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Working under the cloud

You did read it right, it does say working under the cloud. As a designer, the phrase “working in ‘the cloud” is commonplace as is a very useful tool indeed. I would advise all designers to be using it, that way we never have to worry too much about back ups. But this blog isn’t about Apple’s marvellous Cloud. This is about trying to work and also live, whilst in pain. I've added some links along the way (in green)

I have chronic pain. There are days when its like a big wet raincloud has wrapped itself around me and got into all my joints. It feels like a heavy weight on the top of my head, pushing me down. It makes me sad, incredibly frustrated and cross. I see a version of myself that I don’t really like. Everything is harder to do when you’re living and working ‘under the cloud’.

Most people I know have had some degree of pain, probably because we’re all getting older and starting to break. But as I had the first of three spinal surgeries at 19, I’ve decided I’m qualified to share some of my top tips in pain management…

1. Drugs. Not the sort you cook on a spoon and inject into yourself. The nice kind that the doctor gives you. Although since he's given them to me and I'm all happy and zen like of an evening, he now wants to take them away.

2. Distraction. Going to bed is now one of my favourite parts of the day. But it wasn’t always so. I don’t know if the pain is worse or there is simply less to distract me. I am good at being busy during the day which makes it easier to use the distraction technique. But that’s hard to do at night. I really like listening to a podcast or an audiobook. My current favourites are Frank Skinner and Fearne Cotton. But along the way I also enjoy ‘Do the right thing’, ‘Walking the Dog’ and ‘Evil Genius’.

3. Heat. I like to be warm all the time. Summer is great because being warm is so easily achieved. But in the winter, I sit on a heated pad in my office and I even have a fingerless glove I wear on my ‘mouse wrist’ as it gets cold on the desk. Such a princess. I also have a heated blanket on my mattress which is so soothing to lie on. And because I'm a nice wife, we have dual controls so Mr Jennifer Cooper doesn't get too hot.

4. Water. Whether that be drinking it or being in it, water is just good for you. I love being in the water, it takes the weight off all my joints and that feels brilliant. I find the sea so soothing which is why I’m happy to have a dip all year round. (With a decent winter wetsuit of course)

5. Physio. I have been seeing an awesome physiotherapist and over the last year she has helped me change my outlook on my life. Being in pain can really take its toll on your mental health. Knowledge is power and with that in mind she should be Queen of the World. I work hard on the exercises. There are days when it is easy, but there are other days, like today, when I have to dig deep.

6. Massage. Conveniently for me my superstar sister is a massage therapist and is also good friends with my physiotherapist. So I get tailored treatment and she gets a website and business stationery (I think I get the better side of that deal but don't tell her).

7. Chocolate. Most people laugh at me when I tell them this. I often wake in the night because my back is hurting. I know, its so sad isn’t it?! 😉 Before I reach for my painkiller, I make a cup of Clipper Sleep Easy tea and tuck into some chocolate. My favourite is Toblerone. Its basically guilt free too because there is no palm oil used in a Toblerone so no Orang-utans have been hurt. Bonus. How it works… chocolate is something that I really enjoy so it releases endorphins and they combat the pain. In theory, I should have chocolate on prescription.

If you have any tips on pain management, I’d love to hear them! Please comment below or send me a message...

Just in case you've made it this far through my blog, here's what happened to my back and some MRI images for you to enjoy...

I had a condition called Spondylolisthesis. Its really hard to say and also hard to spell. It means that one of my vertebrae slipped (L5 S1 for those in the know) and it meant I needed a spinal fusion to stop it slipping further. They used lots of screws and some supports, some of which came out during the next few years, some didn't. During the final surgery in 2005 they snapped a screw whilst trying to retrieve it. So now I have one and a half screws in my spine.

Cover image Creator: Kat Smith

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