My name is Ingrid and I have endometriosis and fibromyalgia. It’s a crazy life and sometimes the pain catches up to me – I think that happens to all of my fellow spoonies once in a while (sometimes more often than we’d like to admit). Since there are a ton of these kinds of tips out there, I thought I’d recommend some you might not have tried. So here are some tips I find super useful when all I can do is lie in bed and wait for the pain to stop.
1. Baths, Castor Oil and Epsom Salts
Never underestimate the power of a good bath. I use castor oil with lavender or honey, along with Epsom salts in my baths. The castor oil helps with the inflammation and the Epsom salts work wonders for sore muscles. I try to take a bath twice a week, usually after I come home from work, and it is a lifesaver.
2. Essential Oils
I got an essential oil diffuser for around $20 from Amazon and I use it all the time. Depending on what you need, a different combination of oils like lavender and peppermint can really help with all kinds of things, from relaxation to concentration. You don’t even need a diffuser; just put a couple drops on your pillowcase or in the bath.
If you’re like me you might be thinking, “I can’t do yoga, it’s too involved.” But if there’s a yoga studio near you, ask them what other options they have. A lot of the time they have more meditative sessions and you can even ask for modifications from your yoga instructor. They are always more than happy to help you find what works for you.
4. Massage Oil
I have a ton of scars from the multitude of surgeries I have been through. Sometimes that scar tissue can grow and start to become uncomfortable. If you get some lotion or massage oil and massage the scar, it can help loosen up the skin and be a little more comfortable.
5. Fruit Snacks
Sometimes (actually, a lot of the time), I need to take pills and can’t get up to get food to take them with. So I always keep a box of fun fruit snacks by my bed. You don’t have to get up and having fruit snacks shaped like minions or other wacky cartoons is a nice pick-me-up.
6. Text Someone
Even if it’s hard to pick up the phone and type, try to text a friend and let them know how you’re feeling. Don’t feel like you’re burdening them or constantly complaining. This is a part of your life and you’re a part of theirs. Even if there’s nothing they can do to help, having someone offer to help you and be with you is enough.
When I’m in excruciating pain, my muscles tense up everywhere. Taking five minutes to stretch your legs and back can sort of reset your muscles. It’s a common defense mechanism to tense up your body when you’re in pain, and this, for me, tells my body it’s OK to relax now.
8. Keep a Laptop Charger Near Your Bed
I have a separate laptop charger that always stays plugged in by my bed so I don’t have to get up and find the elusive charger I probably left in class or at work. Not having to get up is a blessing, especially when you’re trying to work from home or do homework.
9. Keep a Personalized List Taped to Your Dresser
For me, this was a list of reasons why I shouldn’t feel guilty about needing the medicines I do. I would feel so bad about taking the pills that I would suffer in pain instead. I’ve also kept a list of small things I can now accomplish, like walking up the stairs or not using my wheelchair. Seeing that positive reinforcement daily really makes a difference.
10. Find a Distracting, Mindless Activity That Works for You
When I’m in that much pain, I need something to distract me, whether it’s Netflix, coloring or an app on my phone to divert my attention. I highly recommend Netflix shows like That 70s Show, Parks and Recreation, Archer and any cooking or homemaking shows. No, it won’t make the pain disappear, but it’ll give you something to smile about.
I hope at least some of these were helpful! Chronic illness and chronic pain in general are a roller coaster of a ride and I hope I can help others by sharing some wisdom that has helped keep my roller coaster on track.