Managing Chronic Pain & My Interview With Model Meals

Managing Chronic Pain & My Interview With Model Meals

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Chronic Pain

Many years ago after my second miscarriage I was sent for a battery of blood tests to rule out lupus. My doctor feared that my body was attacking itself giving me infertility problems. I waited in fear for the result to come back.  I was in my late twenties and was petrified of what a diagnosis meant for me and my future family. This time my results were clear and I thought I had averted a major crisis.

Fast forward three healthy children later, I began having aches and pains in my late thirties and also noticed a small white patch on my neck. More blood tests yielded the same results but I did learn that I had Vitiligo—an autoimmune disease that attacks your Melanin. I also went to a Rheumatologist for the first time and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a catch all “disease” that occurs when you have trigger points and overall body pain. That began my journey with Chronic Pain and symptom management.  

I have tried medications that landed me in the hospital due to adverse reactions, ones that made me gain weight, and those that did absolutely nothing to help. For the past ten years I have found a system that helps me and I hope will help you as well. Suffering is often a lonely journey, especially when you “look fine” on the outside. 

Diet

It’s no accident that I am a Whole30 Certified Coach as a direct result of how much the program helped me. I felt amazing during my reset and discovered during Reintroduction that gluten, dairy and corn have adverse effects on me. White sugar is the devil and if I am going to bake I use honey, coconut sugar or maple syrup. I eat organic as much as possible and try to stick to a mostly Paleo way of eating with some brown rice and rice noodles now and then. If you have not tried the Whole30 I cannot stress enough how much this can help you figure out what foods (yes, foods) might be causing your pain levels to soar. I am happy to help you if you want a Coach but all the information can be found here.

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Stress Management

Whenever I go through a particularly stressful time like taking care of my dying Mother, or moving out of state, all of my symptoms flare. It is so crucial to take time out to manage stress through prayer and meditation, massage, and times of quiet reflection. This is not selfish but crucial if you want to keep your symptoms calm. Massage might seem like an extravagant treat but for many it is medicinal. Work it into your budget, ask for gift cards, do whatever it takes to find someone who understands how to keep your body from getting riddled with trigger points that cause intense pain. 

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Heat 

My friend has MS and for her heat is her enemy. But for me it is the best feeling in the world, especially in the Winter where I live.  If you can find a gym or YMCA with a heated pool it is so helpful to get in there and move around. Moist heat heating pads, Infrared massagers ( Brookstone has a nice selection) and Infrared saunas help with pain. I recently bought this home unit that allows me to watch TV and sit while the “tent” heats up to 150 degrees. It is so soothing and gives me a good detox sweat. 


I’m also a big fan of a hot bath with Epsom salts to ease pain. Lastly, I sit under a light like this every morning to help with my Vitamin D levels and make me feel “happy” during the long grey Winter months. It has been a lifesaver.


Exercise

Working out while you are in pain might seem counterintuitive but it has been shown to improve mood and help you feel better. My advice is always to do something simple and low impact.  Pilates, yoga and swimming are a good place to start. If I commit to making it a priority and doing something (even just a short walk) I always am so thankful that I did. You are no good to your family if you are not taking care of yourself so put this on the calendar just like any other appointment. Finding some joy in moving your body will help you as you age as well. The last thing you want to do is lie on a couch and allow your muscles to atrophy.  

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I hope these tips can help you in some small way. I have so much empathy for those who are suffering in silence.  It is a lonely journey. I cringe when people tell me “But you look so good” while I feel like I am dying. I am here if you need to talk but I also recommend finding a good therapist who can help you when you are really down. If you are a Mom or caregiver it is very hard to take time for yourself when others need you so much -but you need to be your best so that you can give them your best.

For more information on my journey, here is an interview that I did on Autoimmune pain with Model Meals.