Mine is a knee problem of another sort. Sadly today was supposed to be my last day at the family reunion but yesterday I slipped on a tub in my hotel room and twisted my knee badly. I was able to get out of the tub by rolling out and then hobbled to clothes. However, when I tried to get onto the bed and lift my knee a bit my leg turned to jello and I toppled to the ground.
My poor Dad came to my rescue and had the Herculean task of lifting not so little me up onto a desk chair that they rolled down the hallway onto the elevator.
No wheelchair or bathroom mat I could see! Badly done Hampton Inn. The lady was very good to wait for me but I called and told them what had happened and she said ‘I will have someone come fill out an incident report’ and I said ‘could you get me a bag of ice first…(sigh. Litigious world we live in)
Nevertheless, I was in so much pain. Worse than ever in my life. Basically carrying me into the car and then drove me to the urgent care. Luckily the urgent care took my insurance (even though Humana had no one at their call centers for emergencies!)
They were great at the urgent care and did 3 x-rays and gave me a shot, some meds. According to the doctor it could take a while to heal. I certainly can’t put any weight on it right now. I’m honestly very surprised it isn’t an ACL or break because the pain is very strong (although the pain meds do help).
I have been packing the knee with ice 24/7 and resting. Thankful for my family for taking care of me and Sam for giving up his room. In a way it is a good place to have something like this happen because at home I would have lots of stairs and nobody home most the day to help me.
I was supposed to fly home tomorrow but I can’t even have my knee dangling and if anyone touches it there is extreme pain. There is no way I could wedge into a little airline seat right now. Luckily I had gotten the trip insurance and Delta let me get a credit.
I hope Sunday I am able to continue to rest so I can work a little bit on Monday. I’d hate to get too behind after missing 3 days of work this week for the reunion.
Please send a little prayer for me that the pain will be bearable and that it will heal quickly. It’s certainly been one of the most painful experiences of my life. I just wish it was all for something more exciting than a shower!
It’s a real shame because I had been having a pretty good time at the reunion. This is actually not the first knee injury at a family reunion. My Uncle Jim tore his ACL at a Thanksgiving reunion we had in Colorado.
I guess family is hard on the knees and not just from all the praying!
This is a pretty simple post. The last few months I have been getting terrible headaches. Debilitating. Yesterday on Easter Sunday I sat in my room most of the day and nursed about a 10 hour head ache.
I know that some of you have dealt with headaches, so I am curious for some advice. What do you find to be the most helpful? How do you function if you get one? At least I have a job where I can work with lights off or sound free environment if needed but just curious if there are any suggestions that might help.
Sugar seems to help and sleeping. If I have a bad night, which I did Saturday, than I often get a headache the next day. But it seems to be linked to my blood sugar a bit so if I sip a soda or something sweet the pain is better. Has anyone else experienced that? Medicine doesn’t seem to do much to help.
Anyway, just curious for some advice and maybe to vent a bit. I hate these headaches!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
My new freezer is awesome but I also tried out my foodsaver for the first time this morning. I got a great deal and am excited to add it to my garage of culinary gizmos. There’s just something about seeing vacuum packed food that makes you feel like you’re in the future!
I’m hopeful that the eggs will stay yellow with the air being sucked out. I’ve had bad luck with freezing eggs. They get kind of gray and gross. It makes cooking breakfast in advance hard and I hate cooking breakfast.
The limes and peppers are leftover from my last bountiful basket. I hope to use them for salsa and hopefully there will be tomatoes in the next basket, which I am getting on Saturday! My friends Erin and Kate are splitting 2 baskets with me. Oh la la! It is really exciting to wonder what you are going to get and everything has been so delicious the anticipation is palatable!
(Using the foodsaver and freezer supposedly food can last for 2 years! This should save me a lot of money throwing away uneaten food).
I have mentioned it a few times but in recent years I have become a fan of essential oils, particularly from Doterra because their oils are not merely aromatic. They help me with my pain, ward off illness and even boost my mood. I used to have a roommate who was super into essential oils and it drove me crazy so I will spare you a spiel. I just wanted to share a new idea my friend Jill told me about.
With a low thyroid I get dehydrated more quickly so I have to focus on drinking lots of water. My new trick is to put Doterra lemon/lime oil in my water and it is sooooo good! Its so much better than a wedge of lemon or lime. Its sweeter and less bitter than you’d expect. Its really delicious.
On a related note I have found a rub for muscle relief I love. Its called Badger Sore Muscle Rub. It’s one of the only muscle rubs I’ve tried without menthol which provides mostly placebo relief. Essential oils are great but sometimes too strong for use in public. Badger rub provides relief but it smells nice and lemony, not overpowering. The little container goes a long way and at $10 its a great price!
I could easily wear this to work or around town and nobody would notice anything offensive. Its a wonder product!
