Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finding the courage to take a Special Trip

A story was always told to me by my Mom and my Grandfather about me being named after my Great-Grandmother. She was special, although her lifespan was very short because she died during childbirth. I knew she was buried in another state and that meant a LONG car ride, with PAIN sitting right beside me in the front seat.

My husband discussed the possible trip with me for over a month...what affect it would have on my Pain-riddled body, how many stops we needed to make for me to get out and STRETCH to work out the kinks of sitting in a vehicle and how this would add extra travel time and so on. I went back and forth with my decision to stay or go and finally decided: "Get up and MOVE. Don't THINK about the PAIN!" 

Not thinking about PAIN is a lot easier SAID than DONE. But I was ready to give it my ALL, and off we went. Each time we stopped, my dear husband was watching me closely to see who was ahead in the battle. I just kept it upbeat and continued to talk about how exciting it would be if we were able to FIND my Great-Grandmother's final resting place. Before I knew it, we had arrived at a very OLD cemetery that seemed to stretch for miles. My aching body was NOT looking forward to having to walk and hunt, but luck arrived when we spotted a office nearby. We quickly got driving instructions to  my Great-Grandmother's resting spot.

This was a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life as we slowly drove near her spot. It felt like something was telling me "just look over here...you do not have to WALK." I almost jumped out of our vehicle and ran up to see my departed Great-Grandmother's name in clear view! All those years as a little girl, hearing my Mom tell me so many special things about her, and my Grandfather, speaking with such tones of LOVE about his departed Mother. It felt is if somebody really knew how hard this trip had been for me to take and was letting me know, if you PUSH past the PAIN, kick it OUT of your way, just LOOK at what you CAN do. JOY filled me up to the brim of my heart!

We took photos and did some paper etchings of her name. Then it was time to go find a place to rest for the night! Yes, my old body was aching and SCREAMING at me but the thrill of having MADE this trip just pushed back at the PAIN. I would NOT allow anything to rob me of this magical day! I made sure to also THANK my husband for the BEST wedding anniversary gift he could ever have given me–this trip! Yes, we made the trip on our 36th wedding anniversary. And although this TYPE of trip might not seem romantic or special, for both of us to be standing in front of my Great-Grandmother's resting spot and hugging each other with love, well, it couldn't get any better!

My advice to all who suffer with Chronic Pain: I fully realize a lengthy car trip is a HARD decision to make. So CHOOSE something easy, simple, and STICK to it because the accomplishment of having the courage to push PAST the miserable PAIN that racks our bodies each day, it is SO worth it! I pray we all keep looking for that one single moment of JOY each day!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finding new sources of PAIN relief

A friend who has known me for many years and seen the huge toll that Pain was taking on me would beg me to try something different–like a MASSAGE–hoping it would give me even a tiny measure of relief from this Pain that refuses to stop. I would listen politely and take all his information in, and walk away, refusing to try something new and just staying in MY battle rut. 

For anyone who suffers with Chronic Pain, it's very easy to become protective of our aching body parts. I guard my leg like nobody would  believe because the FEAR of taking a wrong step, twisting in a manner that for most people seems very easy. Yet for me, it means a guaranteed ride on the PAIN roller coaster! I just figure this is the way my life will be, and nothing will help.

But finally I was desperate enough to give Massage a try and found a local lady who had recently finished attending her training and was starting to offer Massages. She assured me as we started that no aching part of my old body would be worked on unless she had my approval and we both agreed as to HOW she would attempt to give me some relief. 

It was amazing to say the least. I walked out with a feeling of complete relaxation that I had not experienced in a long time! It was EASY to make the next appointment and as we continue working together, I am learning about how much Scar Tissue there is wrapped around my Sciatic Nerve, why my feet are so COLD all the time and yet how a specific touch can give temporary relief.

Nothing lasts forever. And yes, my Pain always comes back to rejoin the fight. But at least I am searching for new things to help, whether it be getting a massage or wearing a new pair of magic shoes that continue to EASE my constant foot burn while I have the shoes on. The goal is to simply KEEP trying, no matter how bad the Pain is. And always know, you do not have to push for giant changes but just keep pushing! It's the battle of Chronic Pain versus Me and as long as I keep taking the battle on, I am STILL here, and PAIN has not won!

