Pain – or Life – Management is an ongoing effort, a framework that often results in a daily management plan. It may seem a burden, but you get used to it. You know what you want to achieve so you work out what you may be able to do in a particular day or number days, work in rests, distractions, possible medication, relaxations and end up with a plan. Being a writer helps as the physical work can be wrapped around the vital task of reading.
But then the plan hits reality and has to be adjusted. That’s fine: the phrase ‘no plan ever survives contact with the enemy’ comes to mind. You adjust it, add in more medication, perhaps, more breaks, even a deliberate, full lie-down/meditation. That tends to work, and you adjust the plan.
But then life really kicks in and stomps all over the new plan, all over the intentions. Life Management becomes a real struggle.
I think every Pain Management Practitioner (let’s say PMP) has the same problem. Those I’ve spoken to certainly have. The events that typically cause the issues are those coupled to obligations and, ironically, love. Someone dies, someone has an appalling problem in a relationship, a close relation is in tears over the phone. Sure, you could be really selfish and say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t fit you in to my life management plan at the moment. Could you come back to me on that?’ Though it may work, it’s a really difficult thing to say and the fear is you’ll never hear from that friend again (and contact with friends and a support group is really important for PMPs!).
Sometimes you have no choice to tell a friend you can’t cope, that they can’t come up or round. I find I can only do so when the problem or situation isn’t that serious – I just chat over the phone, for example. It helps that I get support from my wife who, understandably, gets very protective. But there is no way I – we – can push away someone so close to me, someone I love when they need us.
At such times I think you just have to accept the plan is destroyed and heavier medication may have to come to the fore. The friends/family know this (it is important to be open) so will probably understand. A destroyed plan doesn’t mean that Pain Management goes out the window: it just means you have to be incredibly flexible and try to adapt to a rapidly moving situation. I have an emergency process thought through that I use in such situations.
My first step is often to plan medication – pain-killer – escalation and have the various drugs ready, to hand. Dropping any physical work is a mandatory second step: any physical activity will always excacerbate my pain so I deliberately and carefully finish off what I’m doing, making sure I can restart easily (the tress of finishing half-way through and picking it up is not nice).
Listening properly and giving love and care needs a clear head. This means a mind free of the interferences caused by serious pain or mind-numbing medication. This means a third, mind-clearing step is important: I try a distraction, like reading, or even fully rest before anyone arrives.
You have to accept that even this may not work and you will be in crippling pain again, from which it will take some time to recover (days). It’s unpleasant, but knowing the technqiues means you can minimise the devastation to your own life and give love and care where it is needed.
The other option involves turning yourself into an anti-social hermit. Maybesome can cope with that. I can’t: I love my friends and family too much.