Managing chronic pain isn’t easy, and managing it when on a homestead is just as daunting. I found that to manage chronic pain on the homestead I had to keep moving.
I believe I’ve always known I was going to be a farmer. There is just something about working the land appealed to me. When I turned 25 my auto-immune symptoms really took hold, and at first I thought I would never be able to play with my son, ever go in the garden, or even work with my beloved animals ever again.
Both of my knees swelled up to melons, along with my feet looking like a puffer fish, and not to mention the constant migraine. I honestly don’t remember a time during 2017 when I didn’t have a serious headache or migraine (because yes they are different).
Can you relate?
Once we figured out what was going on I was able to start working on rebuilding muscle since all the inflammation stripped me down to scary skinny.
Between the new medications and my health, I went from being ridiculously skinny to getting too close to 200lbs way too fast.
One time a few months ago, my son came up and asked where my bones went.
Now a few years after a permanent diagnosis I can say I have been losing weight, and am back in my overgrown garden as well as starting working with my rabbits and birds again.
All this is because I got up and made the choice to find a way to be better.
How Things Can Be Different
The reality is, this works for everyone, all that is needed is to adjust for dietary needs and your medical situation and there you have it.
The trick I learned and am working with is just doing the right thing even when it is hard. It may be easy right now to give in and let the chronic symptoms overrun you in the moment, but in reality you have the ability to choose to either let the chronic symptoms run your life or you can choose to forge your own path.
The choice has always been and will always be yours to make.
Here Are My 5 Steps To A Less Pain Controled Life
Make your very own blueprint for managing your chronic situation because there is no one size fits all solution to managing pain, there are only similarities; key parts that are what make the program work.
Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate
According to every doctor I have seen, keeping yourself hydrated not only improves your overall health, but keeps your joints lubricated and allows your body to flush inflammation as well as other toxins from your system.
A great way to make sure that you are getting enough water into your system is to mix it up. You don’t just have to drink plain water, add in some fruit or eat some veggies and fruits with high water content. Just make sure that for each thing with caffeine you add in extra water since coffees and some teas can dehydrate you.
To make sure that you are consuming enough liquids you should start by identifying your base amount of water needed and then figure out what medications if any as well as your exercise level. A great way to determine your base level of water needed a day is to take your weight in pounds then multiply that by .67, this will give you the number of ounces of water you will need.
For me my base number right now is 118 Oz of water. Adding in my medications and how much exercise I do that bumps my intake up to 178oz, that is roughly 22 8oz cups of water. To reduce the number of cups we look at how much liquid I am getting through my food.
On average you can take the weight of the food in ounces and then multiply that by its water percentage which will give you the possible amount of water you can absorb from that food.
Example: If I eat a small apple that weight is about 3oz the amount of water I can hope to get is 2.6oz because the water percentage is roughly 86%. You can find the list of some basic foods and their water content percentage here at BerkeleyWellness.
Move and Stretch
“The less we move, the more pain we have when we do move, causing us to move less. It becomes a vicious and painful cycle. The only solution for this ‘un-movement syndrome’ is moving” (Adapted From A Day Without Pain).
I live by this, not just because it is true, but because it was all I heard when I was first really coming down with my serious swelling.
“Don’t lie there Sam! Get up, Move! You’ll feel better”
There are so many options there really isn’t any reason for anyone to say that they can’t. I’m gonna tell you now, excuses even if they are valid are excuses. Take a moment and see if there is a work around to get a step towards a more active you. Remember small steps are still a step just make sure it is in the right direction.
On that note, if you have a serious heart or other situation that makes exercise difficult at any level talk to your health care provider I am sure that they would be happy to offer some idea that you can do in your situation. And Please don’t do something that could possibly do you harm, make sure you are keeping your healthcare provider in the loop for your safety, I won’t be held liable for your own misjudgments, you made the choice to do what you do.
So what do I do to ensure I have the mobility I need throughout the day? I get up early, before my little son, and do a 15 minute basic yoga sequence. My focus is to open up my joints and ligaments since they have been sleeping for the last few hours. The exact yoga flow I usually do is on youtube. Now there are times where this is the only stretching I do and then there are days where I wonder the youtube for a sequence that covers more of my needs. Usually I don’t have to go away from Tara, she has just about everything I need on her page.
Other than the morning yoga, I try to not sit for more than 15 minutes before getting up and moving around. When I do spend extra time down I try to make up for it with extra stretches.
As a bonus I noticed that after I got my blood flowing in the morning or after any exercise while they do wear me out, I found I was more awake. Now not as awake as after my first cup of coffee, but enough that I can understand my son’s rumblings when he finally storms out of the bedroom.