So I’ve tried to write this post tons of times but for some reason wordpress keeps erasing it.
Here goes again.
Pain- Day 2 of hypthoroid pills has come and gone and so far I am cautiously optimistic. No major side effects and today I actually felt pretty energized. Still have the pain but there are things to feel good about (I have learned to be grateful for a good day no matter what the cause of it is).
I was thinking today of the scripture in D and C 122:7 when God tells Joseph Smith “that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” That I idea of giving us experience is so interesting. Every trial I have gone through has helped me relate to a new person in a new way. It has literally given me experience. (In my new ward I’ve met like 6 people who have chronic pain in some form or another and I can relate to them. My experience gives a connection). Something to think about…
Breakfast- One of the things I have really struggled with is eating a good breakfast. Lately all food looks gross to me, all the time, but especially in the morning. Things I normally like such as eggs produce the gag-reflex. Plus, it means I have to get a pan dirty and chop stuff and I’m tired (you get the idea).
I would say more than any other category, aside from maybe dessert, it is hard to make breakfast healthy. All of my favorite things I can never have- french toast, toast, fluffy pancakes, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, most cereals (the hardest of the list), donuts, bear claws, etc. Any ideas you have for a healthy, quick way to do breakfast that would be great.
I recently made this breakfast quinoa that was pretty good. In the rice cooker 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup water. Then I put nuts and dried fruit on top.
Books- I’m on the lookout for cheerful books. I’m talking fun, even silly, happy books. Not the type of inspirational overcome challenges type of books but just overtly happy books. For example, the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency is bright and funny (Alexander McCall Smith is kind of the king of the happy series), or Sophie Kinsella’s books I really love in this regard. Especially The Undomestic Goddess. Is it great literature? No, but it makes me laugh without fail and actually has a few things to think about on the side.
Food- Recently I came up with this list. What are your top 5?
Top 5 Foods I miss:
1. Mashed Potatoes (Potatoes in general are a rarity)
2. Non whole grain cereals.
3. white bread with honey and butter
4. most yummy breakfast foods- french toast, fluffy pancakes, cinnamon rolls, donuts, honeybuns…sigh
5. Pies and fresh hot cookies (and the cookie smell)
On the plus side of food I am finally getting a bountiful basket! http://bountifulbaskets.org/. It is this organization that combines farmers produce to get fresh produce at a discount price. My friend Kate and I are splitting it and it should be delicious! This is what the baskets look like. Yum and since we are splitting the cost it will only be $20 each including the organic and citrus package!
So I might take boxing lessons! I just found out about this club in Salt Lake just for women and boxing. Looks awesome. I’ve always wanted to learn. I took a self defense class in college and it was really fun! It will be fun to spice things up a bit. Lately in my training we’ve been using the punching bag and I love it! (Get out all that angst!). Did I finally think of something that suprises a few of you’all?
Living alone- So in my new ward I am the only never married single person. Isn’t that kind of amazing? Still, things have gone very well. One funny thing is that everyone is so surprised I live alone. I’m kind of used to it. Its really not that big of a deal to me. Yes, friends I live alone and love it! The only time I wish I didn’t live alone is when I’m sick and someone could go to the pharmacy for me (and listen to my moaning and groaning!).
New Calling- So it finally came. I got called into primary. I was actually quite disappointed because I have loved teaching Sunday School. I will miss the gospel interaction with adults….However, it will be a new challenge and I am sure I will learn a lot. It is teaching the 9 year olds so if any of you have suggestions for engaging that age group please pass on. I’ve heard bring treats from a lot which is hard because I don’t really eat treats but I will see what I can do.
Diabetes- One comment on the Paula Deen controversy. I do think it is strange that she didn’t come out with her diagnosis for 3 years until she is a victoza spokesperson. Seems shady to me. However, I don’t really care about her. The thing I noticed in the coverage is who the ‘experts’ kept talking about diabetes as this horrible awful thing, and it can be that. Never do I seem to hear that it is a treatable condition. I was a borderline diabetic at best but I got my A1C’s down in a year and am no longer a diabetic threat. When I was first diagnosed I thought I’d have diabetes my whole life and that I was going to die. That’s what I thought. I had no idea it was treatable. Maybe that’s just my ignorance showing but I wish more ‘experts’ would point that out when they discuss the issue.
So, there you go. That’s my thoughts on a bunch of issues. The most important thing is I am feeling hopeful in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. Thanks so much to everyone for all your love and support. I’m sure there is still a long road ahead but to feel hope is grand thing. 🙂
So this blog has road the ride of my crazy health the last year and a half. In addition to the struggles of getting in shape and losing weight, I’ve faced borderline diabetes, PCOS, a fall down a stairs, unexplained ribcage pain for over a year, possible fibromyalgia and more. I’ve had a hard time finding a doctor I can trust. Because I was having so much ribcage pain I decided to go to an internal medicine doctor in August. Dr. Ling in American Fork. Between her and her nurse practitioner Sarah Smith we have made headway.
