What To Do On A High Pain Day

pain relief kit

I titled this post like I KNOW what to do on a high pain day. What I know is what to TRY:

  • Pain killers of various forms (this always feels like desperation, which is why I only used five of the eight pain pills I was prescribed during the first couple weeks after my injury)
  • Heating pad
  • Herbal tea
  • Dark chocolate (doesn’t do anything to relieve pain but any excuse for chocolate is a good excuse)
  • Bathtub soak with Epsom Salts
  • Take a walk
  • Cancel physical therapy appointment
  • Meditation
  • Nap
  • Acceptance

I’d like to know what I did to make my shoulder throb at a level eight out of ten so I could avoid doing that again.

It could be that I hadn’t recovered from traveling and lugging around a suitcase, plus wearing a backpack, and sitting on a plane for four hours without moving (torturous even when you don’t have physical problems). Then I had some dishes with cooked on food that needed scrubbing and a chopping board that required the same (equals downward force… do I now have an excuse not to tidy up the kitchen?). It may have been something heavy that I lifted. It may have been reaching too far sideways and downward and twisting. 

It was likely a combination of those kind of things.

I’ve been working on accepting that my shoulder recovery will be slow going. I reached a point of even telling myself to not expect recovery before the end of the year. But I still expect forward momentum. I expect my arm to move further each week, and that I’d be able to do arm lifts with one pound weights by now without setting myself back.  

I start to ask myself such questions as will I ever be able to reach my hand straight over my head? Will I ever be able to do the yoga that I had previously found helpful for both body and mind? Will I ever be able to swim? Will I ever be able to use my right arm again for anything weight bearing? How can I possibly stop bone loss, much less build bone, when I am so limited physically in my activities?

Did I mention how scary pain is when accompanied by the fear that my bones are disintegrating and I could break another bone at any moment? 

Don’t answer that question.

I know someone out there is thinking I’m being melodramatic and allowing my emotions to run away with my brain. Be that true or not, it’s beside the point. I’m being honest. 

I’m describing how I feel in the heat of the moment. I’m telling you what it can be like to not know if or when you will recover or what recovery even means. 

But sometimes sobbing or screaming (or both) are the best way to handle pain. And though I always think that the last time I went through a meltdown will be the LAST time, it likely won’t be. 

Coming Around

So after Tylenol, a heating pad, topical pain relief, cancelling my physical therapy appointment, “Cup of Calm” tea, and dark chocolate, I moved on to thinking about what I could do physically on a high pain day. Because not moving is not a good plan. 

I know from experience that even on my worst days, some level of movement is helpful, if for no other reason in that it consoles me that I am not bed ridden.  

So I got on the treadmill and did a few core and leg exercises. I did some arm swings to loosen up my shoulder, which had tightened up — as if that was a solution to its pain.

I took my hot bath with epsom salts, while lavender oil diffused through the air. While soaking, I watched the fifth episode of Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” on Netflix. It was the best episode I’ve seen – maybe because I could relate to one of the writer’s issues with no joy in any of his clothes but major emotional ties to books and papers.

I cozied up with the novella “Every Heart a Doorway” by Seanan McGuire, part of the Wayward Children series. It’s a fantasy, but I’m finding it’s theme of children who don’t fit in and are sent away strangely relatable.  

Today is another day. I’m running back through my list. I’m at the point of sitting with my heating pad, hoping to warm my shoulder so I can return to doing stretches today.

Perhaps that will bring another meltdown. 

It’s a good thing I have a pain aid kit for that…

Similar Posts


  1. Thanks for sharing Maery. Every single thing i can think of to say like “hang in there” is so lame in the face of what you are going through. I hope you find some relief and we are able to get together soon.

    1. It’s a roller coaster ride with good days and bad days. At least it’s winter. I’ll need both my arms for gardening this spring. We should set something up for sometime in March. I’d love to go to the Mad Hatter again.

  2. Hey Sissy, after being run over across my right arm and shoulders by a tractor..I never thought I’d lift my arm up over my head again either.
    I quit physical therapy within a month or so after beginning ( I was in the hospital a few days and 3 months bed rest) , and started lifting tiny amounts of weights at home, very slowly I increased the weight..it took over a year but actually became somewhat of a body builder and loved it. With full use
    of my arm and shoulders.
    So cry and scream when you feel like it..pamper and love yourself always.
    Sherri xo

    1. Thanks Sherri. I’ve heard other people talk about lengthy recoveries and at a younger age. This must be one of those lessons in that patience that I don’t have.:)

      1. You’re right..I was much younger.
        Doctors etc. want you to MOVE but damn it hurts to move!
        So round and round you go.
        But you’re a tough gal with viking blood!
        You’re in my thoughts..always.

  3. OMG! I feel that pain! I also notice how much you get on with things. Good things! My arms will never be 100% but now a year later they are usable and more relaxed somehow. Maybe my arms have realised that it’s OK not to be perfect before my brain kicks in and ruins it all expecting an A + in all things!!! Be extra lovely and kind to yourself xxx

Comments are closed.