Tag: chronic pain

NYC Trip Day 4: Rainy Goodbye

Quicker than it probably should have the final day of my trip came on Saturday and while I was sad to see it all come to an end I had the beginnings of a wicked virus, my feet hurt and I was tired.  Ready to come home you might say.

But fortunately we still had Saturday to enjoy and it ended up being a rainy day in the city. We decided to do a bus tour because we figured that would be better than walking in the rain and I wanted to see the 9/11 memorial before I left.

meg bus
Megan on the bus

 

Here I am on the bus
Here I am on the bus

The bus was fun but I wish it had been more of a tour.  There really wasn’t much of one so it was kind of like a wet taxi ride and then to my great annoyance they dropped us off like 8 blocks from the 9/11 Memorial.  It was the 9/11 stop and we had to walk forever and again nowhere in NYC has benches to rest. There is also construction at the site and it is very confusing where to enter and go but eventually we found it and I was able to stop for a moment and pay tribute to those who lost their lives on that horrible day.

9-11 memorialWe didn’t have time to go to the museum but at least we were ale to see the Memorial and then we made it back to the bus and finished the tour.  After a quick lunch my shuttle picked me up and it was bye bye New York!

nycI was exhausted and have been sick all week but it was worth it.  It was a great experience to take a risk, do something different and unexpected, a little bit unplanned which is hard for me.  Everyone at the RHAP Survivor event couldn’t have been nicer and I’m so grateful to all of them.

I am also grateful to my sister for coming up and spending the time with me at my pace.  It is rare I have anyone who is fine walking with me and waiting with me and occasionally listening to me moan and groan over my feet.  She was there just to spend time with me and that was really touching. I’m someone who isn’t often doted upon and it meant a lot to me that she did that.

Overall it was a great trip.  Highlights were the RHAP event, my trip to Soho Birchbox and video, American in Paris and the yummy food. Thanks New York! Hope I see you again soon!

Pain Breakthrough

The problem disks!
The problem disks!

Let me tell you a little bit about my last 3 years…

It all started January 2011 when I tripped on the steep stairs of my Dad’s rental property putting away Christmas ornaments.  Because I was holding the ornaments I couldn’t catch myself and slammed head-first into the wall at the bottom of the stairs.  It knocked the wind out of me and I couldn’t move.

It was terrifying because nobody knew I was down there and I didn’t good reception down in the basement (don’t get good reception in Suncrest period).  When I did get through nobody was answering their phones.  I finally got a text out to an interested tenant who was coming to look at the house.  I told him ‘please come help me’.  Thankfully he did and we were able to reach my Uncle Jon and go to the emergency room.

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2011/01/08/the-big-fall/

Dr #1

They took an xray at the time but it wasn’t a very accurate one.  I was in so much pain I couldn’t lift my hands above my head without literally screaming.  They said it was just muscle pain and I should push it as much as possible for it to recover.  They claimed the last thing I wanted to do was rest, so I worked hard and yet the pain persisted.

Dr #2

My body got more achy as the days persisted and so I went to my regular care doctor.  He was at least honest with me and said he had ‘no idea’ what was wrong.  I felt achy in my ribcage, lower back, and my exercise recovery was terrible.  I would spend hours in bed sometimes after a simple workout.

Dr #3 (and 4)

I was assured by so many people that it was just muscle aches that I wondered if it was some kind of flare up with my PCOS.  I had been seeing an endocrinologist in Salt Lake but I wasn’t very happy with him.  He treated me like a drama queen and didn’t answer my questions.  Based on one blood sugar reading after I’d had candy he said I was diabetic, freaked me out (I cried) and then retracted it the next time saying it was just so he could prescribe me the right medicine (which I hated see Victoza is Evil) I still can’t believe he would make up a diagnosis just to give me some prescription.

Then I found a new endocrinologist that I loved.  He would talk to you for literally an hour.  Unfortunately he shut down his practice because of Obamacare (his letter said it not me).  Sigh…

Dr #5

Because I was feeling pain in my ribcage I along with my back I wanted to make sure it wasn’t something serious like cancer.  I decided to try an internal med doctor and she was pretty good.  We did do an MRI and that’s where we figured out about my ‘healed fracture’ to my thoracic spine. I thought this might have been the trigger for the chronic pain (usually is a trigger for it).  Then we tried some thyroid meds and they seemed to help a lot.

