Chronicles of an Ice Pack Queen

So the battle continues. It’s been about a week and a half since my last post and not much has changed. The rib pain and I continue to do our dance. It’s driving me bonkers and making what little gains in sleep I had been getting (amen to four hours in a row) regress back to two or three hour chunks. The interesting thing is the ice packs and heating pads both feel good when they are on but they both provide little long-term relief. Such is life. I am either freezing or sweating…

I did make it to meditation with Mom this week, and I still can’t believe how much I enjoy it. I am not really good at it yet, but it’s a wonderful practice. I feel very “relaxed and zen” afterwards…like I’ve had a deep rest. I can see how working this into my daily life at some point is going to be incredibly valuable.

Also hit the gym with Jen once. It was super light. A little bit on the more horizontal bike, some light weights on the circuit and then as a reward….hydro therapy massage bed. O.M.G. That thing is amazing. I use it as my motivation to get to the gym.

I also had a call from long-term disability, which was good in the sense of my file moving forward but stressful at the same time. Hubby actually saw great humour and irony in the fact that they called the cognitively impaired person to have her talk extensively, and with great detail and articulation, about her impairments. I hadn’t thought about that until he mentioned it. I was comfortable knowing the call was coming and felt completely equipped and ready but after I told hubby about the conversation, I realized that I may not have been the right person to ask.

I didn’t tell her how I used to love to get up in the mornings and spend a 45 minutes in my beautiful “get ready room” putting on makeup and curling my hair. I haven’t touched a blow dryer, curling iron or straightener since the end of June and haven’t shellacked my face even once…sniff….And, if I am being honest with y’all, cause you know that’s how we roll, I rarely even brush my hair. I just tie it up on the top of my head. Hubby said he’s see it down once this summer, and I didn’t even style it, I just brushed it. Sad.

I didn’t tell her how I used to love to take a nice, luxurious bath every single night. It was my thing. The idea is now overwhelming. When did taking a bath get over-fawking-whelming??? Getting in, washing, shaving, climbing out, drying, moisturizing…..I. Just. Can’t. I take a bath once a week now, and it’s usually on laundry day when hubby wants to wash my gym pants. I live in the same pair (and same shirt) day and night until laundry day when Hubby says they can stand on their own and enough is enough…

I didn’t tell her how I used to golf and how deeply I loved it but haven’t seen a green this year…haven’t felt the glove in my hand, the connection to the ball, the FUN and laughs Hubby and I used to have. And how I would normally be gearing up with excitment for a winter season of snowmobiling, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and snow shoeing. Instead I am gearing up to sell our snowmobiles because I couldn’t go even if we had enough snow.

I didn’t tell her about the many family events and activities I’ve had to enjoy via photos on Facebook after the fact instead of attending in person because I am in too much pain to attend. It broke my heart to miss this year’s annual pumpkin carving day…I sit home and cry…I feel like a failure. I feel like I am letting everyone down, all the fawking time, but I don’t know how to make it better and even if I did, I am not sure I’d have the energy, or smarts, to make it happen.

I didn’t tell her that Hubby (and very close friends and family) talk a lot about how different I am, both in personality and in how I look. How my spark is gone. How droopy my eyes are. How gray my skin can get. How overwhelmed and exhausted I look. And the celebration we have when I have a day where I seem more alert. My God, I used to be ON FAWKING FIRE and now “being alert” is a win. WTF!

She asked about hobbies, and I told her about my blog and how much it helps. But I didn’t tell her that what used to take me an hour or two to write, now takes me three or four days. The struggle to find words and sentences to string together to express how I feel and think, something that used to come to me as naturally as breathing, now takes exhaustive effort (and extensive rewrites). Must I lose this too?

I didn’t tell her about how insane my brain feels like inside. How it’s on some kind of frantic loop, ALL THE TIME! When I  think about something (like groceries I need Hubby to get, a bill I need to remember to pay, or something I want to research), how it plays over and over and over and over and over and over in my head. And that as soon as I stop and try to make said list, do the research or pay the bill, as soon as I stop to DO IT, it disappears…POOF…and I am left with a thread of something I know I needed to do…but  can no longer remember. I mean, we’ve all experienced that from time to time but this is like your every-so-often experience just snorted fifteen lines of cocaine. Somedays I wonder if I am losing my mind. Is this what going crazy feels like?

I didn’t tell her that I have to watch TV or read to the point of exhaustion so that I can shut my brain off long enough to ignore the pain and the racing thoughts so I can fall asleep. It’s this endless loop of OCD insanity about shit I don’t even care about. Honestly, I’ve always found great comfort in talking to myself but now I can’t shut myself up. WTF?

