Thursday, October 23, 2014

More Pain Means Less Everything Else

I've been living with more chronic pain lately and it's starting to show.

My mother-in-law called the other day and asked my hubby, "Why hasn't Selena posted on her blog lately?  Is she OK?"  She wanted to talk to me, but I was in the middle of a task, so I asked if I could call her back.

That gave me time to really ponder her question.

The truth is, I've been in a fibro flare-up for over 18 months now.  I know how it started -- being involved in a car accident last year.  Because getting into any kind of accident when you have chronic pain is probably one of THE worst things that can happen to you.

But then I realized the chain of events that has kept my flare-up going since then.  Things like:

  • ongoing dental work, in the form of crowns and root canals, that is causing me more pain. It seems like every 6 months I need another dental procedure! Next up...another root canal.
  • an increase in doctor's appointments, which are using up a lot of my available energy. But I feel the visits are an important part of my "get better" plan.
  • participating physical therapy, which unfortunately is increasing my pain and fatigue in the short run.  I am hoping that if I stick with it, it will be helpful to me in the long run. *fingers-crossed*

And let me not forget my post-accident anxiety about being in a car.  I am really paying attention to how other people are driving now and it is downright scary sometimes. I'm working on being less hyper-vigilant, but in the meantime, a ride in the car can be quite draining.

Here are some of the other things that a severe pain flare-up can do to us:

1) Any increase in severe pain mean you have less of everything else: less energy -- physical, mental and emotional, fewer good days, a decreased ability to leave the house, run errands and go places, and a diminished capability to get things done. 

2) Any time you have an increase in severe pain, you are forced to cut back on all your activities -- physical, mental and emotional.  The longer the duration of your increased pain, the more you cut back.

3) Deconditioning can be the result of a prolonged reduction in physical activity due to an increase in severe pain. Deconditioning is defined as:
...the loss of muscle tone and endurance due to chronic disease, immobility, or loss of function.
Deconditioning becomes another challenge to overcome on your path to recovery from a severe flare-up.

4) Ongoing pain flare-ups increase the other symptoms associated with your particular chronic pain disorder.  For me, this means more fibro fog, more painsomnia (pain-related insomnia), more fatigue and more numbness and tingling in my arms and hands.

So why haven't I been blogging more lately? 

Clearly my increased pain, fatigue and fibro fog all play a significant role.

But it is also my conscious choice to spend more of the energy I do have on the things that have the potential to help me get better in the long run, like treating my dental pain, seeing my pain management doctor and doing my best to participate in a gentle and graded physical therapy program. Because I want to get back to my baseline, to be a 30 out of of 100 again.  I've been more of a 20 for the last 18+ months and frankly, I'm not happy here.  (See the scale I am referring to here. )

I want to get back to container gardening, crafting, gaming and doing more of the things I used to be able to do a regular basis.  That includes achieving my goal to consistently blog and write too.

So while most normal, healthy people might recover from a car accident in 6 to 8 weeks, the simple fact is, for someone like me living with fibromyalgia, it takes more like 60 to 80+ weeks to recover.  It's the proverbial situation of "adding insult to injury."  When you live a life with chronic pain and/or chronic illness, it just takes more time to bounce back from any added severe stress, injury or trauma.

But I will get there, I promise you and I promise myself.  It is just going to take more time, energy and patience. What keeps me motivated?  Looking forward to less pain meaning more living my life.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

GRAPHIC: You can live with chronic illness and be...

You can live with chronic illness and be happy
or you can live with chronic illness and be angry.
Either way, you're still going to be living with chronic illness.
(Click on image to enlarge.)

I have been struggling lately with more symptoms than usual.

First I got some nasty stomach virus on Mother's Day that landed me in the ER with uncontrollable vomiting and the need for IV fluids and anti-nausea medications.

Then, a week later, a very nasty pain flare-up began. I've been living with a higher than normal pain level and numbness and tingling in my right hand for the last 5+ weeks.  Yesterday I went for an EMG and nerve conduction study.  Hopefully it will shed some light on whether I have a pinched nerve and where exactly it is being pinched: my elbow, my shoulder or my neck.

Between all the pain and other symptoms, the medications I have been taking to manage my pain and fatigue from being in more pain, I haven't been posting here or on the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page. But I have been thinking about how much I miss regular blogging and what a struggle it has been to get back into a regular posting groove.

But I will do it.  I will get there....eventually.

For today, I offer this graphic I created which illustrates my philosophy for living my life with chronic illness.  This is my secret, my tool for making a real life possible despite chronic illness.

I've been trying to explain this concept to a healthy friend of mine and they're having trouble understanding this.

"You're sick," they say, "so how can you be happy about that?"

"Well, I'm not happy about it, but I don't let it get in the way of being happy about being alive and being happy about the good things in my life."

"But you're sick," they continue.  "Do you really have good things in your life?  Your chronic illness seems to have taken a lot of those good things away...."

"Yes, but I am finding new things to be happy about even though I am sick," I reply.

They scratch their head and look puzzled.  To them, being sick means being unhappy, so they just don't get where I am coming from.  Lucky them for not having to have to understand this!

Perhaps you my readers can leave me a few notes in the comment section below with some alternative ways of explain to someone healthy how it is possible to be sick and happy at the same time.

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