Latest Posts

Hey Guys, Free Stuff! (Maybe!) Pain Awareness Month Giveaway

September is almost over, guys. That means that our month — Pain Awareness Month — is almost over. However, there are still a few things that I want to share with you.

Backer Nation, a website that profiled me recently and is also keeping in line with the American Chronic Pain Association’s mission this month, is doing a giveaway for a gift basket filled with back pain and wellness goodies valued at more than $1,000. They have partnered with companies like Quell and others so they can get the message out for pain patients, using the hashtag #effbackpain for people to share stories and inspire others.

Disclaimer: I’m not getting anything for telling you that. I hope you win the basket!

Funny story, Backer Nation approached me independently of Quell, and then Quell said, “Hey, we’ve been working with Backer Nation and made these graphics for Pain Awareness Month [see below]. Maybe you can share them?” It’s a small world, people.

So the graphics! NeuroMetrix (AKA, the Quell people) have come up with some interesting graphics in tandem with Backer Nation, which I have pasted below for your reading pleasure. You can use this information in arguments with people when you need to lay down the law.

Happy Fall, everyone! Best month of the year!

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Pain Awareness Month 2017

Hello there, my lovelies!

It’s September 1st, and you know what that means — and if you don’t, let me drop some knowledge on you. It’s Pain Awareness Month!

 

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Via U.S. Pain Foundation

*Sound the trumpets*

Yes, it is the month that those of us with chronic conditions have taken as our own to raise awareness of our maladies. Naturally I won’t be here for the Boston Abilities Expo (gotta celebrate my dad’s birthday!), but there are plenty of things happening this month, and the U.S. Pain Foundation is keeping track of many goings-on, like fundraisers, the 30-day challenge (follow @US_pain on Twitter and @USPainAwarenessMonth on Instagram for this year’s challenge), proclamations, etc. You can even change your profile picture on Facebook to raise awareness, since many of the most common pain conditions are invisible to the eye.

So that’s cool! Keep on the lookout for Pain Awareness Month-related things and see if there is a family member or friend you can help.

Also, side note, I was featured on Dr. Melissa Cady’s “Pain Out Loud” blog, though you need to sign up to watch it (there’s a free membership). The community is pretty great, and she has a series of videos centered around different types of patients. She is known as the Challenge Doctor, and here is her bio:

Melissa Cady, D.O. is an osteopathic physician certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Cady can relate to her own subject matter, as she has endured and managed her own chronic pain. Her strong desire to overcome it has made her a passionate patient advocate for optimizing health through rational means while minimizing excessive and unnecessary medical interventions.

You can watch it here.

Peace!

 

The Arthritis Summit

As some of you know, I am very interested in food. What some of you don’t know is that I’m also interested in arthritis. I have a touch of it myself in the vertebrae that calcified since the car accidents. Most people think that arthritis only occurs in old people, but nope. Arthritis can also ravage younger folks as well. There are even specific types of juvenile arthritis.

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Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

I mean, what is arthritis? “Painful inflammation and stiffness of joints.” Bam. That’s all it is. So why shouldn’t that affect younger people? If you have pain in your hands, feet, hips, back, or shoulders, the following might be something for you to think about watching.

There is an affiliate link here and a banner over to the right if you are interested in a free online summit coming up in October that will provide interesting perspectives on arthritis and the microbiome (basically, they’re going to discuss the gut-brain connection). If you can’t make the free live showing, they have replays that you can get here.

(Re: the affiliate link: I like to keep these things transparent.)

As I said in the beginning, I think what we eat has a profound impact on how we feel, and this summit is going to explore that.

The summit will talk about:

  • Nutritional advice and the microbiome
  • Stress and the inflammation connection
  • Infections and toxins that might be triggering symptoms
  • How to avoid unnecessary medications
  • Supplements and treatments that can be helpful
  • And more!

Plus, the live show is free. It’s October 9-16, 2017, and for more information, visit this website to register.

 

Abdominal Migraines — Did You Know They Were a Thing?

Hi, kids.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about migraines today. Did you know that “migraine” is an all-inclusive term for a host of terrible, nauseating headaches?

For instance, my headaches closely resemble migraines, enough that my doctor just calls them by that term. I get headaches a few times a week. I can work with headaches. I can function. I get migraines a couple times a month. Those put me out of commission and land me in the recliner with the heavy meds.

The migraines, technically, are post-traumatic stress headaches, which — as I have been so kindly informed by my doctor — fall into the category of “very unpleasant, would like to reschedule, please.” These PTS headaches begin in the base of my head and travel around, vibrating upward along nerves to the top of my head and downward into my shoulders. Fun!

