Psalm 188: 5, 6 - When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Do you ever feel like the walls around you press towards you even when your chronic pain increases?
I know I do. But even if I have chronic pain or live in a small apartment, I can in fact, feel like I live in a spacious place. Feel the presence of joy instead of sadness. Throw out the bitterness and believe that not all people are out to give you more pain.
This is especially true if you battle chronic migraines. When the drummer picks up his drumstick and pounds on it constantly, it can cause sharp pounding into your head with each strike. Or it could be the ticking of the clock when you’re trying to fall asleep. These both and others can make it difficult to even function.
We become hard pressed on every side of our lives.
But if we believe that we live in a spacious place, we can pretend that we’re beside cool waters with tree branches dancing into our square box of pain. The wind brings relief. Yet, you must believe there is a place created just for you that can aide in passing through the hours of pain.
People can also cause us to feel hard pressed, wanting to fan the flames of any anger you have inside because you suffer. We don’t need to be afraid of what others do or try to do to us. In the end, it’s not our pain that causes us trouble, but the way we amp up the situation we’re going through as an argument explodes.
Remember a time when you felt freedom. Take hold of it with all your strength. Release the need to be in control. What can you do to help you feel you’re in a spacious place?
Perhaps you could have your home painted a more soothing color. Buy pillows of a variety of colors. Use soft rugs near where you sit.
Arthritis- health.com in their article, “11 Ways to Relieve Pain Naturally,” provides ideas that can help. So, here’s one you’ll like – eating chocolate. It can dull the sensation of pain. One that I tried recently is acupuncture. It may feel scary to have needles stuck into you, but it doesn’t have to. The needles today are much smaller than in the past, they only feel like a small tap. Another one I use is warming up aching joints and cooling down joints. I create rice socks. You take a long sock and fill it with rice. Then tie a knot on the end with a rubber band. One goes into the freezer and another can be warmed up in the microwave. They are simple ways to help relieve pain. Find more ways to naturally reduce your pain by reading the whole article.
Believe you can feel like you’re in a spacious place as the Bible verse above speaks about. When you are feeling hard pressed, cry out to God. He can help you find the best ways to bring you to a place where relaxation and healing can take place. This can release the death grip that migraines take a hold of us.
Matthew 12: 47 – Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
Sometimes our families can be our biggest support group when we are experiencing medical issues.
But other times, our families criticize us because of the choices we are making with our medical issues.
It’s a mixed bag of apples. One bite and you’re understood and comforted by our families. But with another bite we’re being put down for our decisions.
What’s a person to do? It’s hard because we never know how our families will react. Sometimes our family’s support is flat out against us. What’s a person to do?
It boils down to when to talk to your family and when to avoid the conversation. It’s hard when we’ve had so much support from our family in the past and now they’re putting us down.
I long for the day when I knew I could count on my family’s support. Sometimes our friends can be our bigger support system.
It may be that you’re going to have to stay away from the subject and simply not tell them. It breaks my heart when I make that choice. And it may break our family’s heart when we don’t tell them what’s going on.
Webmd.com sheds some light on this tricky decision. In their article, “Keeping in Touch with Family can Keep You Healthy,” you can find helpful information about emotional support such as making us feel better, esteem support, network support, informational support, tangible support, and how to keep the lines of communication open by utilizing cell phone conversations or emails which might be easier to use rather than a sit down conversation with your family.
Whatever choice you make know that your family probably does love you. It just may feel like we don’t have their support when they are just want to look for what will be the best choice for us.
Look at the Bible verse above. Even Jesus had difficulties with his family. They thought he was crazy for surrounding himself with so many people. They thought they knew what was best for Jesus when they didn’t.
Feel open to what your family says to you. It just may be their way of wanting to help. But also, be aware when your family is angry with you and the choice you’re making. After all, it is your choice.
Job - 37:9 – The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds.
“Tis been the season to be Jolly,” but boy has it been cold outside.