I pray for all who are suffering as this Easter approaches, that you find a small moment of relief and simply enjoy the day. Go out and look for an Easter egg. Or just sit back and breathe in the JOY of the day. Be glad you are here, regardless of the Pain battle!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New things sometimes help the PAIN!

When you suffer with Chronic Pain on a daily basis, it's easy to get lost in the battle and forget simple things, like getting out to see a movie, going to dinner, cooking dinner...the list can go on forever. I haven't forgotten HOW to do these things, but the PAIN has a front seat in my life and refuses to be cast aside! 

One of the things I had really forgotten to do over the past year or so was to get out and find a new pair of shoes, which sounds pretty simple. But isn't when it comes to PAIN. The wrong pair of shoes can bring added Pain to my feet and make moving around miserable. SHOES–something this minor is changed because of Chronic Pain, and I find myself frustrated because of this. A good friend had suggested I try these new Skeecher Ups shoes. All that came to mind was a TV commercial, showing a lovely lady, wearing these shoes and claiming the shoes would truly help to bring about a change in your appearance. That is the LAST thing that I cared about. All I could hope for is a pair of shoes that would NOT add to my Pain. 

What came to mind was a line from the movie, Forrest Gump, where he's describing a new pair of corrective shoes with braces. He says, "Momma called them MAGIC SHOES and said they would take me ANYWHERE!" I thought it was worth a shot to at least give the shoes a look and try them on. They felt pretty good so I decided to buy them. The next day I put these shoes on and did not take them off until late in the evening. My feet have burned like fire since I fell from the tree, and this was the FIRST time since that terrible day that my feet felt NORMAL. 

Magic Shoes, nope! Within ten minutes of taking them off, that familiar BURN returned and it was a tough reminder that I will NOT be getting rid of that particular foot problem. I will say buying the shoes was worth it. I don't know how LONG they will help me, but it's like starting Massage treatment...scary and new but even a TINY BIT OF RELIEF is worth it. 

My JOY came as I stood in the shoe store, looking down at my shiny new shoes and feeling like a little child! It was a GOOD DAY, and I continue to pray for more of them. Keep fighting back against PAIN. And who knows, you might just be able to KICK back at it with new SHOES!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let's "define" PAIN

Anyone who suffers with Chronic Pain can quickly give you their definition of Pain in a heartbeat. The words to define it are not always exact, clear cut or nice. Instead, they are filled with frustration, anger, and despair. The daily grind of dealing with a PAIN that will NOT go away is exhausting, which makes it very hard to stop and give a explanation about your Pain. 

I decided to search the Internet for "definitions" of Pain. What I found were some very interesting spins on the word. PAIN: a physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury. Yep, that one covers my Pain because I certainly have physical suffering brought on by being stupid enough to climb a tree and fall out of it, leaving me with a lifetime of Sciatica that gives me great discomfort! 

Wikipedia had a delightful spin on Pain..."it pains me to say this." That makes me think about different people in the medical profession who tell me nothing can be done to ease the daily Pain I must fight. It does pain me when I must tell my husband we can't go on a planned trip because my Pain is raging inside my body and I could care less about doing anything. 

You can't really give a true description of Chronic Pain because each person who suffers with this wicked foe has their own unique version of suffering. All one needs to do is really take a look at the face of a person dealing with Pain. There you will find the TRUE definition of PAIN. But I urge you to also look beyond the obvious signs and see the person who is determined not to allow PAIN to win but instead chooses to keep fighting back so to have some bit of JOY.

