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Chronic pain can make your life completely miserable, sometimes even unbearable. I deal with moderate to severe pain on a daily basis and there have been times that I didn’t think I could live another day. I suffer from Fibromyalgia, Restless Leg Syndrome, and severe early onset osteoarthritis. Just imagine having the worst flu ever with aches and pains throughout your whole body. Well, that’s my average day. A couple of years ago I could barely function at times, and now I take medication to help with the symptoms, but the pain is still there. I have just learned to manage and deal with it in ways that allow me to get the most out of life without killing someone.

1.  Lose the self-pity. Immersing yourself in self-pity doesn’t make the pain any better. Trust me, I know this from experience. I found out the hard way that feeling sorry for myself did nothing but make me feel depressed and grumpy. Grumpy people rarely get sympathy from anyone.  Most people, family included, don’t or don’t want to understand pain chronic pain from invisible illnesses and self-pity along with a cantankerous attitude isn’t going to win you any points.

2.  Don’t find a good doctor, find a GREAT doctor. I suffered for years before finally getting a complete diagnosis. Fibromyalgia and other diseases can often mimic heart problems which led me to be hospitalized in the cardiac unit and undergo an unnecessary heart catheterization to the tune of almost $25,000. Thank God for for health insurance. On a positive note, I found out my heart is in great condition. After my sister was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and my Mother with Polymyalgia rheumatica (a very similar illness), I put two and two together and found an awesome rheumatologist who was able to diagnose me. He prescribed medication and treatments that have greatly improved my quality of life.

3.  Get up and move! Sitting on your rear might feel good at the time, but getting up and moving around helps to ease my pain immensely. In fact, my pain is sometimes worse from lack of movement. When I first started to get sick all I wanted to do was lie in bed all day and almost said the Hell with life. It just about killed me at first but making sure to stay active helps the aches and pains to be less intense. Now I spend my days watching my 18 month old granddaughter Harper. At first I didn’t think I would be able to handle it but I am so glad I made that choice. She brings me the greatest joy imaginable and helps me to forget the pain.

4.  Find a hobby. Is there something that you enjoyed doing before you became ill? Get back into life and your old hobby or find a new one. Granted, some adjustments might have to be made depending on the activity. Obviously someone who suffers from sever chronic pain probably isn’t going mountain or rock climbing so do something else. Writing has become a favorite pastime for me and also a great outlet. Sometimes I have trouble typing because of the swelling in the joints of my fingers, so I mentally outline what I plan to write in the future. Either way it is a pastime that I look forward to.

5. Enjoy life. You have only have one life to live so enjoy it to the fullest of your ability. Even on my worst days I find something to enjoy even if it’s just a silly show on television. Anything that I enjoy doing that will take my mind off the pain works for me. I hope it will work for you too!