For people who have chronic illnesses, it can be difficult to go outside. Whether it’s the aches and pains or the cold can create full blown pain throughout your body.
Some people, like myself, begin to creak and crack as the temperature lowers.
It can create a time when you only want to do is stay home. It used to mean that someone else would have to do your Christmas shopping. But thanks to the internet, you can shop and purchase gifts and even have them shipped to your loved one’s doorstep.
Yet it is more fun to find the gifts in person, there’s a cost you will pay for the trip outside. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but for those who love finding just the right gift, taking them home and wrapping them and having family over for Christmas dinner it is important to do so.
It used to be a really hard time, no matter what ailed you to take part in the cooking process. But now, many stores will provide you with pre-cooked meals that all you do is warm up the dinner.
And, for those who can go outside for a limited time, many churches hold Christmas Eve’s candlelight service. For me, that’s the one thing that helps me prepare my heart for Christmas.
Others bake Christmas cookies and pies. And maybe they all go out for dinner and return home to open presents.
And now that Christmas is over, there are many returns to deal with, too.
Nationalpainreport.com shares the article, “Chronic Christmas: Surviving the Holidays With a chronic illness.” Some of the article’s ideas on having a chronic illness are very helpful during the Christmas season. One of the challenges that the article discusses is the pressure to put on a perfect holiday for the people you love can be completely overwhelming when all you want to do is take a nap. Another suggestion is to get real about where you want to spend your time and energy. Lasting memories are created by the love and laughter between you and your family and friends. Focus on what matters to you.
And remember, when the holidays are over get some help putting away the decorations and cleaning the clutter. So why have I discussed Christmas after Christmas? Because it’s the best time to rethink your Christmas for next year and get help cleaning up. When approaching your difficult season plan ahead how you will handle different demands.
Isaiah 43: 18,19 – Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Now that a new year has begun. I have to ask, though, did you make New Year’s resolutions?
I’d like to not just flippantly make a resolution, but one if tackled, can change my life all together.
Here are a few of the most common ones:
You get the gist of it. So, what’s my resolution:
Life can be full of the “awesome” things. Find yours today. It can be kinda fun to do, as many changes can blend in together to make a new you this year. People.howstuffworks.com gives us some ideas about new year’s resolutions such as stop procrastinating and just do it, learn to take risks, forgive someone, and learn one new thing. Find more ideas in the article, “10 New Year’s Resolutions Might Actually Keep.”
Now, go out there and make your list, keep it small, believe it can be accomplished then strive for it. Take a look at the Bible verse above, it challenges us to forget the things that are in the past and believe that God is doing a new thing in your life. God will make the way for you, if you believe that streams can flow in the wasteland of your life. Can you feel the shower starting? It may be scary to begin with, but it can be just the start you need to make and keep your New Year’s resolutions.
Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
One of the challenges that people who have chronic pain is that you have to wait on others.
It’s all about waiting for life to move forward. It’s also about times when:
It really boils down to patience and trust.
We must trust that someone who said they would help us and never shows up, has a good reason why they didn’t arrive:
What can you do about it? Have a plan B. Have someone who can take you to appointments or shopping as a backup.
Yet, to those who are helping us, we must give them grace. Especially if they call you and let you know they won’t be able to help you that day. Maybe they can come another day to help. It’s just that they can’t help you that day.
Here are some tips from aplaceformom.com, in their article, “How to Maintain a Positive Relationship with Your Caregiver,” which provides us some tips on creating and maintaining a healthy relationship with a caregiver, such as addressing problems delicately. Problems will happen, whether it’s not showing up to work and not yelling at your caregiver. In addition, creating a safe environment, encourage and respect healthy boundaries, have a contingency plan for emergencies such as a sick child, but by developing backup plans for having someone else to step in temporally.
Also remember, we are also called upon to wait for the LORD. Be strong and take heart. Your caregiver may not have been able to take you for a ride. But God can find others who will step into their place and help you. Always have a backup plan.
Luke 2:16 – So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in a manger.
