How do you continue to function, find joy, or be intentional when you’re in pain and it’s slowing you down?
On today’s show I share my experience living with chronic pain for a year and a half and how I was still able to take care of myself and get things done that mattered the most.
Oh and! Share this episode if you know someone who could benefit from the podcast today. 🙂
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[00:00:00] Janeen: All right, my friend. Thanks. Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. I am Janeen Alley, and today I wanted to share a story with you. I’m gonna be talking about how to get things done with a concussion, and I know that this is something that might seem maybe not applicable to you, but I want you to know that we all experience pain in our lives and we all experience things that make getting things done feel really, really difficult.
[00:00:31] And the reason why I wanted to share my story with you is because I was talking to a woman actually on a sales call who had a concussion 13 years ago, and she was finding it really, really challenging to get things done. And so I want you to just kind of take what you can from this episode, whether you’ve had a concussion or not, and even if you’ve had a concussion, I know that your experience is going to be different than mine. All I can share with you is my story, some of the things that worked for me. I’m not [00:01:00] saying that this is gonna work for everybody, or you need to do it my way.
[00:01:03] I just want you to think about ways that you can expand and take good care of yourself even if you are not feeling well, because as moms this is kind of the way things work is there isn’t there are people around who take care of us. We’re the ones who do a lot of that taking care of other people. Unless you’re really lucky and you have a really helpful partner that works from home and can take time off and all of those things, and.
[00:01:30] My husband is super helpful, but he is gone for 12 hours a day, sometimes longer than that. So I want you just kind of thinking about, okay, h how do I handle this if this is my life? Or, if I know somebody who’s also in this situation, what can I do to be helpful?
[00:01:45] So I had concussion like symptoms actually because I got Covid back in 2021 and I’ve read some articles and things and I’m not the only one who’s had long-term nerve damage from the virus. I think I read somewhere that there’s 25% of [00:02:00] all the people who get the virus have long-term nerve damage from it. I did have some headaches that lingered for about a year and a half, and I called them Covid headaches because they were kind of unlike any other kind of headache that I had had. I had maybe one migraine before in my life, and just different kinds of headaches, but not quite like this.
[00:02:18] And when I was describing these headaches to my dad, who was a physician, he’s retired, but he was like, yeah, it sounds like you have had a concussion without actually getting hit on the head, which is what happens when you have a concussion is you have nerve damage, or a little bit of brain damage when you have a concussion.
[00:02:37] And so what these headaches felt like was, they felt like a lot of pressure in my head. It felt like I was under water a lot of time. Like my hearing was funky. I just felt like so much pressure. Like I was diving really deep and there were certain little noises that would drive me crazy. So I remember at the time I was doing a homeschool group with my son Isaac’s class. And so all a bunch of 13, [00:03:00] 14 year old kids who are like super jittery and stuff in class, you know, like they shake their legs and they fidget with their pencils and stuff like that. And I would just have to stop class and be like, okay, you guys need to put your pencils down.
[00:03:09] Really. I’m really having a hard time teaching or focusing with all these little noises that were happening in the room. It was kind of bizarre cuz they’d never had anything like that before. And then also, um, one of the things that was kind of weird, For me, with the way that I was experiencing this was I had a really hard time with the light and dark contrast at nighttime with like traffic lights against the blackness.
[00:03:34] I, I got covid in February, so less than a year later, you know, Christmastime and that contrast between Christmas lights and dark just, I couldn’t be in the car. I’d have to drive around at night with my eyes closed. I mean, I wasn’t driving, of course, somebody else would have to drive, but it was just really, really challenging for me to drive.
[00:03:54] And because of the things that I was experiencing, one of the things that I knew that helped me out was going to [00:04:00] bed really early and sometimes I was in bed by six 30 or seven o’clock at night because my room was quiet. Sometimes I’d read, sometimes I’d just lay there in the dark and that felt really good to me.
[00:04:11] It was very rejuvenating to me. and it’s hard to do that, you know, when you’ve got kids to take places and different things. And fortunately I had kids that were old enough to drive places and that was really helpful. But I, I actually didn’t really even realize what was going on until almost eight months after I had the virus.
