Sunday, December 4, 2011

What do we really think about Pain?

"What do we think about Pain?"

I wanted to start this blog out with a question that must have a million different answers, and most of the ones I know about are pretty much my own thoughts, especially those that come in the lowest of times with Chronic Pain, knocking me here and there. It's been a while since I blogged because my one job has been to slowly recover from a procedure I had done to the nerves of my back called Radial Frequency Ablation. The procedure zaps the nerve endings with a laser to give a person relief from miserable pain. It has been quite amazing for me because the original Pain that was dragging me to Hell and back has been lessened so much that it's hard to believe! Of course, I never have a dull moment during recovery and took a hard fall just a few days ago when I tried to get out of my recliner. My foot got stuck and suddenly I saw the floor coming up to greet me fast!

It was right then when some of my hidden thoughts about Pain came racing to the surface. Instantly, my husband was by my side, worried sick and then saying, "Well, every bit of relief you just had is gone!" Thought #1: How much damage is my Chronic Pain doing to my husband? I have been blessed with an amazing man who loves me so much and reminds me of the vows "in sickness and in health" and I feel it's okay to tuck that thought away. A good friend has kept in touch with me during my recovery and emailed me some lines from a book of poetry. One line of a poem hit me with Thought #2: "I am so distant from the hope of myself" There it was–how many times I find myself wondering if Pain has truly made me distant from who I once was?

When we suffer with Chronic Pain each day, the changes we go through sometimes happen so fast there is no time to reflect as to what these changes are doing to the person we were before Pain showed up. I have learned through the years that although I do NOT like the changes Pain has brought to me, in some fashion I must allow room in my life for the changes. But I've got to remember I was here before the Pain came. And I believe with ever fiber of strength inside me that I can still be ME! I do not fool myself when making that statement because I am so different from the young, vibrant woman who was stupid enough to climb that tree. Yes, I am more aged, bent over to some degree and walk a lot slower than I once did. But Pain does NOT keep me from smiling, laughing, crying, raging–all those emotions are what make us unique individuals who have a deeper insight to real suffering.

The suffering my Chronic Pain has brought to me over the years gave me something that snuck up on me, almost a surprise of sorts, as I began to notice other people who obviously were dealing with Chronic Pain. The surprise hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized how deep my level of compassion for others who are hurting had grown! Yes, I have always cared about others, but when I would see somebody who was walking slowly with such obvious signs of Pain, it was easier to  look away quickly. That was before my Tree day. Now I find myself unable to take my eyes from a person who is suffering with Pain, almost feeling like I am glued to the spot and my heart soaks in every movement they make, because it's a reminder of the rough days I must go through. Those are the times when I almost feel ashamed of all the moaning and groaning I have done over the years. But then I stop and tell myself, "Hey, you are human too–don't forget that."

I will close this with Thought #3: Pain is like a big box filled with misery and dark days. So is there any chance I could ever see this Chronic Pain being some form of a gift to me? Just asking that question feels Painful to me, but it causes me to think hard about everything Pain has brought my way, such as learning how strong I can be, fighting through the darkest of days with Pain, still being able to sit and watch a wonderful music concert on public television and allow tears of joy to fall from the sheer beauty of the music, and–best of all–feel deep compassion for others, which is the biggest reason I push myself out here and share with others who are suffering so much worse than I do.

So I can say the Gift that Pain has brought to me is the phrase I live by each day–Pain Won't Beat Me! You, too, can still find a tiny piece of Joy each day! Just keep looking for it. Never stop doing that and always remember Please say one prayer for Me and I will always say One for You.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A "Chronic Pain" group encounter

Yesterday, I sat in a filled waiting room of a surgery center, patiently waiting my turn to go through those doors and have my Pain management doctor work her "magic" on my aching body. As we all sat there, people began to talk with each other to help pass the time of waiting. Some people had been there for two hours to see the doctor because her patient load was a big one for this particular day. First, we talked about the weather, followed by the latest news and then, one by one, we started sharing our Pain stories. It was amazing! One man made the comment of having  jumped out of too many airplanes (a war veteran). Another man spoke of his attempt to push a huge round bale of hay out of his way (a long time farmer). A woman had simply been working in her garden and made a sudden move, which brought horrible Pain.

There I sat, sharing about the day I fell out of a tree.

We all listened and let each person's story sink in, each of us telling the person how sorry we were for them. And, of course, they would repeat the words right back. Suddenly, we started looking for the humor of how long we usually have to wait for these procedures and the effects of the "margarita medicine" we each get to help us through the procedure. Before long, the entire waiting room was filled with laughter and joy. One nurse approached us and commented we were the "happiest" group she had ever seen who knew this was going to be a long day. But strangely, nobody seemed to mind.

It hit me that here we all sat, sharing the common bond of Chronic Pain, each one of us suffering in different ways. Some had Pain that would never go away, but yet they still managed to step aside from it for a few minutes and actually laugh about it. Trust me when I say this: it is NOT easy to find any humor about Pain when you know it's dragging your body down each day, and you are simply doing your best to stay in the race and not give up. At this surgical place, each person was given a number they are called by and when it came time for my number, I jumped up with true Joy, feeling like I had won a major prize. The entire room started clapping! As I headed through the doors to the surgery area, I looked back, gave them all a heart-filled smile and said, "Hang In there–it will get better!"

I knew that after my procedure was finished, days of slow recovery were facing me. But it somehow seemed a bit lighter as I reflected back on those moments of sharing my Pain story with total strangers and knowing I was speaking about it to people who truly understood my words. It was a way of lifting each other up, allowing them to see how the other person copes, hearing about how many operations or procedures they have been through, the ups and downs of Chronic Pain. And yet we were all still there, looking again for even short term relief, and we managed to share true humor with each other.

Nothing will ever be perfect about Chronic Pain. There will be some good days and a lot of bad ones. But having the chance to be face to face with others who suffer, that helped. And I think each person left there feeling better for the simple act of sharing. People were also not shy about saying how Prayer helps them each day, and we knew our Prayer Circle had just gotten a bit wider as we met and promised to keep the others in our prayers.

My wish for all those who are suffering with Chronic Pain is simple: Do Not Give Up. Keep moving, keep trying, feel free to let your emotions out, and look pp, ask for Prayers. There will be many days and nights when it feels like nothing is helping. But when a single Prayer is spoken, it is heard. I will never see all the faces of so many who must deal with this nightmare journey of Pain, but you are in my Prayers. My bit of Joy came yesterday as I laughed and shared with others who walk the same path I do each day. I left there, feeling hopeful, knowing I am still fighting back against this awful Pain and that I am NOT alone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to move past hating Chronic Pain

Cold, hard, plain and to the point. Yes, I hate Pain having this big a piece of my life, watching daily as more of the "real me" seems to have just gotten pushed aside so Pain could have the most room possible to do its damage to my body. I look at my face and think What the heck is happening to me?

I have always thought of myself as a fighter, meaning I refuse to give up when times are tough. I never want to admit defeat. Instead, I want to find every possible way to battle back against the toughest of foes. At times, I find myself thinking "Did you really think that falling out of a tree would just be a simple hurdle to recover from?" Then another cold slap in the face comes as I realize that there was no thought process inside me when I climbed the tree. I thought of myself as being simply too strong for anything bad to really happen!

But something bad did happen, and I have been dealing with the aftermath of my poor decision for so many years now. Without question, I am worn down from this horrendous battle of hurting all day long, never being able to really feel a moment of true complete freedom from the Pain. As one year after the other goes by, it can get real easy to start hating the Pain. After all, we are each human. We have our failings and weakness inside us, and daily Chronic Pain can cause each of us to have thoughts and feelings we would prefer not to have. So how to keep looking, hoping, dreaming for a better day, not allowing ourselves to fall so deep into the valley of Pain that it feels as if there is no way out?

Big question to ask and the answers do not come easy. I must personally work each day to not give Pain a single moment more than it already takes from me. For many years I hibernated inside my home, wrapped up with the Pain, being alone as my husband went off to work each day and then trying to attempt another form of work, something to prove I was still here. I finally decided one day that it was time to get out of the house, no matter how badly every bone in my body ached and just PUSH myself to get back into the world.

None of this was easy, and I had so many setbacks. Some of them were so huge that I wondered if I would ever find that inner strength to try again-reaching beyond the Pain.  Most of my victories are pretty small, but as the Pain rages on, it has become so clear to me-how important it is to Not give up.  A victory for me can be as simple as making a call to a friend, writing one email, seeing a stranger who is in obvious Pain and taking the time to say Hello and offering a word of encouragement to them.  Its simply a way of stepping past the Pain, and looking to see what lies on the other side of it.

I manage this only by the grace of God because I pray for His support each day. We must each learn our own coping techniques and deal with setbacks, but keep pushing just a bit more each day. Keep looking for a simple second of Joy because it can carry you through the darkest of days. Every person fighting this battle of Chronic Pain has deep inner courage so give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. God bless.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Were my "Angels" listening today?

My day began way too early because Pain had me wide awake and moving around by four this morning. It was just a repeat of so many rotten Pain days I have been having lately. For whatever reason, my Pain has decided to drag me inside the "boxing arena" and, frankly, I am not getting in many punches to knock my enemy backward!

