Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Confront Pain

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I went to see a neurologist last week. I suffer from migraines. And while they aren’t nearly as bad as those endured by some of my friends – i.e. I don’t vomit, I’m not light-sensitive, etc. – they aren’t pleasant.

I really should have done this awhile ago. My migraines have been steadily increasing in frequency and intensity for several years now. But you know how it is:  you need to go see your G.P./primary care doctor, get a referral, and then block out the time to actually deal with the problem, rather than just suffering through.

But because I really didn’t want to overdose on Ibuprofen, I finally took the plunge and went to see a specialist. (I also finally broke down and went to see the dentist about a different but equally persistent problem I’ve been having with my teeth.)

If – like me – you’re avoidance-prone where pain is concerned, here are five reasons not to ignore the problem any longer:

1. It won’t go away on its own. Rather, it will just get worse. In the case of my teeth, it turns out that I wasn’t just clenching – as I’d long believed – but grinding. The dentist could actually show me where I’d worn down my front right canine tooth so that it was no longer pointy, but flattened out from grinding so much over time. That’s not good, especially since we all know that smiles are key to a happy marriage.

2. The fix is often quite simple. I think one reason that many of us put off going to the doctor to address an ongoing problem is that we fear that the fix will either not exist (why bother?) or be too complicated (requiring many more time-consuming doctor’s office visits.) And sometimes that’s true. But a lot of times, you just need a new medication (or mouth guard). That proved true for me in both cases. So it’s actually more efficient to go early to the doctor, rather than spending all that money on painkillers that don’t actually do the trick.

3. Pain feeds on itself. I have a pretty high threshold for pain. Which is why I tend to wait until a limb falls off before I go and see a doctor. (Even as I write this, I have a pain I’m ignoring in my upper left shoulder – a reminder that I ought to be stretching!) But even if it’s manageable, pain tends to feed on itself. It makes you tense. You become irritable. It’s distracting. You sleep less well. (The National Sleep Foundation reports that 2/3 of chronic pain sufferers experience sleep problems). So it’s better just to take the plunge and eliminate the pain effectively once and for all.

4. It can lead to other positive changes in your life. As you know, I’m a big believer in yoga for all sorts of reasons. But in addition to the fact that my life coach told me to do it, another reason that I do yoga is that physical therapist I saw for my Piriformis Syndrome told me that he thought it would help. I’d already done yoga when I saw him, but had stopped because of the pain in my, um…ass. He reminded me that yoga would actually help control that pain, not aggravate it. So I resumed yoga, and it turns out he was right.

5. You get ideas for blog posts. When I was in the neurologist’s office last week, we talked about what I do for a living. I actually joked with him that he should “Stay tuned for a post on visiting the Neurologist.” Et voilà!

Image: Headache by ehaver via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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5 Responses to Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Confront Pain

  1. ML says:

    Hello Delia,

    I used to have migraines, and these are the things that helped me:

    1) The wonder drug is: ice! Put some ice in a ziplock bag and apply to the back of your neck. Migraines are caused by too much blood going to your head, so ice helps constrict the blood vessels. I found that ice shortened the duration of a migraine.

    2) The three C’s are triggers: Cheese, Chocolate and Citrus. I was surprised when I found out that Citrus was a trigger. I used to chug a glass of orange juice with two Advils, and then wonder why my headache got worse! I try not to eat all three C’s in the same day.

    3) Losing some weight caused my migraines to stop. (This might not apply to you: you look pretty thin in your blog photo!)

    4) In later years I discovered that I had high blood pressure. I have not had migraines since being on medication for that problem. I wonder if the high blood pressure was pushing too much blood to my brain in my migraine years.

    Anyway, cheers and I hope you find a way to control your migraines! Thanks for your blog. I like that it is for “grown-ups” – I plan to be one, one day!

  2. Daryl Boylan says:

    High time! Thanx for timely reminder –& good luck with new med.

  3. […] in our own issues and can’t come up for air. But just as it’s important not to ignore physical pain in ourselves, it’s equally important not to ignore emotional pain in those close to us. If a […]

  4. […] six weeks ago, I recognized the symptoms instantly. And for a while, I ignored it. (Even though you should never ignore pain. You heard it here first.) But you know it’s time to cut back on what you’re doing when […]

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