[00:04:31] I just couldn’t figure out what was going on. And I, I have to admit, I don’t ever get sick. It’s so going to the doctor for me is like, really, I don’t have time to go to the doctor. So anyway, I know that the virus affected people differently, and that was just the way that it, it affected me.
[00:04:50] And like I said, I, I don’t think I’m alone in that because I had read other articles that talked about people experiencing this long term nerve damage as [00:05:00] well. But I still had to function, like I said, as moms, we still have to function even when we’re in pain. And so I still needed to show up for my clients.
[00:05:06] I was still coaching, I was on a computer a lot of the day because my job is all online. And I know that that kind of blue light coming in is highly stimulating. It’s a lot of sensory input through my eyes, right? I did a wellness retreat in the middle of all of that, even having people here and putting on an event for three days.
[00:05:25] I still was teaching yoga. I was still, of course showing up for my family and my kids. I was still making dinner. I was still running in my household. Like all of that stuff still had to happen. And fortunately, I was able to to do a few things in my life that have removed these long-term symptoms from my life.
[00:05:40] But I wanted to chat with you all about how to function when you are experiencing something that feels really debilitating like that. So like I mentioned, this podcast was kind of inspired by a woman that I was chatting with, but this podcast is, is for anyone else that might be in a situation where you’re in pain, or where you’re [00:06:00] struggling to function. Okay. I don’t wanna get into any
[00:06:03] covid conversations. That is something that I have definitely not engaged in at all with people just because I know that that is kind of a, a highly charged, maybe less so now than it used to be, but, it’s not, it’s not really up for debate about how that happened or anything. I’m just telling you what my experience was.
[00:06:20] So what did I learn from my experience? more importantly, what can you do if you’re in a similar situation? I know, like I said, it’s super tough when mom gets sick or is out for a long time due to illness and sometimes we have somebody who can step in and help, and sometimes we don’t.
[00:06:36] Sometimes it’s just us. And I know that the division of labor is really different in every single home, but what can we do? So I’ve got actually four things that I wanna share with you, that might help you in the situation that you’re currently in.
[00:06:48] So the first one is don’t give your power away to your circumstances. So in this case, it was these concussion like symptoms that I was experiencing. So anytime you have a diagnosis or if you’re experiencing symptoms like I [00:07:00] was. All of that is gonna go on your circumstance line in your model. So it’s not saying that you keep doing all the things that you’re currently doing.
[00:07:07] That is not what I’m saying. But what I’m saying is your diagnosis, if you’re diagnosed with cancer or if you’ve got like a knee injury and you have to have surgery, whatever that is, that’s gonna go on your circumstance line. And I know that you’ve got plenty of thoughts about it. I totally know, but for all intents and purposes, your diagnoses or your symptoms are gonna go on your C line.
[00:07:28] It just makes it super clean. This is what I’m experiencing, or this is what is happening to me right now in my life. and true to form, a lot of circumstances are outside of our control. Right. Whether we get sick or not, those things are outside of our control, which a lot of circumstances are.
[00:07:44] So this is just really good practice to put something on your C line that might be challenging for you. so the next thing that I wanna say is I totally understand that you don’t feel a hundred percent. It’s not helpful to spend all of your time pining for days that you felt better. Okay. It’s [00:08:00] not helpful for us to sit around and throw ourselves pity parties. In other words, okay. We all like to play the victim card once in a while, and if you need to cry about it for an hour, you totally can, but get right back to what’s happening right now in this moment, with your current situation with your current circumstance, .Because this is life. Sometimes we experience pain and it totally sucks, but what makes it harder is wishing life were different than it is. I should feel good or I wanna feel good, or my life shouldn’t be this way. How do those thoughts feel when you think those things?
[00:08:36] We get depressed. Right? And I’m not saying this to be callous, I’m just saying this from my own experience. So one of the things that really helped me is thinking, okay, so I’ve got this headache. So now what? That is a really powerful coaching question that I like to ask myself from time to time.
