I just wrote a long reply in a different topic about why teachers, nurses, housewives/housemen (and other professions) are more likely to suffer from chronic pain. I'd like to share it with you in this separate thread because I think it might apply to many of you. Ok, let's go:
Some time ago, one of the pain experts in our team told me that teachers and nurses are more likely to develop chronic pain (including fibromyalgia). The theory behind it is the following: As a nurse and teacher there is a huge pressure to be there for your pupils/patients everyday. This means whenever you are tired or you are having a bad day you are not supposed to show it - you can't lean back, you still have to perform on a high level. You will probably make sacrifices for others on a regular basis. This is very exhausting for your body and your mind. At some point in time your body will develop symptoms to prevent you from "harming" yourself (which means performing your job). There are other jobs like taking care of your family where the same theory applies. This doesn't mean that those who don't develop chronic pain do not care about their family or others. Several other factors (e.g. genetic predisposition) need to be present and then your type of job can be the trigger which starts and nurtures your chronic pain condition.
Well, the big question is, what can you do except for quitting your job? ;-)
The pain expert gave me the following pieces of advice:
- Your usage of the word "no" needs to increase significantly. You are heroes on a daily basis. You take care of patients and the future of this planet (pupils, family). You have the right to say no and protect yourself. It's not that easy, I know. But your co-workers, your family, your patients/pupils, your friends and even your boss need to hear the word "no" more often. There's that saying "everybody's darling is everybody's fool"... it applies to chronic pain too.
- Treat yourself well. Be the king/queen of your world for at least a couple of hours each week. Think about the last month, how many times have you had a couple of hours in which you did something just for the sake of your personal wellbeing and joy (e.g. a relaxing bath, listening to you favourite music while nobody is disturbing you)? If there have been no or only very few and short such moments, that's yummy nurture for your pain condition.
- Reduce the amount of work if necessary but don't stop working entirely (of course there are exceptions to this advice - talk to your doctor about it). Pain experts say that waiting for your body to heal and then going back and doing the same workload is not likely to work because your brain/body will remember the harmful work and it will try to protect you as soon as you start working again. This warning mechanism is the reason why mankind still exists after thousands of years: Fire hurts, avoid it. A lion's teeth hurt, avoid it. Your job or lifestyle hurts, avoid it. Simple but effective. You can't trick this mechanism. But you can teach your body/mind that your job is no longer harmful. For this to happen you need to apply significant changes: reduce workload, say "no" more often, make adaptions to your work place (comfortable chair, go for short walks during breaks, etc.). This takes time, creativity and patience. Once your pain goes away, you can slowly increase your workload. I've personally gone through all of this. I stopped working entirely for a couple of weeks and even months, but every time I tried working again, the pain came back almost instantly. My doctor convinced me to talk to my employer at that time being and to ask him whether I could work part time. Luckily I was allowed to do that. I still suffered from pain during work but it wasn't that bad and I was able to rest in between. Slowly but steadily my pain decreased and I was able to increase my workload. I am not pain free today but it is much better than before. I have to add that I changed a lot of other things in my life (e.g. regular exercise, healthy diet, therapy and meds). The combination of all those things probably helped me to get out of the vicious circle called chronic pain.
Does that make any sense? Let me know what you think about it and if any of this applies to you.
I would also like to know what you've done today which made you feel like the king/queen of your world for a couple of minutes or even hours.
The floor is yours ;-)