Does a Pain Diary Help?
I was asked another tricky question this week. I keep a brief symptom journal, using the Pain Dairy app. I rate my symptoms daily. The calendar uses colors. Green for 1-2, yellow for 3-6, and red for 7-10. Since my ankle injury, I have had one green day. To me, green is when pain doesn't demand huge attention. When I can enjoy time without worrying, or pushing through, or trying to ignore pain, or hoping I get to take a medicine soon. I don't expect smooth waters. Pain free sounds too dreamy right now. But small-pain. Small pain would be lovely.
The question was whether the pain diary might be making me notice, and feel more problems. Perhaps, by paying attention, I created more pain.
Once again, I have control, right? My choices lead me, and therefore I am responsible for this rough road, right? Because, if I chose wiser, I would feel better, right? I could stroll through the park instead of wander this thorny path...
I know it's not that simple. But, still, anytime someone says, "You could do this," or "You should try that," it feels like I am somehow choosing this pain by not living by their advice. And I know everyone has good intentions. They genuinely want to help. So I take my deep breath and consider their suggestions.
Could the Pain Diary be causing more harm than good?
Our thoughts do create our reality. And by validating the pain, perhaps I give it more energy (even though I imagine white light healing throughout the day). Perhaps I tune in, giving it a stronger voice. Perhaps I could distract myself better if I didn't take the time to note changes.
Then again, I started the journal precisely because I felt out of control. I was spun out by constant strange symptoms. My hands, my feet, my fatigue. I felt overwhelmed. And I needed a little power. I thought I could find triggers. Perhaps get ahead of the symptoms. Then I could prevent instead of constantly reacting to flare ups.
And, by constantly drifting, I couldn't clarify when anything began. I went to doctors with, "It's been hurting awhile. Since the holiday, I think, or maybe a few weeks before that." I wasn't even sure if going to a doctor would help. Perhaps the pain was weather-related, or work-related. I had no sense of perspective.
As much as I love distraction, it also leads towards disaster. I find that in Physical Therapy, when she asks how I feel and I say, "I don't know." I disengage from the hurting and the numbness. I detach from myself. With the journal, for that little time in the evening, I reflect. How do I feel? What can I do tomorrow to make life easier for myself? For those few minutes, I give CMT symptoms my full attention.
For now, for me, the benefits outweigh the risks. I barely take time to note troubles from the day, a few minutes at most. I am busy living, after all :). And I remember why I started the journal in the beginning. CMT is a baffling journey. Each day has new challenges. I wish it could be simpler. I sure don't want to attract more pain. And I don't know the answer to this question.
I do know this for sure. Ignoring the pain doesn't make it go away. It just makes the pain louder. Until it's a roar. Or a new injury. I have learned that the hard way.
I know my answer now. For me, it helps. I could see how it could attract more harm, but my path is here to stay. I look forward to a day when I don't need it anymore, when flare ups are few and far-between. When the good days outnumber the troubled-days. I look forward to that day. So so much!
I do also jot down a Gratitude Journal entry as often as possible. So maybe they balance each other out?
I don't know. I just feel this journey gets lonely at times. It's easy to feel lost. Like no one understands. And I wonder, am I making the right choices? Am I doing more harm them good?
And then I take my deep breaths. Rest. Create. Spend time with my family. And realize that we are all making this up as we go along. We all do our best. And whatever tools help us reach our goals of health and happiness, those are worthwhile tools. So perhaps it may not work for everyone, but it works for me.
I have to believe in my truth. Believe in feeling better one day :). Until then, I need to build a road with information and the pain diary helps me collect that information. What do you think? Does noticing symptoms make them worse?
Curiouser and curiouser :)
Wishing all of us a green day :)