[00:08:52] So now what? Now what are we gonna do? It kind of puts you in the present moment, looking into the future. Now what are we going to do? This is hard. [00:09:00] So now what? How do I wanna show up now? Maybe not happy, but maybe curious, maybe grateful, maybe content. Like I could get myself into all of those emotions even when I was having a headache.
[00:09:15] Okay, now, The second tip that I have is you want to set limits with yourself. So no one else is going to understand how you feel and they don’t need to in order for you to take care of yourself. Okay, I’m gonna say that one more time. No one on the planet is gonna understand exactly how you feel because they’re not you.
[00:09:35] But they don’t need to in order for you to take care of yourself. So I got a headache probably five outta seven days each week, and by four 30 in the days that I had headaches, I was in a lot of pain because just like with all concussion things, the longer that you get exposed to stimuli during the day, the harder it is for your brain to kind of catch back up again to a more neutral state, I guess.
[00:09:59] [00:10:00] And so the longer I was going, the more that pressure started to build up in, in my head. So fortunately I had done enough coaching that I was still pleasant with my kids and they didn’t really notice a really big change in me actually, unless I said something like, you know, I, I need you guys to kind of quiet down a little bit because my head is hurting.
[00:10:19] And I think because I was really nice to my kids, I don’t, I don’t think that they believed me when I told them that I was in pain. And that’s okay. When I asked them to be quiet, It might last for a minute or two and then they’d get loud again. And I have a rowdy crew. I totally know that my kids get excited and they have a lot of fun, and they laugh together and it’s, and it’s a party.
[00:10:40] And so I knew that they weren’t being loud to bother me. I knew that they weren’t being loud to be disrespectful. I knew that. And so a lot of nights I just slip away and head to my room and I wasn’t resentful and I wasn’t angry. I just knew what my limits were and I was totally able to take care of myself.
[00:10:57] I didn’t expect the people in my house [00:11:00] to do things differently for me. Now that might not be your situation, and I understand that, but that was something that I had to learn how to do and that was really helpful for me. Like I said, I knew my limits and if I stayed up to be with them and laugh with them, I’d end up in a lot of pain by nine o’clock at night.
[00:11:22] So it’s one of the reasons why I was in bed so early is because my brain had just had enough. So let me just give you an example of this. I remember, this was December, 2021, and it was our big like homeschool bonanza or whatever, and I had been teaching a class, Isaac was in my class, and this was the night that the kids would get together and kind of showcased their work for the semester.
[00:11:46] It was just a really fun night. We’d have a dinner together and it was just fun to kind of celebrate how much the kids had learned and all the things that they were doing from the semester. And so we were driving out there and of course it’s dark outside and [00:12:00] I’m at the point where I’m almost nauseous from the pain and I just, I wanted to be there because I was one of the teachers and I wanted to be with my group, but I was just really hurting.
[00:12:10] And so we got about halfway out there and I just had to call it, I’m like, man, I, I need to go home. And it was a bummer cause my whole family was in the car. And I knew that my kids wanted to see their friends, and I wanted to be there for my students. And it was just something that I was just kind of really, really bummed to give up. And I had to call people and let them know that I wasn’t coming.
[00:12:28] But the thing that I’ve learned is if you need help, you need to ask for help. You can’t expect people to read your mind. And so hopefully you have a few go-to people for you in your life, whether it’s your spouse or a really dear friend, or maybe you have some older kids, and if they’re not willing to help, then set up your life around your limitations so you don’t do things that put you in a place where you’re struggling.
[00:12:54] Okay. The third thing is you really need to ramp up your self-care. [00:13:00] So there are things that you need to say no to as far as where your limits are, but there’s also things that you have to say yes to, which means you need to make room for them in your life and as busy moms I know this is really, really tough to do, but truth be told, we do it all the time. Right. If one of our kids gets sick and ends up in the hospital, we drop everything and we’re there with them in the hospital. Right. I want you to think about this kind of in the same way that you think about taking care of somebody else.
