Suffering With Chronic Pain

Most people don’t understand chronic pain and how it affects a person’s life. They will never understand until it happens to them. I don’t wish that on anyone! Most chronic pain sufferers have at least one well-meaning friend who is always trying to find a cure for their ailment or pain. The effort is much appreciated but it’s all in vain. Most of us with chronic pain have tried just about everything…because…do you think we WANT to live with debilitating pain? Of course we don’t! We have tried almost everything we can to make our lives more bearable, to no avail.

I have Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Bone Disease, specifically in my knees. I am in Stage 4, which results in the loss of cartilage in the joint. There is NO CURE, only treatments to manage the symptoms. The bone-on-bone friction associated with this can cause severe symptoms, such as:

  1. Swelling/Inflammation – Synovial fluid can increase, which normally helps reduce friction with movement but large amounts can cause swelling in the joint. Fragments of broken cartilage can cause increased swelling and pain.
  2. Severe Pain – Pain during movement, and during rest and sleep. By the end of the day, after use of the joints, more swelling occurs and pain is increased.
  3. Decreased Range of Motion – Movements are slow, with stiffness and pain making it hard to enjoy daily activities.
  4. Joint Instability – The joints become less stable; knees can “lock up” or just plain give out, which can result in a fall or injury.
  5. Weakened Muscles – As joints continue to wear down the muscles become weaker, bone spurs can develop and bone deformity can occur. (My legs are bowed, more so the left.) With weakened muscles also comes an increased risk of falls.

Some of the words I have used to describe my pain are sharp, gnawing, throbbing, stabbing, burning, excruciating, grinding, locking, stiffness, dull, tightening, and debilitating. Sounds fun, ‘eh?

This disease causes severe pain but also affects your life in other ways:

  1. Sleep Disturbances – Interferes with restorative sleep. It’s difficult to find a comfortable position, and it’s painful to even move.
  2. Weight Gain – With chronic pain, you tend to move less so it’s easier to put on extra weight. Pain makes it difficult to exercise or just have an active life.
  3. Anxiety and Depression – With chronic pain you tend to have difficulties performing normal everyday tasks like cleaning and laundry, showering, dressing, grocery shopping, walking, reaching, cooking, stairs, standing in lines, and much more. These are things we take for granted when we’re physically able; we don’t even think twice when doing them. When those simple little tasks become a struggle, it has a negative effect on our mental health. Enter depression and anxiety. It’s all so exhausting!

So, I guess I’m just trying to help others understand the struggle of living with a debilitating disease and chronic pain. Everyone’s struggle might be different but we are all the same. We are suffering, even if we don’t show it on the outside. We try to hide it from others. We try to be “normal” like everyone else. Some days we try. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail.

Some days, we just CAN’T. 

Back On Track!

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, then you know I have pain and mobility issues. You also know that I am in dire need of knee replacement surgery. First, a not-real-quick recap:

My journey started around 11 years ago, with a doctor that didn’t do anything from the very beginning. Now, let me just say that I knew I needed to lose weight and I KNEW I had to do this myself, but from the get-go my doctor did absolutely nothing to help me with anything. I had trouble since my first child was born, trying to lose weight. She said, “You just need to count calories” and offered absolutely NO assistance or guidance. She gave me a script for pain meds and that was the end of that.

When I FINALLY got my doctor to refer me to a specialist in 2016, I was thrilled. I thought I was finally getting somewhere. Well, the specialist was an asshole with a God complex and shamed and belittled me for 40 minutes. (It’s not like I weighed 600 pounds…not even half of that at my heaviest!) It was something I will never forget. Anyway, shortly after that happened I signed up for Nutrisystem.

Nutrisystem was what I had needed years ago but never had the money to spend on it. It works but it’s quite costly. I did the program faithfully and religiously for almost a year until I was so sick of the food I had to take a break. I had lost 60 pounds, and with high hopes went to see my new doctor, who set me up with a new specialist.

The new specialist was impressed that I had lost 60 pounds in less than a year. However, this was not enough of a loss to consider surgery yet, plus I needed to strengthen my leg muscles.

Fast forward, to last summer. I was so sick of Nutrisystem foods that I stayed off the plan for a bit. We had company off and on and we went out to eat a LOT. Then, Thanksgiving rolled around….and Christmas….and well, I GAINED 25 pounds back!

Uh oh. I need to do something, right? So, in January I purchased an exercise machine called an Air Walker. It’s an elliptical, but not a traditional elliptical. It’s more like a glider instead of a stepper. I purchased this scary contraption because the video showed the woman was NOT having to bend her knees. Perfect for me! I started with 5 minutes a day and worked up to 5 minutes, 3 times a day. Not a lot, I know, but it was more than I was doing before! I worked up to 10 minutes twice a day and now, I’m doing 15 minutes twice a day! Yay! That’s 30 minutes a day and just a little over 1700 ‘steps’ per day. I feel my legs getting stronger. I’m not using the wheelchair as much, but still using my cane.

