Am I in pain?

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     This was asked by my primary care physician after the first eighteen months of parenthood. It  was not the reason for my visit but she said you look different is everything okay. I said sure you know just new parent stuff. She says…eighteen months later is not new parent stuff. Tell me more. Are you in pain daily? What is going on? Now let me say I had this doctor for several years prior to even getting pregnant. In fact she is the one who referred me to infertility specialist and told me not to give up. Pretty safe to say she knew me pretty well. 

My answer was no. not really. I mean..what kind of pain are we talking about? I am not in the same pain I was in labor. That I can’t get comfortable no matter what I do everything just hurts pain. I wasn’t in the pain after delivery when they had to massage my uterus( read hot stabby knife pain). Nope not having any of that. She said well lets start with sleep, whats your sleep pattern like?  Um, I wake up pretty much every hour and half. Not because the baby is awake I just wake up I don’t know why. So she says muscle wise how are you feeling? oh they ache and pull easily. Energy? zilch. Thus began my journey. This was the first time I had thought maybe there was something else going on. My therapist had been the one to suggest I go in for an actual physical and not just a routine check up. It was a really good idea.

I saw a rhuematologist and eventuallly several pain management doctors and even a gastroenteroligist. All helping me define the different areas of pain. The joint pain and the bone pain , the actual makes me clinch my jaw because it hurts pain and the grumpy gut pain of IBS. It was all new territory to me. I spent hours reading medical articles.

I started journalling my pain issues and my rhuematologist whom I love suggested some alternative methods.I advocate that people explore these. I found for the most part they are great for temporary relief. However the chronic fatigue that I find myself in from functioning with high levels of pain makes them very tiring. Chiropractic adjustment , accupuncture, Herbal supplements all helped me,for a bit. I found I no longer enjoyed going to them as it was just one more thing in my daily routine to function through.

                 I tried massage and again that worked well. The problem with massage is finding the right therapist. Not only one whom you like but who understands your conditions. Unfortunately the one I went to that I absolutely adored retired. She would never let me tell her what hurt. She told me my body would tell me and she would go from there. I can say it never once failed her. Not only that she knew with in minutes if something wasn’t working and would switch. I began to look forward to my twenty minutes on friday. It took some trial and error but I could only stand about twenty minutes before it was too much. More trial and error stuff. She remarked one time about three months into seeing her that she knew I had the truest form of fibromyalgia because where my muscles needed attention varied every single time she worked on me. She was also the one to teach me the value of meditation. Even while doiing things like taking a shower or even doing the dishes.  We would do the two together sometimes and man after that I felt like I could take on the world.

   There are so many types of pain. There is the dull achey muscle pain. Sensitive to the touch skin pain, Nerve pain, of white hot daggers moving through you, areas of numbness,tingly, and a bad sunburn feeling. A pulled muscle feeling of pain, stiff joints that don’t want to move at all pain. The wibbly wobbly jelly not feeling steady on your feet pain.  None of these are easy to describe to someone else let alone a doctor. This is where I would spend hours researching what the pain is called in the medical field and how to accurately describe it to a doctor. 

      I really wasn’t a pop a pill and move on kind of person. I tried all kinds of variations of the above stuff. It took me two years to reach the point that i started asking for medications. It took another two years before I asked for some pain medication of some kind. I remember going to that same primary care doctor and I remember her saying this isn’t working. I said I just need something to let me not feel for a bit. I can’t say the choices in medications was the greatest. It was however my choice and the ones I asked for and we discussed why i wanted that particular medication. It did give me about a month of just not feeling. I was able to function and felt better. Then it stopped working like that and it did give my asthma a break and my joints a cushion so we continued. We continued for alot longer than we had anticipated and this is the first time my allergies have been able to flare my asthma in a long long time.

So when people ask how my pain is, I have gotten pretty adept at lumping it. I try not to analyze any one area too much and give it attention. Once I give it attention its harder to just push on. I don’t often think about what particularly  is bothering me that day. If I give it attention it whines. It starts saying hey hey hey you I am here. 

We just learn to push past that and focus on what needs to be done. Get up, get dressed,take meds, pack lunchbox for kid, get kid to school. I have gotten pretty good at focusing on the RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE aspect of life.

I spend alot of time thinking the details of the day. Okay I am leaving to take kid to school, lunchbox, check, car keys, check , purse, check, homework, check. am I coming right back or will I be home in time for meds. If not then I need to toss meds in my purse so i can take them. 

I also find myself paying more attention to planned ahead events. For instance we are going to an air show. I should have rested the afternoon at least and been very low key. Unfortunately I was not able to do that. Thus I know by Monday, I will be starting to flare. So I have to look at the rest of the week and see if I need to cancel anything and when I can schedule time to just be mellow. To sit outside reading while the kid plays with the dogs. 

Now when people ask my if I am in pain Its more like, yes but today is a good day. Sometimes it is Yes and today is a really bad day.  Short and sweet because the truth is, very few people want to hear it all. Then that brings on a whole other set of problems. 

 I don’t want the attention.. Sometimes its better to just avoid the subject with me. I am here I am functioning I am surviving. Lets not talk about it and just push on. Just let me keep my illusion of functioning. If not for me then for my daughter. Most of the time that is when I am pushing myself the most anyway.I don’t want her to feel like she is missing out on stuff because her mommy is sick. If she does miss out on stuff it should be because she lost the privileged either through poor choices for behavior or grade issues. Let her be like any other kid in this aspect. 

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 This is the mom image I want her to have. Even though here she is just a few weeks old and I still had weight to loose but my level of pain was still fairly within normal for a new parent. I want her to look back and see a mom who was involved. Who was always there for her, doing things with her.  Being there for her , not stuck in bed. Some days when the pain is bad it kills me that she can see it.  

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One response »

  1. I chanced upon your “journaling” as I was looking up a pain scale. This particular entry hit me like a dagger to the heart as it IMMEDIATELY took me back 23 years to when my daughter was weeks old and I had the EXACT SAME THOUGHTS!!! At 3 1/2 years old it was not uncommon for her to come home from nursery/pre-school with my husband & climb onto my bed saying that today instead of going to the park (which was 4 blocks from our home), she’d rather let mama have some nap time while she read me stories. Here I was with my beautiful curly haired daughter whom I knew would jump at the chance to run all the way to the park and instead she was quietly holding my hand so her mama wouldn’t have any more pains as she told me about her day & then proceeded to read to me for the next hour or so… Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was a particular favorite. On particularly bad days, I’d feel a little hand on my forehead with the softest touch until at times I could even drift off to a quiet little voice saying “Daddy, my fingers made magic on mommy’ s forehead and I made the pains stop enough so she could sleep!!” Best medicine in the world!
    She’ll be 23 later this year and we still do snuggle time on my bed though now half the time she’s showing me stuff on the Internet and I don’t have a clue what 65% of it is but it’s worth it to hear my daughter giggle herself silly.
    I’m off to PT where of course they’re going to ask me my pain level… After 23+ years of being mired down in this- here’s my ? to them… How am I supposed to even figure it out anymore? I don’t mean it to be rude, but seriously I don’t think my body even knows what a 5 is anymore on the happy/not-so-happy face scale & I don’t think I’m crazy thinking that…but of course it takes too much energy to explain to people who just want a number to fill in a space on their computer form.
    I suppose that leaves me with a 5 today.

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