The more popular kind of headaches have been listed out below. Diamond Headache Clinic sent me this slideshow of common types of migraine headaches, some of which I didn’t even know existed. Like abdominal migraines — some kids can experience these between ages 5 and 9, and they can develop into more severe headaches later in life. What? What?!

The presentation is specifically aimed at diagnosing migraines in children, which is especially important to me because I remember my cousin suffering from migraines when we were kids. No child should have to go through symptoms like that if they can be diagnosed early and prevented — no dark and quiet rooms where they have to lie quietly until the auras fade away. Hell, nobody should have migraine symptoms, period, but specifically kids.

So check it out!

 

 

I am Not the Reliable One — Also, a Book Review: “Kicking Sick” by Amy Kurtz

I am not the reliable one.

I recently made friends with a guy who has stage 4 colon cancer. By chance, we were sitting next to each other while waiting for a flight back to Boston from Atlanta. The flight was delayed by two hours, and his soul spoke to mine. We became friends in less than 20 minutes. Just one of those things, I guess.

When his phone rang, it said, “God’s gift to women, pick up!” It was his mom, an older lady with a glorious halo of gray hair. She was delightful. She knows my name, knows all about me now. His whole family knows who I am.

He wants to talk more often than I talk to most people. More than I talk to my family, even. I’m not used to it. And the thing is, he might literally die before I get the chance to speak to him again. He slipped into a coma and came out of it while I was in a pain flare, and I had no idea because I was so wrapped up in my own bullshit. When I finally called, he made the coma sound like not a big deal — but it was a big deal. It was a very big deal.

I’m not used to carrying a relationship. I’m used to everyone being okay with me being the flaky one. When someone’s worse off than me, it’s incredibly difficult to handle.

Which brings me to my next point — I received this book to review, Kicking Sick, by Amy Kurtz, months ago. Between treatments, flares, and feeling generally terrible, it sat on the shelf, unread, until very recently. I picked it up when we were reorganizing the bookshelves and sat down, intending to read a few pages.

I didn’t move for a few hours. I felt like I was reading my own life’s story. When I called my mother later that day, I babbled on and on about the book, not listening to her say, “Uh huh… uhhhh huh…” not comprehending why it was so important to me.

You don’t understand, I thought, almost angry. She gets it

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Via AmyKurtz.com

Boys and girls, this book is great. I have no fewer than 12 sections dog-eared for reference already because it resonated so hard. She might not have the exact same illnesses or pain, but by God, she fights the same way. Her writing is approachable, her explanations are clear, and she can laugh at herself. What more could you want?

She was the unreliable one, and then she kicked it. She kicked the sick. That is all I want to do at this point, and that is what I have been personally working on. The book offers so many ways to do that.

Amy is a wellness expert and a certified health coach on top of her personal experience with chronic illness, so she knows her stuff. She provides health routines, food tips, and other recommendations that are backed up with evidence. She’s been sick since her teens, and her incredibly supportive parents helped her figure out what was wrong: first back pain, and then a firestorm of issues after a trip abroad. She has been reaching out and collecting wellness professionals, whom she calls her “A-Team of Experts” and “Glow Warriors,” and they provide wonderful vignettes. It’s a smorgasbord of self-care, all packed into one explosion of a book.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Worry keeps us in our sick mode.”

“If you have to be at the doctor’s often, don’t make it your life. Instead, bring your life to the doctor’s office.”

“Self-care is always being there for ourselves, treating ourselves like we would someone we love, and making choices that increase our long-term emotional and physical health and sense of well-being.” 

“Seek out doctors who see you as an individual, rather than a case file, and see your condition as something to truly manage and heal, rather than as a diagnosis to medicate.”

“You should leave from any wellness treatment feeling more balanced, stronger, peaceful, and more centered than you did before you came in.”

— Amy Kurtz

The book just made me happy. I felt happier after reading it. I felt understood. It’s always nice when someone gets it. And I always feel a personal sense of “Bravo, lady,” when a member of the Chronic Condition Club (as she puts it) does so well in the real world.

So — bravo, lady. You made it!

I guess my point to this overall post is to keep at it, even if it takes you a long time to get there. I am doing my best to be reliable. I am doing what is within my power at this moment. And if I keep at it, I’ll get to where I want and need to go — eventually. Just like Amy did.

 

Do We Lose Our Dreams with Chronic Illness?

Today we have a guest contribution from the lovely Crys Baysa!

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Chronic illness is hard enough as it is. But even worse, the things we used to do, we can’t do anymore. Suddenly, hanging out with people is hard, doing your job is nearly impossible, and understanding the things you’re trying to study is downright frustrating.

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It is in times like these that it’s easy to wonder if we’re ever going to be better again. ‘Am I going to be able to play my beloved violin again? The pain is too much!’ ‘Will I ever be able to memorize those formulas again? I can’t remember things and I want this degree badly!’

