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Quality of life

Pain and no sleep

I'm a junior doctor with a complex medical condition, which affects my joints, gastro system and cardio system. I get a lot of pain and often it is worse and or I'm more aware of it at night. 

Some nights if my pain levels are too high I accept I might not sleep and aim instead to rest, to get my heart rate down (wrist based monitor) and calm my nervous system. This contrasts to years ago when I'd ended a desperate sobbing mess thinking how will I cope, I have to sleep I have x or y tomorrow. So...progress! I use several apps including Calm, which offers sleep stories as well as actual meditation. Another one takes you through breathing exercises to help you calm your nervous system and I do see a drop in my heart rate. I also practice mindfulness techniques from Breathworks, such as body scans and progressive relaxation.

The thing that I can't live without is my heatpad, like a mini electric blanket - it is very soothing for aching hips but also can sometimes release spasms.

As well all this I've found things like my snoozle really helpful - it's a small silky slip sheet that makes turning in bed so much easier if you have limited strength or pain in your hips/lower back. My most recent addition has been a weighted blanket. I've found I fall asleep more easily and also have less of the "jumpy legs" I often experience if I overdo it.

I recently discovered that ibuprofen comes in slow release and that seems to help me too. I feel like finding all these helpful strategies and tools has been a process of ongoing research and it's trial & error or luck of someone mentioning something! So many of the things that help me were mentioned in passing by someone I knew with pain or resulted from a Google search when I was in pain! That includes the weighted blanket, also the magnesium spray I use and those slow release ibuprofen.

My sleep disruption is difficult for my partner too as I have to turn a lot on the night. I do seem to turn less now with the weighted blanket though! But also getting up to go to the bathroom or to get on my yoga mat to stretch out a spasm all disturbs him! As he said once on a group holiday "when Emily has a bad night so do I". Luckily yes supportive but it does add pressure for both of us.

Emily, West Midlands

Shift Work and Sleep

I worked as a nurse for 25 years which involved shift work and a lot of early mornings.  I no longer work in nursing and now only work part time in another sector, but I still wake up early in the morning and am unable to get back to sleep I also wake up 2-3 times during the night.

Linda, UK

My battle with acne

My name is Hannah and I’m 23. My battle with acne started when I was 13 and ten years later, although it is much less severe than it was in my teens, it is still something which effects my life very single day. Just as I turned 13 I started getting a lot of under the skin spots, mainly on my forehead and t-zone. I went to the GP who simply told me it was all part of being a teenager and that it would calm down eventually. When things only got worse I returned to the GP who put me on a course of antibiotics, as well as some topical creams. These helped slightly but my acne was still really bad and and the mental side effects were taking over my life. I would desperately try and cover my spots with make up but it almost made it look worse! I felt ugly, embarrassed and there were many days where I found it hard to get myself out of bed. I couldn’t bear to look in mirrors or have photos taken and I would often make up excuses to avoid social events because I simply felt too ugly to leave the house.

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Hannah Rushton, UK