Sunday, June 5, 2016

Pain Is Real

When it comes to things I know, I know a lot, I know the sun will rise, I know that my children will love me even when I have had a rough day, I know that my bestie will always make me laugh, and I know pain.  I am not referring to the pain you feel when your high school crush takes someone else to the prom or when a loved one passes away but rather the pain I’m referring to is actual physical pain. Whether it is from an injury, a chronic medical condition, or a physical deformity, pain is real.  Pain is also subjective.  What one person feels as nothing major may be the worst pain of someone’s life.  I live with chronic pain every day, all day.  I have a spine that is degenerating at a rapid rate, at 40 I have already been diagnosed (5 years ago) with osteoporosis, I also have an autoimmune disease that affects my joints and muscles, I have chronic migraines that leave me unable to get out of bed, and I have MS. 

I tell you this not to seek sympathy but to say that yes, pain is real, pain is subjective.  I take opioid medications, I get steroidal medications injected into my spine, I take anti-inflammatory medications, do acupuncture, yoga, try not to eat certain foods, I do all of this and still have pain.  For years Doctor’s did not believe that my pain was as severe as I said. and that I was just seeking pain medication.  I mean how could I have the type of pain I was describing and still be a mother, wife, teacher, friend….well I became good at faking it, at minimizing my own pain to suit other people’s needs.

One night I was in so much back pain that I actually considered taking my own life, I sat against a wall in my house with a bottle of pills and considered leaving my children motherless, making my husband a widow, ending my life because of the physical pain I was feeling….this was a turning point, this was the point when I decided I needed better care than I was receiving.   Not long after I went to the Dr and let it all out, I yelled, cried, made her see what the pain was doing to my life.  After this display of emotions, I quickly apologized and thankfully she accepted and understood.  Thankfully with her knowledge she was able to find a Dr who not only understood and saw the reasons I was in such awful pain, but agreed to take me on as a patient.  Has he taken all my pain away, no BUT he has helped me manage it and be able to be a mother to my children, and lead a semi productive life.  Again, I share these details not looking for sympathy but in an age where pain is highly overlooked as a way to get “high” from the medications I feel that those of us who suffer everyday need to raise awareness of the real pain epidemic in this world. 

As I sit writing this I am in the midst of a several day migraine episode, so awful at one point that it hurt to touch my forehead, yes I have regular medication I take when I feel a migraine coming on but after being on it for over 10+ years it no longer works as well.  Yes I did do all the “old wives tales” tricks to help it go away, everything from drinking a double espresso to wrapping my head in ice (I’ve become an expert at sleeping like this), I went to the ER and received narcotics to help break it up, everything I can think of.  Currently my Dr has me trying a new migraine medicine, and a 7 day pack of steroids to break up the migraine.  Along with caffeine and ice this seems to be helping not relieving but making me able to function somewhat. 

Again, I don’t want sympathy but I hope to help people understand that the pain epidemic is a legitimate issue, and to some, the use of pain medications, used responsibly, is a necessity.

  The pain medication abuse epidemic in America, as well as the high profile deaths of celebrities who were found to have accidentally overdosed on prescription painkillers has made it bad for people like me who are in real chronic pain, and need to use prescription strength painkillers to achieve some sort of relief from my constant pain.  Some may classify me as a pill addict, or having a pill addiction problem, but to that I say, I am not a pill addict, I am an addict of not living in pain and if a pill helps me with that then so be it.  If a certain medication that is classified as an opiate makes me able to be there for my children and my family I am fine with that.  These are medications I will most likely be on for the rest of my life, I have never in 5 years asked for an increase of dosage, never have asked for a refill sooner than was authorized, I take my medicine as prescribed, and if a day happens when I don’t need a dose or two that’s great, I can recognize that.  If a day happens to be especially painful for one reason or another I can recognize that and have adequate medicine available if I have to take extra; all of this I do for me, for my family.  I have never been in bed so “drugged” that I cannot tend to my children (with this current migraine episode excluded, and it wasn’t medications that prevented me from getting up, it was the pain from the migraine).  I get up every day, work, do as much as I physically can, yes most days I overdue it but what mom doesn’t. 

I still encounter people that don’t believe I am in real pain, that I can be a living, breathing person and be in as much pain as I claim, I’m done trying to convince them that again (my) pain is real and subjective.  I have people telling me to just push through the pain, and when I can I do, but I will not sacrifice my health to satisfy someone else’s perception of what I should be doing.  I know my body and what it is capable of, it was capable to carry two babies, it is capable of putting one foot in front of the other, it is capable of writing my stories to share, it is capable of so much but most days it is not capable of being in pain. Pain affects every part of your being, your mental health, your physical health, the relationship with your spouse and peers, and perhaps most importantly your children. 

I hope by sharing this part of my story I can help someone else, as with all my real life posts I share.  If you are in pain just know you don’t have to live a life in pain.  There are lots of homeopathic treatments, opiate treatments, alternative treatments you can seek out.  Don’t let anyone; whether it is a Dr, nurse, family member or stranger undermine how you feel, they aren’t you.  Their pain is different from yours, even if affects the same part of their body, pain is subjective and I encourage you to seek out a Dr who will help you lead a life where you can enjoy living.  I will always believe you, I understand you, I sympathize with you whether you are 15 or 75 you don’t have to live a life in pain be it chronic or episodic.

I recently told Mr.O that one of my fears is that when H&Z look back on their childhood they will only remember their mama as being in pain, not able to do stuff with them, not play as much as other moms do, or not run at the playground with them.  After 20 years together I love that he can reassure me by telling me that they will remember a mom who read to them, did crafts with them, who did as much as she possibly could to ensure they had a great childhood.  As long as they remember and I remember “The Little Things” I think we will be fine…..