So many of my posts are about the psychological side of coping with pain, so I thought this time I would look at what physical aids have helped me most.
Body pillow: it used to be that pain didn't bother me at night; it was movement in the morning that propelled it. But recently it has seeped into my sleep, which has got much worse – aching if I move or don't move. A true no-win. I used the usual pillow between my knees, which made turning over complicated and didn't help the pain. So I splashed out on a body pillow. From the first night, everything changed: my spine was supported in the correct position. I woke up feeling rested and moving more easily. It may be coincidence but I have also been able to do much more during the day.
The only snag is the size of the pillow – and the fact you really need two, so when you turn over there is support waiting. We have a king size bed, but with two body pillows and Bill's CPAP hose, let alone the cat, we have run out of space.
iPad mini. I used to have a full size, which was awkward and heavy. Then a friend heaved herself onto her feet, levering with one hand hard on the screen, which burst into stars. The mini is much better. I can lie back, fully supported and read or write holding it up – how I do most of my posts. It means I spend less time at the computer and my disks don't compact with sitting. It is not good for working on my knee as I then bend forward which strains my back.
Zero gravity chair. Hugely expensive, but well worth it. I got the Vitality Perfect Chair – refurbished, which saved over $1,000, and came from Vitality in LA. It is motorized which means I can adjust the slant from sitting to almost flat. I find I keep doing fine adjustments if sitting for a long time, so as to change the load on my spine. I also have a cheap garden version that I take to friends' houses as I can't sit on sofas – or really any chair.
TENS machine: I have a medically prescribed model. Four sticky pads on my lower back and a small control box that clips onto my waistband. I don't use it the usual way, which is for short massages. It is safe to wear for much longer periods, so I use it for 7 hours solid if doing a transatlantic flight or for 2 hours while out for a meal. It confuses the pain signals.
Long microwaveable bean bag. Very helpful placed along my spine when I am going to sleep. Or after lunch for a nap. This makes a huge difference, as lying on my side takes the weight off my spine, and the warm beanbag soothes the pain. Also I made a small beanbag for the small of my back. Heated for one minute, it diffuses warmth and really unscrambles my lower back. I use it several times a day as respite from standing or sitting.
iPod: I listen to audiobooks while resting with the long beanbag. Makes it a treat, rather than a bore.
ITouch which is an iPhone without the phone plan. We are mainly at home, so a cell phone isn't necessary. However, I play sudoku and patience on it a lot. Both are very soothing when the pain is very bad and my brain feels confused.
Kindle: light. Holding heavy books for reading pulls on my sacrum.
A cat. We got Thea when things were very bad and I instinctively knew that a warm, furry presence would be comforting. She has grown up to be a very loving companion, who comes and sits close on bad days.
I am very grateful that we are able to afford these things that make my life so much easier.