Thursday, November 8, 2012

Want to Lower Pain? Revolutionize Your Sleep in 5 Steps

Feel like this? Often? Every night?

Let me help.

When you go to buy a bed (and you should have a good one if you have chronic pain), you will be hearing the "latest" in FMS theory. Apparently, according to the Jordans Furniture Sleep Lab tech, pain clinics for major hospitals in the area are still advising buying a bed for pressure points. Really?

FMS theory is stuck in the dark ages. Probably because no doctors with FMS are writing anything. Oh wait, ARE there any doctors with FMS? Doubtful.

So that leaves you with moi, yours truly, to give you some sound ideas when it comes to choosing a bed & sleeping well in it:

  1. Take a medicinal approach to sleep. What do I mean by this? Just this: Sleep is a medicine, not a luxury. According to some, FMS patients have an underlying sleep disorder. So get what you need in a bed, not what you want. This means avoiding the cushy, comfortable ones that you sink into and that relieve whatever pressure point pain you may have (this is merely the symptoms). And focus on the solution instead: increasing oxygen flow to your blood cells. So a medicinal bed means one that keeps your back perfectly flat, allowing your diaphragm to expand UPWARD when you breath, not downward into the bed. Your hips should sink into the bed slightly, but not your back. If your shoulders roll forward, they will collapse your chest posture and you will not breathe effectively all night long. Avoid any plush tops, use a flat surface only. This is the bed I ended up buying, that worked for me. It is a hand-tufted mattress from Jordan's Mattress Factory that has a foam exterior and inner springs.
  2. Sleep on your back most of the night. Put a rolled up hand-towel under your neck, and another one under your back. This was taught to my be my first chiropractor years ago, and I have slept like this ever since. Have a pillow handy for when you roll onto your side. But spend as much time as possible on your back. This will ensure the most efficient breathing and minimize the time your muscles spend in awkward positions.
  3. Sleep on the floor if needed. If you are in a place with a bad bed, move to the floor. I routinely sleep on the floor, even if in the most exotic locations. When you get a hotel room, ask for an extra blanket and sheet, and start the night prepared to switch to the floor. Even a few minutes with your back straight on the floor will realign your body and breathing.
  4. Focus on breathing, not comfort. If you subscribe to the reality that you have pain because your blood cells are misshapen, and have trouble getting through the little capillaries to carry oxygen to your body, you will focus first on breathing. You will be more comfortable if you breathe effectively, and focus on that as the priority, than if you sink into soft pillows or a bed that interferes with your breathing patterns. And if you are like me, and it actually feels better NOT to breathe sometimes, then you must prioritize oxygen flow. You may not want to do it naturally. (Don't ask me what this is, but sometimes it hurts to expand my lungs, and I hold my breath involuntarily. Not good.)
  5. Get out of bed in 7 hours or less. I have found that 6.5 hours is ideal sleep for me. Sometimes I need more, and sometimes less. But lounging in bed makes me feel WORSE, not better. If you are in pain, get out of bed. Do not expect your bed to provide something more for you in the next few hours than it did in the last few. Beds have limited function. Get in a hot/cold shower, go for a walk. Get your blood flowing, and do not expect bed rest to help you.
It is hard to exchange luxury and comfort for efficacy. It takes a lot of will-power, especially in this "you deserve a marshmallow puff cloud for a bed, because you earned it" era. But when you start realizing how much better you feel when managing your oxygen flow, than you felt when managing your pain, you will be motivated to choose. 

Need a simple way to remember how to lower your pain when sleeping?

When in doubt, chose oxygen over comfort. 

Your body will thank you.

5 Ideas for Dealing with a Control-Freak CPer

People with pain tend to be control freaks. We can't help it. Every little thing gets on our nerves  and this is literal if we have degenerated or damaged nervous systems, like people with FMS do. We are a nervous wreck of the Hespurus, and it sucks.

Two very little secrets I will share with you...we know we are control freaks, and we hate it also, along with the pain we hate. Second, we actually do applaud you for putting up with us. Really.

But that doesn't make life any easier for you. You - the tolerant, endlessly patient caretaker who feels like you have no rights anymore, because the Control Freak has eliminated them all for his/her "illness."

Here is the dilemma for us CPers (chronic painers). For us, it's not just other people that create drama in our lives. We have the problem of being at war with ourselves.

Imagine your worst enemy is your body. It turns against you, and you are left in an eternal battle to accommodate it, override it, fix it, hate it, love it, etc. Instead of other people being the focus, YOU are your own everlasting opponent.

Credits:  DeviantArt 
Yeah, it sucks.

So CPers do everything they can to minimize external problems, because that may help lower internal  ones. That may translate to...complete control freakiness. 

In case you think it is only annoying for you, who can't seem to even breathe without your CPer complaining about it, trust me. It is more annoying for your CPer. We are trapped in a cycle we can never leave. 

So what can you do when your beloved (or annoying) CPer once again controls the heating, the lights, the sound, every move you make, and every bark the dog makes?  Here are 5 ideas
  1. Forgive & understand. Realize this is not about you. It is about them being overwhelmed & in pain. They cannot change the factors that create pain for them, and they are just trying to survive with dignity.
  2. Offer to help. Yes, I agree. This is not the time you feel like helping. But, to quote a famous Nike slogan, Just do it. Say, "Cutiesugarpieloverbaby, seems like you are frustrated. Is there anything I can do to help you out?"
  3. Call it what it really is. Realize often the control freakiness is - frustration. Anger at oneself and the universe that dammit, we are sick. So address frustration in your beloved CPer, before you address the control issues.
  4. Leave. For the moment. If you are annoyed at the behavior, just take a break so you don't yell at someone in pain. That really never helps anyone. So go get ice cream. Go to the gym. Leave your CPer to relax alone for a few minutes without you creating more stress for them.
  5. When you return, ask to chat about solutions. Stand up for yourself kindly and graciously. If you want to leave your sox on the floor, or want to feel like you can, start speaking up. Let your CPer know that you need to feel the freedom to put your clothes on the floor, at least sometimes. Then ask what options might be available to lower frustration levels around it. Can you put your sox on the bathroom floor on M, W & Fri between 7 and 9 p.m.? Should you pay for a cleaning woman to come pick up your sox daily (do they even do this!)? Can you buy trendy, fashionable new sox from the Arthur George line and leave them on the floor beautifully? Can you have a certain area where you can stack sox 6 feet high, vertically?
It's not easy dealing with a control freak, but remember, they didn't choose this. Their internal environment is in chaos & pain. Your CPer (or you) didn't choose to be like this. They can't help it. But you can help negotiate how you live in their world, so that you also don't get filled with resentment or start needless arguments.

Support your CPer in controlling their world by making it liveable and workable for you also. It takes communication & thoughtfulness, but you will be providing true love & care by lessening their load.