Now that I’m no longer in crisis mode, I’m feeling slightly down and in a lot of pain. That much stress and tension really gets my back to set on fire. Every muscle is a giant knot that hurts so much. It doesn’t help that I had another injection yesterday, and then physical therapy today. Shortly after physical therapy, was group therapy. So I’ve been sitting all damn day, which is a huge trigger for my pain. Thankfully during physical therapy, we are mostly just doing muscle relaxation, which is just a really super amazingly wonderful massage with all my trigger points. We’ve got to release my tension in order for the strengthening exercises to even work. As it is now, they will be pointless to even try; they’ll just cause me more pain. Anyway, I digress. I wanted to talk today about how pain really makes living hard and how it exacerbates depression.
I don’t want to get too much into my issues, but I have severe back pain and have since I was 18. I’ve been to 5 different physical therapists, countless MRIs/CTscans/X-rays etc. I’ve had an ablation done (where they “burn” the nerve causing the pain to my toes) as well as receiving the injections in my neck currently and doing to physical therapy…again. So, while I’m a lot better off than a lot of people, I live every single day in pain. I have the hardest time gauging my pain when they ask me my level of pain. “I dunno, I live every day at about a 5-6…my 9 or 10 is really high, my 15 is when I’m on the floor dying” kind of thing. It’s hard to really explain that to doctors. And then of course, it’s which PART of my back that hurts or is causing me the MOST pain at that time. I have issues in all three “sections” of my back. Sometimes all three hurt, sometimes only one. So, with me constantly in pain, it has vastly hurt my depression. I’ve often questioned “what’s the point anymore, I’ll never get better. I can never carry a child. Why even try yet another doctor, they’ll just give up too. Nothing works, and I refuse narcotics. I can’t be fixed,” is a constant commentary in my head. It doesn’t stop. I have no hope for pain relief anymore. I can take the very edge off some of the pain with my Neurontin and making sure to avoid my triggers, but what kind of life is it where I can’t hold my nieces and nephew? My biggest goal is to have a child, I don’t know if I’ll be even able to hold the baby to soothe it when/if I can even carry it to term. That’s a HARD pill to swallow. The older I get, the more hopeless I get. Woops, I spent way more time than I planned on myself. Oh, squirrel!
So, pain can create consequences in almost every part of one’s life. Relationships, sleep, fatigue (not just being tired), hopelessness, anxiety, depression, guilt, mood, memory, concentration etc. Pain is all encompassing and not something that is easily ignored or pushed aside, no matter what kind of pain you may be in. It completely takes over your brain and you cannot focus on anything else for more than a few seconds without going back to noticing the pain. It’s a constant nagging devil on your shoulder that is stabbing your head with his pitchfork. It doesn’t stop.
It can cause issues in relationships because as you’re in pain, your mood suffers greatly. It’s really hard to be happy when it’s all you can do to stand up. You want help but can’t ask for it or you’ll feel guilty for asking for help. You’re exhausted, can’t sleep, can barely move and of course have no libido. It’s too exhausting to even think of sex. It’s the last thing on your brain. Then your spouse will feel rejected and it may cause a rift.
Sleep seems to me to be pretty obvious in how it is affected by pain. If you hurt, you’ll toss and turn all night. Which will not refresh you, and you’ll then be even more exhausted and fatigued. Your body can’t replenish and so I will keep hurting more and more. It’s a never-ending cycle.
The one that grasps me most is hopelessness. I’ve been to doctors for 15 years for my back pain. Back when I started, doctors would just throw opiates at me and I gobbled them down for the quick relief. I didn’t care that that wasn’t something that would actually FIX what my issue was. I don’t even remember if I got an MRI back then. Probably not. I then lost my insurance and had to suck it up for years. I was a server and so constantly had to lift very heavy trays to tables. I was super stubborn and didn’t want help, so I just did it myself. That was brilliant of me. Stupid 21 year old Kayleigh. Then I finally got an office job and thought I was going to be all better, since I didn’t have to lift. NOPE. Just a different type of pain, that spread up my back instead of down. Yay. And it kept getting worse and worse until finally about 4 years ago I started the whole process of doctors again. And this time, as the opiate epidemic has reached epic proportions, of course doctors are hesitant to prescribe anything. I’m okay with this; I’m terrified of them at this point. Addiction is the absolute last thing I need in my life now. Doctors would just pass me to the next person, and the next and the next. Nobody could help me. They just shrugged their shoulders and referred me to the next. I stopped trying again until I went into my spa week at the hospital. I had been in a car wreck (slash me driving off the road) so my back was the worst it’s been in a long time. I demanded MRIs and they finally found some things wrong they hadn’t seen before. Again, this began the process of another round of physical therapy and cortisone shots and then ablation. Siiiighhhh. How long until this doctor gives up? Although this time I may be pushier, as I’m desperate to have a child. I can’t have nor carry a child until I get my back in some kind of better shape to be able to hold a 10lb thing for more than 3 minutes without shooting pain. I guess we’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.
How has physical pain affected you? Have you found any tips or tricks on ignoring it in order to be able to focus for more than 28 seconds at a time? What relief have you found that works for pain?