It’s not just the physical limitations that become more and more. It’s the emotional limitations.

What Dreams Really Are

Dreams are not just desires for the future. They’re expressions of ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s something like science, speech, or even simply sculpting a statue. It’s very much a part of who we are, and it’s an emotional release.

When you pour your heart and soul into something, you feel accomplished, like your contributing, and most importantly it’s somewhat of a reflection of you. Everyone approaches things differently, so no one can contribute like you can.

But suddenly, your contribution has to stop because of physical reasons. You can’t keep up on the track anymore and you’re slowing down. The pain is too great, and you can’t paint or hold pencils anymore. Then you lament, not because you can’t contribute, but because you can’t express yourself the way you did anymore.

You loved what you were doing. You loved the craft, the art. What’s more, you had plans for it, and you see where you could have taken it if it weren’t for your health.

So, then dreams are more than expressions. Dreams are a way of expressing your worth to the world, what you can contribute.

Emotionally It Can Be Depressing to Stop

Maybe, as a theory, it’s not just the love of the craft and the pain of stopping it that hurts so much. Maybe we feel our dreams are an expression of our worth. It wasn’t just how we could contribute; it’s what we wanted to contribute, what we felt good at.

Now, being unable to contribute in a way that’s familiar, we feel down. We’re frustrated that such a beautiful gift was taken away from us. We wonder why it had to be. And it’s not just because we love what we were doing, because we do love it. There’s more to it than that.

It is common for people to base their emotions on what they are capable of. In a way, it seems to be society’s way to measure worth. How many hours can you contribute at the homeless shelter? How much money can you contribute to the children’s charity?

When we’re more limited, it’s easy to feel of diminished worth, because we feel that we can’t contribute.

Switching What We Do

Some people switch majors in school because they find out that they didn’t like what they were studying for. Still, other people switch hobbies not because they didn’t like what they were doing before, but because they found they liked what they were now doing better.

But when something is taken away from you not of your own choice, it’s hard. Maybe it means choosing a different career that you didn’t necessarily want to have. It’s not saying that you hate the new career (or maybe you do), but you don’t like it as much as what you were doing before.

It’s a harsh reality. It’s that way with hobbies to. Now instead of doing track in field, you have to take up sewing. You have to stay home instead for work instead of working abroad. Or maybe you can’t work at all.

It’s not what you wanted.

How to Deal

By addressing the above emotions, we can begin to find a new perspective in life. First of all, we need to accept that our worth is not determined by what we give or are capable of giving. We’re all of worth and we  all have worth.

We need to learn that it’s not our hobbies or what career we take (or don’t take) that defines us. It’s our character. As long as you’re a good person, you’re doing fine. And, as no one is perfect, we all need to improve ourselves, become better people.

Second, while we may not love our replacement as much, maybe we should see it through the lens of being an opportunity to get us to where we want to go. Yeah, it might not be running the race, but if you like sewing too, even minisculely, maybe you can use it to help fund your treatments. Then,  when youre healed, you can pursue track again.

Thirdly, we can see this as an opportunity. You may not have put as much time on the new gift had you not gotten sick. Now you can develop this gift to. And maybe you might be able to use it to support your previous interset, such as sewing clothing for those who run on track. That way, you can sort of breach into the industry that way there are more opportunities when you go in. People will know you.

Fourthly, we can craft these new gifts to be a reflection of us also. We can still put our heart and soul into it.

Our Previous Dreams

We should never give up our dreams. Never, never. Despite the fact that our illness puts our dreams on hold, we should keep up our dreams. Here’s some reasons why:

  1. It provides motivation.
  2. It gives us reason to look forward.
  3. It can give us fewer to be sad.

Let’s go over this step by step.

Motivation

Motivation is an important thing. It is the engine behind decisions. It takes doing to accomplish something.

By having motivation to pursue our dreams, we are acknowledging indirectly that we can find healing. It gives us more reasons to go out there and find the answers. After all, we realize that we have a life to get back to.

In many ways, motivation is faith because it’s the action part of the formula.

Looking Forward

If motivation is the engine, then looking forward is the ignition. We can’t have the motivation to pursue our dreams if we don’t believe it’s still possible to achieve, despite our circumstances.

I’ll equate this to hope. Hope precedes faith, and it’s the one that ignites the desire, and gets us going in the right direction.

Without hope that we can still achieve our dreams, we may fall into a state of hopelessness and greater depression. We may believe we’re stuck this way for the rest of our lives and that it’s impossible to get a life again, to heal.

Looking forward is essential to finding a solution.

