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Putting Pain on Pause

Of all the challenges I face with psoriatic arthritis, the most frustrating is never knowing what to expect. With psoriatic arthritis, it’s hard to make plans because the disease often derails them. There are times that plans can’t be broken and pain cannot stand in the way. On those days, I just have to put my pain on pause.

My daughter is a student at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I love to go visit because of a mysterious phenomenon I call “the Asheville effect.” There is something about Asheville that makes me feel better. I can do things there that I can’t do at home.

Fighting the psoriatic arthritis pain

On a recent visit to Asheville, I was able to go on a hike. It was a relatively short hike but not an easy one. It was exhausting because hiking isn’t part of my routine. But I was able to do it. There are days that I can’t walk to the mailbox at home. My doctors can’t explain why I feel better in Asheville, but I’m not sure if I need a reason. I just need to plan to spend more time there.

That said, I always have some degree of pain, even when I am under the spell of Asheville. A few weeks ago, I went to help my daughter move her belongings home for the summer. She has accumulated so much stuff during the year that she has been in school and it took us quite a few trips to get everything she owns from her dorm into our cars.

It was raining and I was in pain. But we had so much work to do that I didn’t have time for psoriatic arthritis. We were both fighting our psoriatic arthritis pain and a 4:30 PM deadline to move out. We put our pain on pause and kept moving.

Pushing through the pain means more pain

Unfortunately, working through the pain sometimes means additional pain. In my case, I overworked myself and had severe shoulder pain for a few days. By that time, I was back at home and able to properly take care of myself with hot showers, warm pajamas, and ice packs.

For me, putting my pain on pause can only take me so far. My hands are weak so I can’t grip anything heavy for any length of time. My back will go into spasms if I overuse it, even in the best of circumstances, so I tried to stay mindful of my limits during the move. I have nerve pain from my right hip to my ankle.

In addition to carrying out small loads, I found other ways to manage the work. Whenever possible, I used a pushcart. I supervised the operation, finding the ways we could be most efficient. I stayed behind on several trips to arrange the car, rather than walking back and forth with heavy loads.

Listen to your body

Pausing pain doesn't mean I pretend that I don't live with psoriatic arthritis. When necessity dictates and there is no choice except to get the job done, I will get the job done. I'll also recognize my limitations; slow down, listen to my body, and delegate.

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