I was loading my dishwasher this morning and fighting with a plate refusing to fit in.
It wasn’t really the plates fault. I was in severe lower back pain and trying to get the task over as quickly as possible. I was also trying to fit way too much into this particular load…..as you do!!
So as I continued to engage in one to one combat with my dishwasher, I loudly exclaimed, “Come on, where there’s a will there’s a way”.
My renewed determination actually worked and with a quick reshuffle of a few bowls, my plate finally found its resting place. Phew! Door closed, button pushed, all done.
Is It Really That Easy?
As I returned to my armchair to rest and recover from my efforts, I began thinking about the old English proverb I’d just used to spur myself on to success.
“Where There’s A Will There’s A Way”
It just rolls off the tongue so easily doesn’t it. I have always lived my life with a “mind over matter” type approach. I’ve always believed if I was determined to achieve a particular goal, I could find a way to do it.
Generally I could. Not anymore. Not like I used to. Life isn’t as easy now.
Chronic pain due to a rare bone disease has changed everything in my life. No amount of mind over matter, or old English Proverb cheering me on to achieve absolutely anything, is going to cut it.
Does That Mean I Should Give Up Trying?
Chronic pain or illness does significantly impact most areas of our lives, there is no denying it.
So should we just give up trying to set goals? Should we put up an “out-of-order” sign and let life pass us by?
No, I don’t think we should. I do think we need to be realistic though about our new capabilities.
I could set a goal of running up a mountain but let’s be serious. I’d be setting myself up for failure.
Due to my disease, I have a non-union broken femur, severe spinal stenosis, an unstable lumbar spine, 7 foot fractures and I mobilise with crutches, a walker or power scooter. Inflammation quickly builds around my broken bones and pain sears as bone on bone begins to rub in my spine. My feet fracture just looking at them and I’m not exaggerating.
I clearly have major obstacles to a goal of running up a mountain!
No, it is not a goal I can achieve no matter how many times I stoically shout “where there’s a will there’s a way”!
So What Is Achievable?
Realistic goals are achievable for those of us with chronic pain and illness. These may even be goals requiring us to stretch our limits a little and that’s ok.
Let me give you an example. I had a goal today to write an article for my blog. I am absolutely exhausted, pain is soaring and no matter how much I try to string together some quiet days, something inevitably disturbs those “rest and recovery” plans.
My pain is always unrelenting and for the first 3 to 4 hours of every morning, I am physically unable to push through the pain which is at 10/10. My spine competely locks, until my full cocktail of pain meds reduce my pain to 7/10. This allows me to push through enough to walk with crutches or a walker.
So, you get the picture. It’s usually a tough day. No one is going to mind or worry if I don’t write my blog post.
It does matter though. It matters to me!
When we set goals they need to be achievable but they also need to be something we are passionate about. Something that drives us to want to achieve them.
Those who know me well and follow my blog, know I’m passionate about writing. It’s been my main focus since medically retiring 6 years ago. It’s how I connect with others. It’s one of the major activities I use to keep the one part of me still actively working…..my brain.
Finding A Way
To achieve my goal of writing this blog, I had to find a way.
Firstly, I had to mentally commit. This required me to push aside my first thoughts crowding my mind. Thoughts telling me to just leave it until next week.
I did consider this option. It was a valid option but as I thought about next week, I knew I had other goals I needed to achieve, so it soon became a non-option. This was a positive thought process as it forced me to think about strategies to achieve my goal sooner.
I also decided achieving this goal, would be a great distraction from my pain. I use writing as part of my pain management therapy.
So I made a 4 step plan:
- Take extra afternoon pain meds;
- Wait for an hour so they kick in;
- Write while lying down on my bed, using my phone. (I’ve taught myself to blog on my phone rather than using my tablet or PC. It has removed so many of my writing obstacles).
- Take my time and enjoy the process, there’s no rush.
Maybe Where There’s A Will, There Is A Way!!
With a simple plan in place, my determination, commitment and planning, was rewarded as I persevered and was able to hit the publish button.
So maybe the old English proverb does have some truth to it.
When it comes to chronic pain and illness we definitely need to ensure we are not setting ourselves up for disappointment. Severe pain causes enough stress and sorrow, without us deliberately adding to it by trying to achieve things which are definitely out of our reach.
Don’t let fear of disappointment put you off setting goals though. It’s so important we feel a sense of achievement. We might be living with chronic pain and disease, but life needn’t completely pass us by.
Finding something you are passionate about and setting a realistic goal to achieve it, can be such a great way to take your focus away from your pain and disability.
Or maybe it’s a daily task you have the ability to do, but fear of increasing your pain is holding you back. The same principles apply.
Using the word “Simple”, I’ve created an easy to remember planning outline.
S – Set a timeframe
I – Improvise where necessary
M- Modify your plan if you meet a roadblock
P – Picture the final outcome as you work
L – Listen to your body if you need a rest
E – Enjoy the process.
I used this recently when I was determined to go on a picnic with my husband. He is my full-time carer and my best friend. It’s hard for me to get out as my disease progresses, so this goal was so important to me.
Did I achieve my picnic goal? Sure did, here’s the evidence.
I hope the S.I.M.P.L.E planning outline will help you achieve goals which might seem out of reach right now.
Keep your goal simple, keep it relevant to your abilities. Before long you could be discovering, despite chronic pain, “where there’s a will, there might be a way.”
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum Medical Musings with Friends. It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
I’m a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women
If you would like to read a little more about my journey, here’s the link to My Story