I found my way through the dark morning, flipped on lights, turned my trusty heating pad on, praying it would quickly ease my aching back, sat down in my comfortable recliner and curled up...with Pain wrapped all around me. Nothing was going to ease the Pain this day so I prayed–a lot on this particular morning–and my body finally relaxed a bit, giving me about an hour of much needed sleep. My husband woke up, took one look at me, and said, "Okay, when would you like to leave for the emergency room? Because trust me, you need to go!"

It did not take me long to agree with his suggestion. Soon we were off for a visit to the hospital, where I was praying that somehow the doctors there could give me some medication that would just take the wicked edge off this Pain that was hacking away at my body. We arrived, and as my Husband was getting settled, I slowly made my way to the receptionist for the normal "check-in" procedure. But this was not going to be normal at all for me! I had been to this emergency room before so my records are there. As this lovely lady asked for my birth date and I was digging through my purse for the insurance card and rattled off my birth date, suddenly everything seemed to stop when the lady said, "You go by Martha Lynn, right?"  

The room grew so quiet. My tears started to flow, and there was no way to stop them. She looked up in shock to see me crying, and asked if she had said something to upset me. How could I explain this to her? My Husband was already involved in a magazine and didn't have a clue as to what was happening as I struggled to pull myself together. As I continued to fight back tears, I told the woman in a trembling voice that "the only two people who ever called me that name were my mom and dad!" She gave me an understanding smile and apologized for upsetting me. My heart quickly spoke and said "Please don't. It's been a long time since I heard my name like that" as I remembered my mom passing in 2000 and my dad passed in 2003. At this moment, it felt they had just passed a few days ago. More tears began to flow and now the woman was keeping her head down, working quickly to get my data in the computer and hopefully have this tearful woman move away from her desk.

Something was pushing me to attempt some form of a better explanation to help me come to grips with crying in front of a perfect stranger. Then it felt as if those two special Angels gave me the words as I said, "You know when we are really feeling bad, I think we always want our mom and dad near us." She took a long look at me, and we both knew.  She wished me well and even said she would offer a prayer for me!

There I was, being given the gift of a prayer from a stranger who could vividly see my physical and emotional Pain all bubbling to the surface as I went from being an adult in Pain to a little girl, hearing a familiar name that came from LOVE. I walked into the treatment room and knew that my joyful blessing had just unfolded before me on this day that seemed so terrible. We spent six hours going through the normal process of waiting my turn, seeing the doctor, explaining the Pain and then waiting for treatment. I was given some medication that did help to knock that horrible edge off my Pain, and we headed back home.

Now it was dark outside. As we started down the highway, I glanced up and saw the most glorious full moon, shining brightly, being there to help guide us home safely. My heart felt lighter, the Pain had slowed to a easier ache and I carried this precious day close to my heart. Hearing my childhood name spoken today by a stranger, given to me at a time when I was at my lowest made me feel happy that maybe my two Angels were there today, helping me through the battle.

I said a prayer of thanks today for this gift. As always for everyone out there suffering through their own personal war of Chronic Pain, please know you are NOT alone and will always have a prayer coming from me each day. If you get a chance, say a prayer for someone you might know who is hurting. Please hang in and hold on for even the smallest bit of Joy. Trust me, it is there.

God bless each of you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What can I do when Pain takes the upper hand?

I sat down and faced my priest yesterday, filled with exhaustion and deep sadness. Then I uttered the words that I hated to speak but knew had to come out: "Pain has really taken a toll on me, and I need HIS help." As soon as I spoke, the tears flowed. It's hard to let my "fight" guard down, but Chronic Pain had been on a roll inside my body. I was just plain tired! My priest assured me the good Lord was always there with me, and it was "okay" to admit everything I was feeling. Then he reminded me of the inner strength he always sees within me.

When Pain gets the upper hand, it can turn into a nightmare that never ends. It feels as if you're running on a wicked treadmill that you can't get off, not even for a few seconds! Chronic Pain doesn't allow even one day off. Instead, it's constantly there, aching, hurting. Pulling you down. Robbing you of needed sleep. Wiping a genuine smile away from your face and replacing it with a Pain-filled smile that asks all who pass, "Do you really think I look happy right now?" I have seen people take one look at me, give a brief greeting and move quickly away because they know it's NOT a good day.

Yes, my Pain truly has the upper hand at the moment. I have wracked my brain for how I can regain control of this battle, and the answers haven't come. So I took a step back and had a honest heart-to-head with myself, taking stock of what lies directly in front of me each day. Yes, my days begin with Pain. It follows me through the day, and my nights end with Pain. That's not very pleasant to admit, but these are the facts I must deal with.

Suddenly, an answer of sorts to my original question of what to do when Pain has taken the upper hand dawned on me: Being truthful about this Pain, admitting this to myself, had actually helped me to understand the picture a bit more clearly. It helped me to realize I am still here. The Pain has not taken me away. I am simply having a lot of horrible days, and I must take moment by moment. I must also reach for that helping hand that my priest gently reminded me about.

This will continue to be a roller-coaster ride of up and down Pain Days for me. I will continue to look upward, asking for help and trusting He will be there for me. People who deal with Chronic Pain on a daily basis are true warriors in my book because we fight a battle that can be very lonely and make us feel like we are truly all alone with the Pain. But remember: you are not alone, ever. Know that from this fellow Chronic Pain partner, you always have a prayer being said for you to find your own way through the lowest of days.

Now how did I manage to find any joy in this day? That answer is easy. My joy came from simply writing this blog today. I pray it is of some help to you. Never forget to look for a simple second of Joy. It can carry you a very long way through your toughest of days as you fight back at the Pain.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How do I give advice about Pain?

People see me hurting, and their first question is, "What can I do to help you?" So many responses come to mind. There are many times when I want to just blurt out, "Well, you could start by taking this miserable Pain from me!" But I know can't be done. So at times I get really frustrated when I'm asked this question because it's a continual reminder that my Pain has found itself a "home" inside my body, and it has no intentions of leaving me alone.

So when people do ask what they can do to help, I have learned to bite my lip and force a smile. Then I look directly at them, hopr I have their full attention, and say, "Well, just one prayer would really be appreciated!"

I make sure to not ask them for two prayers. Or one each day. Instead, I ask for One Simple Prayer, and I always promise to say one for them, too. Sometimes I think people walk away from me, thinking, Why didn't she ask for more than just one prayer? My answer is pretty simple: I believe that if one prayer is said truly from the heart for another human being, I believe the Good Man Upstairs hears that One Prayer very clearly. If people only knew that when we are in the midst of this wicked battle with Chronic Pain and how it takes every ounce of strength we have to simply keep ourselves moving forward, they might understand how special One Simple Prayer can be to help us as we are suffering.

A dear friend whom I met through my blog asked me a question today that moved me to write this particular blog. She asked, "Have you blogged? Because I could use some advice." I didn't know how I could possibly help her as she endures horrible Chronic Pain each day that robs her of even the smallest bits of having a normal life. Yet she also keeps pushing back against the Pain and does everything possible to keep her daily life going, carrying this wicked Pain quietly and not wanting to bother anybody. That's a silent suffering no human should have to go through.

I feel helpless and want to wave a magic wand to wipe away all her Pain and allow Joy to fill her cup to brim with smiles. No more throbbing Pain, just wonderful Joy. So my words of advice for her are simple: "I promise to say One Prayer for you today." And even though you don't know my friend, I ask you to do the same. Please pause for a second and pray: "Please help ease her Pain, Lord" because this small act just might very well be the magic wand that gives her continued strength to keep pushing forward each day, never allowing Pain to take all of her down.

For all who are suffering with Chronic Pain, know you have my One Prayer each day. All I can say is keep smiling, keep fighting, keep praying and always Keep Looking for the Joy. Mine came today in writing this one blog. I pray it offers even a small measure of hope.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Looking past our own pain battles

Before my own journey with Chronic Pain began, I never stopped to take a good look at somebody else who was suffering. I'd just mentally "brush" them aside and go about my life filled with joy and happiness. I was still the real me. Of course, that changed when I fell from the tree, and everything as I once knew it to be stopped me cold.

Yesterday was another "heart breaker" moment for me. It happened while I was attending church with my husband, trying to pray while dealing with the horrible Pain that's decided to run me even more into the ground.

Suddenly, the side door to the church opened. Looking up, I saw an older gentleman who attends services as often as possible. He has his own routine of getting inside the church. First, he moves his walker past the door. Then he moves the walker again so he can still hold on and reach to close the door. His movements are slow and deliberate, as if he were holding a piece of delicate china that he doesn't to break. Obviously, his body was in agony, due to the careful way he moves and a look of firm determination that's always locked on his face. He has just one goal: to make it inside that church without falling or causing anybody to worry about him.

As I watched this silent Dance of Pain, my heart filled with shame because I'd been so consumed with my own aching body. Seeing him, I realized I was learning a lesson about silent suffering and dignity. The man's next movement surely brought him Pain that would do the strongest person in. Carefully, he folded his walker, drew a deep long breath of needed air, and began to slowly kneel in prayer. I could not take my eyes from him! My heart pounded as I compared the Physical Pain I feel when kneeling to pray and realized there was no comparison to be made. Something told me that I was not even close to his league of Pain.

