Thursday, November 25, 2010

Avoiding stress today: a message from Kathy

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, the favorite holiday for many. Family, friends, food: it's all good. But sometimes stress creeps in when we least expect it.

Let's think about facial pain, trigeminal neuralgia and the more elusive neuropathic (or aytpical) facial pain. Most people don't understand it, so remember this: in your home or group of gathered individuals, you are the facial pain expert. You've experienced it, almost disbelieved it, and you've researched it. It doesn't mean you totally understand it, but who does? You are still the expert in your little group.

If someone questions you today, asks as though you are trying to get attention, take shortcuts, make excuses, or get out of work, what can you do?

Let's consider a basic premise: you are the facial pain expert in your group. You have more knowledge and a better understanding of facial pain. For a moment, let's try to put ourselves in the shoes of those who don't have trigeminal neuralgia or neuropathic facial pain. Most of us remember, at some time, a person telling us about having an odd pain that seemed incredulous. I remember doubting someone's sanity when she described her rare, invisible disability to me. Maybe part of it was that there was no label for it, but I'm not sure I would have believed it if a diagnosis had been discussed. We don't want to entertain the idea that such things are possible.

Speaking of doubts, maybe you have a jaw joint problem? I remember thinking TMJD was just a nuisance that one might have to endure. I had no idea how debilitating the pain could be. Now I know. I understand.

Take solace today in knowing you have become a better person because of your pain. Resist the pressure to do more than you can. If pain is triggered by talking, remember to take some time out. Put in a movie or turn on the parade. Explain you need to give yourself some rest time, and do exactly that. Dig deep into your faith and your personal strength. Don't be afraid to curl up in another room with the family dog or cat or maybe open a book or magazine.

Taking care of yourself is important. You don't have succumb to the pressure of attending black Friday sales at 4:00 a.m. And you can have a wonderful Thanksgiving in spite of others' insensitivity to your needs. It's about giving thanks, not pleasing everyone. Remember this: I believe you. I hope you have a good day and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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  1. Wonderful advice, Kathy! Thanks for sharing this good information.

  2. Great to hear from you, Ginigirl. Hope your holidays are wonderful.