It was actually a nurse practitioner at this doctor’s office that I loved.  She had fibromyalgia herself and so she understood chronic pain.  Was very sympathetic and thorough (we tested for everything).  I also refused to take pain meds because I didn’t want to get hooked on anything.

Well, just as we were making headway they fired the nurse practitioner and the doctor tried to prescribe a weight loss drug and didn’t tell me that it was also used to treat epilepsy and could lead your brain to be foggy and unclear….That was the end of that  doctor for me.  I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t tell me something like that.

I refuse to take medicine that alters my brain.  I respect those who make that choice but it is not for me.

Dr #6-

http://utahchronicpain.com/

In May I saw an ad for a place called Utah Chronic Pain Center.  They said they treated the patient from the inside out and that you got 2 free laser massages to try it out.  I figured why not? I went in a little skeptical but I learned that it was doctor supervised not some hippy mumbo-jumbo.

What impressed me the most was their dual approach. We did all the normal blood work, increased my thyroid meds to a more aggressive approach and started a treatment with laser massage, compression and other techniques.  It was hard but almost immediately I sensed a difference.  I started going 3 times a week, than 2, and now 1 time; however, if I miss that 1 time like I did on my trip to Cali I have serious pain.

In fact, I was having so much pain after Cali that Dr. Luddington suggested I get some x-rays just to rule certain things out like scoliosis. I went to the US MRI and the xrays only cost me $65 (I don’t have pre-existing condition coverage from my job with Poler until November).  Isn’t that a good deal?  We did 4 x-rays and they put it on a cd-rom for me to take to the dr.

back2

Today I went for a treatment with Dr. Luddington and looked at the x-rays.  The treatment went way better than last week (amazing what a difference it makes if I miss one).  After examining the x-rays he showed me how the disk in the lower back did not have the fullness of the other disks and that they were ‘degenerative’ meaning basically they had been flattened by an extreme event- like falling down a flight of stairs.  This had led to the chronic pain.

The good news is the doctor is confident if I keep with the treatment, keep swimming and stretch like I should than it will continue to grow and heal.

But just think what this means for a second- we now know for sure that I fractured a bone in my upper back and hurt a disk in my lower back and yet I kept on training?  How crazy is that?  Who says this girl can’t handle some serious stuff…

So now I’m armed with knowledge and a doctor that will treat me as long as I need (you pay up front for treatment until you are pain free!). I also have the comfort of hearing a doctor finally say

“So all that time you weren’t making it up.  You were really in pain”.

I really was.  I knew it.  I was just waiting to find someone who believed me.

Oh and I also had surgery on my eyes twice during this time.  Mama Mia!

Have any of you experienced this type of injury or related chronic pain?  What has helped you?  I’d love to hear your stories.

And to all you doctors maybe you should treat people like they are real human beings and believe them when they say they are hurting.  They aren’t drama queens and they don’t need you making up diagnosis, prescribing them weight loss drugs, telling her she needs gastric bypass and treating her like a child.  This is not an assembly line no matter how many patients you see a day.  This is 3 years of my life.  3 years!

Have any of you experienced this type of doctor drama?

 

Disneyland Day 3

Some things you might not know about me from reading only this blog- I have hard time being happy (even in the happiest place on earth) when I am A. Tired, B. Sore, or C. Hungry.  I realize this may seem very ‘first world’ of me but there you go.  We are all weak in our own way.

Well, today started out pretty good. I was feeling strong after my relaxed day yesterday and ended up spending the morning alone at California Adventure.  I like spending time by myself.  I like that nobody can hear me groan and I can go at my own pace, eat what I want, do what I want.  I suppose this is slightly unhealthy of me but again that’s the way it is with me!

Meeting the big man himself.
Meeting the big man himself.
At Muppets 3D.  Don't I look Judge Dredd?
At Muppets 3D. Don’t I look Judge Dredd?

