Friday, 20 March 2015

Pain in the Neck

I’ve had neck pain most of my adult life and have learned to manage it, to know what I can do, and what I can’t. I have DDD, degenerative disk disease, and some nerves that are a bit pinched.

The head is heavy, and I find sitting without any head and neck support extremely tiring, and cause for pain. That’s why I love my wing back chair, and why I get so tired in social situations where the chairs available most often have low backs. Even with the high back I must rest my head on my arm as there’s a dent in the armrest on the left side from my elbow.

Last night I realized I only ever read in bed, and that is because in bed I have support for my head and neck, plus the book. This made me think of other ways I’ve adapted to protect my neck.

No heavy lifting. I’m stubborn (I admit it freely) and often used to carry too many bags of groceries, trying to save myself a second trip. This was difficult with the cane so the walker has been great as I just load it up and can tote everything at once. I still have to lift the walker in and out of the car, and it weighs just under twenty pounds. I’m lucky to have a van, and I store the walker in the back, without folding it up as some do to slide it behind the seat. This way I can step into the walker, hold it close to my body to give it a short lift, and basically roll it up over the bumper and in. Lifting it in the folded position would mean lifting away from the body, and more strain on my neck.

I find I need to look at things straight on, so the television is directly in front of me, and if someone is here and sitting on the sofa, I need to turn in my chair so I don’t have to turn my head. This means choosing my seat carefully when I’m out, like always sitting at the head of the table so I don’t have to keep moving my head back and forth.

When I feel the strain in my neck muscles I use my buckwheat heat thing. It’s long and narrow and perfectly wraps around my neck. I put it in the microwave and find the heat is soothing for all those tense muscles. I couldn’t live without it and go to heat before I reach for any other pain killers.

There are many times we adapt the way we do things, to accommodate the changes in our abilities. Some of these adaptations we make over time without any conscious thought, and others we do purposefully to make life more comfortable. Either way, it’s all about making our day the best it can be.

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