Lifestyle Changes
“I’m so sorry this is happening to you.”

“I’m so sorry this is happening to you.”

There are a few things medical professionals have said to me that have really stuck: “I’m so sorry this is happening to you”, “I don’t know how you are still working”, and “there really isn’t anything we can do”.  Listen, folks, working is hard on your body. It’s hard on a healthy body, so when you are suffering with chronic and debilitating pain – it can become unbearable. But I love what I do for a living, I love working and being active, and I love helping people, so I had to find a way to make it work.

In just the first few months, my medical costs were in the thousands (with insurance), and I had experienced lost wages when I ran out of leave. It was scary! Then one evening after commuting and working 10 hours, I was told by my Project Manager that I “had until midnight” to get something done. Midnight? How on God’s green Earth was I expected to work and commute 17-18 hours? That would be hard on anyone, much less someone who was standing in front of you wearing an $800 back brace just weeks after 6 spinal injections! 

I stayed way too late. I suffered horribly. Then I simply refused to do it again!  There are things I know now that I wish I knew then.  Maybe these things can help you – I do not want people to suffer as long as I did.

01

JUST SAY NO!

It’s okay to say “No” to things that are bad for you. When you are injured, healing, or going through intense medical procedures, learn how to say “No”.

It’s okay to have boundaries! It’s healthy to have boundaries in all aspects of your life. Work is no different. Check out this great blog by Kathleen Nicholls about setting boundaries when you have a chronic illness:

How to Create Boundaries When You’re Chronically Ill

02

LISTEN TO YOUR FEET

I was told time and time again to buy better shoes. I tried, I picked the wrong style over and over. I bought Clarks, Nike, Converse. I tried everything.

Enter Brooks Running shoes.  It’s the only shoe I found I could wear that wouldn’t trigger pain. I could put on Nikes or Clarks and within an hour, I could feel intense pain flaring up in my low back.

03

YOUR DESK

I had a VariDesk adjustable desk for years and loved it, but it was pretty heavy with my two monitors on it. Electronic adjustable desks will prevent any unnecessary lifting every day. I found this VIVO Electric Height Adjusting Desk. It was only $249 when I bought it and it is an absolute dream!

Before I had my desk, I used this super neat little portable laptop stand by Levit8

04

WALK OFTEN

Walking is good for you! Your joints and muscles need movement.

I got this great treadmill for under my desk. I can use it while I’m working or I can pull it back and pop the handrail up to walk or run for exercise.  Check out our These Bones Were Made for Walkin’ blog for more information on why walking is so good for you!

05

WHEN SITTING IS PAINFUL

This, for me, was a LONG process. Just like shoes and mattresses, finding the right chair is expensive and painful – literally!

Here’s all of the chairs I have bought and alternate:

SONGMICS Standing Chair $125.99

Vari Active Seat $250

Serta Office Chair $80

ComfiLife Seat Cushion $35

Exercise Ball $22

Exercise Ball Stand / Chair Base $15

Recliner with massage $360

 

06

SLEEP WELL

I have gone through 3 (yes THREE) mattresses in the last year. And that’s okay! Don’t give up! You will find something that works for you. Everyone is different, but there are 3 basic styles: memory foam, coil, and hybrid (part memory foam and part coil). I tried all 3! Memory foam was too hard, hybrid was too soft. I returned to a coil mattress and have slept so much better since then.

Next, let’s talk pillows! I have bought 5 pillows in less than a year, and I had 2 before that. Believe me when I say I  know that all pillows are not created equal! Again, don’t give up. It’s expensive and painful (figuratively and literally – one pillow lasted 2 night before I realized it was the root of a new pain flare up!)

Before finding the right mattress and pillow, since my pain was in my back and hips, I found this $35 Bed Wedge helped a bunch!

 

07

HANG UPSIDE DOWN

This inversion table has been worth its weight in gold. It was painful at first and I could only do it briefly. I kept healing more and eventually, I was using it multiple times throughout the day: in the morning, on my morning breaks, at lunch time, my afternoon breaks, in the evening. It was truly a game changer. Even though I don’t need it as much now, anytime I feel tender in my hip and low back, I jump on my inversion table several times a day to help decompress my body. 

You can read more about inversion tables over on the When Back Pain Turns Your Life Upside Down blog.

08

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

Listen, I am not some tree-hugger type that is all into PETA and “save the animals”! I love animals, but I also loved steak and potatoes. I was, however, so desperate that I would have tried anything. If I kept hearing that eating a whole goat every day would help, as cute as they are I would have tried it.

But that’s not what I was reading over and over. I was reading things like “plant-based diet” and “sugar-free” over and over. I had joined several “support groups” on social media to ask for help and read other people’s experiences. The message was LOUD – I needed to change my diet! I have another blog coming out where I talk about how I did it – and how I’m still doing it a year later! It’s really easy once you see the dramatic results!

09

PLUG YOUR EARS

Shew – I wish I learned this earlier. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.

I’ll put it simply: people are gonna talk crap about you, your injury, your illness, and your journey. They are gonna be mean. They will not understand and they will not get it. They won’t understand the lengths that you will go to control your pain. They won’t understand you standing in the middle of dinner. They won’t understand you leaving everything early or just not going places at all when you’re in pain. You’ll hear you “always miss work” or you’re “going to fall behind” if you don’t work overtime.

And on your good days? Oh, yeah, they won’t understand those either.  When you are trying to get fit and heal yourself and push yourself to become healthy? Nope. They won’t understand that at all. Then they will say “it must not have been that bad if you can walk/run/exercise/lift”. I couldn’t do ANYTHING right with some people – even people I considered to be friends. 

You have to learn not to listen. One of my favorite books, The Four Agreements, tells us what people say about us is none of our business. You have to learn to tune out those negative voices out and listen to your support group. My best friend of nearly 30 years and my Mother saved my life. They listened to me cry, cuss, groan, and rejoice. They heard my desperation, and they answered every call. Listen to those voices and ignore the others. Trust me – it just may save your life, too.

10

PRAY

This isn’t about religion. This is about you having a close personal relationship with whoever, whatever or however you believe (judgement-free zone here!).  Sometimes, it’s going to be all you have left… and you’re going to pray.

And when you are praying for God (or whoever you are praying to) to end your suffering, or for the strength to make it through the night or to crawl across the floor when you cannot stand, you are going to realize that those prayers are going to be all you have to keep you going in that moment.  And believe me, it’s worth the fight… so pray.

 

 

 

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