Risky Business: Playing the Lottery With My Pain Level
Last updated: June 2018
Living with psoriatic arthritis isn’t easy. I risk increasing my pain level with everything I do. I have to laugh when someone suggests that I just don’t do the things that I know will increase my pain level, because there isn’t anything I can do that doesn’t cause my body to freak out. The simplest of activities such as standing, walking across a room, or sitting are often just as a strenuous activity as running five miles.
Weighing the pros and cons
There was a time when I was terrified to leave the house. I feared the pain that would result from each outing. Thankfully, over time I learned to use that fear as a way to weigh the risks and decide which outings were worth it. Planning my outings, especially those I choose to do without using a mobility aid goes beyond having an available date on the calendar. I have to make sure that I have ample time to rest my body prior to the event/outing as well as time to physically recover after. Sounds easy, but it is not as I never know how much time my body will need to recover. Next, I have to think about how the outing is going to affect my body. Will using a mobility aid result in a lower after outing pain level? Which mobility aid should I use, my walker or wheelchair? Most importantly, how far am I willing to push my body?
Assessing the alternative
I usually need a nap after going grocery shopping. Running multiple errands can result in being knocked down for a day or two. I can typically recover from a day at Disneyland in as little as one or two days. However, there have been times that it has taken me 3 weeks to recover from a visit. There are no differences in how those visits were spent and I used my wheelchair for all of them. That is a risk I am willing to take. The memories of laughing with my friends, family, and Mickey Mouse are what comfort me when flaring. Spending the day shopping at the mall has the same outcome as going to Disneyland. This is not a risk I am willing to take. I would rather shop online and save my energy for something that doesn’t have an alternative option. For the most part, if I can do something from home, I will. This has increased the amount of time I am able to spend with friends and family. I will always risk elevating my pain level no matter what I do. What is important is that I don’t fall back into the trap of not taking risks again.
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