Giving birth to my daughter I thought would save me from a really hellish, long, exhausting, painful and really annoying pregnancy. After spending the majority of the 9 months on bed rest, I was excited to regain my life again. Little did I know that over four years later, I’d still be in pain. Still, although it’s been a long, arduous journey, I’m beginning to feel like I’m emerging from the fog. The pain and the constant need to put my daughter first took me on a journey away from myself and into a coping pattern that I feel is beginning to break.
I get a lot of people asking me all the time “so are you getting better?” I’m happy to report the answer is yes, but it’s slow going. I still haven’t gotten back to where I was before the injections yet, so I expect I lost about a year of progress in that ten minute procedure last summer. But I’m back to the point where I’m able to walk a bit, get more done around the house, and I’m starting to see friends more again. This is big news for me, even though I’m still in a lot of pain. It’s manageable pain and I can make it to work meetings and appointments with my cushion and pain meds. That’s progress.
The holiday season has become an uncomfortable time of year for me since my daughter’s birth. She was due on Christmas and then came two weeks late, along with all of the complications. Now each year as this time approaches, along with her birthday, I’m always reminded about how awful the past four years have been and how far I still have to go in my recovery.
I was making some progress this time last year, and last summer I felt some hope. But then I made a decision to try and bump my recovery speed up with those awful nerve block injections that backfired and made my situation worse. Now I’m stuck with worse nerve volatility than I’ve had since maybe ever, or at least since Julia’s first year, and I’m not sure where to turn. My stomach’s torn up from medications, I’m sick of side effects, and I really hate all of these unnatural treatments. Unfortunately I may have to fight fire with fire in order to make more progress.
I have a dream… an Olympic dream. Mine isn’t quite like others. I just want to be there to observe and to write about my experience. I just want to breathe the crisp winter air and see magic transpire on the ice and snow, hoping for a day when I can compete again.
I first laced up ice skates at age five, and my parents tell me that the look on my face told them I was hooked. I never had Olympic aspirations – I knew I didn’t have that kind of talent – but I also never lost my love for skating. I kept at it, even after college, and I’m proud to say I’m a national adult figure skating medalist. Not at the highest level, but that doesn’t matter.
Over the past few weeks since I’ve begun sharing my story of chronic pain on this blog, via its companion Twitter feed, through Facebook and just in general, I’ve learned two things: 1) I’m not alone – not by a long shot, and 2) by sharing, I’m helping others to bring out what they’re going through as well. During this short time, several friends have come to me with their own stories of pain, and four have started blogging about it.
I’m engulfed by sadness for those who toil daily with similar agonies, but I’m also overwhelmed with a positive feeling that by communicating about what we’re going through, perhaps we can help each other heal and help reduce the general stigma that surrounds people who live in pain. John F. Kennedy, one of the most revered leaders in modern history, suffered in severe chronic pain for years, yet he had to cover it up in order for the public to have confidence in his presidency. We can all gather strength from each other and our experiences.
Glancing back 16 months ago, I found a post I wrote at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, entitled “Coping With Chronic Pain – Two Years and Counting…” Due to their posting requirements, I can’t reprint the entire thing here without permission, but you can click on it and read it there, and I’ll include some excerpts that I thought were relevant at this point to reflect upon. Keep in mind that I wrote the post because we were doing a topic day on ‘coping.’
I finally got to writing this post at the end of our topic day because – well – I spend so much time on various forms of coping, one of which is a deeply ingrained talent for keeping too busy. Actually things are much, much better for me in terms of my health and the chronic pain. (I usually don’t repeat adjectives, but really, they’re a lot better.) So I can’t complain and I’ll try not to make this sound like it, but your life changes when you suffer from severe injuries. Gradually, as you realize you may never be the person you once were, your perspective becomes altered.
I’ll admit there are a lot of sad aspects to living in chronic pain. It’s no picnic any day, regardless of how it’s viewed. But at least I have the benefit of some experience. Pain from two different sources that lasted five years qualifies, doesn’t it?
In 1996, I took my first job after graduating from college. I was excited to be working at a small company as a contract systems administrator. It was a great experience professionally. Physically, however, it was a ticking time bomb.