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Writing with Chronic Pain


Hey all and welcome to my vlog, my name
is Erin and this is how to write with chronic pain. So what the heck is up with
my body? It’s kind of a fun mix of things and so start from the beginning and go
through all of that and then I will go through some of the ways that I still
get to be productive. So when I was born I had something called wryneck or
torticollis it’s a twisted neck that kind of tilts to one side and in my case
it was congenital it was formed in the womb so I had it right when I was born.
It can go away without treatment but it doesn’t always and if it’s not treated
then you tend to have relapses throughout your life. Mine was not
treated so far as I am aware and for me a relapse kind of feels like you have a
blade from the base of your skull down into your shoulder so any type of
movement at all is extremely painful. I also have hypermobile joints so it is
very easy for me to hurt myself if I don’t have the muscle strength to go
along with it. When I was about 12 my lower back spasmed to the point that I
could barely walk. I also took gymnastics as a child and I definitely screwed up
my wrist. I didn’t know it at the time and I didn’t know anything at all about
things like physiotherapy that would have mitigated a lot of this damage and
anytime I seemed to get hurt growing up if it was in my arms it was always *taps wrist* this one, It’s compounded minor injuries that just resulted in this being a little
screwed up pretty much forever. Basically the issue
with it now is all the little bones in your wrist I have one of them that will
glide out with movement but it will not glide back in and so the tendons rub on
it and get inflamed. Sometimes I can fix it myself but in recent years it’s
gotten to the point where I need an actual professional chiropractor,
physiotherapist, etc to correct it for me. I also have a number of repetitive use
injuries from my previous jobs. So in one of them I fell at work while shoveling
and guess what I landed on? This wrist, and because I couldn’t use
this arm for a while I ended up overusing the other one, screwed up
shoulder, elbow, wrist, and then at that point it hurt so much I had to use my
already injured arm and then I ended up screwing up the shoulder and elbow on
that one too. I also developed a repetitive use
injury in my hips from another job where we were not allowed to use the elevators
unless we had a client with us or we had a cart and so it resulted in me climbing
literally so many stairs that I injured myself and it took like two years to
heal. But all of those got so bad that I quite literally had to quit my career
and completely change course so that is why I left Senior Care it was just too
much for my body to handle. Once I got into insurance I was able to rest a
lot more. Then we had a car accident about two and a half years ago and I was
almost – I was like this close to being done with my physiotherapy and pretty
much everything being like tolerable and good to go and then that just undid
everything so that was fun. It also introduced a weird thing with my ribs
where they like to pop out of place and I cannot fix them myself,
I have tried. So I have to always book in get those put back but if I can’t get in
right away then the rib being out will unbalance my hips, unbalance my
shoulders, which just creates a whole mess everywhere. It’s not fun. Also when I
was younger I used to have very debilitating periods. It would be like
two weeks of extreme PMS and then 10 days of cramps and bleeding. I have since
got the hormonal IUD and I am SO happy Oh My God SO happy with how that has
altered everything. I know it’s not for everyone but I definitely recommend
checking it out if you have not already. Probably the thing that messes me up the
most in terms of interfering with my writing, besides my wrist flaring up, is referred pain headaches, which are basically
anytime anything below here gets tightened up, it yanks on everything
and it feels like my head’s being crushed. I have attended
physiotherapy and massage and chiropractic for years to mitigate a lot
of this and it does help and a lot of these are very much improved but it’s
still a work in progress. So now that we’ve gone through that laundry list of
what is wrong with me, let’s move on to how I manage it to be productive.
Number one: stay hydrated. I know this is a very simple tip but I am terrible at this. I
am getting better. What I use for this to make sure that I can monitor my liquid
intake is I’ll just keep a 1 liter jar with a straw on my desk so I know that
if I finish that I have done at least the barest minimum of hydrating myself.
And it also helps because I don’t have to get up to go get more very often and
so it’s much easier for me to increase my liquid intake that way.
Number two: managing pain symptoms. So I have a whole treasure trove of items for this. I’m
just gonna very quickly go over some of the tools that I use that I find very
helpful. The first one is a roller. I use this on my arms it really helps to
loosen up the knots in my forearms so that the tendons aren’t being pulled. You
can use it literally anywhere on your body but I’ve pretty much exclusively
use it on my arms. I also have this beauty, which basically, you put behind on
the neck and very gently move it and it works really well if you don’t have
access to a regular massage therapist or anyone else to help you with that
because it lets you work on the muscles without employing too many of the other
ones and letting them get tight while you’re working on it. And the Shepherd’s
hook too which does basically the same thing. It lets you work out your shoulder
knots without any assistance. The other very helpful thing is my roller! I
have the 36 inch one because it is about the length of my spine and it really
helps to loosen up pretty much everything. I use it the parallel to the
spine rather than the perpendicular curved one which I do sometimes
but this one I feel like for writers especially it really helps to loosen up
this parts because you’re always kind of hunching forward at your desk. I use all
of those to work on the muscle knots so that there is a little bit less tension
and a little bit less pain. The other item that is a godsend is a microwavable hot
pack BUT it has a strap so you can put it on and walk around. It works really
really well if my low back is stiff in the mornings I can just pop it on and
kind of go about my day. Also for period cramps, Oh My God! It is
really nice to just strap around you and then you don’t have to worry about it.
It’s just there and keeping you toasty Number three: find a painkiller that
works for you. Not everyone can take pain killers and not all pain killers are
created equal. You kind of have to find one or some type of pain reduction
method that works for you and your body. I don’t generally like to take pain
killers and my pain tolerance is very high because I’m pretty much used to it
all the time, but with the headaches especially it is a very difficult to
focus through that and so if I have to get work done I will sometimes take a
painkiller.
Number four: Learn to be ambidextrous with your computer mouse.
This seems like such a tiny thing, but it made a huge difference. It took me
about three days before my left arm just kind of picked it up. So now I can switch
back and forth depending on which arm has more discomfort and I don’t
aggravate the tendons in my hands or anything if I can just switch it over to
a different arm Number five: is Pilates. If you have the
funds for this and you can find a class that is small I show so recommend
Pilates for building up your muscle strength. The classes that I attended
were maximum four people so you got a lot of individual attention from the
instructors. Obviously that made it more expensive because there’s less people
they’re getting money from and so I wasn’t able to continue to do it but
while I was doing it I noticed it made a huge difference.
Unfortunately Pilates and that kind of stuff was not covered under my benefits
the way that massage and chiro and physio are. So it was kind of, I had to
stick primarily with those because I didn’t have to pay for them out of
pocket. But the classes are very helpful because they can tailor it if you are
prone to injury, if you have limitations, etc. Also restorative yoga is very
different from regular yoga. It is very supported in all of the positions and it
was SO relaxing and it didn’t put any strain on my body and so when I was able
to do restorative yoga as well it was super helpful. So that’s something
to consider as well.
Number six: if you have not already done so,
massage, physiotherapy, chiropractic. All super helpful. If they are covered by
benefits, even better. I was thankfully fully covered when I worked in insurance
so I was able to go a lot. I have partial coverage now that I am at home and on my husband’s benefits. Number seven: stay warm. I find if I get cold then
everything kind of tightens up and then that is a recipe for extra pain so
whether that is space heaters, sweaters, hot packs, whatever, do what you can to
stay in a comfortable temperature. Number 8: Plan ahead if you can. So for me I
know certain activities will trigger pain, like cleaning. Just the motions
involved in cleaning really upset my arms. So if I know that I’m going to have
to be cleaning or doing anything that will trigger my pain I try to get my
work done before that or as much of it before that as I can so that I don’t
have to worry and I can just let my body recover. Some days are bad and I can’t
really do anything, and that’s okay. Let your body have the rest that it needs.
Chronic pain sucks. Well, any kind of pain sucks, but it’s kind of a fact of life
for a lot of people and you can’t just stop everything. So I hope some of these
tips are helpful if any of you are struggling with pain. Obviously there is
no magic cure and so you kind of just do the best that you can. I’m still getting
books written so something’s working. Thank you so much for watching. If you
like this video give it a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe. I hope
was helpful and I will see you all next week with another video. Bye