So everything was going well and then after a few hours my feet were beginning to hurt and I headed over to Disneyland to meet up with my sister and Mom.  I waited for the omnibus which was taking forever.  Then I decided to take the train and as I was traveling realized I didn’t have my cell phone.  I had to wait until the train stopped, walk back to the omnibus area and it wasn’t there.  (It was also close to 100 degrees plus humidity!).  I went to lost and found and spent time filling out a report with a rather unhelpful lady (and very hard to understand).

I also didn’t know my sisters cell phone number or I would have called her to meet up.  My Mom didn’t have her phone.  Anyway, I had no idea what to do. Then we called my Dad ( I realized I only have 4 phone numbers memorized.  Not good!).  He was able to reach Madi’s phone and she actually had my phone!  I guess someone had found it and called the last number which was her.  Thanks kind stranger.

Anyway, I was pretty stressed out and then when I went to get back into the park I couldn’t find my ticket.  Despite taking a photo of me and stamping my hand they still require a ticket. Sorry Disney but that is dumb!  The whole situation made me cry.

tears
So that’s what I look like when I cry friends

A lot of this has to do with my frustrations over my pain and my unmet expectations of training and working hard on my physical fitness.  I was hoping to have more energy and fun this trip.  It was very disappointing.

So that was the drama for the day (worthy of a Disney movie right?).  Don’t worry though. It got better quick.

A smile back on my face
A smile back on my face

I’ve learned from this trip something about myself.  I like vacations where I can sleep, reconnect with myself and soak in sun (and swim as much as possible).  My Mom referred to Disneyland as a ‘walking vacation’.  Here’s what I now know:  I don’t like walking vacations.  I like sleeping vacations.

My style of vacation
My style of vacation

Good thing to learn about myself right?

So, I don’t want you all to think I didn’t have a good time or am ungrateful because that’s not true.  I did have fun.  I am grateful, especially for my Dad, everyone at Poler and my roommate for making this all happen.  Thank you so much!

Now tomorrow I’m going to the beach.  HURRAY!!!!  I can’t wait.

So you’ve got to keep learning and growing.  Hope you are all doing well.

 

 

 

 

Rest Day at Disney

So I’m here in Anaheim for my first vacation in 3 years.  Yesterday I had a fun day at Disneyland but was pretty exhausted and my feet hurt very badly.  My back had also been seizing up on me.  Normally in my training I can take a day off to recover after a day on.  Walking all day is one of the hardest things for me.  I would much rather swim a 5k than stand and walk for hours.  Strange I know but its true.

I woke up this morning and knew I was in trouble.  I was in a lot of pain and didn’t want to move out of my bed.  Even my new shoes weren’t helping much.  I honestly thought about getting a scooter but that felt so embarrassing.   Plus, I’d worked so hard and was frustrated that nothing seemed to be showing from it.  I had gotten the whole inspiration to get in shape from going to Disneyland in 2010 and having so much feet pain. I thought that if I got in shape I would be able to do better but it didn’t work out that way.

I guess I just have bad feet and walking all day isn’t my thing.  I’ll swim all day instead!

Anyway, I was at the park until about 2 pm and went to the hotel and honestly felt really discouraged.  I was in pain and discouraged about it.  I felt like a failure and a little judged, not by family but by the nameless masses at Disneyland (I realize that is ridiculous but sometimes we are ridiculous!)

After a little cry I went for a swim with my Mom and that made me feel much better spiritually and physically.  Then I said to myself ‘I wish I could have a massage right now, especially on my feet.  Then I said ‘maybe I can?’  I did a quick google and found a service that did door-to-door massages and the price was reasonable.  I made the appointment and they came at 5:15.  It was an hour long and the best massage I’ve ever had.  It was deep and strong but so great.  I felt near-comatose after, so relaxed.

Me in relaxed state!
Me in relaxed state!

Then I ordered thai food and relaxed the rest of the day.  I feel like I’ll be ready to go for tomorrow.  Wahoo! I realized something about myself.  If I’m going to have fun on vacation I need to plan a day on full of busyness, a day off relaxing, repeat.  I think that will be true no matter what shape I’m in.  When you have chronic pain that’s the way life is.

