Chronic pain is an often invisible struggle. In addition to the physical toll it can take, it can seep into other aspects of your life and exacerbate the stress you’re probably already experiencing as a college student. Through trial and error, I’ve compiled a toolkit that, although far from perfect, makes living with chronic pain a little more manageable.
- Microwavable heating wraps
My two gripes with most heating packs out there are that they don’t seem to get hot enough to relieve any pain and demand to be held for them to work — which is inconvenient when I need my hands to write an essay or flip through the pages of my readings. With this microwavable heating wrap, I can heat it to a level that actually works, while the ties on either side keep it in place as I go about my day. As a bonus, these wraps are often filled with seeds and grains, and I find that, akin to a weighted blanket, the weight can be very soothing.
- Weekly pill trackers
These trackers stick to the side of your pill bottles — way less finicky than those bulky square organizers, and TBH much more fun and satisfying to use. Once you take your medication, you slide the tab next to the corresponding weekday. No more wondering if you took your medication this morning.
- Stop trying to do it all
While temporarily ignoring a flare up in favor of pushing yourself academically seems like an inevitable trade-off, it may exacerbate already existing symptoms. Instead of juggling ten different things until your pain forces you to stop, make time for uncompromising rest and attention to yourself. And I mean, actually block out time for it like you would for a class. Set an alarm. Leave post-it reminders in places you’ll see them. Put it on your calendar.
- Ask for help
Stop trying to do it all, and stop trying to do it all by yourself. Ask for accommodations. Talk to your professors about how they can make classes more accessible. Ask your friends for notes you missed. No, you are not a burden to them. That is literally what support systems are for.