When a person with severe chronic pain is at their worst, rather when the PAIN is at it’s worst….a strange phenomenon happens. The brain starts getting all scrambled up. Especially if the person has more than one source or illness that causes pain. When all these pain signals are trying to shoot messages up to the brain, almost like a circuit board, the brain sort of “shorts out” and is only able to process so many pain signals at once…..thus, some of the weaker pain signals do not get processed. Which means that person may not necessarily perceive all the pain in the body….but rather just the “loudest” pain signals.
In other words, the brain gets confused and jumbled up….something like a primitive “computer crash”….and it has trouble keeping things in order and retaining it’s clarity. When there is an overabundance of pain signals firing off every second for hours, or days, or weeks…..the overworked brain is taxed and begins to cause it’s own signals, such as confusion, or inability to concentrate or even function in a very basic capacity. The person may notice the sensation of being “stuck” in a place where they are unable to carry on a conversation with ease, or be able to read a book and retain anything (like reading the same paragraph over and over many times without any comprehension of what they have read). It can be quite disconcerting, when the person not only is trying to deal with severe pain, but then their brains start shorting out and not functioning at their optimal capacity.
During times like this, sleep is extremely important….it almost acts as a “reboot” for the poor, overworked brain. But unfortunately many times chronic pain does not allow the person to get any sleep at all, or if they do sleep, it is not deep, restorative sleep but disrupted, choppy and not enough to receive all the benefits of a good eight hours.
So there is another quandry added to the mix. Severe chronic pain, a confused, blurry brain and not enough sleep to help “re-set” the brain and help the body heal and be restored.
The only way to fix this, if that’s even possible, is to make every effort to get the pain under control as quickly as possible. Eliminate any of the unnecessary activities, delegate chores to other members of the family or friends willing to help you….in other words, do anything it takes to bring the pain down to a manageable level as quickly as possible. Don’t keep pushing yourself beyond your limit. Don’t keep trying to ignore the pain and keep going. Just stop. Take a look around and recognize what is happening. If your brain is starting to feel scrambled, you know you have to take any means necessary to get what you need. You must use your common sense and take care of yourself. You need to get off your feet and cancel meetings and re-schedule appointments (unless they are doctor appointments of course)…..re-arrange your priorities and take care of yourself first and foremost.
I am learning this as we speak. I am in so much pain right now, I cannot read, I cannot sleep….I’m a mess. I have been rebelling against the pain for months now and I have ended up in a very bad place. So I am taking the bull by the horns and I’m getting serious about my priorities. I have to. I am going to make sleep a priority. I am going to learn how to rest my body and my brain several times a day and not feel guilty about it. I am going to choose to stop pushing myself beyond the limits my physical ailments have set for me (instead of trying to speed right by them without a glance). It’s time to get real, and stop acting like I am Superwoman. My job is no longer going to rule my life. (I am a self employed antique dealer – 17 years now) I will not break my neck to fill orders faster than a speeding bullet. An extra day or two to get an order shipped will not cause the earth to slip off it’s axis. I am more important, my health is more important and everything else is going to have to take a back seat from now on.
I have been faced once again with another strong lesson from my greatest teacher, my chronic body. Either do it right or you will be sorry. Respect the pain and the illness instead of mock it and rebel against it and fight it and struggle against it, because you can’t possibly win. You can’t win….unless you choose to cooperate and do whatever it takes to help your self be as well as you can be.