Freelance & Chronic Pain…
I do not talk about my personal health journey here a lot, after all this is a site about freelancing, right?!
Well, sort of. It is about integrating your freelance life with your personal lifestyle, hopefully, to live better in both.
*Disclaimer: This post is not meant to serve as medical advice in any way. I’m not a doctor and though I have been to plenty of them, I beg you to seek proper medical attention. This post is solely to share tips that I use for myself.
I’m sharing the intro in case someone needs it, but you are welcome to skip the initial rambling and jump on down to the tips (if you have read the disclaimer)…
Ok, I have been diagnosed with everything from fibromyalgia, to gastroparesis, to severe migraines. The severe migraines are what the focus is today, but many of the tips below can help with other issues too.
My Recent Story
This particular spell of migraine, one that has lasted indefinitely, started around three weeks ago and the pain has not stopped since. Sometimes tolerable, yet annoying. Other times so excruciating that it almost took me to the floor. I have had headaches ever since I was a small child, ever since I can remember, as many migraine sufferers have. Sometimes, they are much better, sometimes not. If you are dealing with health issues, you know that people are always chiming in with their advice. They mean well. But, I’m not here to tell you that such and such will cure you migraine in 30 seconds 100% of the time. Truth is they hurt. No tea, cream, massage, or tipping upside down has every helped. That doesn’t mean I will stop trying, though.
This week the pain landed me in the ER for a steroid and pain drip. Not good for you I know. Please don’t lecture me. We had to take drastic measure to break the pain cycle. It eased it, thus my writing this. Sorry for being MIA. I have also been moving, and I’m about to pack up for a trip to the US, so there is that…Whoo- Deep Breathes.
Not the best way to start the week off, but it can only get better from here, right! It happens to be my Birthday week, so I have things to look forward to. My patient neurologist and a kind nurse have set me on my way with some stronger pain meds, so let’s hope for the best! Now on to the freelancing portion…
Running A Business Is Not Always A Basket Full Of Daisies! Freelance & Migraines
Working for yourself, you would think sick days would be easier to take, right? Not always so. You have deadlines, and you are solely responsible for keeping your business going. These tips do not cure me by any means, but they have helped me get through numerous times.
1.Be A First Rate Freelancer For Your Clients When You Feel Well
If you do a great job the majority of the time, clients will be more willing to work with you when needed. Clients are people too and while you don’t want to risk losing the job, good clients will understand. If you are doing a great job, the smart clients will not want to risk losing you!
2.Give Clients a Heads Up, But Don’t Reveal All
Now, it’s up to you how you handle the not so great times with your client. But, I suggest you do not go into the whole story and details of your pain. A simple “I’m really struggling right now, would you please be patient with me while I catch up?” can do wonders.
3.Ice Packs, Heat Packs, Tea, and More Galore
I know, I know, didn’t I say these things don’t really work for me in the intro? Yes, but sometimes these things can still be comforting. Make sure you check with your doctor so you are doing something to make it worse. But, if you do find something that brings a little relief, by all means!
4.Buy Yourself Some Cheer
I’m not suggesting you drain your finances with a shopping spree. That fixes nothing, and will only cause more stress. But, if there is something simple you can do, like buy yourself a bouquet of flowers, then on with the cheer!
5.Work From The Space That Supports You
If you have followed me for a while, you probably know that I believe in getting up, getting dressed, and treating your work from home venture like a real job. But, I’m making exceptions for pain. If you need to work from your bed or couch in your PJ’s for a time. Go ahead. I’m right there with you.
6.Get A Friend Support System
Be careful with this one. I alluded to unsolicited, though well-meaning, advice earlier. Find people who will just say “I’m here” or even “I’ve got this” jumping at the chance to simply listen or help you with things you just can’t seem to manage. Often, no advice is needed, just have people who are there for you during the better times and still during the times when you are in so much pain that you are grumpy and snappy. It happens. The right people will let your bad mood roll off and will understand. One of the best things you can do is learn to ask for help. See “Daring Greatly” on “Vulnerability” below.
7.Don’t Move When You’re Having A Flare Up!
Maybe this one is just for me from my recent experience of moving to a new place, preparing for a trip, and putting in regular work hours all with head pain! But, it has some wisdom for us all… You cannot always control what needs to be done when, but if there are things that can wait, or that you can delegate, give yourself a break. If you do put something off, until you are feeling better, don’t try to rest while beating yourself up about it not getting done. (Yes, I do that to myself! Anyone else?)
*Bonus- Forgive Yourself
Your house may be a bit, or a whole lot, less organized than usual. Your wonderful dreams and goals may be put on the back burner for a while. You may eat more. You may eat less. Your exercise routine, while it could help in the long run, may just not be feasible at the moment. You probably won’t be as tolerant of, well, anyone and everyone around you. Forgive yourself and hopefully others will too. It’s hard. Reflect on the better times. Work on seeing yourself as happy and well. And, if you have to set a medication alarm reminder, make it a song you find encouraging. My next pain med will be taken at 1am to Beautiful Day, U2. It’s going to be a beautiful day, no matter how early it has to start. And, I won’t let it get away.
To quote my dear counselor of years past, “Be gentle with,” insert your name.
You may think to yourself “Others have it worse, I shouldn’t be whining!” And while that may be true, there is always someone who has it worse, that does not lessen or negate your pain. Sure we can send love to those and be thankful that it is not worse, but what you are dealing with is hard for you. Know it, accept it, be present with it. Then, and only then, seek to find the good and lift your own spirits and others.
One beautiful thing about pain, and yes I dare say there is beauty in it, is that it increases your empathy. Not that sympathetic feeling for other’s trials like “oh you poor thing.” No, true- “I’ve been there” True “I feel you and I see you and your trial may be different from mine, but I can almost put myself in your place.” True- “I’m sorry” not just the pity “I’m sorry.”
I know these tips don’t totally fix anything, but they can ease the stress.
I also suggest rubbing a Chihuahua’s belly if you have one available. It does wonders!
The fact is I’m still ok. Granted my definition of “ok” is probably not the same as the definition others would give. “Ok” to me is being able to function with a bit less pain. “Not Ok” is having to lie down in the floor when traveling to another room that is only 3 feet from the last, because you just can’t make it. Too weak. Too much pain. Too little energy for the short journey. And, I’ve been there too.
When I feel great, I’m thankful. I guess that’s another thing pain does for you…helps you appreciate life and the good times a bit more.
Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it. ~Kevyn Aucoin
I hope this helps you my friend…even a little. Hugs.
P.S. Daring Greatly + Vulnerability
I plan to re-read Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown
Feel free to join me!
It’s a wonderful book for pain sufferers. The Power Of Vulnerability. And, if experiencing and/or sitting with someone in excruciating pain is not vulnerable, I don’t know what is! Maybe it’s time for a vulnerability post?
“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both, it’s engaging. It’s being all in.” ~Daring Greatly
May you engage with your life. All of it.
You can purchase the book Daring Greatly on Amazon Here: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead *This link is my amazon affiliate link. If you purchase through this link, you get a wonderful read at no extra cost to you and help support this site. Thank you.
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If you would rather see me discuss this in my rocking Penguin PJs delusional from lack of sleep and too many meds, here you go…You’re Welcome!
Migraines & Freelancing Vlog + Garden Walkabout