I pray daily for the courage to face this battle, and it's by His grace that I find my way each day. Pain is here to stay with me, but it will NEVER beat ME. That is my hope for all who suffer this terrible battle of Chronic Pain.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What PAIN really takes away from me

After living with daily Chronic Pain for the past 16 years, I have not allowed myself to take stock of what I have given up and lost due to PAIN. All of the outside work I love to do is gone. Any type of physical labor other than sweeping the floor or doing the dishes, GONE. Being able to jump in the car with my husband and take a simple drive, well, it's not gone, but PAIN has also joins us for each ride we take and dictates how far we can go. It demands numerous stops to get out, stretch, try to SHAKE the numbness in my legs away, and simply IGNORE the wicked burning sensation in my feet that WILL not leave.

So it's fair to say PAIN has posed a wicked challenge to me. I can let it keep robbing me of joyous activities or I can find NEW things to do and just keep moving along. It's NOT easy. Actually, it is so very HARD, but I know my Pain battle is not something I can just ignore. As Scarlett in Gone with the Wind said, "I'll just think about that tommorrow!" Pain is not a movie. It's very alive and real, and can bring you to your knees in despair from the constant throbbing and hurting. I have my moments of sorrow and allow myself to grieve for all my struggles and losses. But then I know to pull myself out of my chair and FIGHT back at Pain with everything I have within me. 

Recently, I saw a photo taken of me by a friend, and it was HARD to view because the battle with PAIN was clear on my face. All I could see was a worn and tired looking woman. But as I continued to mentally take the photo apart, I could still see myself and knew I was worth the fight against this wicked Pain. 

For all of you who suffer with Chronic Pain, please keep moving and taking the fight against Pain on.  Your battle does not have to be huge, but keep trying because a single moment of real JOY is worth waging the fight. I will always pray for those silent faces suffering with Chronic Pain and hope you will say a prayer for me. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Long Night with Pain

Physical work has been part of my life forever. I can vividly recall working with my father as a young child and watching each move he made, hoping I would learn to do the same things one day. I grew up and found how much I loved to work outside, planting a garden, landscaping, mowing the yard. You name it, I'd try to do it. 

But all of these were lost to me after my FALL from that tree. There was a streak of determination to NOT give any of my outside treasures up, even though each time I would mow the yard meant days of  added PAIN that wore me down. My Pain Management Doctor begged me to STOP mowing because it was only causing me further PAIN. Finally, one day, I quit. My husband now does ALL the yard work. There are many times when I watch him roar around on the mower, cutting grass and just being outside, and all I can feel is anger! I am not mad at my husband, but I am FURIOUS at the PAIN that stops me from doing the things I once loved to do.

Yesterday on a whim, I decided to purchase a few new garden vegetable plants for our spring/summer garden. Of course, I refused to allow any thought enter my mind that I might regret buying these plants because all I really wanted was a chance to do something very familiar to me that I had not done in years. I loaded up my new plants and headed toward our garden beds, only to see plants coming to life that my husband had already taken care of. My anger rose and instead of asking my dear husband to help me, I dived in and dug away. Instantly, PAIN joined me, dragging me down with each new plant I put in the ground. 

Thank goodness I only purchased a few plants because as I finished watering the ground, all I could do was drag myself inside and fall on the bed in complete exhaustion and deep sadness. I can only imagine what my husband was feeling as he silently watched me go through this struggle. At one point, I simply looked at a new plant and silently hoped it would meet a quick death! The rest of my day put me in my chair and all I could do was rest...and wait because PAIN was on its way. Sleep only lasted a few hours, and the PAIN demanded me to get up and walk the floor in the silent hours of night going to morning.  My husband woke up and just looked at me as he knew my battle with PAIN was raging. 

For all who battle with Chronic Pain, the moments of true realization of having to LET go of things you once loved to do are some of the WORST times. Chronic Pain is a major battle for me, and without a doubt, I have felt a huge wave of  sadness and anger during this long night of hurting. Yet I know better than anyone: a choice is always out there for me. I can choose to feel sorry for myself and go down that road. Or I can dust myself off and START another day given to me by God.

So I have prayed during this long night for the strength to endure the added PAIN and then move on. I do not have any options of casting PAIN away from me. All I can do is rally back and NOT allow PAIN to win. It's really just one day at a time. That's all we can ask for. I pray for all who suffer with Chronic Pain and hope you find courage to look for a bit of JOY each day.