So I may have wasted a day at Disney but I don’t see it that way.  I learned something about myself and had the day I wanted to have.   Its my vacation and I have to take responsibility for having a good time.  That’s the way it is! Live and learn.

 

 

 

Slowing Things Down

I don’t think I have mentioned on this blog I have started a new pain treatment at the Utah Chronic Pain Center.  This is a dual approach of hormone balancing and laser/decompression treatment all supervised by nurse practitioners and doctors.   As part of the treatment I am supposed to remain active but not cause my muscles to be overly swollen, tender or pulled.   This would revert all of our progress.  I am also supposed avoid bending, twisting or sudden movement.  As a result I have moved from working out 4-6 times a week to more like 2-3 times a week.  I have also been a little less intense on the diet; although I don’t really have an excuse for that.

I have also been specifically told by the doctor to stop mixed martial arts for the moment because it is too jarring and too much potential for my muscles to be strained.  I miss it and hope to be back soon but for the moment, the treatment is very expensive and I’m inclined to listen. :).

Here’s the weird thing- I feel great.  I feel energetic, happy, and relatively free from pain.  In all the years I was working out hard core I kept expecting to be energetic from exercise but never really felt it.  All those endorphins were a myth to me, never a reality (and I mean never).  I can’t explain it but I feel healthier now than I have in years.  Hmmmm… Why does my body have to be a freakazoid and not response like everyone else’s!  Can any of you relate to what I am saying?  Please, please share your experiences.

Now I have to get training again soon because I have the GSL swim coming up and I have been woefully out of the water this year.  (With everything crazy for Poler and Grabber I haven’t had time to get to the pool as much as I would like.  Going tomorrow though!).

What do you think of this?  Am I just deluding myself that these behaviors are making me feel good.  I don’t think so.  I really feel good.  Most importantly I am not in constant pain when I breath, move, bend over or walk.  What should I do in the future because I don’t want to lose all the training I worked so hard for but it was making me feel terrible and it never got easier after 3 years?  Never.   What would you do?  It’s like I have to decide pain or fat?

It’s so hard because you feel like you should almost be feeling bad when you are training but usually that goes away after a while.  For me it was a constant bad reaction to exercise.  Even swimming would leave me weak and frustrated.  There’s a limit how long a person can live like that especially without losing much weight.

I’m puzzled because it seems to go against what doctors and medical science thinks for me to feel better not exercising.  Thoughts?  All I know is what my body is telling me and it is definitely telling me to slow things down.

slow and steady wins the race
slow and steady wins the race

Pain or Fat?

So recently I’ve been presented with a question- would I rather be skinny or free from pain?  The answer is undeniably free from pain.   Last year I started having chronic pain in my ribcage and chest area.  After over a year of doctors and misdiagnosis I finally found something that helped with the pain- turns out I have a low thyroid.

In February the doctor put me on levothyroxine and the results were amazing.  My pain was reduced almost immediately.  I can’t tell you what a relief this was for me.  It was like a nearly 2 year monkey was finally off of my back.  My recovery from exercise improved considerably; thereby allowing me to push harder in my sets and train more frequently.

Last week, for instance, I had 5 days of intense training, one right after another. These were no ordinary workouts and yet Sunday came around and I felt pretty good.  A little bit of pain but nothing compared to the overwhelming, almost debilitating pain I experienced last year.

This was all very exciting! On Tuesday I went in for my second follow up appointment.  My trainer had noticed I had gained weight in February but I had dismissed it as one of those things.  You can imagine my shock that I was back up to 284! I blame the medicine because its the only major change that has occurred during that time period.  I was so frustrated.  Don’t most people lose weight when taking thyroid meds?  Naturally my freakish body can never have a normal reaction to anything.  It always has to be complicated.

Basically my doctor told me that the thyroid meds mess up your metabolism in good and bad ways.  Unfortunately they make you super sensitive to bad carbs and sugar.  Now I was not eating much sugar previous to this appointment but I was trying to work it in with moderation.  Evidently with this medicine I can’t have any of it. 😦

Its frustrating because in many ways I feel like I am setting myself up for eventual failure.  Nobody is perfect all the time in a diet and clearly moderation is not good enough.  I gained nearly 15 lbs since I started taking the meds despite my careful eating and training!