[00:13:28] With concussions, one of the things that’s most helpful, of course is rest, right, needs to be quiet, needs to be really dark. You need to really cut out that extra stimulation, and this can be hard to do with a usually really full life, right? I was living a very full fun, sometimes fast paced life,
[00:13:46] and what I needed to do was I needed to create these little pockets of time during the day where I could rest. And that might be like a 15 to 30 minute interval where I was just in my room. Of course, no phones because phones are stimulating, right? But it was just really [00:14:00] quiet and sometimes it was really boring and I would just be there resting.
[00:14:04] And if you guys know me personally, I hate resting. It’s not my favorite thing unless it’s like, Intentional rest. I love that. But I hate forced rest like this. I’m like, oh, it’s like the last thing I wanna do, right? Sometimes I could read a book, sometimes I could listen to a podcast, but sometimes even those things were too much for my brain.
[00:14:27] And so sometimes I just have to lay there and just lay there and I don’t like sleeping in the middle of the day, cuz then it kind of messes up my sleep. So, that was tough, but this was something that I made mandatory and I kind of would think about it as setting my future self up for success. If I don’t take the time now, then I’m gonna be hurting at five 30 or six o’clock tonight.
[00:14:46] So I need to be resting now so that I have time later and I have the mental bandwidth later to be able to take on, you know, the things that my kids are doing and having dinner with them and, [00:15:00] and engaging in the way that I wanted to. One of the things, like I said, is I had to stop telling myself I don’t have time to rest, because like I said, it’s what’s interesting is we make time for things like this for ourselves
[00:15:19] when it feels big, you know, like a cancer diagnosis unfortunately, or a surgery or you know, an environmental catastrophe. It’s amazing what we are able to create time for when we shift the way that we’re thinking about it. And of course, those things are like not amazing experiences to live through for sure, but we do it.
[00:15:41] So what I want you to see though is that we do have time for things. Okay. You do have time for you. And I know that it’s hard, but so is chemotherapy and so is crutches, and so are other things that people live through that they are forced to make time for. Okay?[00:16:00] The last thing that I wanna say is if you’re in pain and you’re not exactly sure where your pain is coming from, keep seeking. One of the things that was so challenging for me with this is I had these kinda leftover symptoms from the virus.
[00:16:12] I wasn’t experiencing anything else, and I hadn’t experienced headaches before, but I experienced the same kind of headache that I had when I had all the other symptoms. When I couldn’t taste and I, I couldn’t smell and my back really hurt and I was just really sick. This was the only thing that kind of stayed with me moving forward into the future, and I just was so confused by it and I just kind of kept like pushing it away like, oh, this isn’t a big deal.
[00:16:37] This isn’t a big deal. This isn’t a big deal. Until I’m like, you know what? It is a big deal. This is actually becoming a problem, like a big problem. And so I talked to my dad, and I talked to my friend, and I talked to my massage therapist, and I talked to a lot of different people, and I am really open to a lot of different things.
[00:16:55] I love modern medicine, but I also love a lot of alternative ways [00:17:00] of taking care of myself and healing myself. And fortunately, I was able to come across something that did the trick for me and, and helped me to feel so much better. And I’m not saying that this is the answer for you is to find things like this, but I was willing to try.
[00:17:15] And I think that that is what helps us to get the answers sooner than later, hopefully, is we’re open to receiving information. I think that we are guided and led and directed to answers that help us if we’re actively seeking and praying for something that is gonna work. So I want you to know if you’re in pain, you are not alone for sure.
[00:17:38] And there are ways that you can be gentle with yourself and take care of yourself and still show up in your life. Even if you’re unable to do things. You’re still able to show up in life with joy and intention and purpose. And so that is what I want to share with you guys today.
[00:17:56] If you have somebody that you’re thinking about right now that could benefit from this [00:18:00] podcast, I’d love it if you shared it with them. This is something that I wish I had known actually from my experience, but it’d just been nice to hear that I wasn’t alone in the things that I was doing and and experiencing.
[00:18:11] Cuz it did, it felt like, what in the world is going on? I’ve never heard of anybody else in this situation. And so if someone’s coming to mind, just share the podcast with them and hopefully there’s some things in here that can help them. And that’s it. I hope you guys have a beautiful rest of your week and we’ll catch you guys next week.
[00:18:29] We’ll see ya. Bye.