Eat Right For Your Situation
Everyone has heard that a healthy diet will aid in having a healthy body, right… as we all know that is only part of the equation. I can eat healthy until I am blue in the face, but it won’t change anything.
From Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Keto, and just watching what I eat there had to be a change. I was gaining weight and healthy eating wasn’t helping.
So I started learning about how inflammation affects metabolism as well as more ways to get my gut to work for me. Now at first this has a huge learning curve! I had to figure out what nutrients my body was lacking and what foods made those more readily available for me. And I am still trying to perfect my eating for my body’s needs.
When you have an autoimmune condition your body’s needs will change constantly. It’s really annoying and really frustrating, I started making headway and then I would have a flare up.
So we balance. Figure out what is causing the flare up, then plan accordingly, it takes x number of days before I need such-n-such nutrient to keep x symptom at bay.
For my situation, I eat mostly paleo, with limited access to grain and surgery and starchy foods (fruit, roots, tubers, and beans), sounds kind of like keto right, well I started there and had issues with my autoimmune response.
But Isn’t Keto Like Starvation?
Definitely not, but at my current stage of development in my health journey, keto and I don’t really fit, and some of paleo makes the hurts hurt more often.
So What Am I Doing?
No grains or raw sugars in the morning! Usually I have a cup of coffee with a touch of heavy cream and a dash of raw honey (some days I feel adventurous and put a tablespoon of cinnamon in the coffee grounds before I brew, don’t tell hubby). Following my cup of joe, if I am hungry, I will fix up eggs, otherwise I stick to water and feed my son what he wants.
I either skip lunch or have a lettuce wrap (Mexican, Asian, or Greek), cheesy breakfast bowl, or a few quiche bites. On an off day you could probably catch me eating a sandwich made with homemade sourdough or artisan bread (has to be fresh and made with natural leaven,otherwise I get bloated).
Dinners are hearty, plenty of protein, lots of fiber, and just enough savory to keep you full till morning. The key with dinner is to avoid what may cause a flare up. If I had bread, then its a no to pasta, grains, and starches (especially beans). The spices and herbs used on the meat will determine what goes with the meal and what will keep the heartburn away, some days there is no chance of escape.
I will be included an example meal plan soon, so sign up below to grab it when it is released.
I fought this tooth and nail, in my head it was just another prayer session, but came to find out there are other things that can be done during a daily reflection that isn’t just prayer or meditation of faith. Let’s take the title literally “Daily Reflection”.
To reflect on the day, did I actually get up and do my stretches and take my prescriptions? Did I do something that made things better? Was there something that I did that made things worse or hindered my productivity? Did I commit self sabotage at any point? How much of the day’s list did I accomplish? How much closer to my goal am I?
So many things, One thing I do tend to do is take a moment to go over the schedule and add things or remove them for the next few days.
Believe it or not sitting down and having that meditation of faith and interaction with the creator really puts life into perspective. The inner peace that is gained by reaching out and putting your thoughts into words, well there isn’t words for how calm I feel after my meditations and prayers. If you aren’t religious that’s your choice but at least sit down and try to clear your mind and let the pains of the day go, best not to hold them in.
Set Attainable Goals
Any way I have come a long way and grown quite a bit since then. What I have learned about setting attainable goals, especially since being diagnosed, was that without the long term goal the little ones are meaningless.
How can I ever get my weight back in check or hurt less if I don’t know what is causing the problems or what the possible fixes are?
One of my big goals is to get back to a healthy weight and be in less pain. To accomplish this I have to balance my lifestyle around the goal, that means diet, exercise, and learning more about what makes my body react the way it does and how I can combat the negative and promote the positive. In steps it looks like…
- Drink more water and eat more foods that promote hydration
- Cut back on foods that cause inflammation response and be rid of them by day 21
- Wake up early and do stretches by 6am every day for 21 days
- Meditate and reflect nightly on my day and on my main goals
- Add in strength training to my yoga time and have a consistent training schedule by the end of the next 21 days
- Slim my waist and limbs down by enhancing my core and adjility.
Theses are a just a few things that I am doing and have been working on, and once I actually started working on these I really have been feeling better.
By Incorporating these things I really started to see progress after just a few days. After two weeks my partner noticed that I was starting to lose weight. He thinks it’s funny because he told me that if I would have started this sooner I never would have ballooned up. You Know What Being Depressed And Having Uncontrolled Pain Sucked And I Was New To It So There.
Change takes time, give yourself a break but don’t cut yourself any slack. Every time you cut some slack you will only slack off some more. Hold yourself accountable and better yet, have a buddy help you for the first 14 days, then have them check in once a week on your progress. I know it has been helping me keep my feet on the ground.
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