Tag Archive | Illness

Pain Is it real or just in my head

As I awake each morning my body reminds me of how damaged it is because the pain never seems to go away. But the question I continue to ask myself is, Is my pain real or just in my head? I ask myself this because I have been told repeatedly that, your brain controls everything and you have the ability to control your brain. Well, when you have a physical condition that creates pain, how does that constitute that your pain is all in your head?

Over the past few years, I have been to many doctors which deal with my physical conditions of incomplete spinal cord injury, arachnoid cysts in my thoracic spine, Chiari malformation and nerve damage related to the 8 surgeries to decompress my spinal cord. Some of my doctors recognize that my pain is real, and others like to pretend that my pain is all in my head and is going to go away. Regardless I am still left with the “real” limitations that my pain creates.

Some days I can move around with less pain than others. Often, I get asked questions like, why is your pain better? Why aren’t you hurting as bad? Why are you moving better? The response of ” I don’t know” never seems acceptable.  Instead I often hear comments like- Well, you’re the only one that tell us why? Or What did you do different? When I explain that I have done nothing different, that I have taken all the same medications in the same order as I do every day it is still not acceptable. The frustration is beyond what one person should have to deal with. Why don’t others get that if I could figure it out, I would duplicate it so that every day would be better?

For now, all I can do is keep moving forward by continuing to deal with my pain by taking my prescribed medications at the same time daily, stretching and doing balance exercises to help strengthen my brain’ s communication with my legs and back. Right now, my brain still doesn’t fully realize I even have legs. For example, if I stand at the kitchen counter without looking down at my feet periodically my brain sometimes forgets I am standing, which causes me to fall. This is caused by the loss of proprioception in both legs.

The communication from my brain to my nerves is also on overdrive causing my nerves to overact. This causes the skin on my back, stomach and upper legs to feel like it is being stretched, sliced and is on fire. Even the slightest touch feels intense and painful. Putting on clothing hurts to the point of giving me the chills at times. It also causes my right leg which normally has very little feeling to feel like there are a million spiders with sharp needles on theirs legs are poking me repeatedly.  I am prescribed Gabapentin 700 mg three times a day for my neuropathic pain in conjunction with other pain medications which I take every 4 hours to “help” control the pain. None of this works well. I find that the pain medication takes about an hour to start working then only work at its full capacity for about two hours then decreases quickly. This leaves me in pain most of the day. It is often hard to get motivated to do much or to really want to be around people.

So, is my pain real or in my head? I say both.  The pain is real, but it can be exacerbated by my brain response to stressful situations and by physical changes. For example, if my body is fighting a cold my pain often increases until the illness runs its course. Stressful situations often lead to more pain. It is easy for me to start doubting myself and lose my perspective therefore, creating stress and more pain. But because I have hope that I will get better, whether it is via a new medication and/or treatment or answered prayer I will keep me moving forward. God has promised that if we have faith and ask Him to heal us that it will be done. ” And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven” James 5:15. Having hope is what helps me continue each day even though I know I will wake up in pain and end my day in pain. My prayers continue to be answered as each day I improve even if it is only a small bit. I went from being mostly in a wheelchair to walking with a walker in just a few short months after my 8th surgery.  Currently, I still walk with a walker, but I can walk some without any assistive devices. I refuse to give up as I know God will keep His promise and we all have a better story we can tell.

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Little improvements

Standing doing my hair without any assistive devices! My balance has improved thanks to doing yoga with an instructor 2x per week (5 weeks so far) and using my LifeGlider.

I did have a recent fall🤪. I was bending down to pick something up off the floor, I had undone the safety belt on my walker as it was restricting me,there was water on the floor and my legs slipped causing me to loose my footing and down I went. Not smart on my part. Just because my balance and proprioception have improved some does not mean I don’t have to continue to pay attention to what I am doing. I still have to remind myself of walking hill to toe, to pick up my feet, and not to lean forward. Old habits are hard to break!

I am still excited about all the progress I am making. I know I am not doing this alone. Thank you everyone for your continued prayers and your words of encouragement. I know God is with me and because of this anything is possible. His promise to be my side every step of the way helps to keep me moving forward even when there are set backs.

Little moments

In our lives we all have those little moments (small encounters) when you walk away smiling and thankful for the experience. I recently had such a time. My family and I had gone to the movies, and when it was over, it was time for a much-needed bathroom break. Of course, there was a line after all it was the womens’ bathroom. While waiting in line there were two young girls and their mother. One of the girls looked to be about 5 and her sister was a bit older. The younger girl said to her mother in a not so quiet voice, “what is wrong with her? Why can’t she walk and stand?” The mother looked mortified and attempted to quiet her daughter. I turned, smiled, and explained to the girl that I have a spinal cord injury but in terms she would understand. I said, “I have an owie inside my back.  It makes it hard for my brain (pointing to my head) to tell my legs what to do. My signals get mixed up.” She then asked, “We you born this way?” I told her, “told her no, my back got really sick about two years ago and I had to have special surgeries to my back. One of the surgeries made me brain and my legs stop talking to each other like hers do.” I also explained that I use my walker to help me get around and it helps me to keep from falling because I lose my balance frequently. As I finished washing my hands I turned to the mother and girls and said, “Thank you for asking questions. I love questions. “

This small encounter was a blessing. Often people just stare or stare and point. I can tell that they have questions and are guessing as to why I am in the state I am. I only wish more people were like the younger children who ask or at least speak out loud and say things like, “what is wrong with her? Or “how come she can’t walk?” Young children often have no filter and are curious. They don’t worry about or intend to be hurtful. So, why should I get upset by their comments or questions?  Instead I view them as a blessing. It is another opportunity to help educate others about my conditions and show them that being different is not a curse.  

I believe these little encounters are little nudges from God. He brings people into our life for different reasons and for different amounts of time. Some are brief and others for long periods of time. But weather brief or not I don’t want to miss the opportunities (blessings) that I am given.

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The gorgeous sunset tonight. Enjoying the view while navigating the pain and spams. Have enjoyed the day watching my grandkids and nephew hang out and boogie board. So thankful for the special moments when my pain is down. Ugh!!!!Spams and burning. Man it sucks! The pain often interrupts my life in so many ways. Doing my best to enjoy as many moments as possible. God has painted the sky yet again!