Yesterday, that man taught me about grace and faith. He showed me how to have the courage to pull myself past Chronic Pain, how to not care if the world sees my intense struggles. He showed me how he comes and prays for strength and courage to help him get through each day. He always has a gentle smile on his face. He's always determined not to let people know just how hard each day must be for him. Yet there he is, pushing beyond the wicked enemy, Chronic Pain. He doesn't allow it to keep him away from his church.

The service ended. With his walker before him, the man made another quiet exit from the building. I sensed that the hour had been a moment of Joy in his day. For me, Pain had already taken me out for the count. Once we left the church, I headed straight to the nearest emergency room to seek relief from the snake of Pain that would not let go of my body. As I lay on the table, waiting for medication to help ease me out of my misery, the image of this old gentleman was fixed in my heart. I prayed that, as time moves on, I will continue to learn lessons from others who suffer the same battle as myself.

It's not easy to look away from our own Pain battle. But when we do, the lessons that are right in front of us are so amazing! Maybe the day will come when I can summon the courage to ask this dear man "How do you manage to get through each day?" Something tells me that his answer will be simple: Just look UP, and all the help you will ever need is there.

My joy on this day might sound a bit strange, but it came as I watched my dear husband enjoying a football game on TV as he sat by my bed in the emergency room. The only thing missing was some popcorn!

You are all in my prayers. Keep finding your own way through the battle of Chronic Pain.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Health insurance people who wield amazing powers...

For all of us who suffer with Chronic Pain, we are very familiar with health insurance carriers. We must ask them for that special blessing that seemingly only they can give. We wait and hope for the phone call that will authorize the much needed medical procedure to ease our Pain. When the phone rings, we know the mighty powers known as Health Insurance People have taken pity on us.

Through the years, I've heard people discuss on national news shows how the insurance industry has a bottom line called PROFIT. Silly me! I'd always thought they were in the business of helping patients by working with their doctors and getting them needed treatment. Never did I dream how vicious this business actually is nor did I imagine falling victim to the reject patient assembly line that runs daily through so many health insurance companies.

Yet here I am, 14 years into my daily battle with Chronic Pain. In the last two years, I've found out how hard my own fight would become to get the only treatment available that gives me RELIEF from this mind numbing Pain. I can rise to the battle each day with the Pain, fall when it is raging, rest and then get back up to fight away. But then to have this horrible misery of being refused medical treatment when I am at my lowest with Pain...well, it can take you down to the darkest of valleys.

I feel very alone.

I got the news today that a procedure that eases my throbbing back pain was denied by my health insurance carrier because THEY decided it was not medically needed. There is a question I would love to ask each person who currently works for a health insurance company:"How do you sleep at night?"  Then I answered my own question. They sleep very well because all they see on a piece of paper is a NAME, no face, nothing to give them a glimmer of what true Chronic Pain is like. It's easy for them to dodge dark circles under eyes that come from so many lost nights of sleep because Pain refuses to ease. Or a body bent over in agony from Pain that is robbing a person of so much. As long as we remain simply a face, their job is easy and the pen they use to check off the NO box moves swiftly. The name on paper is tossed to the side as they take on another victim.

For those of you who are going through this experience, please hear my prayer for you and know how sorry I am that you, too, must endure this added suffering. Today I felt whipped, beaten down and so alone. But as the day wore on and I physically tried to work out my anger, that came to a fast stop because the Pain got my attention. I realized this is not a time for me to give up and allow this to happen. Instead, it is a time for me to work with my doctor, truly get to know my health insurance company personally and above all, give them a chance to actually meet the real face of the person who they only know as patient number #####.

For whatever reason, this challenge lies in front of me. My decision to stay the course and work with every ounce of strength in me to do my part in helping to teach my own insurance company just what Chronic Pain really is. It's so much more than a phrase, the name for a condition that all they can see is something that can't be fixed and is only costing them more as they pay for treatment.

This is my life, my future, and I will not allow Pain to beat me down. How did I find any Joy today in the midst of such anger? It happened as I was outside, kneeling on the ground, trying to plant a simple flower and then wondering, "Now how am I going to ever stand back up? This could get really interesting!"

That was my second of Joy as I struggled to rise up and laughed at myself while doing it. Hang in there as you fight through this battle of Pain and struggles with insurance. Know I am praying for all of you, and trust that I am also saying some prayers for me, too.  God bless.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Showing off battle scars

There are many elderly people who attend our church. As the years go by, I really had not paid that much attention to how time was catching up with all of them. To me, they are still vital Christian people who continue to give their time and service to others. So it's been easy for me not to see a new limp in someone. Or a hand clutching the back in a way they never did before. Or grabbing hold of the stair rail so to walk carefully down and not risk a fall.

Today my eyes were opened as I noticed people gathered around an older gentleman who was proudly showing off his new knee and how easily he could now flex it. It stunned me to realize he had been in need of such an involved surgery. All I could see was the long scar, still new and fresh, not healed completely yet. But for this man, it was his scar from the Pain Battle, and he was happy to show it off.

His wife stood near by. I watched as she clutched her back in a way that was all too familiar for me. I'd  spent most of my day doing the same thing. I asked how she was doing–although the answer was so plain. This woman was definitely in Pain, and she explained about getting her injection and now the next step was surgery. My heart went out to her, and it hit me that I was surrounded by people in daily Pain. Here we all stood, with our own individual struggles of battling Pain. Yet we still found a moment to laugh, talk about our Pain and then move on to a lighter subject.

One lady came up to me and said, "I know you are in Pain. Your eyes are saying this is not a good day." I confirmed her thoughts but then pushed aside my issues to check and see how she was doing with her own health problems.

Sometimes we simply have to move away from our Pain Battles so we can reach out to others who are also suffering and feel the same frustrations and exhaustion that comes with daily Chronic Pain. If we stop long enough and truly listen to another human share their hurts, we can walk away better for the experience because we stopped and simply gave a glimmer of compassion by listening and perhaps giving an encouraging pat on the shoulder.

We all need each other in this long journey of Chronic Pain. Perhaps we become a prayer friend with another person who is hurting. Or we can offer a strong shoulder from someone to stop and lean against as they take a very needed break from the battle. Do not be hesitant to reach out and be there for one another. You never know just how much that person might be needing that friendly hello, a smile, words of comfort, and a promise of prayer.

Believe it or not, joy for me came today as I watched the man show his battle scar. There he stood with his pants leg rolled up, weathered cowboy boots showing, and a smile on his face that seemed to shout, "Look at what I went through to kick Pain away from me." Then I watched others cheer him on for his rapid recovery. Yes, joy can come in some unusual ways. So please keep looking for yours and know my prayers are there each day for all who suffer with Chronic Pain.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The cold truth about Pain

It's been several weeks since I felt like blogging. Not because I haven't had thoughts to share about Pain, but because my Pain has been so intense since we've returned from our recent vacation. It's taken every bit of fighting spirit I have in me to face the battle each day. Let's just say, it has not been a piece of cake!

My body is tired from all this. So for this particular blog, I decided to do my best to give a vivid account of what my nights are like with Pain. Of course, I deal with Pain throughout the day, meaning I wake up with Pain, and I go to bed with Pain. It follows me every second of the day. At times, I get so mad because I deal with something that can't be seen. Many times, I want to whirl around and scream at the top of my lungs, "How about giving me a break! Now would that be too much to ask?" Instead, the Pain wraps all around me, and I get a couple of hours to sleep each night after taking my pain medication. In those wee hours of the morning, something claws away at me, wakes me from sleep and pulls me toward the fight.

So I get up, pause to look at my husband sleeping peacefully, and utter frustrations under my breath like, "Wow, he's so lucky to sleep!" Then I feel miserable because I would never wish this misery on this man whom I love so dearly. I stumble around, look for my heating pad that follows me around like a child hanging onto his favorite blanket, reach for a massive leg massager to work on the constant burning in my leg, grab my pillow and leave before waking my husband.

Pain can really be fascinating if you give it some thought. It sort of creeps up on you during the night, taunts you and then demands your attention by simply cranking the Pain level up until you are miserable! It seems that Pain demands that I ride along with it, no matter if my mind and body are exhausted from a lack of needed sleep. None of that matters because the Pain is here and demands that I join in, no matter how worn down I am.  In other words, Pain refuses to give you any form of a break.

The house is dark as I stumble toward my favorite recliner. First, I make a cup of hot herbal tea and hope it will help me relax a bit. Then I lean back against the heating pad and feel my body absorb the blessed warmth as my aching back throbs and screams for relief. Nobody but Pain, me and the Good Lord observe this crazy ritual I go through to hang on and fight with every ounce of strength possible. After a few minutes, I remind myself to fix a little snack to help absorb the Pain medication I take. Then it's back to my recliner. I flip on the television and sit, not caring what is on, paying no real attention to it as I twist, squirm, massage one leg, then go to the other and try to fall asleep. These are my nights lately. Not a lot of fun, and they certainly have a way of making me a very irritable person.

