Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What if's

I had a recent health scare, which, thankfully, has resolved. I went to my rheumatologist last week, and he took some blood for routine lab-work.Only this time, it was not so routine. My kidney labs were off. I had to stop taking my NSAID's, the category of pain meds I take. (This is the category of meds that includes aspirin, Advil, Ibuprofen, Aleve, as well as a number of prescription strength meds).I had to get my blood retested.  I was only off the meds and waiting for the test results ix days, but it seemed longer, as such episodes tend to do. A big part of the issue here is that without the pain meds, I am in more pain. My whole body felt ornery and irritable, and both hips were downright cranky.
I sometimes found myself falling into the trap of "what-if's" What if my kidneys were permanently damaged? What if I could never take that kind of pain meds again? What if we never got my pain under control again? What if I'm in pain like this when we go on our trip to California? What if...? What if...? What if...?
"What if" thinking has no outlet, and no direction other than down. There is no definite answer (at least, not at the time of the question), so all it does is stir up worry. One possible option on how to handle "what if" thinking  is to take the next step, and ask "Then what?" What if my kidneys were permanently damaged? Then I would discuss with my doctor what the options are, do my own research online, as I always do, explore what meds I can safely take that won't compromise my kidneys further, etc. Once you think it through rationally, it usually isn't as scary, even if it is bad news.
I prefer to take it one step at a time. When I catch myself what-iffing, I politely ask these thoughts to leave, and I find something that will fully occupy my mind, so they can't slip back in.Puzzles or tasks that require following directions are good for this, or anything else that requires focus. I think everyone "What if"s from time to time. When you catch yourself doing it, try to either use it to motivate you to seek solutions, or get involved with anything that requires your full attention to get the "What if's" off your mind.

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