Coping With Pain During Covid19 Lockdown Day 84

Louise Trewern
15 June 2020

Well, here we are on Day 84! I think we were all hoping it would be all over by now, sadly not, and I think we will have certain restrictions in place for some time to come! However I’m looking for some small positives to take away from this unprecedented experience. I know that is extremely hard when we look at how many people have tragically lost their lives during this awful pandemic, which is why I am only looking within my own circle for those positives!

So what are they? When lockdown began I was terrified about how I would cope without our daily long walks, walks that only began after we had driven to somewhere, new if possible, walks that would last most of the day! The restrictions meant that we could only walk locally 😱 and we couldn’t walk all day, once a day for our exercise!

So walk locally we did, we had no choice like everybody else; wow….what a lovely surprise we got.  Local was beautiful, far more beautiful than we had ever given it credit for. We know we are extremely lucky to live in a rural area with country lanes to walk. This knowledge helped us settle in quickly to our new limited regime. Others couldn’t do this at all so we would darn well make the most of what we have.

To fill more time we decided now was a good time to reclaim the garden we once loved but had neglected for three years, which was now overrun with brambles and weeds, potted plants completely pot bound.

Before lockdown we used to look out at the garden with mixed feelings, sadness that we had ‘no time’ to deal with it, and dread, where would we even start now?

Enforced time at home meant that we both viewed the garden as an opportunity to really get stuck in, it became a project, if we couldn’t transform it now when could we, would we?

What surprised me more than anything was how much I enjoyed it, at first it was challenging because I was struggling with a painful knee that really didn’t want to bend, but being in the garden served as a fantastic distraction from the pain and meant that I was keeping active.

It wasn’t long before we started seeing the results of our hard work and that served as more incentive to keep going.

It occurred to me after several weeks that before lockdown I had become subconsciously terrified to stop walking! Since I came off the opioids 3 years ago we had adopted a daily routine of walking! Walking as far and for as long as possible! I had gradually built up my fitness & stamina, and lost eight and half stone in weight! I was capable of walking up to 8 miles on a really good day! I think somewhere in the recesses of my mind I believed that if we stopped, if we didn’t walk EVERY DAY I would somehow relapse and become the poorly, unfit, unhealthy, UNHAPPY person that I was three years ago!

SURPRISE 🎉🎉🎉 That didn’t happen!!! Our local, two and a half mile daily walk was enough to keep up the fitness I’d built up AND meant we had the time to ENJOY being at home, and spending time in the garden! Nothing bad has happened as a result of breaking that daily routine, it was a revelation to me, it’s taught me some important lessons about myself! More importantly, it’s made me realise that I was being too hard on myself and in turn, on Karen too! I am embracing this as the biggest positive to come out of lockdown.

It’s not the only one, you will remember that during the first six or seven weeks I was baking cakes, scones, biscuits and all things yummy which of course meant that we were also eating these delights 😋😃🍰🧁🍪 it was somehow comforting to know that we weren’t alone, the entire country was baking which of course was evident in the supermarkets with the lack of flour and other ingredients which any other time would be plentiful! It didn’t take long however to see the scales going up!!

Before lockdown my weight loss journey had hit a plateau and wasn’t budging, now was a good time to call a halt to the self-indulgence and get back on track! A month ago I joined a very well known healthy eating club, now running digital services only, I am so pleased to report that I have already lost one stone in weight!! This means I’ve lost my lockdown bulge and some, it’s kickstarted my weight loss …. YAY!! 💪🤗

Losing a stone in weight has had another huge benefit too, I have taken the equivalent of seven whole bags of sugar off my shoulders! My painful knee is certainly very very grateful for this and has rewarded me with less pain, I still have to look after it and keep up my physio exercises but wow, it’s so much better than it was when lockdown began.

My knee also gave me a small positive though, strange as it seems, it meant I needed to revisit my ‘flare-up tool kit’, and this time I had to delve right to the bottom and find the tips and tricks I hadn’t needed for ages! They worked though and proved to me that having a ‘flare-up toolkit’ was essential! If you don’t have one I urge you to put one together! Fill it with all the things that help you feel better when the pain gets worse, whatever works for you, I have a wheat bag that I can warm up in the microwave for example but it’s also things like mindfulness, sitting in your comfy armchair and reading a good book or listening to music! Whatever soothes you and makes you feel a little better, it’s more of a mental checklist of things that have helped you before, all the self-help techniques you may have learned on your pain management program! Pull it all of the toolkit and examine them all and see what will work for you during this flare. I am always adding to mine as I learn new tips and tricks from others. It’s always comforting to know that when a flare-up strikes you have that toolkit tucked away!

Lastly, and most importantly is ‘self-compassion’ we all have a tendency to be way too hard on ourselves and I am certainly no exception! Constantly berating ourselves for not being able to do something, especially something we used to be able to do easily. Be kind to yourself, it doesn’t matter what you ‘used’ to do, what matters is right now, and when your hurting you need to be kind to yourself! It’s not easy and believe me this is something I struggled with and still do sometimes! I believe that one of the biggest lessons we need to learn is ‘acceptance’ that does NOT mean accepting that things will never be any better, it means accepting that we live with pain! There is a big difference and as we know, how much pain we are in goes up and down, acceptance is about realising pain is with us, it’s unwelcome but it’s here and so we need to learn how ‘LIVE WELL WITH PAIN’ and you will find lots of advice on how to do that if you explore the other areas of this website.

Take care of yourselves 😊