So all day long I consistently did things to maintain a 6 pain level and succeeded until the evening. I had been reading a documentary book for hours as well so I might have pushed it on eye strain causing the inevitable migraine increase in the end of the day there. I can only read for a certain amount of time before it increases pain.
It occurred to me, during this process, this is a micro version of what it is to manage chronic pain. This is what it is to manage a bout of serious pain in the moment. But overall we have long term strategies and lifestyle changes we do to manage our chronic illness we do every single day.
Yeah, I am going to say it; chronic illness is a life sentence people. And the treatment, likewise, is forever. I have EDS, which isn’t managed because no doctor around here has any clue what EDS means. But when I was younger I was spraining this, that and that other thing and poorly recovering. But I recovered. It may be six months or a year of physio for a damned sprained ankle but I recovered. This is different. This is physio and exercise for life.
I think my mind just froze in terror for a second there as I wrote that.
Because it isn’t just medication that helps. Or just meditation. Or just exercise. Or diet. It is all of those things and more. It is each little trick you have picked up to reduce stress and improve mood. It is getting outside more and socializing more. And when you find your formula it is doing it all the time. Making a habit.
Just like I did all those things for a migraine, because I knew each one of them individually would help a little bit so putting them together could achieve my pain management goal, so it is with pain management on a larger scale. It is just harder to find the components. Harder to keep doing them. Harder to know if they are doing anything.
I don’t know what my recipe is so I am doing what I was told to do in pain management. I agree they are goals that will help achieve wellbeing overall. So I believe this is a step in the right direction. But saying ‘I’ll give this recipe a go’ isn’t like what I did today. Oh, no. It is far harder than that. It is consistent work and you need to form habits. That is a trick I have yet to pick up on. When the trick I have learned is depression and lack of motivation. Which is why I like the idea of picking One ingredient from that recipe and working on that until you know it like the back of your hand, then adding another and then another. And then you are cooking, my friend.