I didn’t tell her how every day I feel like I lose a little bit more of myself and that I am starting to wonder if I’ll ever get it back. Or that I am barely keeping the question of “what will you do if this is it…if this is your life here on out…” at arm’s length because if it comes any closer, I am terrified I will shatter into a million pieces and lose myself completely.

Hubby asked why I didn’t tell her all of that (and more…) and honestly, when put on the spot, I just don’t have the cognitive ability to pull it together. I needed time to think and ponder the questions, consider the information, talk to Hubby or Mom to get their perspective. Information, knowledge and understanding that used to be accessible in a split second now takes hours or days to process, make sense of and put together.

But also, I think it’s something we are either naturally tuned to doing or maybe it’s part of how we are raised. I feel like it’s in our nature to downplay how shitty we feel, how extensive the impairments are and the true impact of life’s challenges on one’s life. People ask how I am doing all the time, and I say “the same…still fighting the good fight…” and I usually move into either talking about what new thing might help or I move the conversation to them. But don’t we all do that, to some degree anyway?

Your coworker or bestie fires you a text to ask how you are and frankly, you’ve had an all star shitty morning…got in a fight with your man, your kids were grating on your last nerve, you had terrible night sleep, got some kind of weird kink in your neck, you didn’t have time to eat and you have a deadline hanging over your head but you reply “not bad…you? Wanna do lunch this week and catch up?

I mean honestly, when people ask me “how are you?” do they really want to hear the same shit, every time…that I am still drowning in pain, that there is never, ever a single fawking moment in the day where I am without pain humming through my body…how every single time I wake up from sleep, it’s from that pain literally vibrating through my body…in my feet, my ankles, my calves, my thighs, my arms, my back, my neck, my ribs etc…and that it never stops. That medications help take the edge off but nothing stops the pain. That I am so deeply depressed that it’s getting harder and harder to honestly care if I’ll ever get better.

Instead I hit the high points. Had four hours sleep in a row a couple days ago, the rib pain is still pretty nasty but I’m getting through it, and starting to look at a plant-based diet to see if that helps…

Frankly I think it’s a coping mechanism too. I reread this post and shuddered. I could EASILY drown in self pity, frustration and anger if I sat and thought about what I’ve lost thus far, how far I’ve fallen, and the fact that we don’t know when, or even if, I’ll get my old self back day in and day out, every day. Mother of God! I have to keep it high level, not just with other people, but I guess with myself as well, so that I can hang onto what little will and motivation I have to keep pushing. Pushing to try a better diet, to try meditating, to call the chronic pain guy, to reach out to see a psychologist, to try to get out of the house a couple times a week, to take that bath once a week…

If I didn’t, I’m not sure I’d ever get out of this gravity chair again.

Natalie

Chronicles of a Gravity Chair Addict

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Bad week. What can I say, the pity party has continued in full force. The left side rib pain has been excruciating. Nothing seems to help. Medication, bath, ice, heat, massage…doesn’t matter, the pain just continues. It’s like a dark shadow hanging over me, weighing me down, tearing at my hope…

Sleep has proved equally elusive. I get two or three hour chunks through the course of the day. But every time I move or cough, the pain wakes me up like a gun shot to my side. And it usually takes me a couple of hours to relax and find peace in sleep again. Torturous. Not to mention the fabulous sleep-deprived side effects…I am even more of a klutz and memory moron than before…what fun for hubby! Oh it’s a party here…

Although the doc sent me for X-rays last Monday (and I haven’t heard back from her), I finally gave in and hit the hospital yesterday with Jen. It wasn’t bad. In and out in two and a half hours. The doc was able to bring up my X-rays from Monday, and, just as I suspected, nothing showed. Nothing broken, nothing cracked, no pneumonia, no bronchitis. Everything all clear. Frustration was shooting out my nostrils while my shoulders hung in defeat…I swear to God I am not making this shit up, it isn’t all in my head.

At least with my ribs, there is ample swelling to prove I am not in lala land on this. It’s like a third tit has grown beneath my left breast. Ok, a small one but a tit none the less. Oh goodie, more fun for hubby. Maybe I’ll draw a nipple on it with my eyebrow pencil and really freak him out. I mean, what other fun can a girl have with a third tit…am I right or am I right?!

