I’ve had a few different struggles in my life. Who hasn’t right? But about two years ago my health took a turn for the worse that I still haven’t recovered from – and I’m starting to think that I never will.
Was it cancer?
It was CHRONIC PAIN.
For all of you out there who have never experienced chronic pain, you may be thinking: “Well it could be much worse. It’s not like it’s fatal.”Well it could be much worse. It's not like it's fatal. Click To Tweet
And you’d be right. There is always something worse, and I’m not going to die from it. But it has impacted my life in such a profound way, that I don’t even think that I’m the same person that I was before.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
Approximately two years ago, I was hit with crippling fatigue. One day I was just regular every day tired, and the next day I was so profoundly exhausted that my husband had to stay home from work to look after our kids.
This wasn’t the standard fatigue I get when my insomnia hits. It was a whole new level of fatigue; an exhaustion that was almost completely debilitating. I couldn’t make it through the day without taking a nap. If I didn’t choose to take a nap, my body would force me to, as soon as I sat down.
I often said to my husband that it felt like the fatigue was so all consuming that it was in my bones.The fatigue is so all consuming that it felt like it was in my bones. Click To Tweet
I went to see my doctor and there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with me – all my tests checked out. He recommended going to see a naturopath, so I did.
My naturopath’s first suggestion was that I might be experiencing adrenal fatigue. I had just come through an extremely stressful year; add all my triathlon training on top of it, and my body just couldn’t handle it.
She recommended the following:
- Herbs to support the adrenals
- B12 shots (after testing my B12 and finding it low)
- Keeping my heart rate low during exercise
- Stress reduction activities:
- Increased sleep
As the fatigue began to lift, I started to notice that the fatigue had been replaced by pain. I’m not sure if the fatigue hid the pain or gave way to the pain, all I know is that I hurt – everywhere. It was a general ache that I’m at a loss to describe.
Since then, I haven’t had one day without pain of some kind. The pain isn’t always the same – but it’s EVER-PRESENT. Sometimes the pain engulfs my entire body, and other times it is more focused in just a few areas. Some days it is really intense, and it takes everything I’ve got to get out of bed. Other days it is fairly mild and mostly just sits in the background.
I don’t have a diagnosis – although fibromyalgia has come up. I’m not searching for a diagnosis. I don’t need one. What I need is strategies to keep living a full life in spite of the pain. Oh, and of course, I need the pain to STOP!What I need is a strategy to keep living a full life in spite of the pain. Click To Tweet
WHAT IS CHRONIC PAIN?
Chronic pain is different for everyone, but a loose definition is pain that has lasted more than six months and is present in more than one area of the body – usually both the upper body and the lower body.
IMPACTS OF CHRONIC PAIN (for me)
- Reduced energy
- It takes most of my energy just to process and manage the constant pain.
- I also need a lot more sleep.
- Reduced activity
- I’ve always been a very busy and active person. Now, I must look at every activity I need/want to do and decided if I have the energy reserves to do it.
- There are many days where I basically do nothing.
- Reduced productivity
- I simply can’t do as much as I did before because the pain makes me slower, and I need to take more breaks.
- Increased irritability
- I don’t have the same patience I once had. (Tricky since I have little kids).
- Reduced motivation
- Often I just can’t get started because it is so much easier to just stay curled up in a ball and let the pain run free than to force myself to get up and get moving.
- Sensory overload
- Our minds can only process so many sensations at one time. Because my mind is always dealing with pain, I get easily overwhelmed by lots of noise.
- I find it harder to divide my attention between more than one activity because of the sensory overload.
- Increased social anxiety
- The pain takes a lot of my attention, so I find it hard to remember things that people have told me, making me worry that I will say the wrong thing.
- I worry that I won’t be interesting or engaging because I don’t have the energy to be fully present
SO WHY BLOG ABOUT IT?
I’ve always been active. I like sports. I like hiking. I like moving my body. I have an intense fear that if I stop moving because of this ever-present pain, I will never start again. And I just can’t spend the rest of my life watching from a chair.
My intention is to share the process and the challenges that I go through to maintain my active life style in spite of my pain. Hopefully, by sharing both my successes and my failures, I can send the message that it is possible to stay active even when living with chronic pain – and it’s okay to struggle with it.
I have ever-present pain, but I am NOT the PAIN. I can still be me, even if that me is a different me than the me I knew two years ago (did that make any sense?). We all change – doesn’t matter what changes us.
That being said, living with chronic pain is no picnic.
Stay tuned for more posts where I chatter about the ways that chronic pain has affected my life, how I have dealt with it, and how I keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Please share your stories about living with chronic pain.
Enjoy life and keep moving because YOU CAN,
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