By Liza Zoellick.
Anyone who has dealt with chronic pain and illness has had a flare at one time or other. It might last a day or two weeks but we’ve all had this experience. You may have been feeling great the day before or you know that a particular stressor set you off. Flare triggers could be any of the following or nothing at all, as we are all different.
- Physical stress
- Psychological stress
- Schedule changes
- Interrupted sleep
- Weather changes
- Over taxing yourself
- Medication change
- Common illness
The Flare Kit: Every Spoonies Must Have
When you are in the midst of a flare it is likely you are going to be bed ridden or maybe on a comfy couch with the likelihood of moving between 0-5%. Because of this, every spoonie is in great need of a flare kit. Small kit or large kit depends on what you need; how fancy the container which keeps your supplies is personal preference, but keep one you must. It will have all the things you need to survive a long stretch in bed. Some of these supplies can’t actually fit in the box; they are ideas to have- things you may consider to keep nearby or ways to make your life easier. But go ahead and make a box! I love DIY projects.
- Netflix, Hulu, Crunchy Roll: because sometimes you need to devour an entire season of The Crown, or Full Metal Alchemist to get through the pain. No judging!
- Snacks: Healthy or Indulgent: No joke. From Super Sour Gummy Worms to Veggie Sticks, because sometimes you just need snacks.
- Heating pad, Blanket and Ice pack: sometimes ice and heat simultaneously.
- Pjs or other Comfy, lounging clothing: I live in leggings and joggers.
- Fuzzy socks: ‘Nuff said!
- Cell phone, Lap top, Kindle, Tablet: Because this is how us Spoonies, reach out and touch humanity.
- Soft blanket: This is different than the heated blanket; literally like a security thing. There is no shame in it! I love my soft, grey blanket.
- Essential oils, topical cream analgesic: Two Old Goats, Tiger Balm…these are my friends. And essential oils make me happy. 10mil carrier oil, I like fractionated coconut oil, 2 drops Rose Absolute, 2 drops Ylang Ylang. Massage this into skin during a flare. It helps with relaxation and mental clarity.
- Friend to talk to/support system: Don’t even think for one moment you can do this all on your own and not at the very minimum need someone to just talk to.
- Skype/Discord other chat apps: These are free and safe and if you meet people on Face Book boards or other support forums you can always connect via Skype or Discord and not have to give out personal info.
- Crockpot: Yes lovelies! You can throw everything in there and forget about it and have a decent meal and not do take out.
- Medicine on standby: That means if you are in bed with no intentions of leaving that space, make sure to have all your meds handy right there on your night stand.]
- Pillows: You can never have enough pillows. The more pillows the merrier! I have five on my bed at any given time, all for me. Some are softer, some more firm. It just depends on what I need to get comfortable.
- Coloring books, pencils and markers/other art-n-crafts: These are quiet, relaxing ways to pass the time and therapeutic. Art is therapeutic.
- Cross-word puzzles and word-searches: Because you need to keep sharp!
- Tea (herbal): Having a cuppa is very relaxing. You can pick blends that aid in sleep and relaxation too.
- Easy meals you can microwave: Give yourself a break let the Crockpot rest and if you are feeling so yucky that even food isn’t appealing, microwave soup is awesome.
- Pets and stuffed animals: They are therapeutic as well. My kitty keeps me company and so do my dogs.
- Symptom Tracker Journal: If you do not know what triggers flares, keep a journal to jot down symptoms when you are in a flare and also whatever you did the previous day. Sometimes you can figure it out this way.
- Post-it Notes: I have these everywhere. Brain fog. That’s all I can say.
- Memory Book: If post-it notes aren’t as helpful, a memory book might. You can write down everything and anything you might forget, in however a fashion you like. An example of an entry: Putting the $25 for Sarah’s field trip in bottom drawer of dresser. That way if you can’t remember, you can look in the book. Just…uhm…remember to write it down.
- Freezer meals: If you know you flare up at least once a month, keep some freezer meals on hand, making them on days you feel good or enlisting some help to do it, so you can throw into a crock pot or heat in oven or microwave. If your flares are joyful surprises, like mine sometimes are, keep some money in a jar for unexpected “take-out” days or, still prepare some freezer meals to keep on hand.
I hope this list gives you some ideas. Remember, this is all about you and what you need and what will make you more comfortable and make your life easier. So, make your kit as big or small as you want, fill it up with all or nothing from this list, just make it yours and make it something that will make you smile.
Editor’s Note: If you have some personal “tricks” that help you manage your pain flares—please share in our comments section.
Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness for eight months now on her blog: http://lovekarmafood.com. She is a contributor to the National Pain Report.