Going from Ow to Wow takes courage, persistence and know how.
Here are Five Steps to living your Wow!
Step One: You are the Expert on You!
You don’t need to know everything about medicine, therapies and diseases to become an expert on yourself. Pain is a symptom and it is subjective which means that it is observed by the person experiencing it; You. You experience it 24/7. Being an expert means that you can trust your experience, communicate it, and be a partner in your care.
Pain can have an impact on memory, which can make it difficult to keep track of your pain, treatments, daily activities, and how it affects you so tracking your experience with pain, treatments, sleep, daily activities, and mood has three major benefits. First it can help you to keep perspective on your pain, second it can help you to show your health care practitioners how pain shows up daily, and third you can see patterns that can change your life! Without this tracking, you are at the whim of your memory.
As an expert on you, you are able to discern what works and does not work, for you. You are not a statistic!
Step Two: Know your Treatment and Pain Management options!
If you have a diagnosis that fits your experience, you still have the decisions to make about what kind of treatment options are right for you. Many approaches exist from allopathic (western) medicine, eastern approaches, possible physical interventions such as chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage therapy, and talk therapy to name a few. It can be overwhelming, confusing and frustrating.
If you don’t have a diagnosis, finding practitioners who can help you to understand what is happening with your body may be frustrating and overwhelming. This is when persistence is imperative. Having a coach or a health care practitioner that is open to alternatives can help you to sift through your options and find appropriate support.
The scope of practitioners from just western allopathic which has lots of specializations including anesthesiologists, neurologists, physiologists, internists, surgeons, rheumatologists, and podiatrists. More specializations are within these specializations. Eastern traditions such as acupuncture and herbalists are also varied. Acupuncture has Japanese, Chinese, and Korean approaches—maybe more! Then there are bodywork modalities and education such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, massage therapy, and energy work.
It is also important to understand that pain gives you clues to underlying processes in your body. Even if you have a diagnosis, not all pain you feel may be related to it. For example, you may have fibromyalgia and then find you have more intense pain in your legs. It could be a blood clot or a co-morbidity condition that could be treated differently. That is why it is important to not just ignore your pain even when you are living with chronic pain. Thriving with pain does not mean ignoring new symptoms or pain and assume it has to do with your chronic pain.
Step Three: Build Your Community!
Living with chronic pain can be incredibly isolating and lonely. Many people either find that they don’t want to be a whiner and/or they find their friends and family don’t know how to support them. Or maybe it is that you feel concerned that it is after all just in your head and are afraid that others won’t believe you or that they can’t help. It is also true that it is difficult to even know what kind of support you need. Sometimes support groups can be great and other times they can be more depressing. Having someone who understands how it feels to live with chronic pain and is there to support you to find your way through can be invaluable.
As a person who lives with flare ups of pain and lives with a partner who has chronic pain, I know first hand how my mind can get foggy and I can’t remember to do the simplest things like ice or heat or take my medicine. Having someone in your life that can be there for you to figure out what is needed, wanted, and what will move you toward thriving can make all the difference in the quality of life.
Step Four: Engage with Passion, Purpose & Life!
One way to move out of isolation is to engage with interests, passions, and to be of service to others. The people I talk with who are thriving all have a larger reason than themselves to stay engaged with life. Your interests or how you engage with them may change after the pain due to being differently abled. You might need to get creative but it is possible.
Step Five: Live Mindfully and Thrive!
Acceptance is not resignation or giving up. It is coming to a place of serenity and peace with what is true in each moment. Pain is something that we feel/experience but it is not the only thing. Breathing in and out and paying attention to that can help to stay present and out of catastrophizing the future. It takes time and patience to get to this place for most people.
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