I haven’t posted in a while. My pain didn’t go away… it’s been pretty consistently managed, but the past few years have been a little different thanks to “the change” i.e. perimenopause. So I thought it was time to write about that. I was warned by my pelvic floor physical therapist that my pain might “get worse with menopause” but I was thinking age 50… because that’s when I estimated I’d hit menopause. Problem was — nobody ever tells you about perimenopause. And pelvic pain is definitely wrapped up in our hormones. And perimenopause is all about hormone fluxuations. So yeah, it’s a thing and it’s a big thing.
There’s a high emotional cost that comes with a life of chronic pain. It presents itself in a variety of ways. One of — if not my least favorite — is the unknowns of it all. With a regular injury, illness, or stable disability, there’s a predictable pattern. With a chronic pain situation, there’s always an element of unpredictability, even if there are some predictable parts of life with pain.
I’m tired of being in pain.
I’m tired of pretending not to be in pain so others will feel more at ease.
I’m tired of explaining why I’m in pain.
I’m tired of explaining how pain works.
I’m tired of not being able to sit without pain.
I’m tired of having to do physical therapy & take meds & use ice in order to sleep.
I’m tired of taking precious time out of my day to deal with any of this.
I’m tired of people saying they feel bad for me. I don’t want sympathy. I want solutions.
I’m tired of doctors.
I’m tired of medical bureaucracy.
I’m tired of my situation being demeaned by those who don’t bother trying to understand it.
I’m tired of being depressed, because depression is the BFF of pain and they always hang out together.
I’m tired of being tired all the time, because pain is exhausting.
I’m tired of people thinking that because I can’t or shouldn’t do one particular thing that somehow it means I can’t do something else that’s totally unrelated.
I’m tired of being weak from not being able to exercise as much as I’d like.
I’m tired of thinking about pain.
I’m tired of managing pain.
I’m tired of being discriminated against because of the pain (technically classified as an invisible disability, although most people don’t understand what that means either).
I’m tired of reading stuff like this.
And I’m tired of writing about it.
Recently, I’ve realized that the pain management I do in my life has become such second nature that I don’t even notice it most of the time… so I thought I’d make a list for others who deal with pelvic pain, back pain, tendinitis or other related pain who might want to try some of the techniques.
Here’s the list, in no particular order…
In the age of Lean In, particularly where I live in California where the pace seems to keep increasing along with real estate values, it can feel nearly impossible to stop and take a breather. I’ll admit that this is a first world problem. I’m very lucky I have the option to take time off. A few years ago, I didn’t have that option. Over the past decade, I’ve been on a rollercoaster that began with the severe nerve injuries from pregnancy and delivering my daughter that I’ve written about at length here and elsewhere. I had planned to take off two months before my daughter was born, two months after she was born, and then work part-time until she was school-age. That didn’t happen. Continue reading
Over the past few months, something unusual happened to me. While I still suffer from ongoing pain and flares knock me flat on my back for 2-3 weeks at a time, I started pushing myself to do a little bit of exercise even in certain kinds of pain. I knew I could always stop, I took it slowly, but I knew I needed to exercise for general health. Somehow I passed a point where the pain and inflammation was so bad that exercise only made it worse. Instead, it started helping me feel a little bit better, even while still in pain.
I’m having a very difficult pain flare-up. I won’t go into detail about why in this particular post because that’s not what’s troubling me… I get pain flare-ups of different shapes & sizes every so often. It’s part of life with neuralgia. Some are more difficult than others. What I’ve learned over time, however, is that often the emotional drain on my relationships is worse than the physical pain itself. It takes a toll.
I made a big decision recently. I did not make it lightly, nor did it happen quickly. It took me several years to get to this point, partly because I was fighting myself and what it meant to me. Not an easy choice: I applied for a permanent disabled parking permit.
That’s what my OB/GYN said at the end of an emotional but helpful annual visit. “So you’re getting better, but it still sucks.” I thought she did a pretty good job summing things up.
She was proud of the progress I’ve made over the eight and a half long years since I first began seeing her after my injury from another doctor delivering my baby. I wish she had been my doctor when I was pregnant; perhaps none of this would have happened, but we’ll never know.
O icepacks, my icepacks, how do I love thee?
All the more coldly whenever they’re three
Or four, five, six or seven
Why limit yourself in icepack heaven?
An icepack a day keeps the doctors away
An icepack an hour keeps the demons at bay
An icepack nearby gives me the power to live any way.
Hark, what is that sweet popping sound I hear?
The pop of the icepack-pad just to appear
It makes each day bearable, survivable to be here.
They come in all shapes and sizes, the icepacks I love
I sometimes will use them below and above
With icepacks my life now has meaning again
Without them I’d be lost, a scribe with no pen.