Today for the first time in quite a while, I felt so down emotionally and knew it was vital I give myself permission to do nothing but simply rest. So I spent most of the day in bed. No guilt this time, no thinking of all the things I should be up and doing. Somehow I knew that rest had to come so I can gain renewed energy and keep fighting against the Pain.

My Pain has no intentions of going away so I continue the fight. I am learning to do silly things, like have all my "Pain Night Items" close by so I don't have to stumble around in the dark. I am forcing myself to realize the importance of being humbled by this wicked game of Pain. I will never find a special bag of tricks to battle it into submission. Instead, I continue to learn how much I need prayer in my life as I beg the Lord to help me through each day. It might sound strange, but at those moments when I am thinking "I can't take this" and I want to give up, I go deeper into prayer and simply beg Him for help.

Late yesterday, I happened to look upward to the sky. There before me were two huge rainbows with a beauty that took my breath away. One was just glowing. The other seemed to glide across the sky and get larger as I stood there in awe. There was my moment of precious Joy amid this storm of Pain, raging within my body. All I needed to do was simply look up. For that brief moment, Pain was the last thing on my mind. All I wanted to do was stand there and cherish every second of seeing this amazing rainbow!

Each person has their own dance with Pain. I do not profess to have the best advice on how to battle back, except to say: Keep going and give yourself love, rest and comfort, all so vital to help in the fight against Chronic Pain. Don't forget to look up for strength and joy, too. I will always say a prayer for you. And if you don't mind, say a small one for me too. God bless.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A constant reminder of Pain

As my husband drives from one new town to another on our extended vacation, I have managed to keep my Pain at a distance. I haven't allowed it to distract me from the beautiful scenery all around us. I know it's important that I take the time to really look around and not miss any of this trip. We stop frequently, which is my time to rest up and do all I can to keep this trip moving.

Yet as we peacefully move along the road, I am being given vivid reminders of how tough Pain can be on a person. Like when I watched an elderly woman struggling to pull herself into her vehicle as she left a community center, possibly having spent time there as a volunteer. My eyes were riveted to her every move, the unsteady walk as she moved the door open, the drawing in of a deep breath for strength to ease into the vehicle, knowing as I watched, here was another fighter, working so hard against the Pain that obviously walks with her each day. My heart spoke a quiet prayer that she continue to find the courage to do things that bring her joy.

Then we found ourselves sitting at a stoplight, waiting for waves of traffic to pass through. My head turned just in time to see a man beginning his slow, pain-filled walk across. Each step he took told me there was agony in his body that never leaves him. Yet here he was, determined to do something that so many take for granted, knowing he might possibly fall, only to have that bring even further agony to his body. Again I whispered a silent prayer to lift him up in his own journey.

As I started this trip and had such difficulty during the first few days, all I felt was sadness and defeat. But I am so blessed to have a loving husband who knew I was on the weak side of the battle and he gave me that shoulder I needed to lean on. I have seen so many people struggling with Pain as we make this trip and a lesson is being taught to me: Keep the fight going to have even a tiny version of normalcy in your life. Pain does not have to take everything from you because there is still so much out there to see and appreciate.

My joy today was watching a tiny toddler struggle to pull herself up into a huge rocking chair that sat outside of a local eatery. Nearby, her mother sat with a watchful eye and steady hand to help her child get into this huge chair. Suddenly, the little girl started to rock the chair, and a smile of pure joy was on her face for me to see. What a blessing this was today!

Please know I keep all who suffer with Chronic Pain in my daily prayers and hope your journey has moments of peace. Keep looking for the joy because it can come in very precious ways.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Taking a vacation from Pain?

Many things can lead us to what type of vacation we would like to take. Some are simply short over-night trips to a nearby town. Other vacations take us long distances from home. My husband has numerous ancestors in several states across the country so we decided to strike out and do our best to visit at least three areas. It sounded like a wonderful idea. So after lots of planning and scheduling, before we knew it, the day arrived, and off we went.

I knew Pain was going to be a major factor for me to struggle with throughout this trip. Sure enough, 30 minutes before we even walked out our front door, my mind was telling me, "Stay home! You will NOT be able to do this!" But instead, I pushed forward with a deep determination inside me to make this trip, come Hell or high water! Of course, I did not tell my husband about my fears because he already knew them and it's an unspoken word between us that we both prefer to keep out of our discussions as we can.  

The trip started out great. Then just miles down the road, Pain showed up and let me know that we would be having an extra rider in the car with us! I did everything possible to keep my mind off of the leg Pain...reading, doing needlework, looking at new areas passing by and refusing to allow myself to weaken. We made lots of stops to allow me plenty of time to stretch my leg and move around to avoid getting stiff and tired. It seemed to be working. But then we reached the first major stop of our trip and exhaustion from simply trying to fight against the Chronic Pain had taken me down hard. I was miserable, to say the least. My husband knew the verdict and gave me all the time needed to talk...when all I wanted to do was cry like a baby!

These years of dealing with Chronic Pain have taught me many things. The most important lesson is to NOT give into despair because that allows Pain to be the winner, and I simply will not allow that to happen. I sat and talked with my husband about how sad it was to be feeling this rotten and how sorry I was to be the drag on this trip. What a blessing I have been given in this wonderful man I call my husband. He could easily have been frustrated and decided to stop the vacation right there and head home. Instead, he talked with me about us getting somewhere that we could both rest and relax, thereby giving me a chance to get a grip on the Pain and rest. He said if the Pain continued to worsen, then we would head home and that would be it. No blame, no anger...just the deepest love and understanding anyone could ever dream of having.

The good news is that resting helped a lot. We have now actually reached two states that were on our vacation plan, saw many wonderful areas and best of all, spent precious time together, being happy and laughing, in spite of Pain being right there with us!

I always speak about finding a moment of Joy in my day as I battle Chronic Pain. Without doubt, my blessing of Joy has been to manage this trip without being in agony and depressed about the Pain. I prayed hard before we began this trip for strength to get through it, and the Lord has answered my prayer in abundance!

So always realize it's worth making the attempt to try something you would usually not do when suffering with intense Pain. The benefits of stepping out there and pushing further a bit...oh, it's so worth it! Always know you are in my prayers daily, and, if you don't mind, please say just one prayer for me.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Looking at Pain from a distance

Today, my husband suggested that we take a drive to a nearby town. We needed to get out of the house, away from the constant dry weather and bleary-looking parched earth-anything to get our minds off this hard summer we have been through.

We got to the town and had to pause for a traffic light. As we waited, a husband and his wife began to walk in front of the traffic that was paused, with their one goal being to get safely to the other side. At first glance, all we both saw was a man who had a "rough" appearance, giving signs of having possibly lived a very hard life. Yet he was not that old in years. My husband commented as to the slow pace they were taking to get across. He was afraid the light would change at any moment. But my attention went straight to his wife, a young woman who was guiding her husband across the street. It was painfully obvious as I allowed myself to remove the "shield" of seeing others in pain and force myself to take a hard look. It hurt to see this young man struggling to walk, in obvious pain, a definite limp, knowing he had to rely on his wife to assist him. Yet he walked with his head held high, appearing to simply treasure this simple moment he was having with his wife.

The traffic light changed, and as we slowly drove past them, I looked back to see this young couple smiling and laughing, holding hands, maybe joking with each other, still going about their day as if nothing was wrong. I knew this man was suffering, that he was another member of this wicked club we call Chronic Pain. My heart ached for all he must have lost in his battle, primarily his youth. Pain is vicious and robs the body of so much and can age a person overnight.

As we drove on, I sat in silence, giving myself time to reflect on what I had seen and wondering why this man had walked past me. Then it hit me hard...someone was sending me a message, knowing that I had been feeling down in the dumps this day, weary from my Pain battle. That someone knew I needed a "reminder" of how many others are out there, struggling each day with nightmare Pain, sleepless nights, days in which you just would prefer to stay in bed. Here I was given an example that it is good to get out, feel the sun, take that stroll with your loved one and look for a bit of joy.

This was a good day for me. My self pity took a quick exit, and I also smiled as I held my husband's hand and strolled through the grocery store aisles.  Today I thanked God for showing me this stranger, now another person who I will offer a prayer for.  Joy came today in the most unexpected manner, but it was pure joy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chronic Pain can be a wicked ride

Each day, I deal with my own Pain and have moments of gut-wrenching frustration. I have awful times when I can't find my battle mantra because Pain is raging and the fight within me is out of my grasp for the moment. It's so easy to get down and feel really sorry for myself, turning inward, not wanting to be around anybody or talk to anyone. Instead, I just want to be alone with the Pain and literally "knock the heck" out of it! Pain doesn't have a face that I can reach out and slap to teach it a lesson. Instead, it has invisible arms that wrap around my leg and back, seeming to almost choke the remaining feeling left in my damaged nerves.

The best description I could give to Pain is that it's like being on a carnival ride that never stops. When you find the "getting off the ride" point just floating by and no matter how hard you try, there is simply no way to leave this particular carnival ride of Pain. Through my blogging, I have been privileged to meet others who are on their own personal ride. As I hear them describe days so filled with Pain that to even speak to another person is too great a task. All they want to do is curl up in a ball and push the Pain away from their body. But they know that's not going to happen.

