Every Little Helps

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.



About UntraveledRoads

Fascinated by life, looking for answers to chronic pain and finding unexpected gifts. Interested in people, ideas, healing and humour. I am very happily married with three children and a kitten. As English born immigrants to Canada, we have family spread overseas, a daughter in South Africa and one in England. We also run a charity in South Africa to educate black, rural South African Women. Our first girl from a rural township has just graduated as an accountant from Johannesburg University and got a good job in a bank.
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