When I’m in pain, I have a little trick I use, when I can no longer count on distraction to avoid it. Put me on a ski slope with herniated discs and sciatic nerves screaming and I’ll forget all about them. But sometimes you just can’t shut out that whining voice saying “I hurt. I hurt.”
Often this happens to me when I’m in bed. Sleep doesn’t come and in the quiet of the night, I become all too aware of the grinding pain in my back and hip, or the burning pain in my gut, or the stinging pain from acid eating away at my flesh.
When this happens, I focus on the pain. I take a deep breath in through my nose – and breathe in till I can’t squash in another molecule of oxygen. I hold for a second and then push the air out through my mouth, until every last bit is squeezed from my lungs, then hold for a millisecond again.
What I discover when I do this, is that at the crest, and trough of that breath, and during the small amount of time I hold, my pain goes away. I can extend these spans of time, by holding my breath a little longer each time.
I’m sure at the same time as I’m doing this deep breathing, I’m unconsciously relaxing the muscles around the pain area, and allowing more oxygen to get to it and help relieve it. I am also putting out a positive psychosomatic message to my body. “I can handle this. This has worked before. I am relaxing into the pain in confidence it will go away.” The positive message comforts me emotionally and puts me in a calm state, rather than building anxiety, which again cause tension in my body.
What generally happens is it only takes three or four repetitions and I fall asleep, allowing Hypnos the god of sleep to carry my pain away to his mother, Nyx, the goddess of night.