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what’s in my bag : the chronic pain edition

One thing that’s hard about making plans outside of my home is that it introduces variables which extend beyond my control. You can do all the research you wish ahead of time regarding parking availability, reserving seating, et cetera, but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter a surprise or two. You can even assume you know exactly what you’re in for because you’ve done this activity ten times before, but there’s always a chance the unexpected will occur.

Unless you wish (or need) to be a complete recluse, you’re bound to happen upon at least a few social/professional obligations which will produce anxious feelings as you try to anticipate the unexpected. Preparation and education might help minimize these thoughts, but it makes good sense to be ready for things to go at least a little wrong.

I’ve mentioned in a prior post that I pack pain pills if I’m leaving the house for more than a couple of hours, but that’s not all I bring. Below is a list of what else is in my bag to keep me away from trouble (or get me out of it if trouble finds me):

what's in my bag collage

  1. Essential oils : A few drops of lavender helps me relax as my discomfort climbs. Tension can exacerbate pain, and lavender paired with some deep breathing can help loosen me up. There are also essential oil mixes that ease muscle and joint pain, and whatever mix I’m carrying at the time really depends on my mood that day. Edens Garden is one of my favorite brands
  2. TENS unit : I have used a TENS unit for years and cannot imagine certain situations without one. If I’m traveling or getting ready to walk or sit longer than I’d like I definitely take my TENS with me, and in all honesty, I rarely leave home for over an hour without it. I initially found one on Amazon, but in January one of my doctors prescribed a different model, which was perfect because I sat on mine just a couple weeks before and a couple of the buttons were jammed. I highly recommend anyone with chronic pain obtain a TENS of his/her own.
  3. Water : Drinking plenty of water helps keep my body as happy as possible. So even if it feels like there are knives driving through my hips, at least I’m hydrated! I carry a 17 ounce S’well bottle pretty much everywhere I go since it keeps the water cold, contains minimal plastic, is reusable, and is manufactured by a socially- and environmentally-conscious company.
  4. Kindle : I’m an avid reader and don’t like getting stuck somewhere without a book. I’ve learned that when my pain gets bad, whether I’m trying to fall asleep or waiting at the pharmacy, I can pick up a book and distract myself.

It’s important to not leave home with more than I need and to limit what I’m lugging around, but these items almost always make the cut. I’m constantly reminding myself that there’s very little I can control regarding how I feel, but I need to help myself as much as possible. Identifying what practices can help keep me on the right track and which items may minimize the pain I’m feeling are part of what I need to do to maximize my chances of having a good day. It took a long time for me to identify this short list. What are your can’t-leave-home-without items?



Images courtesy of respected sites as noted.

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