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Living with chronic pain

Posted: Friday, Apr 19th, 2013

Ed Close

When the diagnosis came in, I wasnít sure what it meant, but my life was already changing in a thousand ways. Two-and-a-half years ago, I was diagnosed with severe progressive arthritis. I have always been a very active person, and that came as a shock.

That was when the ďliving with itĒ part started. I had to start taking medications for inflammation and chronic pain that I didnít, and still donít, like. The side effects are bothersome and worrying. Too much pain reliever and I could damage my kidneys and liver. Too much inflammation medicine, and I simply canít concentrate on anything for more than two seconds; and it can cause heart problems.

Then thereís the physical part of living with such extreme conditions. Iím one of those people who canít sit still for very long, and I always have been. Iím busy all the time, and couldnít give you an accurate definition of boredom. Now, I have to pace myself or I overdo, and then Iím a bear to live with as Iím grumpy and out of sorts.

The worst of it is I really canít push myself or Iíll pay for it later, usually the next day or two. If I do too much physical labor, too much sitting or too much light exercise, I end up not being able to do much of anything the following day, as my joints swell to the point of painfulness that I canít physically do anything no matter how badly I want to.

Itís a learning process for me, as Iíve always been one to dive in and get the job done. Learning to pace the work is the only way to keep going at this point. It would be nice if there was some miracle cure or some surgery that would fix the problem, but there isnít. Every joint except my ankles and feet are bothered by this condition, some more than others, and there is no cure. You canít replace a personís skeleton, and thatís what it would take.

There are things that help, such as cutting way down on dairy products and making sure to get enough rest. Eating at regular times and not missing meals you would normally eat also helps. I tend to take my medications only when I need them the most because of the side effects and the cost. I know thatís not the way my doctor wants me to take them, but in this country there is no generic formula available for the medications I have to take. A one-month supply costs $112, and thatís just one medication, if I take the medications as prescribed. I can cut that cost by a third by simply learning to live with a certain amount of pain.

Walking is a very good idea, but not too much and not too often. Staying physically fit helps a great deal with most chronic pain diseases. Light exercise is best, and if you have to do any strenuous work, stop regularly to let your body rest.

The best advice I have for those living with chronic pain is to learn to live with what you have. I have no intention of stopping in my tracks and watching life pass me by simply because I was unlucky enough to contract something I didnít even know was out there. It is an amazing thing how keeping a positive attitude and a physically active life can help a person cope with such conditions.

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