Today I worked out at a gym for the first time in 6 years… without pain. For those of you who know about the injuries I sustained from pregnancy and delivery of my daughter, you know this to me is a major milestone. Traveling across the world and back last month was a big turning point in my recovery.
I don’t write about this much publicly any more because I don’t like focusing on the pain or making others in my network feel uncomfortable, but today I felt like sharing here. For those who suffer for months or years at a time, perseverance pays off when you keep trying new treatments and never give up. While today’s wasn’t a major workout by most standards, to me this is a bigger deal than running a marathon. (It’s sure taken a lot longer to get there!)
I’m about to embark on my first overseas trip in five years. The flight alone would’ve killed me one year ago – the pain of sitting being so intense. So it’s a good time to reflect where the past five years of pain have taken me.
This video clip came into my inbox this morning of Phyllis Greene, who started blogging from bed rest, like me, but who is in hospice. She’s 90 (as her blog, appropriately, is called wedeb90). It’s inspiring to see that. I have a 99 year-old friend who’s on Facebook. She too inspires me. She’s not moving around as much as she used to, but the bottom line is that new media can enable us to reach out and be active in communities in ways that we never could before, providing opportunities to feel much less isolated and alone. We’re lucky to be living in the new media age to have these opportunities.
Soon I’ll be on the longest flight I’ve taken since I was pregnant and this pain journey began. I’m taking all of my pain medications along, and I have all of my other pain management tools that I’ll bring also. Let’s hope I don’t go over the weight limit. Wish me luck!
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.
The second or third time I sat down with a nurse practitioner who worked with my new OB/GYN that I found near my home after giving birth to my daughter and finding myself in severe continuous pain, she tried to explain to me how pain works. It took a lot of appointments with different doctors – gynecological specialists, pelvic pain experts, a psychiatrist, a neurologist and a handful of physical therapists – for me to really grasp the whole concept, but one thing she said to me that at first really confused me was “the pain IS the problem.”
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.
(Photo from the office of my new physical therapist.)
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.
After going through two long bouts with severe injuries resulting in long-term pain, I realize I’m still uncomfortable asking for help. Only when I began opening up to friends and colleagues over the past year did people begin offering to bring me food or help with my daughter and I honestly didn’t know how to respond. Finally I finally started allowing friends to bring me food now and then, and to help me with my daughter. But every day life is still a real challenge for us, so I think I’ve identified at least one easy way friends can help – even from a distance.