The doc said it’s likely that I’ve torn the muscles between my ribs when I had that awful cold three weeks ago (it’s still hanging around). And he assured me that although incredibly painful, all the drugs I am on should be offering me some relief. They aren’t. He is an outright liar. Bastard.

Jen was like a Mamma bear with her cub. It was awesome. She took control and demanded that the doctor do something, she told him that I’ve been in pain for months and that something had to be done…unacceptable!! My superstar health advocate!!! It was fun watching him try to dance around her razor sharp glare. She’s small but mighty. I think he was scared. Run and hide doctor man, she will find you!!!!

Sadly, no matter how much pressure she applied (and trust me, she made him work for it) the only concession he gave was that I could take my anti-inflammatory three times a day, instead of two, and I could double my dose of Tramadol (which I already had). Goodie goodie gumdrops…

I am sure he’d have prescribed some stronger narcotic pain meds if I asked, but I am trying my damndest to avoid them. Too many horror stories. If I have to live in pain, so be it. I’d rather that than risk addiction. Not to mention past experience tells me I can’t take them since I generally just barf them up. My body is naturally opposed I guess. LOL!

Doc said I can expect this pain party to last at least six to eight weeks. Woot woot. No worries, at this point I laugh in the face of long-term pain. Six to eight weeks…BAH….I’ve been in pain for months, this should be a joke!!! Bring it on pain man…I can rest and sit around like no one else can! Gravity chair ignite!!

Speaking of my trusted and long-loved super weapon, the gravity chair, I continue to live in it, by day and night. The deepest sadness is that it means hubby and I haven’t slept in the same bed together much in the past seven months. However, I take great comfort knowing I am not keeping him up all night with my tossing, turning, moaning and wandering. The gravity chair does offer me the most pain relief. It’s like God’s little gift to me. Thanks Big Guy!!! Hubby and I still find time to cuddle in bed for a couple hours (with endless back tickles and hair pulls…he is THE best) before I venture out to my gravity delight for bed…

And more light, to distract myself (and pass the long nights awake) I’ve gone on a documentary binge fest on Netflix.

I have to say, very interesting stuff that has kept my mind nicely occupied. Given everything going on with my health, I’ve certainly been looking into a radical lifestyle change. My ultimate goal/dream/hope is that I can get everything under control, get off all medications and return to vibrant health through healthy eating, exercise and meditation. And no matter my current situation, I hang on to that dream like a life preserve.

As you know, I started out about eight weeks ago doing the elimination diet outlined in The Plan with my Dad. And although I have seen some improvements in a slight weight decrease and a little bit more energy (not to mention I LOVE the food), thus far I haven’t seen any improvement in pain, sleep or depression. Actually things have gotten worse with this new rib pain.

Now, I get it, it’s only been eight weeks so maybe I have unreasonable expectations (shocker!!!) but I’ve felt the need to continue investigating. And I am really sold on this plant-based eating.

Slaughter house aside with great difficulty, I had no idea the damage the agriculture and animal food industries are doing to our beloved planet. We all need to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint, but did you know that these two interdependent industries are responsible for more environmental damage than the entire transport industry – WHAT?!?!?!

An acre of our rainforest is destroyed every second to create more pastures for grazing cattle. And, the land and resources required to grow the corn and grain to feed said animals could feed the entire world. Shut the front door! Now I look at a piece of steak or chicken and realize that children around the world continue to starve so that I can eat meat. Impactful.

And if that wasn’t enough to motivate me, a lot of research like the China Study has convinced me that a plant-based diet is just better for our health. I do say Jones, I may just have to give it a go. Now I am no expert, and I am certainly not posting this to have a lengthy moral debate about meat…I am just sayin’ this information has given me great deal of food for thought, and, in my situation, that’s like hope crack for a starving addict. I’ll take it where I can get it!

I borrowed the lovely Julie’s juicer, and think I may try a 10-14 day juice cleanse and then transition over to a plant-based diet. I picked up a couple of Vegan cookbooks, and Mom has enrolled us in a 4-week plant-based cooking course starting in late November. Squeee!!

Although the elimination diet has included testing meat (which for the most part I tested non-reactive to), one of the greatest things it did was get me trying veggies and cooking that was way outside my comfort level. And better yet, I’ve learned that I LOVE both.

It may sound crazy but I feel like The Plan (which I learned about from my aesthetician) came to me to help me open doors to new ways of eating and living that I love. I feel like it’s gotten me to the point where I actually feel ready, and freaking eager, to take the next step. We shall see. More research and reading to be done (not like I don’t have time), and I shall come up with a plan. Stay tuned…

Happy Day my peeps!

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