My pillow – it’s one of the few things I own that I absolutely couldn’t live without. Sure, I have gadgets that I love to play with, and I have a closet full of clothes that make me look debonair, and I even have a fantastic record player and some of the greatest music ever written on original vinyl, but as super awesome as all of that is, I don’t need it to live. I could sit around and read old newspapers all day for entertainment, if I had to, I’m not picky. What I do need, though, are the things that help me avoid pain, and that includes the stiffness in my back and neck that can happen in the morning. The only relief I have found is my in my pillow.
Now, I wouldn’t call it an arthritis pillow per se, but I buy it specifically to help with the constant stiffness that plagued me for months. I’d get out of bed in the morning with a fire burning in my neck, and no amount of pain pills would help at all. Add this to the pressure and discomfort that comes from the problems with my spine, and it would frequently make for a very bad day. It got so bad that I was not able to stand for more than five minutes at a time without excruciating pain crippling me and I’d double over. It was becoming a serious issue, and that’s when someone suggested I get an arthritis pillow to help my neck.
I immediately took issue with the phrase “arthritis pillow,” as that’s not a real thing, but I took my friend’s meaning. If I was having neck issues, then attack the problem at its source, and change the thing that I spent most of the time resting my neck on. So, I did, and it was the best change I ever did, arthritis wise. A nice, expensive, foam rubber, pillow helped to ease the pain of arthritis in my neck enough that pain pills took care of the residual discomfort.
I tell you this story not because I think you particularly care if I use a “neck arthritis pillow,” or not, but to illustrate a rather important lesson that people who are sick sometimes forget. There doesn’t always have to be a long, complicated solution to every issue. Sometimes, the fix is as simple as changing out a pillow.
I know that we tend to forget this in the world that we inhabit. With doctors scrutinizing our every move, and we ourselves second-guessing every little ache or pain, we spend way too much time analyzing and re-analyzing each idiosyncrasy. I suppose it’s just part and parcel of being ill with an autoimmune disease. Our bodies are revolting physically, so why not have our minds revolt as well? When I was at my worst ten years back, before I found the therapeutic value of writing, I remember agonizing over every single little ache or pain that was out of place. I’d even gotten so bad that I began to fear that I’d stop breathing during the night. I tried several different medication switches and even increased my steroid dosage, but it all ended up worsening the situation instead of making it better. After I had reached my wit’s end and gave up all hope, I stumbled onto the solution by accident, and it was simple. I as retaining so much fluid that I just needed a diuretic to help with the bloating. Along with limiting my water intake, it was just what I needed. The solution was simple.
Too often we believe that solutions must be just as complicated as the problems they are meant to solve, if not more so. It’s a logical assumption – if a problem has several moving parts, then the way to alleviate that problem must also have several moving parts. While that’s certainly something that can happen, it isn’t always going to hold true. Besides, there isn’t always going to be a complicated solution available, especially when it comes to autoimmune disease. In addition, throwing more medication at a physical problem isn’t also the right solution either. Trust me, I’ve been down all of these paths, so I’m not telling you these things without having experienced it all myself.
Take my advice, folks. When you hit a wall and the doctors or your parents or your friends are telling you to make things even more intricate, listen to that little voice inside that’s telling you to try the straightforward solution. You know when things have gotten out of control, don’t let people tell you you’re wrong. Sometimes, you just need to buy a new pillow.