Friday, July 23, 2010

Fatigue management and Pain

In class today we brainstormed over the many causes of Pain:
1) Stress
2) Age
3) Illness
4) Arthritis
5) Medication
6) Broken bones
7) Over doing too much
9) Strain
10) Nerve pain
11) Injury
12) Weather changes

Causes for Fatigue differed in some ways when we did our brainstorming:
1) Poor nutrition
2) Lack of sleep
3) Inactivity
4) Weather conditions
5) Exertion
6) Low blood count
7) Dehydration
8) Low sodium
9) Low vitamin D
10) Low sugar

Things to help with Fatigue:
1) Better meals
2) Regular routine and activities
3) Supplements
4) Exercise routine
5) Better sleep
6) Naps
7) Breaks in activity

Ways to Manage Pain:
1) Massage
2) Whirpool
3) Be with Positive people
4) Relaxing bath
5) Yoga
6) Relaxation techniques
7) Hobby
8) Change mental attitude
9) Share experiences
10) Buddy system
11) Learning to say NO

The FIT scale formula stands for:
F= Frequency
I= Intensity
T= Time

Endurance activities should involve the following:
1) Perspiration
2) Raising heart rate
3) Pacing self
4) Being safe and effective
You should be able to talk during the activity and should be able to do for at least 5 minutes. You should also be able to recover normal activity within 30 minutes after pulse rate goes down.

With our Action Plans we are learning how to alter and change without feeling like we are failing. The accomplishment of the Action Plan is important in our daily lives:

Some reasons we may have had to make changes:
1) Not feeling well
2) Unrealistic goals
3) Too tired
Suggestions to change:
1) Change amount of activity
2) Alter time of day
3) Reward self
4) Patience with self
*Look at problem solving steps

Activity- Better Breathing
Reasons for shortness of breath
1) Damaged lungs
2) Weakened heart
3) Increased demands
4) Narrowed breathing passages
5) Low number of red blood cells
6) High altitude
7) Excess body weight
8) Anxiety
9) Smoking

The following are helpful Relaxation Techniques for better breathing:
1) Better posture
2) Relaxation techniques
3) Dehumidifier
4) Proper breathing through nose and exhale through mouth
5) Muscle strengthening
6) Avoid irritants
7) Building up to exercise

I will be missing next week's class as we are going on vacation. My Action Plan for the week is to create and cook 5 healthy dinners with my family while on vacation. The majority of these will be dinners as we hope to be super busy on the water during the day. My confidence level is an 8!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Healthy Living

Our class this week began with each of us discussing his or her successes with their action plan. Some made minor adjustments according to what their plans consisted of for last week. For some, like me there was not complete success. Since my action plan was to walk 2 miles a day at 4 times a week, the weather conditions stopped me one day. However, one night Rick actually walked with me so it was nice to have him included in my action plan. We talked in class about problem solving when our action plans were not working as we initially intended.
1) Identify the problem
2) List possible solutions
3) Select one
4) Assess the results
5) Substitute another idea
6) Utilize other resources
7) Accept that the problem may not be solved

We all deal with difficult emotions when it comes to our chronic pain conditions. Most of us discussed Depression, Anger and Frustration at the changes we have made in our lifestyle. Like most people who have good health, the realisation that our conditions seem to rule our lives might be difficult to comprehend. For us, breaking the Symptom Cycle can be an every day event. In our group it is apparent that we all have good support groups within our family. One way of putting the Negative Emotions on the shelf:
1) Don't be reclusive
2) Faith
3) Humor
4) Socialize
5) Smile
6) Create diversions
7) Focus on something positive
8) Music
9) Exercise
10) Write down fears

Exercise is what we are concentrating on this week and for the upcoming weeks. For some of us, just the most simple things like walking to the car or trimming a hedge can be grueling tasks. Our main focus is to do projects and do them in small steps so we are not overwhelmed and therefore not being successful. Exercise helps promote the following positive benefits:
1) Loosening of the joints and muscles
2) Circulation
3) Endorphins
4) Stimulation
5) Relaxing
6) Stress relief
7) Healthier weight
Types of activities include flexibility, strengthening, aerobic and cardio activity. Our long term goals include moderate exercise 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes and 8-10 strengthening exercises 2-3 days a week. The most important thing is the listen to your body and to not over do it.

My long term goal is to be able to ride again. My longer term action plan is to go to the barn 3-5 days a week for 45 minutes a day to brush and lunge the horses from the ground only. My confidence level is an 8. My main strengthening exercises will start with my Occupational Therapy to get better strength in my right thumb and hand. Right now I have only about 10% useage of my injured area.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Healthy Living with Chronic Pain

Through Conemaugh Health Systems at the John P Murtha Center for Pain, I have the good fortune to be taking a 6 week class called "Healthy Living with Chronic Pain." I am taking the class for my own benefit and to also train to be a facilitator of this course. As many know, I have been living with chronic pain in my lower back and pelvis region for 12 years since a rough horseback riding incident. It took me almost three years to stop walking with a limp. Any high impact activity is simply not possible for me anymore. On top of that, I have since developed 4 auto immune disorders including Hypothyroidism. So along with no end to pain, I also suffer from fatigue and depression. It is my hope and ultimate goal to derive as much as possible from this course to gain a better management of my pain and to live a better life.

Since this was our first class, 17 people are participating with a range of chronic pain and illnesses. The beginning of the class is an overview of Self-Management. Some of the biggest problems we all encounter are:
Limited mobility
Rewiring Emotions
Pacing Self
Not able to do everything we want to do
Losing balance
Trouble walking
Anger at self
Trouble sleeping
Adaptation of lifestyle

There is a difference between Acute and Chronic pain. The simplest way to differentiate is that Acute pain is limited to a brief amount of time. For instance, Strep throat or the flu. Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than 3-6 months. Some causes for Chronic pain are Hereditary, Lifestyle and Control of Symptoms. With Chronic pain and diseases it is sometimes not a definitive answer of what is the problem. Often it is a matter of ruling out other conditions to ascertain the problem.

Some basic Self-Management tasks include the following:
1) Take care of health
2) Carrying out normal activities
3) Managing your emotional needs

Be PROACTIVE and SHARE in the planning. Typical Symptom Cycles are Pain-Fatigue-Depression-Difficult Emotions-Stress/Anxiety-Ineffective Breathing-Restricted Movement-Tense Muscles. One way to tackle some of this is with a Self-Management Tool Box:

manage Fatigue
Working with health care professionals
Problem solving
Using your mind
Understanding Emotions
Finding Resources

There are so many ways to Shorten the sense of Pain through Distraction. We brainstormed and came up with some of the following:

Listening to Music
Imaginary Journey
Find something beautiful

Our goal this week is to create an ACTION PLAN. This can be a short task that is NOT overwhelming:
1) Something you want to do
2) Achievable
3) Action specific
4) Answer the questions: WHAT, HOW MUCH, WHEN, HOW OFTEN
5) Confidence Level of 7 or more

My personal ACTION PLAN this week is related to after I get this cast off my right arm. I want to go back to walking my two mile walk, 4 times a week, in the early confidence Level is a 9 that I will be able to do this.

I will continue posting what I am deriving from this class each week. If anyone wants to add or ask questions, please feel free to find me on Facebook under Martha Murphy or e mail me at: I hope others find this helpful as we work within our chronic pain and diseases!