Meeting others through this blog about Pain has become a lifeline for me because now I realize when my body is exhausted and all I want is to be left alone, there are others out there, who feel exactly the same! So I work hard to pull myself out of the valley and remind myself of the importance of praying for you so that we can all find a way to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. AND as a dear friend said: "Keep Looking for the Rainbow" ...or anything that can bring a brief moment or two of joy.

I have no way of truly describing to anyone just how hard this fight is. So instead of constantly trying to describe the Pain, I look the other person straight in the eye when they ask, "Is this Pain really that tough?" Without blinking, I reply, "I would not wish this Pain on my worst enemy!" Somehow, they seem to get my message. Then I ask them to please pray for me and for all those in the world who suffer with this insidious enemy called Chronic Pain.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tropical storms, hurricanes and Pain all have something in common

It's that time of the year when severe weather conditions can suddenly take on a name like Irene or, even worse, Katrina. People's lives can be turned upside down in a matter of seconds. We know these storms are out there in the huge ocean waters, waiting to appear and bring untold destruction to neighborhoods.

What you might not know is how strong the connection is between these storms and anyone who suffers daily with Chronic Pain. Like me. I can predict the weather long before the professional forecasters even begin putting the data together. You're probably thinking, "No way," right? It's got to be my imagination, right? But I can tell you firsthand: It's VERY real. And it can be a hellish ride to get through an "Irene" storm that's still churning in the ocean and not even making landfall yet.

The explanation is pretty simple. For whatever reason, damaged nerves within the body have an immediate reaction when the barometric pressure starts to rise. It's a race in many ways to see how quickly the Pain level rises as the pressure levels elevate. Most of the time, Pain wins out and does not ease to a manageable level until the storm has arrived and is delivering buckets of rain and damaging winds. Nobody can really understand when someone suffering with Chronic Pain says, "Bad weather is on the way." No way–the sun's shining brightly out there, and not a cloud is in sight.

My advice is to listen when someone tells you that bad weather is on the way because he or she will likely be right on the money with their predictions. Take a look while they are telling you this, and see the strain on their face, hear the tone of their voice taking on a hard edge, and watch their tightly gripped hands, all signs of a person battling with a Pain that feels as if a giant rubber band has tightened around their body and will never let go.

Anybody suffering with this wicked affliction is walking a journey that goes beyond simple explanation. While others around us can enjoy the smell of fresh rain brought by a tropical storm, all we can do is sit and suffer in silence. Our Pain levels are wreaking as much destruction on an already worn down body as what the storm is doing to trees, electrical lines or anything in its path. But for us who suffer with Chronic Pain, it will mean hours and days of trying to regain emotional strength worn thin from the grinding agony of Pain.  

Chronic Pain is misery, plain and simple. Trying to find even a glimmer of joy within the daily battle of suffering becomes almost impossible at times. All we can do is stop, allow the Pain to rummage around and make us miserable, and then start over, finding our inner strength and being determined to not lose the fight. Perhaps our joy from a storm can be looking for the all-elusive rainbow. We might not always get to see one, but there is a joy inside us all as we eagerly wait for the rainbow to show itself.  

For all who are suffering each day with Pain, please know I say a prayer for you. And if you don't mind, please say one for me.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spending time in my garage with Pain.....

Spending time in a garage while my Pain rages does not sound like a place of comfort, quiet relaxation time and surroundings that encourage peace of mind. But, strange as this sounds, my garage has suddenly become the perfect oasis as I unwind and draw my second breath of air in this constant battle against Chronic Pain. Most people consider a garage to be filled with tools, long forgotten oil spills from the old car, dust in every corner, and items stuffed here and there.

We began bringing our garage alive when our son was in high school. We had the idea to bring it to life and create a teenage game room. After months of tireless remodeling...adding extra electrical lines, bringing in heating and air conditioning, painting, and putting down new flooring so those oil spills would not show...finally, we had a first-class game room, filled with everything from a stereo with audio sub-woofer speakers that literally made the walls dance from sound vibrations of teen age music to a bumper pool table, foosball, video arcade machine and, of course, a soda machine that never stayed filled! Now the once dusty and lonely garage shined from head to toe and was filled with the laughter of young teenagers simply having fun. But this was not to last long as time marched on, and our son graduated from high school and headed to college.

Now the game room became my new craft room, a place where I could create floral wreaths, sew beautiful Christmas table coverings, and try my hand at a game of Bumper Pool. I found myself quickly relaxing and being able to get my mind away from the Pain. But a parent has a deep child antenna built in. Before we knew it, our son was back from college, saying it was not for him. I said goodbye to my craft room because it turned into a bedroom for our son. Now instead of everything being clean, orderly and neat, chaos was all around with clothes piled on the floor, half-eaten pizza laying on a plate for days, and video games spread everywhere!  

Life can change so fast, and we realized the time had arrived to dig deep within ourselves and find our "Commando Parenting Tools." Soon we pushed our son out of his comfort zone and insisted that he get a job and learn how to take care of himself. We all got through it. The battle scars are buried deep within us. Months later, I found myself back, facing my lonely garage/game room/bedroom, wondering if I could ever enjoy the peace and quiet it once offered me.

Through my husband, a new path was opened for my garage. He began to turn it into an office for me, equipped with a lovely desk, laptop computer, printer, scanner, stereo speakers...everything I needed so my blogging could move along and hopefully the PAIN would subside a bit.  

At first, I fought against the idea of an office, not realizing how peaceful it can be. But now it's my oasis. As I look around, I see familiar photos hanging on the wall, curtains framing the windows, and a huge wood rocking chair by the window, inviting me to sit for a while, look outside and simply relax and take time to break away from the constant raging Pain inside my Body. Here is my place to draw deep from within myself, knowing I can still fight back at this Pain while nurturing myself as I write or simply look outside at nature.  

My lonely garage has finally found its true destination–my place of solace and joy. Now I look up to the Lord, thanking Him for each day, no matter how tough things might seem at times. Who knows, maybe your garage is looking for a new path, too!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The constant reminder of Pain

It's been a while since my fingers hit the keys to do any blogging. That's because I have been going through a new type of Pain, called "Frequent Dentist Visits." Let me be the first to say, It is no fun! But I have been blessed to find a wonderful, caring dentist who has been patient and understanding of my Chronic Pain and very careful not to add anymore "extra" Pain to the table.

Chronic Pain is such a constant presence in my life that I have to find ways to deal with it. Sometimes I simply have to put it out of my mind for awhile. This usually works, and it's nice to take a mental break of sorts from the battle I must wage daily against Pain. My mind had definitely been off my regular Pain because I've had to deal with the New Pain from dental work. I'd actually forgotten about the Big Pain until I came face to face with a tough reminder of just how vicious Pain can be.

My husband took me out for an easy dinner of soft food at a local eatery. As I sat munching away on soft mashed potatoes and carrots, my attention was drawn to a table filled to the brim with three young girls and their grandparents. I sat and watched at how they visited with each other. One bigger sister jumped up to take the youngest sister to the bathroom while the oldest sister laughed and joked with her grandparents. This was probably one of their last big outings before school starts. Packages sat all around them, probably filled with some special new outfit Grandma had purchased for them. It was a beautiful moment to watch and see this loving family treasuring time together. Pain was the last thing on my mind that day, and I had no intention of giving it any attention. 

But Pain is determined to a fault, demanding to have its moment in the light. Suddenly, I was jerked back to reality because–as the family began preparing to leave the eatery and the girls gathered up their to-go boxes of food–my eyes frozen on the Grandmother. I saw her struggling against this vicious enemy inside her bones–Pain! Each movement made by her took tremendous effort with her being cautious to make no sudden moves that would cause Pain to roar and take the joyous smile away that framed her face. Each girl stood in silence, as if already knowing how hard it was for their Grandmother to move around. And yet something tells me they had a huge sense of pride swelling in their hearts for this loving woman. It was a moment of silent suffering that hit me so hard and served to let me know...Chronic Pain is constantly there, and it will always grab your attention.

Sadness began to fill me, and then suddenly I stopped to remind myself of the words I try to live by: "Find just one moment in each day for Joy." Instantly, I knew my Joy was given to me on this day as I witnessed this family moment. I said a silent prayer for the Grandmother and saw her finally stand up straight and tall, reaching for the youngest girl's hand as they all strolled out together. 

Pain did not ruin the day for this family. They gave me a beautiful reminder of why we must keep fighting back against the Pain. Life is precious, and we need not lose anymore of ourselves to Pain than we have to. I pray you keep finding your moment of Joy as you wage through your own battle. Please know I say a prayer for you each day and hope you will say one for me. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

The "Gift" of blogging through the Pain

When I began this blog months ago, there were no real expectations of what might come my way from doing a blog about Chronic Pain. My writing started, and it was filled with my daily battle against this enemy that I can't see but feel 24 hours a day. Slowly, I found my blogging beginning to reach past myself as I encountered other people in my life. I could see they, too, were suffering with Chronic Pain, and my heart ached for them. I would get sad if somebody didn't "comment" on my blog, kind of like giving me that pat on the back, saying "good job, keep it up." I found myself wanting to quit, but something spurred me on, and I have kept this blog going. I might not blog as often, but a thought or feeling will hit me, and I can't get to my computer quick enough to put words down as I open my heart and pour out what I am feeling.  