Yet, still the pain persisted. Finally Sarah ordered 14 tests last week and xrays. She said ‘we are going to test everything!’. I really appreciate her investigative spirit. I find this is the rarest but greatest trait in a medical professional. I was going to meet with her next Monday but the anxiety (and pain) was making me crazy and I couldn’t take it another week. So, I called and met with Dr. Ling today. I went in anticipating a ‘all your tests were normal’ response but after talking to the doctor she revealed some interesting results:
Low Thyroid level
Low vitamin B12
Low vitamin D.
(By the way this doctor’s office gives you a print out of notes from your visit. How great is that!)
I had been taking a B12 vitamin but evidently you need to have a sublingual pill for true absorption. This is kind of like a melt-away. You put it under your tongue and wait 30 seconds to swallow and it absorbs the vitamins into your blood stream faster.
I also got a thyroid med and a prescription vitamin D. I had no idea before today that these deficiencies could cause pain. She said the pain meds don’t work very well because its not a muscle strain in the traditional sense. It has more to do with the nerves and endocrine system.
I had also been tested for thyroid problems many times but evidently those ‘normal’ results needed to be dug into more completely. I’ve also learned there are 3 tests not just one TSH/T4/T3. Perhaps that test was done before. Who knows. All that matters is we had results now and we’re trying something out. That feels exciting! (I really feel like I should get an honorary medical degree after this year!).
Even if this isn’t the full answer I just feel excited to have a doctor who is asking questions and helping me figure things out. I will meet with her again in 6 weeks, repeat the tests and see how things are going. As I was leaving she said ‘I hope you feel better’. I said ‘That’d be great but I really just want to know what it is I’m fighting against’.
We will see but I have hope and feel more encouragement than I have in over a year. Still have the pain but at least some of the anxiety about the pain has lessened for the moment.
Will be sure to keep you posted! Anyone who has experience with any of these 3 deficiencies I would love to hear them. Thanks in advance and thanks to everyone for all your support during this insane year and a half.
Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. What a journey! I feel exhausted just thinking about it.
“[Pain] removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.” CS Lewis
So we are still diagnosing my pain and I haven’t given up on finding a solution. However, I have been living with this rib cage pain for over a year and learned a few things along the way. Here are a few:
1. Nobody truly understands your pain but there are a lot of people who try. That is the blessing. I used to get so frustrated trying to explain how I felt. It isn’t really possible. I’ve learned to be grateful for those who try.
2. Sometimes the pain can lead to anxiety, panic attacks and frustration. Nothing wrong with that. Just part of the condition like a cough is part of a cold (plus, a side effect of some meds so check). Be patient with your brain and body.
3. Try your best to keep pushing ahead. The days where I went out despite the pain usually ended up being great.
4. Thank goodness for swimming. No pain when I swim and its what I love. What a blessing from my Heavenly Father.
5. Find something productive you can do during healing time. I have my blog and fortunately my job can usually be done when I’m in pain.
6. Be patient with yourself and just do the best you can!
7. Find a doctor you trust who takes your condition seriously. It took me a year to find a doctor with an investigative spirit. Someone who asked questions and didn’t dismiss me.
8. Treatments are a personal decision. I chose to not take most pain meds and am very cautious with meds in general. I use lots of essential oils and heat/cold therapy and over-the-counter pain meds when necessary. Either way, its your choice but be informed and understand risks. Take friends suggestions for pain relief with a grain of salt. They are trying to be helpful. Usually if you just say ‘thank you’ and then do what you want it is forgotten. On the other hand, be open minded to trying new things out.
Its amazing that with all we know about the human body we still don’t know some basic things about pain and pain management.
9. Stay informed but also know that in the end God makes decisions on pain, and He has his reasons why certain trials are necessary. I like what CS Lewis said:
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
10. Communicating with other chronic pain sufferers (much more than me) has helped give me perspective and hope.
I’d love to hear what you have all learned from similar experiences.
I don’t normally post articles but I really liked this one from the New York Times.
Pain, especially pain that doesn’t quit, changes a person. And rarely for the better. The initial reaction to serious pain is usually fear (what is wrong with me, and is it curable?), but pain that fails to respond to treatment leads to anxiety, depression, anger and irritability.
At age 29, Walter, a computer programmer in Silicon Valley, developed a repetitive stress injury that caused severe pain in his hands when he touched the keyboard. The injury did not respond to rest. The pain became worse, spreading to his shoulders, neck and back.
Unable to work, lift, carry or squeeze anything without enduring days of crippling pain, Walter could no longer drive, open a jar or even sign his name.