The thing is that I feel great! I feel energetic and healthy.  I think I look great.  So why does the stupid scale matter?  Maybe it shouldn’t.  Its just I worked so hard to lose that weight.  Took 3 years out of my life and to see it go away was so disheartening.  Thank goodness for my music because it was the lift I needed this week.

I also get frustrated being on the extreme diets because I feel like they make me super self-critical and over-introspective.  I feel guilty for everything I do, nothing seems quite good enough.  That’s why I avoided dieting for so long because it turns me into this person I hate.  People say ‘don’t diet.  Just make small lifestyle changes’.  Well, I’m sorry but small lifestyle changes don’t work.  I gained 15lbs on moderation and lifestyle changes!

For some reason going hard core is the only thing that seems to work and I refuse to have weight loss surgery. It seems like I’m stuck. Ahhhh! And then I think of that woman on the plane who wouldn’t sit next to me and I remember that so many people still see me as a fattie who disgusts them.  The whole thing makes me crazy and feel so frustrated.  I don’t know what to do but to try with the sugar fast and not give up.

In the end, I feel like I have to chose between feeling good and pain free and losing weight.  That is a really lame decision to have to make.  At least with the sugar fast I can tell my doctor confidently that I am doing all I can to eat right and exercise.  If I can’t keep it up forever well that’s a choice for another day.  I can do my best today and if I still gain what else can you do?

I just have to keep reminding myself that I did not start this process to improve my appearance.  I really didn’t.  I started this process because I wanted to have energy, to do more, to be more active.  I think anyone would be hard pressed to say I haven’t achieved that goal.

If it was the choice between looking a certain way and feeling pain what would you pick?  Be honest! Maybe God just wants me to look like this for some reason?  He’s gotten me to a healthy point but getting below 250 (my dream) seems to be an impossible task. I’ve been working so hard for over 3 years. Maybe I need to try something else? I don’t know but I am trying my best to not feel defeated and to keep trying. That’s all I can do- keep trying.

Still, its been a bit of a downer of a week.  Thanks everyone for your support no matter my size.  Thanks for reminding me that I’m still a good person and I’ve still accomplished great things no matter my weight.  Forget the stupid scale! (or at least try to…Sigh)

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/body-image/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/maggie-goes-on-a-diet/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/skinny-skinny-skinny/

Unexpected 5K

So one of the hard things about changing to the family ward is the lack of activities.  We have not had a single ward activity and only 2 relief society activities.  In fact, the attitude seem to be against activities.  For instance, before one of the relief society activities the announcer reiterated several times ‘don’t feel any pressure to come. Only come if you want to come’.   This is a downer for me because I live alone and need activities to get to know anybody, especially now that they have me exiled to primary. Its not just activities but I’ve missed all the spiritual thoughts, FHE, firesides etc that you have in the singles ward.

Anyway, last week I decided to go ahead and attend activities in my singles ward again.  Why not?  Yesterday I checked my facebook and they announced a 5K in my ward.  They’ve done these 5K’s as a fitness challenge every once in a while and there probably was a lot of build up in the ward but this was the first time I heard about it.

Trying to be super intense this week in my exercise I decided to go for it.  I was a little nervous because the Turkey Trot in November had been so rough on my muscles.  I figured this would be a good test on my improvement and recovery since the thyroid diagnosis, so I decided to go for it.

Before the race

Fortunately I had friends to walk with and it went by much easier than the race in November. I felt energized and good.  (Of course, the race in November it was freeze raining and was exhausted from all the Thanksgiving prep).

At the end of the race. It was a great experience!

Even today I was a little sore but well enough to meet with my trainer!  I don’t think I had realized how much my pain level and recovery time has improved since I started on the thyroid treatment until yesterday.  It is so exciting!  It makes me all the more confident for my upcoming swim (which I am excited but freaked out for at the same time).

I feel like I have finally figured it out after all the junk I went through last year.  I am able to do something like a 5K without being near bedridden for the next 2 days.  I couldn’t say that in November.  Hurray!

Let’s just hope and pray that the progress continues and I am able to keep progressing, hopefully at an accelerated rate from last year. (Wouldn’t take much to make that happen!).