Little did I know there was a very special "gift" coming my way via my blog. A special person left her comment one day, and it touched me deeply. As the months went by, she would leave a comment, and I was brave enough to respond back and thank her for the caring words she left me. A unique bond was forming, unknown to both of us, a friendship was growing between us, and it felt like we had already known each other for years. She has her own blog, and I have recently begun to read it and am becoming one of her followers, as the phrase go. We have been forming a "WI-FI"friendship and discussed the hope of meeting each other one day.  

Today the "Gift" arrived, and we finally met via  a simple phone call. It was wonderful! Without doubt, we have formed a bond that will last through the years. Out of the deepest physical suffering Chronic Pain brings to us daily, something caring and beautiful has grown past the suffering! A blessing no doubt this is, and we lift each other up daily in prayer. We might not be able to fix each other's pain, but sharing and talking about our struggles is wonderful.  

I am always looking for just one moment of joy each day, and it was a phone conversation with my good friend. Pain did not win any victory today. I urge each of you to keep fighting, keep looking past the Pain, and I pray you find your own special moment of joy. My prayers are with you.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Worn down by the fight against Pain

Being in the boxing ring with Pain is a full-time job which does not allow for even a second  of catching your breath, stepping away from Pain and re-grouping your fighting tools, so when the bell rings to say "Another round is here; get in and let's rumble" you are physically and mentally ready to march back into the ring. Here lies the problem for people who suffer with Chronic Pain: it's not that simple in thinking there is only one fight a week lined up. Instead, it's an invisible line of Pain, standing there waiting to step up and throw everything Pain can toss at you, showing no mercy or care for the tremendous toll it takes on the body, mind and spirit.

I look in the mirror and do not see "me" as I once did. Yes, I know aging is a factor, but for those of us who are fighting Chronic Pain on a 24-hour basis, the battle scars show up fast! Dark circles under the eyes that are filled to the brim with sadness that can't be spoken so easily to others. If I tell somebody my night was very rough and that I couldn't sleep, they look at me like I'm from outer space or something. The perception is that everybody should be able to sleep through the night and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle another day. Pain is not forgiving. All it wants is to rob your body and thrash you to the ground, throw wave upon wave of wicked Pain at you and laugh as Pain sees a person brought to their knees, sobbing with such heartache from their personal fight with this thing called Chronic Pain.

So the next time you come in contact with somebody who is in the Chronic Pain Club, please give them a moment of your heart and give them a soft cushion of love to fall on. Just listen to them and step away from the helplessness you might feel in thinking there is nothing you can do to help.  Showing another human genuine love and affection is the best medicine for those who are in the fight of their lives. We will gladly take the smallest pebble of compassion and hold it tight inside us because you then realize, "I am not alone in this." And by the grace of God, I can dig deeper and find another ounce of super-human courage to keep fighting back.

There are many days on the Pain road where we think joy will never be attainable to us again. But with love from others and simple prayers offered up to help us get through another day of rotten Pain, we then can smile. We can smile for a few moments, exhale and take a deep breath and then dive right back into the Ring of Pain.  

I have a blogging friend who has recently hit that wall of stone that silently waits for us to slam into. I keep repeating this simple truth: "Remember, you were here before Pain showed up in your life" so keep hanging in there and take it one day at a time.

My prayers go out to all who must fight back at Chronic Pain, and keep looking up for joy. It's out there. Maybe not in big amounts but in this journey, the smallest amount of true joy can carry us a long distance in our fight. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is there one perfect way to cure Pain?

In the sixteen years of my journey with Chronic Pain, it is a true statement to say that I have lost count of the many suggestions offered by caring people wanting to see this misery I carry with me go away. Their motives are pure because, in all honesty, it is uncomfortable for us to see our fellow human beings suffering with the silent monster we call Chronic Pain. People whom I have known for years have come up to me and told me, "You look like there's nothing wrong so what's going on with you?"

At first, I was angry. But then I realized it does no good to let anger rule. So I began the process of trying to put a face to my particular Pain and within seconds, it was obvious nobody understood when I talked about scar tissue wrapping around the sciatic nerve and how the burning feeling of fire going down my leg and landing at my foot, never stopping to give me a second to catch my breath but instead taking over my leg and trashing it out with Pain. How can you tell someone about the heating pad burn marks on your back because I would finally fall asleep in exhaustion from nights of Pain upon Pain, not realizing the heating pad was still on and cooking my backside.

Finally a day came while I was at church, waiting for services to begin, and in a small area where I helped the priest get ready for the service, and didn't realize I had been physically hitting my upper thigh area over and over again. A nice gentleman was in the room and asked me, "Isn't there something you can do to make that Pain go away?" It wasn't the statement he made, but deep frustration inside me that opened a desk drawer to grab a small tiny hammer and started pounding away on my leg! I felt so foolish, and his look was saying "she really has lost her grip." All I wanted to do was cry in desperation, but I held my emotions in check and made light of what he had witnessed.

It's hard enough fighting the battle of Chronic Pain, let alone learning to be a mini-version of a doctor, prepared with all your own personal documentation so you can explain "the problem" and then try to justify why so many different types of treatment for Chronic Pain do not help always. Let's be honest–each person is different. No Pain battle is the same; we each have areas of our body that hurt more, various levels of nerve damage to our legs, back, feet, shoulders. You name it, and one way or another, Pain can get to any part it hasn't reached yet.

I will never stop a person from offering their suggestions about my Chronic Pain treatment because they are taking the time to care, face my Pain up close and see what toll it takes.  One good friend tells me, "Your face always tells me what type of day you are having. The Pain really does show." She is right. I am unable to cover the dark circles under my eyes or the bone weary look inside them, or the slower walk I take when Pain is on the run, dragging me along with it.

If there were just one perfect way to cure Pain, I believe there would be a Line of Chronic Pain suffering people that would stretch for miles, all lining up to grab hold of the perfect cure! If we can give ourselves a moment to think past the Pain, we might see how people are being educated by us because not everyone can describe with perfect clarity which Pain medication helps, what anti-inflammatory drug works, where the great Pain Management Clinics are at and all the various Pain conditions we either deal with or learn about from others walking this same Path we are on.

My hope is for all those suffering with Chronic Pain to be in the driver's seat with you being the leader. Pain does not like to be ruffled, dulled, moved around, and certainly never likes to be wiped out. So give your Pain a run for its money. Fight with everything you have, dealing with the Pain issue at hand, and not losing precious energy in the hunt for a perfect cure. For me, I simply look up and ask His help. Do not be afraid to ask people you know to Pray for you. Thank them, walk away and who knows, you might be surprised at the results of that one simple request, "Please pray for me," powerful and humble words from the heart.

Hang in there to all who are suffering. Keep fighting back so you find a simple moment of joy. Today I was able to make a grocery store trip and my joy came when I saw my dear husband trying to balance two watermelons, one determined to fall out of his grip, but he made it. It was a fun moment!

God bless every person battling with Chronic Pain. Please know there is a prayer said by me each night for all of you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Everybody has to struggle, some more than others

Living with Chronic Pain is like having a "monkey" that does a wicked dance on your back all the time, and it gets old–fast! Yet everyday life is all around us, and no matter what, we must make some attempt to keep moving. I have a dear friend whose husband suffers terribly from Chronic Pain and it's almost as if we have become "Pain Wi-Fi Linked." That's because I can be having a wicked day of Pain and will call to check on him...yep, he is hurting just as bad, if not worse. My heart aches for him, and we always end our conversation by telling each other "hang in there, remember I am praying for you." And somehow, without it being spoken, we know those prayers are being said and, more importantly, are being heard. It gives us a breath of hope to keep pushing on through the pain. I can tell when the weather is getting ready to change, long before it ever gets here. If a storm is beginning to stir, the barometric pressure rising makes my Pain soar through the roof, and it does not let up until the weather finally hits. My Pain friend is exactly the same, which makes one realize how amazing the human body is. Long ago, injuries to my body that can predict weather changes is something I did not plan for, and there are times when I feel like calling the local TV weather people and telling them, "You have it wrong! Just ask my leg and back. Now this is when the weather is really going to arrive!"

Another friend I met through blogging shares with me how intense her Pain gets, so much that even ordinary chores like getting the groceries out of the car forces her to leave some bags for later as it's all she can do to get inside and stop. She is doing everything humanly possible to cope with such horrible Pain. She is another Prayer partner because I pray each night for her, and she prays for me. One might think this is not that much help, but in the darkest hours of the night, when the house is silent and it's just you and Pain, every single moment of Prayer is vital in holding on. For me, it keeps me fighting, staying determined to keep Pain from taking every single bit of me away. After all, I was here before Pain stepped into my life, and I am going to stay!

So for all of you who must suffer with this thing called Chronic Pain, keep pushing forward and cherish each small victory you achieve, no matter what it is. A short walk, doing the dishes, bringing in just one bag of groceries, going to a movie...just keep looking UP and reaching for your moment of Joy. It's worth the struggle. You are always in my prayers.

