Problematic Pacing: missing a plank

Breakthrough pain or unknown recurrence of serious pain is a problem sometimes. Recently, I’ve been having a lot of it and nothing I (thought I) did was managing the pain back down. Though things were complicated by a painful, but totally unrelated infection, I was back onto regular opioids, with all the problems they bring.

The Problem: Discovery

It was only a chance conversation with a neighbour that reminded me of what I’d been doing wrong. She is a Mindfulness teacher/practitioner and had just been on a Chronic Pain Mindfulness day (Mindfulness, meditation and similar structured relaxation/thinking techniques have been shown to really help in Pain Management: I use them all the time). Some of what she was talking about was standard Pain Management, effectively ‘slanted’ to Mindfulness, but a key comment was a discussion of how the trainer managed to write the books she had. Apparently the trainer used a timer set to 20 minutes, took a break/did something else (e.g. relax/distract), then came back and continued.

It was through pacing. Plain old, simple pacing.

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Recharge: Walking and Castle hunting

I had a quick break last week: a few days in Wales, the Black Mountains. I was camping, alone, and in a very not-glamping style. The purpose was for a recharge before I was pinned back into one place by travel or other commitments.

From a Pain Management perspective, being alone was risky and useful. Useful, as it meant I could take as long as I wanted to get up there; risky, in that pain may overtake the situation. However, on the way up I took frequent breaks, one even being a sight-seeing break and wander around Raglan Castle. Further, since I was alone, I could just crawl into the tent at the end and resst my arm up for a while.

Such a trip, though, was a recharge in several directions: creatively, walking and looking at natural and ancient, man-made sites and allowing the imagination to roam; and physically, going to a place I loved and in which I could have some time for retrospective thinking (meditation, some might call it) and release.

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My Little Book of Pain – moving on

I’ve been moving things round on this blog. The reason is because I am finally putting up a separate site/blog containing the extended chapters from My Little Book of Pain: A Practitioners Experience of Pain Management. Whenever more is to be done, it will be added there rather than here.

General comments and observations on Pain Management will still be placed here, of course, but any lessons from them will be carried forward into the relevant chapter in My Little Book of Pain. Some external links on pain still remain here, as does the general page on Pain Management as a lifestyle. Alternatively, an interested person can always search the ‘Pain Management’ category for relevant blog posts.

I hope those supporting or suffering from Chronic Pain will find it useful.

Pain, disability and fear…

Comments and news stories on disabled bullying are frequent in the press – just search and see (here’s one from yesterday). From 2003 it has even been a hate crime, the CPS guidance acknowledging how such bullying can be disregarded. This, though, is just the tip of an iceberg that ranges from the extreme, horrifying accounts in Katharine Quarmby‘s Scapegoat to a constant, everyday grind of low-level contempt.

The problem is that whilst, like many in a similar position, I do not like to be termed ‘vulnerable’, the fact is I am. I constantly have to adapt to my pain; I have to be continually very conscious of when my arm could uncontrollably jerk, knock or spill something or tap someone. I often have to have it in a sling to take the pressure off my neck and shoulder – which is awkward in itself. Because I am in pain and because I am concerned about the lack of limb control (never mind about coping with the occasional bout of depression) any non-friendly social encounter becomes something to fear.

Yep, fear. Any inch of threatening behaviour gets me twitchy, wanting to run. Loom over me, and you make me scared; you walk into my house without being asked and I am terrified; step into my personal space and you might as well have hit me given the surge of pain that I experience from tensing up with concern.

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One of those times…

Writing has almost crashed. The 1,000-a-day minimum quota has been broached, downwards, despite working when I can to make it up.  I can point to a whole host of reasons why, including a new grandson and supporting my daughter, but the reality is that something has had to give.

Take yesterday, for example: radio show in the morning, pop back to check on a carpenter finishing our kitchen, then a drive up to Birmingham for an evening book launch & publishing group launch, sleep overnight, drive back, sort out Shipton Shorts, handle admin, continue some marketing stuff to help with this year’s Orwell Dystopian Fiction Prize, drive to local library to support the Summer Reading Challenge, then back home. Rest. Whither writing? Sure, a blog entry, but it’s not the 1000 words.

Trouble is, that in these situations, I always feel like pushing myself to do more.  Such behaviour is a mistake, though, a habit from the past.  The reality is that all these activities have to be surrounded by, and enmeshed within, Pain Management. For others, that may seem to slow things down; for me, it’s as fast as I can go without punishing myself.

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Alone Together

Alone Together - BCU School of English Anthology 2015

Alone Together – BCU School of English Anthology 2015

This years anthology has been released from BCU English School, again with contributions from students (PhD to BA) and a couple of lecturers. Once again, content is incredibly varied . Like last year, I don’t think it will be available other than through BCU School of English, though copies could be ordered direct from the university. My contribution was the previously mentioned ‘Etayne Danced for Gryngolet’, an alliterations inspired by a study of ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ during my MA.

I missed the presentation evening as a grandson was mid-way through being delivered and I was sharing the moment with my daughter and her partner. However, I was delighted to receive this year’s award for Fiction. Again, the book has been entered into a few competitions so I won’t mention the theme and title.

Another school prizegiving! I’m not quite sure what I will spend the Watertsones vouchers on this time, though. However, I am intensely enjoying the thought of browsing and having to spend vouchers in a bookshop: joy, oh joy!