It Has Been A Year

Hello Friends! It has been a year since I started this blog about a year in the life of someone with chronic pain. This may be my last post. I will write again if I have something truly valuable to others to share, but for now, I am planning to put this project on the shelf and take myself off of it.

The good news is that my pain is down quite a bit since I started this blog, and I have the blog in part, to thank for it. Writing helped me to legitimize my struggles and my quest for better health with all of its’ struggles and frustrations. The friends I met through this blog have been some of the greatest support I have found because you truly understand what it is like to exist with constant chronic severe pain.

Today, I feel lucky, because I may have found a solution to my pain; something I had given up hope for many times over the last almost 6 years. For the last few weeks my pain has moved from chronic, preoccupying, intense, severe pain; to a more – within the range of normal – pain. This is a huge difference, and maybe what people who do not suffer from chronic, severe pain don’t understand. Everybody has aches and pains, and the older we get, we get more of them. But severe chronic pain is unrelenting. It is torture. It is constant. It is a hundred decibel alarm is always ringing – and you have to find a way to live with it without killing yourself just to make it stop! You feel like a burden on your loved ones, and you grieve your old self and what you could once do, and how much you could once contribute to others and the world. You grieve fun and freedom. Oh, how you grieve the loss of freedom.

I am so lucky! It is not solely luck, for me, but there is luck in it. I say never give up trying to get well. Don’t believe anyone who tells you there is nothing anyone can do. Keep searching for answers.

I am not out of the woods, and I don’t want to jinx myself, but I believe I have an understanding of my pain and the solution for it. I believe my pain problem was set in motion when I was 12 years old and went roller skating for the first time. My parents were divorced and my father took my stepbrother, stepsister and I to the roller skating rink. I was not athletic, but I wanted to feel normal, loved and part of his new family. I didn’t know how to roller skate or to protect myself if I fell, so I just plunged ahead bravely (and foolishly) and pretended I knew how and went around that rink. So when I lost my balance and fell backwards, I went blank, didn’t brace my fall, and dropped straight onto my tailbone.

It was a really hard fall, and  the end of roller skating for me. It hurt so much, but I sucked it up and when my father brought me home, where I lived with my mother, I just lay in bed unable to walk for two or three days. Eventually I got back up and started walking as if nothing had happened. No one took me to a doctor, not that it would have helped, but to this day, no one in my family even remembers this incident.

I believe that the muscles in my coccyx went in to spasm that never released and set me up for future injury that day. It set me up for a lumbar-back injury during a dance class when I was only 18. Add 30 years of sitting, driving, exercising, toning, adding muscle spasm to muscle spasm. Include getting severely rear ended by a car going full speed while I was stopped at a red light, and a few minor car accidents after that. If you buy into Thomas Griner’s theory of muscle spasticity (and I do), then it is no surprise that one day my back either spasmed to the point of severe pain, or the muscles pulled so hard that tendons tore, putting me over the edge into severe pain. I think this is why small movements, like taking something out of the dishwasher, can “throw your back out.”

Then the medical field put me through their useless paces: injections, surgery, electrical stimulation, even physical therapy doesn’t make sense if it can’t release the chronically spastic muscle. Griner believes that stretching and certain kinds of exercise only make the spasm worse. Most of the medical field does not understand how muscle works or the role of muscle in many chronic pain scenarios. Doctors, physical therapists, traditional chiropractors and other well-meaning helping professionals only make the spasm worse, and that is what happened to me.

My way out is working with Rodger Phillips DC, who trained with Thomas Griner years ago. I was going twice a week, and now I go once a week. The progress is slow, but noticable. I am now straddling two worlds: the one of chronic severe pain, and the one of normal pain with which one can function and participate in life. I am so grateful to be here now. I never thought I would get this far. I plan to continue my treatments and see how well I am able to get.

I can work a little more and my interests are returning. I am more engaged with work and enjoy it much more than I did a year ago. I can sit longer at restaurants, allowing me to enjoy socializing more than I was able to do even a few months ago. I can carry slightly heavier things without a flare up (slightly being the key word here). I can walk a little longer, and last longer at housework with less need for breaks (but I still need them!) So I feel ready to let this blog go and to focus on other things.

I thank everyone for reading this blog! I thank everyone who has reached out to me and left comments and been so supportive. Thanks to my friend, Mark, who motivated me to keep writing. Thanks to my husband for reading and liking my posts even though he heard it all before. Thanks to my cats for loving me no matter how bad I was feeling, for cuddling and caring for me, and for keeping me company while I write.

And for my fellow chronic pain warriors I wish you self-acceptance, self-kindness, love, support and understanding from important others; I wish you the courage to hope and keep looking for solutions when those who are supposed to help you fail. Keep looking. I wish you the permission to stop looking when you must, but look again when you are ready. I wish you guilt-free and shame-free rest, and distraction from pain in whatever form works for you (for me, sometimes the silliest things: The Bachelor on TV, or the Pet Rescue game by the makers of Candy Crush Saga. Oh, and brownies on the worst days.)

Most of all, I wish you the certainty that your value does not diminish with chronic pain. I had a yoga teacher (back when I could do yoga) who used to remind us that “We are human beings, not human doings.” Please remember that you are valuable, not for what you can accomplish, but for who you are. That value is always there.