Monday, July 4, 2011

This DAY is always tough

The Fourth of July is usually a day of picnics, fun and firework displays. Simply a day in which we relax and, hopefully at some point in the day, give THANKS for all this country has.

I feel all those things and MORE on this particular day because it also brings a very painful reminder for my husband and myself. On July 4, 1990, an intruder broke into the home of my 80-year-old mother-in-law and proceeded to stab her six times and beat her terribly. She passed from this earth within minutes of the first initial stab wound, and she did NOT deserve to die such a death.

Within an hour of this horrendous crime, the suspect was caught and two years later given the death penalty for his sentence. Sixteen years later, we received a call that he had been granted a new trial and there we sat again, fearing to face all those memories played out in a courtroom. By the grace of God and countless prayers, just days before a new trial was scheduled to start, he confessed to numerous other crimes and agreed to a life sentence in prison.

NO, it does not make up for the loss of this wonderful woman who was so much more to me than a mother-in-law; she was my dear friend. I miss her each day and can't truly begin to understand how hard it is for my husband, but we have found our way through this by leaning on God and each other. She would want us to keep moving and also to try hard and work on forgiveness. That's not easy to do, plain and simple.

So today I noticed my back and leg pain seemed worse, and as the day wore on, I kept wondering WHY. Where was this added Pain coming from? A dear friend of mine had dropped by to help me with my computer, and we heard fireworks go off. Knowing how dry our land is due to this severe drought, concern arose quickly about a fire. Luckily, the sounds stopped fast, and she made a comment about this always happening on the Fourth of July. It hit me like a ton of bricks because TODAY long ago was a NIGHTMARE day, and I commented to her about it. Her reaction was so comforting, and the fact she was here helping me stay busy said everything.

My husband and I haven't talked about this day much. After all, we both KNOW what is on our minds. All the words in the world can't undo what happened. But as we continue through our lives together, we hear other horrible stories of people losing their loved ones to a vicious and senseless crime. Being a victim of crime is never easy, but you keep moving.

I pray for all those lost to senseless acts of crime and for their families. But most especially on this day, I pray for my husband and his family, that our Lord will continue working in their lives and helping each one of them to cope as best they can. Life is never easy. Things come at you quickly and hard. Maybe the TEST is seeing how we cope with these tough trials, and in turn how we then can maybe help someone else facing the same heartbreak.

God bless.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A NEW type of PAIN

As a young child, going to the dentist is something that did NOT happen. We lived in the country, money was hard to come by and visiting the dentist was on the low list of important things to do. I did not see a dentist until in my early teens and a cavity had finally demanded to be taken care of. It was not fun, but the tooth was fixed and finally as I reached my early twenties, the adult person in me understood the need for taking care of my teeth. Both of my parents lost all their teeth and had to wear dentures. It was hard to see that and my mind was determined to not allow that to happen to me.

So many years later, I find myself back at the dentist office, and the news is NOT good. My teeth are needing major attention because years of grinding them down to almost nothing had brought me a brand new set of major problems. Trust me when I say that I have complained all the way through this process and today...well, today was the BIG day in which my dentist began FOUR of the EIGHT crowns that must be done in order to save my upper teeth. 

I was blessed to find a wonderful, caring, compassionate dentist who also has an amazing sense of humor and yet is very respectful of the Chronic Pain I deal with and knows that any additional Pain he adds to my plate will make life more challenging and difficult for me. He did warn me the pain after the procedure would be ROUGH!

Guess what! He was RIGHT! Oh, my goodness, this has hurt beyond anything I could have dreamed about. Sometimes we try to predict what our Pain will feel like but there is no way to do that. You simply have to wait and let it arrive. My husband has been NURSE WONDER today and taken great care of me but we both have realized this is something that has to run its course before I can feel human again.

I also got through this day by the power of many, many PRAYERS being said for me. People who know me promised to pray and I did feel those prayers as I sat in the chair and got through this rough siege of dental work. Now I must heal, go back in a few weeks and get permanent crowns put on, then heal again and go back for another round of FOUR more crowns on other upper teeth. One thing is for sure, I will never NEGLECT my teeth again ever, and something tells me this will remind me to try cutting down on GRINDING my teeth when stressed.

A dear Sister/Friend knocked at our door today right after I got home and brought me a lovely bouquet of flowers that she had picked at a local grower in our area! That moment was my JOY for this hard day, and they will continue to be a reminder of her caring love and will help me smile more each day.

Motto for the day: PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH.  Keep smiling and say one prayer for me as I promise to say one for you. Never give up the battle of PAIN. Never.  It's worth the fight, no matter what.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pain has a its own Mind about everything

It's been a while since I have felt like blogging. That's because PAIN seems to have taken over lately and driven me to concentrate HARD on the battle. It's one thing to deal daily with Chronic do learn the system and follow the RULES that PAIN has. Coping with Pain is a 24-hours-a-day job, and it seems you never get a break of any sort. Instead, you must make your OWN ways of being able to still enjoy doing even the most simple things.

As the years have gone by in my journey of fighting this Pain, so many things that I once really enjoyed doing have demanded that I give them up so that my Pain is not increased due to me mowing the yard, working hard outside on flower beds, or climbing a ladder and painting. Yes, as I even typed the word LADDER, my own sense of reasoning can NOW stop and think, "Now what the heck am I doing climbing up a ladder after having already fallen out of a tree?" Stupid on my part but ladders and painting were things I enjoyed doing, too. So I gave the ladder up but still had this silly idea that standing in a chair would do no harm. At least I could still do some version of painting but stay away from pesky ladders. My dear husband finally brought the CHAIR issue to light and challenged my reasoning process as to how I could validate my ability to STAND in a chair and NOT think there would be any chance at all of taking a fall. He further reminded me that IF I were to fall from a CHAIR, and God forbid, break a HIP, my only NEW chair would be a wheelchair because my body will not allow for a hip replacement and would reject the implant with me very possibly becoming seriously ill if this were to ever happen.

I got MAD at him, the damn chair, the TREE, ME for climbing the tree–and most of all–I got MAD at the PAIN. This Pain that seems to have robbed me of so MANY things I enjoyed doing. Now here I faced the honest HARD truth of having to either be brutally honest with myself  and let the chair go to or simply keep playing a Cat and Mouse game or sorts, just hoping I would BEAT the odds and never fall out of a chair.

As my loving husband stood there and faced me with this hard truth, beyond his frustration I saw this amazing DEEP LOVE for me and his FEARS of what might happen if I did not give up standing in a chair. Sometimes we MUST really challenge the ones we love the MOST with the sobering reality of life as it REALLY is now. For me, that means the CHAIR now had to be added as a MUST NOT DO ITEM for Martha! 

Yes, I pouted for a while, and yet while being angry, started to COUNT my blessings instead of sitting here and only looking at the NEGATIVES. It did not take me long to realize how silly I was being about items or things that I once considered so important in my life. God has blessed me with the BEST gift of all: my dear husband who had the fortitude to finally take the bull by the horns, as they say, and put the issue squarely in my line of view. He did NOT make the decision for me, but instead I acted like the adult and made it for MYSELF. So although the past couple of weeks have been pretty rough emotionally, there is truly a joyful light at the end of the tunnel. I can still walk, and yes, I can STILL battle against the Chronic Pain that will always be a challenge in my daily life. My joy moment came after having stood by my husband as we painted on a wall of our house together and to turn toward each other and say almost in unison,"I really don't LIKE to do this anymore!"

Please keep me in your prayers because I am preparing to face some TOUGH dental work that is NOT going to be easy. I thank you for the prayers and know you are ALL in my daily prayers, too.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trigger Point Injections, up close and personal

Recently, my wonderful Pain Management doctor told me about how easily I tend to "walk the line" when it comes to being given medication for my injections and that encouraged me to be BRAVE enough to have the injections without heavier medicines. Well, I did it! As they say, guess I grew up, sort of, and faced these injections head on. Of course, I did ask my doctor for a HUG to let her know my fears were right there at the surface and waiting to send me running out of her office!

She assured me that I could do it. Obviously, my doctor knew me much better than I did. I said a deep Prayer and forged ahead. There was a lot of deep relaxing breathing on my part and a true, gentle, caring touch of my doctor. She respected my fears and helped me through this. If anyone would have told me I could do this, well, I would never have believed it possible. But as we reach down deep inside ourselves and pull out that extra bit of inner strength, it's quite amazing what we can manage to walk through to get Pain relief! 

There will still be times in the future when I will need more in-depth injections, and I know my doctor will handle that in the manner needed. I am truly blessed and know this is not always the case, to have such a wonderful doctor. Please keep fighting this PAIN battle and do not allow it any further power. 

After all, once I get over the soreness of these injections, I have some walking to start because somewhere out there, I am dreaming of a DANCE with my dear husband, twirling me around the floor! It's my dream that might take a LONG time to reach, but one step at a time will slowly help me to get there. 