Also in January, I restarted Nutrisystem. Then I f***ed up. So, I started again…. I restarted the program 4 times since then! The food was just too much for me to hack anymore. Not that it’s bad; most of it is decent and some quite good. It was just the same ol’ same ol’ over and over again. Blah.

That’s when my daughter, SR, texted me and told me that she was doing Weight Watchers. She told me a little about it and the cost wasn’t too bad; less than $20 month for online only. So, I signed up! (Apparently, WW has changed quite a bit since the last time I looked into it.)

I started last Sunday and caught on very quickly. It’s not hard to do at all. No meetings or humiliating weigh-ins. You track the food you eat and stay within your point budget, determined by WW. One week later, I have lost 8.4 pounds.

I lost 8.4 pounds in one week!

(I know some was probably water weight but I’ll take it!)

I’m back on track, finally. I will keep on until I have my weight down (and my BMI) to what the specialist wants and I’ll get my legs stronger so recovery will go smoother. I can’t wait to go back to the specialist and say, “Hey, enough waiting. Let’s get the show on the road! I have an exciting life left to live!”

 

 

A New Year, A New Start

I’ve not been writing much as of late. I’ve had much to say but no desire to write it down. Maybe that’s for the better. I sometimes feel like that’s all I do is write about my shitty problems. On the other hand, that’s part of why I started this blog. I wanted an outlet to write about the things I love, the things I despise, and things that make me laugh. Writing, or keeping a journal helps a lot of folks, not just me. It’s been therapeutic. It’s been a positive in my life so I’m not about to quit! I must, however, get back to it!

So, here I sit. So many things that have plagued my life over the last few months now seem less bothersome. Except for one thing: My pain issues. I have over the years tried many things to alleviate the pain, from OTC meds, creams, lotions, and patches to natural herbs and essential oils. I have purchased several items for exercise that I have either not been able to use or they just didn’t help. Last year, I purchased a recumbent bike because I was at the beginning of a weight loss journey that resulted in a 60 lb. loss, but even after the weight loss was still not able to use the bike! I was disillusioned and just plain pissed off! I couldn’t even use the floor peddler I had had for several years. I use to use it every day but when my knees got worse, it became more difficult and the pain would be increased by using it.

In December, I stumbled across a fantastic machine called an Air Walker. I watched a video of it being used and I realized that since I wouldn’t have to bend at the knee to use this machine, I’d have to purchase it and give it a try. I’m so very glad I did! I feel like my leg muscles are getting stronger just since I started using it at the beginning of the month. It has helped me kick-start my diet again and I’m back to losing more weight while making my legs stronger.

With any luck at all, this will be the year I get my knee surgery that I so desperately need to live a productive and quality life. I feel like the last 11 years of my life have just been wasted. Going from doctor to doctor, trying to get help, ANY help has been some of the most wasted time I have ever spent! I know that I need to do the work, that’s a no-brainer. No one can lose the weight for me. No one can exercise for me. It’s on me, I know. It would have been nice, though, to find a doctor who was willing to provide guidance and information, rather than the normal “fat-shaming” that does nothing but tear a person down!

So, I am creating a new me. I finally see a little light at the end of the tunnel. A real light, my own light! Not the fake light I thought I was seeing mid-2017.

Here’s to the new me! Here’s to 2018! Wish me luck!! 

 

Hopeful…. But Not Too Hopeful

I’ve been sitting here at the computer tonight, not really into anything in particular. My mind is elsewhere. I’ve got an appointment tomorrow with my ortho doc.

6 months ago, I tried the Synvisc-One injection in my knees. I had such high hopes. When I left the office, I was walking faster than I had in years and I had less pain. The shots seemed to have helped! I went home, under orders to not overdo it, so I took a nap. When I woke up the effects of the injections was gone. Despair set in. I couldn’t try the other injection for 6 more months!

I’m not really anxious about my appointment. I didn’t experience any severe pain with the last round of shots so I’m not worried about pain. I guess I’m just trying to keep myself from becoming too hopeful. High hopes have always caused disappointment in the past. I still have to hope this round of injections will ease my pain, but I’m not counting on it. I never count on anything to actually pan out in terms of help for my pain issues….story of my life.

I’ll hit the sack tonight with hope for a good result tomorrow but I’m not going to let it keep me awake thinking about it. I guess that’s part of the reason I’m writing about it. Getting it off my chest before bed.

Fingers crossed. That’s the best I can do.