Friday, 15 July 2011

Feeling lucky

I mentioned, I think, that I've been going to a series of Pain Management classes at the local hospital. We are nearing the end of this now, two more sessions to go and then we're on our own until a follow up session in September. It has been an enriching experience, also humbling, encouraging and at times just plain fun as a small group of people, all with similar problems have got to know each other.

The course works on a number of levels, combining advice about how to run your life so as not to increase the level of pain you live with; some gentle daily exercises; a bit of cognitive behaviour therapy and relaxation techniques. It has reinforced the way that I try to manage the daily challenge of not letting pain and discomfort take over; a recent session had a brief section on mindfulness; central, to me, for coping. It has also shown me how much others have to deal with, reminding me that actually things are not that bad really. Yes, my body hurts every day, and has done so pretty much for the past twenty odd years, with intermittent pain going back to when I was eleven, but there are people on the course who have far worse pain to cope with, who have had to give up a lot more than I have because of it.

One of the things we have looked at is pacing and goal setting. A simple concept, but very important. You set yourself achievable small goals, and work out how to get there by breaking them down into even smaller goals, so that you have a series of targets that you know you can achieve. You work at the pace you can manage whatever your day is like, rather than going all out for it on a good day, then having a setback because you've done too much, so end up feeling downhearted. My overall goal is to be able to walk from the holiday home we have in the Lakes to a pub and back, a distance of I guess about 6 miles. I know I could do it last year - just, but since then I seem to have lost a significant level of what little fitness I had. This is where the pacing bit comes in, if you'll forgive the pun. I set myself a target of walking from home down to the beach and back again twice a week. This is about 1 1/2 miles there and back and I have to take a rest at the bottom of the hill before turning round to come home. On the way back it us uphill all the way and by the time I get home I am puffed and my heart has had a good, albeit short workout. Doesn't sound much really, but I know that others who attend this course couldn't manage even that little expedition; I know that, before she died, my Mum couldn't have got from the front door to the road, so I revel in the thumping of my heart as I toil up the hill, so pleased that I can manage even this small feat, and hoping that it will build and build so that, by the end of September, that walk to the pub and back will be a breeze.

The course also talks about giving yourself a reward to spur you to achieving these little, baby steps goals. What could be a better reward than knowing that, when I reach the bottom of the hill, this wonderful view is just waiting for me, day after day after day.

Beachy Head sunset

Lucky eh?

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