Keep looking for a second of JOY in your own daily journey with PAIN and treasure those seconds.  This is my continued prayer for all who are Dancing with Pain.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pain dancing around me all the time

PAIN seems to have formed a dance of sorts with me. As I wake each morning, it's right there, waiting for my feet to hit the floor, telling me, "Time for another PAIN twirl around the floor today!" I know there aren't too many options of even temporary relief out there for me because my insurance is telling me that I am limited to just a certain number of pain injections each year. It continues to blow my mind as to how these people can become GOD without knowing ME. They just sit in some faraway office and casually read my case. They've NEVER WALKED THE SHOES OF CHRONIC PAIN. I suppose it is easier for that sort of detachment. They don't have to see the faces of REAL people who are suffering this Dance with PAIN. So I accept this cursing with frustration but knowing that I can choose to either stay Angry or get on with the GIFT of life that I am given each day, no matter how HARD my Dance is at times.

Dancing was a real JOY for me at one time before the fall from the tree. But now it's an almost impossible task to attempt. By the grace of God, though, I am seeing EXAMPLES of TRUE GRIT. They are a couple we treasure as our neighbors. They've been married for more than 70 years and, believe it or not, they still DANCE! I have never seen them on the dance floor, but I've heard from friends that they can dance younger couples off the floor. Let's see...they BOTH have pacemakers. One also has a 20-year-old HIP replacement still hanging in there to work for him. At the glorious ages of 97 and 93, they are simply CHERISHING each Dance they have together! I tell myself, "Well, if THEY can do it, what's holding ME back"

So I am giving myself a new GOAL: to try and DANCE again with the hope of joyous music playing as my husband gives me a twirl around the dance floor! There will probably need to be a CHAIR waiting for me to catch me, but what a VICTORY I will feel, knowing that PAIN did not keep me completely locked away from something I once cherished. This new dance might only last a few minutes, but I will gladly take even a brief moment of JOY.  It's worth the fight to get there!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seems like all I do is HURT lately...

It's been a while since I have blogged, and all I can blame it on is PAIN that seems to be wearing extra hard on me lately. I know this sounds like a lame excuse of sorts but until you walk the PAIN journey each day and deal constantly with your body just wrapped in a GRIP that refuses to let you relax and feel normal, only then can you have a true understanding of how hard this fight can be.

Now I have new Pain to deal with–hurting teeth from a ton of needed dental work that I finally knew had to be faced and dealt with. But to have MORE Pain added to my already filled plate, it is a challenge that I am really struggling with. Today I had another visit to my dentist. I gritted my way through it, got home and haven't moved from my bed! Bet this sounds to people like I am being a real baby. Let's face it, it's just DENTAL work. But my body is working so HARD to deal with my daily battle, and now the fight just got a lot harder! These are the times when you should nurture yourself. Do things like rest because your body needs the help in order to continue the battle against PAIN.

Its scary because even the strongest PAIN WARRIORS have their moments of doubt, fear, and total exhaustion. The determination to keep FIGHTING is harder to find, and yet somehow, we do FIND our way through it. I am a ton of emotional stumbles that cause me to RAGE against this enemy that I can't SEE. These are the times when I am brought to my knees in PRAYER, begging for HELP from ABOVE. I am only one person–human in every sense of the word–and there is NO way I can get through each day without HIS help. 

So today as I glared up at my dentist when PAIN was settling in, he gave me such needed words to keep pushing through: "Come on, Martha. YOU can do this, I know it!" My glare instantly became a true, heartfelt SMILE. I NEEDED those words of encouragement, and he knew it. 

Please do not give up the fight. Keep pushing back. My JOY was being able to SMILE today, in spite of PAIN. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pain is a DRAG!

When suffering with daily Chronic Pain, there are days that go on and on. Well, you have the picture. I wake up with Pain, and it stays right beside me all day long. Then it begins to BARK louder as evening starts because Nerve Pain seems to increase and is ready to rob a restful night of sleep from me. Without a doubt, I have a determination inside me NOT to lose this battle with PAIN. I feel like the "ROCKY" character in the movies–beat up, worn down, hitting the mat and then getting right back up to take some more PAIN on. 

But fighting back against this unseen foe called PAIN gets so old that lately it's just plain hard to find words to describe how I feel. Obviously, I am back in a rock-hard Pain cycle that will not go away. And so I am headed back to see my Pain Management Doctor because it's obvious that I am in need of those lovely Trigger Point Injections. For me, they are a blessing because they give me a window of Pain freedom, where I can still look around at the world and know–YES–keep fighting back, no matter what!

So when I say that PAIN is a DRAG...well, it IS in every sense of the word. I wake up feeling like somebody ran my body through the SPIN CYCLE. Then I must face the MORNING Pain that's been waiting for me and keep willing my body to PUSH on! Chronic Pain will DRAG the strongest man down to the ground and leave him begging for relief. I saw this firsthand recently when a friend of my dear husband's woke up one morning in AGONY. For unknown reasons, PAIN had arrived at his doorstep, and he wanted this misery to LEAVE his body. He saw me at church, and my heart felt for him as I saw that familiar face of Pain and heard his question: "How long have you been hurting?" I paused because the answer that he was getting ready to hear from me was hard to say: "I have been in Pain for about fifteen years!" His eyes showed nothing but DREAD, and his response was "There is NO way I will make it because SEVEN WEEKS has almost done me in!" As he walked away, I saw how just SEVEN short weeks of Pain had already began to show the DRAG on his body!

Yep, Pain is a DRAG. We don't like it. We beg for it to go away and never come back again. But one thing Pain does NOT know is that people who suffer daily in this battle are TRUE WARRIORS! We might look tired, older, drained, but make NO mistake, we are determined to keep the fight going!
Be PROUD of yourself, no matter what, and always keep looking for that second of JOY!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Learning lessons from a BIRD?

There are daily lessons given to me as I battle against Chronic Pain. Some are like light bulbs going off, showing me something NEW to do in the fight. Others are TOUGH as nails and can leave me with many questions, wondering why this has to be SO hard. But no answer comes.

I have all my battle techniques neatly lined up: What to do when the Pain starts to ROAR. How to keep my emotions in check at social gatherings (and not be looking for a sturdy CHAIR to plop in). And, yes, not to go grocery shopping when my body and mind are NOT up to picking out yogurt or anything!

So how in the world could I possibly learn a lesson about fighting PAIN from a bird?

This is without doubt my favorite season of the year. It's warm enough to sit outside, watch butterflies, birds and flowers, and enjoy a beautiful late evening sunset. We  have lots of REDBIRDS this year, and it's the first time I have given these beautiful creatures much attention. Right now, they're busy, flying around and building nests. (I get the colors  and sexes mixed up–which one's which.) But never could I have been more surprised to learn about how territorial these birds are. My dear husband told me this morning about this strange sound he kept hearing and thought it was a jack-hammer or something. He was shocked to see a REDBIRD furiously beating itself against our car's side mirror! This little bird was fighting what it thought was the ENEMY. It wouldn't stop until the BATTLE had been won with the OTHER bird in the mirror.

I went outside to watch this FIGHT. As it wore on, something began to HIT me about what this little bird was fighting, and I started to relate this to my own Fight with Pain. The bird refused to GIVE UP. All it could see was another REDBIRD coming into its private space and there was NO way that was going to happen! We began to worry the bird might actually break its beak or hurt itself, but that did not seem to concern  this bird. It was ALL about the FIGHT against a foe! 

It hit because as I could see a bit of my OWN battle that I wage each day and my determination to NOT give up and allow PAIN to take ME out of the picture. I saw a determination in this little bird that amazed me and had me laughing as I sat and watched a battle that NOBODY would really win!

I had a great moment of JOY today, all because of one strong little redbird! Keep reaching for your own JOY because we never know HOW it might come our way. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Emotional side effects of Chronic Pain

After almost sixteen years of fighting day and night against Chronic Pain, it can easily become a cycle that we get wrapped in and have NO  room for anything else. When I first began this BLOG process, I had no clue as to what words would come out each time as I allowed myself to open up and SHARE my  battle with Chronic Pain. As time goes on, I  hear from others who are clawing their way through PAIN and am humbled by their inspiring words because I know better than anybody how HARD it is to fight something you really can NOT see but certainly can FEEL!

Chronic Pain can ROB you of so much. The body that once could do ANYTHING we asked of it, now is weakened by the battle, and daily adjustments must be made to find our way through. What was once real true JOY is now replaced with a TOUGH outer shell that we cling to. Let's be honest...when your body is hurting ALL the TIME, who the heck FEELS like smiling and laughing? I find myself with this semi-plastered smile on my face and know I must push myself to find that JOY. 

Without a doubt it's SO easy to get MAD about this battle that I brought to myself! On the worst days of PAIN, I find myself going back to that awful day when I thought "you can do this" and yet hearing words of "WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!" But of course, I did not WAIT and it's vital I do not allow myself to DWELL too long in the past. PAIN does not give us a vacation. It's always here, and I  know how deep I must reach inside to find the strength to FIGHT back. 

There are TOUGH emotional side effects to Chronic Pain. But amazing life lessons are brought to me each day. By the grace of God, lots of PRAYER and a stubborn streak that refuses to go away is what keeps me going. I am learning it is OKAY to lean on your loved ones, take a long nap, CRY, SHOUT, and, above all, KEEP LAUGHING with real JOY that is STILL inside each of us.

Nobody is perfect, but I feel that all who deal with Chronic Pain are truly WINNERS in every sense of the word. And we will not give in and let PAIN win.