Coping With Pain During Covid19

Lockdown Day 13 – update from Louise Trewern 

My exercise of choice is walking and since coming off high dose opioids 3 years ago I have gradually increased the distance I am able to walk and the type of terrain has become more challenging, with my favourite being the coast path! Covid19 has put a stop to all that for the time being and like everyone else I am limited to doing a short daily walk around my neighbourhood.  I’ve been finding this difficult because I use my walking as therapy and pain relief and my usual walks last anything up to 5 or 6 hours,  with my wife and I taking our lunch, flask of coffee and afternoon snacks with us. I haven’t been getting the same amount of relief from my short local walk although I’m lucky we have hills around us which gives me a bit of a workout. I’m hoping the hills will mean I won’t lose the fitness level I have achieved in the last 3 years. I mentioned last week how important it is to get that daily walk so I won’t repeat myself.

This week I noticed increased pain in my knee which I previously saw a Physiotherapist about and she gave me a sheet of exercises to do which I stopped as my knee improved…..big mistake! I have started to do them again and hey presto the knee pain is diminishing, if you have a sheet from a previous Physiotherapy visit now would be a good time to get them out! I have found it extremely empowering to take control of my pain!

The lockdown has enabled me to rediscover my love of gardening!

It started last week as something else to do at home and today I realised that I actually love it and always have, I learned that it’s ok to stop walking occasionally and do something else instead, like gardening! I think I spent so much time at home during the latter years of being on opioids that once I started to get active and go out walking everyday I was afraid to stop! Maybe I was afraid that if I stopped I would slide back down the spiral of pain into medication oblivion again and I was NOT prepared to let that happen so I kept walking!

Lockdown has shown me that it’s OK to do something else and be active in a different way, and that has been a pleasant lesson to learn!


When I had finished gardening today and sat and surveyed my efforts. It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t been aware of my pain the whole time I was busy! That is another great reason to garden if you can!

Bonfire night is fun too….

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In these unprecedented times we are going to struggle with the restrictions being placed upon us! Although we understand the reasons why these measures have been put in place it doesn’t make it any easier to endure. Of course we all want to save lives & save our NHS but we also have to look after ourselves.

As Pain Clinics have closed their doors until the crisis is over freeing up staff to be redeployed to help fight the virus it’s more important than ever that we look to each other for support.

Pain is a prickly beast and doesn’t like it when we become upset, anxious or stressed, and ramps up our pain levels. I have definitely noticed an increase in my pain since lockdown began. It’s suddenly not so easy to go out and do the things that previously made us happy and served as distractions for our pain. This means we have to find other ways to cope.

I firmly believe its vitally important to keep up with our personal routines as much as possible; I aim to be up and out of bed by 8am every morning even though I have no appointments to attend. I still go through my routine of washing, dressing, applying makeup & styling my hair, why….because it makes me feel better, I feel as though I have a purpose. I don’t want to look like a tramp and if I did I’m sure I’d feel like one too!

We are allowed to leave our homes for daily exercise once a day and for me that is also a vitally important tool in my coping strategy. I realise some people don’t have anywhere other than their local pavements to walk but the important thing is not the view but the ‘movement’, observing social distancing rules, go outside and walk around your local area once a day to trigger those endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers, breath the fresh air, soak up the sun and if the sun isn’t shining the daylight is just as important too. Notice your surroundings whatever they may be, what can you hear, see, smell? This is being mindful and will help to soothe the body’s threat systems and in turn lower your pain. It is so important we resist the urge to flop on the sofa and watch TV until the crisis is over and one thing that doing that will guarantee is our pain will be at its highest. We need to keep moving!  We can go out in family groups so we can walk with those that might otherwise be busy working or studying.

I found it extremely difficult today to push myself out of the door for a walk, I had more pain than usual but I did it with the knowledge that I would feel better for doing it and indeed I do!

We are indoors for long periods and so need to make sure we keep as active as we possibly can.

We are told this situation will go on for some time so it’s also important we remember pacing! This applies to all our activities! Don’t overstretch yourself today, think about tomorrow.

Louise Trewern

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