”At age 29, I was on Social Security disability, basically confined to home, and my life seemed to be over,” Walter recalls in ”Living With Chronic Pain,” by Dr. Jennifer Schneider. Severely depressed, he wonders whether his life is worth living.
Yet, despite his limited mobility and the pain-induced frown lines in his face, to look at Walter is to see a strapping, healthy young man. It is hard to tell that he, or any other person beset with chronic pain, is suffering as much as he says he is.
Pain is an invisible, subjective symptom. The body of a chronic pain sufferer — someone with fibromyalgia, for example, or back pain — usually appears intact. There are no objective tests to detect pain or measure its intensity. You just have to take a person’s word for it.
Nearly 10 percent of people in the United States suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain, and the prevalence increases with age. Complete relief from chronic pain is rare even with the best treatment, which is itself a rarity. Doctors and patients alike, who misunderstand the effects of narcotics, are too often reluctant to use drugs like opioids, which can relieve acute, as well as chronic, pain and may head off the development of a chronic pain syndrome.
Why Pain Persists
The problems with chronic pain are that it never really ends and does not always respond to treatment. If the pain initially was caused by an injury or illness, it can persist long after the injury has healed or the illness defeated because permanent changes have occurred in the body.
Mark Grant, a psychologist in Australia who specializes in managing chronic pain, says the notion that ”physical injury equals pain” is overly simplistic. ”We now know that pain is caused and maintained by a combination of physical, psychological and neurological factors,” Mr. Grant writes on his Web site, http://www.overcomingpain.com. With chronic pain, a persistent physical cause often cannot be determined.
”Chronic pain can be caused by muscle tension, changes in circulation, postural imbalances, psychological distress and neurological changes,” Mr. Grant says on his site. ”It is also known that unrelieved pain is associated with increased metabolic rate, spontaneous excitation of the central nervous system, changes in blood circulation to the brain and changes in the limbic-hypothalamic system,” the region of the brain that regulates emotions.
Dr. Schneider, the author of ”Living With Chronic Pain” (Healthy Living Books, Hatherleigh Press, 2004), is a specialist in pain management in Tucson, Ariz. In her book, she points out that the nervous system is responsible for the two major types of chronic pain.
One, called nociceptive pain, ”arises from injury to muscles, tendons and ligaments or in the internal organs,” she writes. Undamaged nerve cells responding to an injury outside themselves transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and then to the brain. The resulting pain is usually described as deep and throbbing. Examples include chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches, interstitial cystitis and chronic pelvic pain.
The second type, neuropathic pain, ”results from abnormal nerve function or direct damage to a nerve.” Among the causes are shingles, diabetic neuropathy, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, phantom limb pain, radiculopathy, spinal stenosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and spinal cord injury.
The damaged nerve fibers ”can fire spontaneously, both at the site of the injury and at other places along the nerve pathway” and ”can continue indefinitely even after the source of the injury has stopped sending pain messages,” Dr. Schneider writes.
”Neuropathic pain can be constant or intermittent, burning, aching, shooting or stabbing, and it sometimes radiates down the arms or legs,” she adds. This kind of pain tends ”to involve exaggerated responses to painful stimuli, spread of pain to areas that were not initially painful, and sensations of pain in response to normally nonpainful stimuli such as light touch.” It is often worse at night and may involve abnormal sensations like tingling, pins and needles, and intense itching.
Some chronic pain syndromes involve both nociceptive and neuropathic pain. A common example is sciatica; a pinched nerve causes back pain that radiates down the leg. In some cases, the pain of sciatica is not felt in the back but only in the leg, making the cause difficult to diagnose without an M.R.I.
Beyond Physical Problems
The consequences of chronic pain typically extend well beyond the discomfort from the sensation of pain itself. Dr. Schneider lists these potential physical effects: poor wound healing, weakness and muscle breakdown, decreased movement that can lead to blood clots, shallow breathing and suppressed coughing that raise the risk of pneumonia, sodium and water retention in the kidneys, raised heart rate and blood pressure, weakened immune system, a slowing of gastrointestinal motility, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and weight, and fatigue.
But that is hardly the end of it. The psychological and social consequences of chronic pain can be enormous. Unremitting pain can rob a person of the ability to enjoy life, maintain important relationships, fulfill spousal and parental responsibilities, perform well at a job or work at all.
The economic burdens can be severe, especially when the patient is the primary breadwinner or holds a job that provides the family’s health insurance. Only about half of patients with chronic pain ”who undergo comprehensive multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation are able to return to work,” Dr. Schneider reports.
As for the notion that chronic pain patients are often malingering — seeking attention and escape from responsibilities — pain specialists say that is nonsense. No one in his right mind — and most patients were in their right minds before the pain began — would trade a fulfilling life for the misery of chronic pain.