As the holidays are upon us, what do you do if your family is gathering three hours away? It takes so much to just function and take care of the needs of your chronic pain or an extended illness.
You might be okay with having to be alone, unless your family can’t understand how you don’t muster up enough strength despite of your chronic pain.
There’s also emotional pain and loss involved. You feel yourself falling deeper into the valley of depression.
The holidays can be difficult even if you don’t have a chronic condition:
Yes, it hurts to lug the box out of your closet which holds your Christmas treasures. But you don’t feel like decorating. All you can think about is how unfair it is that you can’t gather with your family those 3 hours away.
And your chronic pain kicks up a notch as you reminisce about days gone by. You think of the Christmas’ with your little ones hanging ornaments on the lower branches of the tree. With a manger scene and the effort that it took to get everything out, you loved the memories you were making.
But what about this Christmas? What kind of memories would you make? You’d probably visit your bathroom more often caused by the extreme pain you’re in. Is it possible to feel in the Christmas mood?
First, Christmas isn’t about the decorations. It’s about focusing on Christ’s birth. He should be the center of our thoughts. This should at least make you feel grateful for the baby who would become a man and eventually die for our sins.
That’s why we lug that manger scene box out so that you can look upon it, even if no one in your family will see it. It’s about you and remembering. Is it so bad that you can’t travel? Maybe they’d give you a phone call and all say, “Merry Christmas,” to you. That would make your heart beat with love.
And don’t forget to mail your adult children money for them to put towards a Christmas gift.
Here are some more ideas on how to make Christmas a time of joy even if you battle chronic pain, on buzzfeed.com, in their article, “A Guide to spending Christmas Alone.” Some of their suggestions include: Many people are alone at Christmas but it’s okay to be alone. You can choose to do some of the traditional things you would do if you were with your family and create some new ones. Being alone may make you feel sad but create your own new Christmas traditions. Here’s some ideas: work on your hobby, eat yummy food, or binge-watch a show or movie series. Whatever you choose to do, try to not let chronic pain ruin your Christmas.
And just like the Bible verse above says. The shepherds hurried to see the baby that the angels had told them. You, too, can hurry off to see the baby. Turn on some Christmas music and if you find a song you like, turn the volume up on your CD player and sing loudly as you find yourself not so lonely anymore.
Psalm 38: 7 – My back is filled with searing pain; there is not health in my body.
At first it was only a dull aching pain, but one day you woke up and a tooth was throbbing. You knew you had to go to the dentist but fooled yourself into thinking that it was nothing.
But this “nothing” pain doesn’t stop on its own. So, you bought some over the counter pain jell and applied it to the tooth that was hurting. It worked for a little while, but then the toothache wasn’t going to let the pain jell help you anymore.
Now comes the realization that you can’t control the pain and you must make an appointment with your dentist.
When you went to your appointment, you dentist wasn’t happy with you. He told you that your tooth is now infected, and you’d have to be on an antibiotic before any treatment could be done.
So, you filled the prescription and waited for it to help your tooth stop hurting. It helped a little, but in the end, you still had to go back to your dentist. At the appointment your dentist explains that the tooth has died, even though you’re still experiencing pain. He tells you of the seriousness of the tooth ache. He tells you that unless you have either a root canal or have the tooth pulled, more pain would develop in teeth that surround your aching tooth.
But you don’t have the money to pay for a root canal and you are going to have to bite the bullet and have the tooth removed. This is a painful decision, but it wouldn’t have happened if I had just heeded the warning signs.
Healthline.com, in their article, “Identifying and Treating a Bad Tooth,” lists some warning signs of a tooth that’s in dying, such as pain and tooth discoloration. In addition, other signs can be bad breath, bad taste in your mouth, and swelling around the gum line. The article also lists what causes a tooth to die, diagnosis, treatment, and tips for prevention.
A toothache can rapidly turn worse and can even send infection throughout your body. Though the Bible verse above discusses back pain, it can be applied to the spread of infection in a tooth. Let’s heed the warning signs and get into our dentist as soon as possible.
Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses, let us through off everything that hinders and the sin that so entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Like a kitchen sink when it begins to drain slowly, you know that you’ve got to unclog the drain.
It could be that you forget to turn on the garbage disposal. And things begin to get stuck in the sink.
In our mind, we also have mind drainers where your mind begins to process more slowly. Things begin to slow down your thinking process. It’s time to turn on the garbage disposal; it’s time to get rid of things that drain your mind.
Here are a few things that clog up your mind:
And on it goes. Sometimes I can see the clog before it completely occupies my mind and turn on the garbage disposal and get rid of things in my life that are out of control. But you need to do so quickly. Otherwise, you’ll have no time to enjoy life. You’re too busy being clogged.
Let’s look at an article on radiomd.com that discusses foods that drain you and brain boosters called, “Top brain boosters to add and brain drainers to drop from your shopping list.”
I found this article quite intriguing about what I eat and those things I don’t. For example, you should add nuts and seeds, blueberries, broccoli, fish and avocados. Some of the foods that are mind drainers are added sugars and saturated fats.
Also take a look at the Bible verse above. We are surrounded by people who are watching us, thus the verse advices us to throw off everything that hinders us. This could be how people pull you into the wrong direction and how what we eat hinders our journey as well. It may not be easy to cut off those things that drain us and pay attention how we act around other people, but it’s worth the effort.
Mark 14:37 – Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?”
There are times, when you suffer from chronic pain, that you catch yourself falling asleep even when it’s time for you to be awake:
Many of these cases can cause hurt and pain if it’s a person or meeting you’re listening to. Find some tips on how to avoid falling asleep when you need to be awake. On webmd.com in their article, “How to Stay Awake Naturally,” discusses ways to help you not fall asleep such as get up and move around to feel awake, take a nap to take the edge off sleepiness and give your eyes a break to avoid fatigue.
Making sure you get a good night’s sleep is also important. I know that when I’ve had a restless sleep it can be difficult to keep my eyes open the next day. Take a look at the Bible verse above, Jesus had gone a little away to pray and when he returned, he found the disciples had fallen asleep. Even they battled trying to stay awake when Jesus was about to be arrested. As you’re praying, you might find yourself falling asleep. It’s times like these when you need to fight sleep to stay awake.
Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Here we are at another Thanksgiving. Preparations are being made for a family dinner with all the trimmings – turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, salads and desserts. But for the one battling chronic pain preparing a meal and having guests arrive at your home, can push you over the top.
It’s hard to clean that turkey and lift it into the oven. You cringe as your back fills with searing pain. And, just the thought of having a lot to do, can put you over the top.
This year, you want to have a joy-filled, thankful day. But you’re having trouble finding something to be thankful for this year.
Your family knows that we aren’t well, but they want you to at least act like you’re happy to see your guests.
So, you push yourself and push yourself until the meal is done. Now it’s time to put out the food and sit down to eat it. From somewhere comes an internal cry from the amount of pain you are in. Would your family understand if you tell them you’re not well?
I think it depends on how to balance showing your love and wanting to retreat to your bed that’s calling your name. How did you get to this point? Why did you volunteer to make the meal this year?
It’s because you want to find a way to be thankful and show it. How can this pain you feel make you more thankful? I think it all boils down to perception. Even if you want to run away to your bedroom and lock the door, so you won’t be disturbed.
Let’s find something to be thankful for in the midst of your pain:
Migrainemantras.com posts in their article some additional things to be thankful for when you have a chronic illness, “8 Reasons I’m Thankful I Have a Chronic Illness,” such as knowing your body causes you to be more focused on what your body is experiencing. In addition, learning how to set boundaries and learning to say, “No” sometimes causes you to have a more balanced life.
In closing, look at the Bible verse above. It admonishes us to not be anxious, which would include chronic pain and, in every situation, not just some situations, pray and give thanks to God when you’re asking for him to help you get through one more day. It won’t be easy but learning to be thankful can be just what you need to live your life despite chronic pain.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.