Friday, April 4, 2014

Touch is healing and scary

My father taught me early on the importance of a good hand shake. A handshake should be firm and definitely not a limp fish. That's ingrained in my mind. Now from an arthritis perspective, meeting someone for the first time is nerve racking for me. Not wanting to come across rude, I often grin and bear it. Truth be told, I try to duck hand shakes all together anymore. 
Sadly in avoidance, I have been known to dig for an imaginary emergency in my purse. The ol' keep your hands in your pockets comes to mind. And there's the always popular politely keep your hands behind your back. Probably not the best options, but depending on the day and pain level sometimes you just can help it. 
Germs are my other reason for not shaking hands. Most noteworthy medications used for autoimmune disorders drastically compromise the immune system. Shaking hands is just not always possible. I think a nice respectful head bob should quietly replace the germ transferring painful motion of shaking hands! 

There are buttons and stickers and magnets available that simply state " I'm sorry, I don't shake hands". I suppose that's fine as well, but seems a bit forward to me. So the question is, TO SHAKE OR NOT TO SHAKE?

Touch is comfort? 

It can be when pain is not severe. A hug, a snuggle, and sometimes just a hand on the shoulder. Some believe that healing energy is passed through touch. Others believe that another heart beat is soothing. I believe anything is possible and truly just knowing that someone else wants to care for me is often comfort itself. 
Not necessarily human contact, pets can even be a source of comforting touch and good snuggle buddies. My pups definitely sense when I am in pain. They stay right by my side when a flare occurs ( a blessing and a curse). 

And then there's pain brain (many factors to pain brain will be eexplained this blog) 

I could quote some technological medically correct factoids here but to keep things in my terms. 

PAIN FRENZY- when pain receptors in your brain are firing in so many different directions that your mind overloads. It hurts to have on clothes. Sharp sounds hurt. It hurts to think. It just hurts. 

**For those of you visiting because you love someone with chronic pain, please take note. 

We do not want to be cranky, or testy, or rude. Pain frenzy is out of our control. It does not give us the right to be nasty so a gentle reminder that said crankiness has ensued will do. However, when you see the signs of pain frenzy, you may want to proactively disperse endorphin producing chocolate and back away. 

Actually, some soft relaxing music or the hum of a fan can be soothing. By eliminating other background noises that seem magnified during pain frenzy you are removing a trigger and helping to calm the mind. Everyone has different tastes in music but particularly, I use instrumental cello music or yoga inspired relaxation music. 

Short of voodoo, any method that is legal and helps subside pain frenzy is worth try to me. 

What helps this time may not the next. Don't cut yourself short by only using medications to ease pain. Explore new options.