6 thoughts on “Writing with Chronic Pain

  1. Erin, this was extremely eye opening for me. I have cerebral palsy and while I don't have daily chronic pain per se, I do experience muscle tension and spasticity daily. Would you mind linking some of the tools you use in the description. The first handheld roller really interests me particularly. Thanks again for this as I hope to try some suggestions to get relief!

  2. As someone with Fibromyalgia and M.E and other bitty injuries over my life, I really liked this video. A lot of the time people don't realise I'm a chronic pain warrior because the lung issue is more apparent. I loved your tips, and while some couldn't work for me because of my lack of mobility, I do think I will look into headpacks with a strap! I loved that one! I have some but I can't move about too much otherwise I lodge them free! Another great video!

  3. I have rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. My knees are all kinds of screwed up. I actually had a doctor tell me I had the knees of a 65 year old when I was 32! Finding things to at least make it manageable is key because, for some, the pain never completely goes away. Or it seems like it, I over do my activities, and boy do I pay for it next day. Just have to be mindful. And it's taken me years but I've also learned to accept this is my life. It sucks. I have limitations but I can still function, play with my nephew, go out with friends, write my books. It just may be different because of my health.
    Great video. Thanks for sharing something so personal.

  4. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. People forget that for some people, things aren't as easy. Like 'just sitting down'. I always appreciate people sharing their stories.

  5. Thanks this is super helpful. I have Scoliosis and my back is almost in consent pain because of it. So thanks for the recommendations.

  6. I have chronic pain with no official reason for it. My pain consists of constant finger tip to neck pain, at least 3 headaches a day along with referred pain headaches, and repeated leg pain throughout the day, as well as frequent back pain. So I understand. The car accident sounds like it had awful effects tho.

    I always keep a bottle of water by my bed. The only tool I have is a wrist brace the marks up my arm whenever I wear it. I have yet to find a pain killer that works for me. I am ambidextrous thankfully. I always switch whether its typing on my phone or or the laptop or even cooking. I can't do pilates. I can't get any sort of massage sadly. I need to be in between warm and cold to be any sort of comfortable. And planning, I have difficulty following my own plans.

    I will still write books anyway. Thank you for your tips. Tho most of them I've either tried or don't have money to do or haven't been able to find, its still great advice and probably has already helped a few people.

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