Fewer Reasons to Be Sad

By having faith that we can achieve our goals, that it is still possible to pursue our dreams, we have a greater mentality. Yes, we may be sad, or depressed, but we’re not as sad as we would be if we were without hope.

We’re not resigned to living like this. The moment we resign ourselves to the belief that this is how it’s going to be for us for the rest of our lives, that we can’t pursue our dreams, we’ve given up. And giving up is the opposite of faith.

The moment we give up, we don’t pursue our dreams. Then we’re even sadder because we can’t achieve our dreams. This can put us in a greater depression.

We Have Hope

It’s never going to be easy to keep up the faith. In many instances, it’s easy to give up. It’s hard to see the outcome when illness is all that we can see.

However, with faith, motivation, and a clear eye on our goals, we can overcome this illness.

Disease does not have to stop us. It doesn’t have to be forever. We can still be healed and achieve our dreams.

By keeping up the desire to achieve our goals in life, we can indirectly motivate ourselves to find answers about our health, and ultimately, healing.

crysBio of Crys Baysa

Crys Baysa had to put her dreams on hold because of chronic illness, but she never gives up. She will still become a meteorologist. Download her free brochure 5 Ways to Keep Your Dreams Alive to learn more about maintaining hope for your future dreams.

How to Change Your Diet and Cut Out Grains When You Really, REALLY Don’t Want to

Is it better to go cold turkey when all you want to do is eat turkey — metaphorically speaking?

I want to get better. I want to be without pain. This is a true statement. Sometimes I feel so awful that I wonder if deep down, somewhere hidden in the black box of my soul, I really want to stay broken forever. Like I want to take advantage of this non-existence, this floating through life, this working from home, this constant excuse. (Like I couldn’t come up with other excuses if I needed to bail on a party early?)

Not good enough.

That is not good enough for me.

See, I have this chair. Everyone knows it is Jen’s Chair — when friends and guests come over, they know or are directed not to sit in it. It’s a paisley recliner from Bob’s Discount Furniture, and I spend approximately 50% of my time in it. On bad days, I’ll spend even more time in it. I have the Bio-Mat set up there on a permanent basis. Heating pads galore. My husband hates what this chair represents because once I get in, put my feet up, put my computer on my lap, and effectively “strap in” with all the heating pads, I’m not getting up for much of anything short of nuclear fallout. Then he and I can try to hold hands across the coffee table, which really doesn’t work. So he’ll hold onto my foot or something.

Do I really want to get out of the chair?

I decided that I do. Screw this chair. I want to set it on fire and buy a sectional sofa.

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Artistic rendering of fire. Y’all like my cat Buddha?

So what will I do to feel better? How far will I go?

Recently my husband told me, after I made a particularly big clustercuss on a work project, that I have to learn to ask for help. I have to accept that my pain reduction is going to come not from pharmaceuticals, but from alternative health, from doctors, from chiropractors, acupuncturists, healers of all different shapes and sizes. Some of them I have already tried and am willing to try again. Some of them I haven’t tried yet. Others I’ve tried and thrown in the garbage.

What else am I willing to try?

I have been doing the Chronic Babe Secret Club for the first time. It’s a monthly program that I’ve watched slip by every month because I’m on her mailing list, but haven’t tried for various excuses — too many flares, too busy, irrelevant topic, etc. July’s topic was “resilience,” so I took that as a sign that I needed to start a proper support group. I still haven’t taken advantage of all the reading yet, but the Facebook group has been a wonderful place of positivity and empathy, as well as in-depth non-doctor advice.

So not only have I found a place of like-minded individuals with a wide gamut of health problems, but I have also found a group leader who provides many resources like Facebook Live videos, Spotify playlists of upbeat tunes to keep us cheerful, reading materials (her own new book excerpts included, from the upcoming ChronicBabe 101), and more.

One of the group members said she’d given up grains — all grains, not just going gluten-free, which I already am — and it had given her so much energy and had reduced a good percentage of her pain. We’re talking no corn, rice, quinoa, nothing. Nothing, nothing, NOTHING. So I guess I’m essentially paleo at this point? Except I don’t eat gluten, dairy, peanuts, or shellfish. And I avoid alcohol because it makes me feel bloated and disgusting.

Well, hot diggity damn, I thought. If I’m really serious about my pain control, then I have to at least try. If I don’t try, then am I really serious? Do I really want to give up the pain, or am I holding onto it?

And jeeze, guys, I’ve been trying. So far, I’ve been succeeding. It’s been about a week. There are three boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios in the pantry, along with a box of Quinoa cereal, and I just want to stuff my face inside the cardboard and inhale them. Or at least I did, the first few days, when I felt like I was experiencing the flu. You literally go through withdrawal. I Googled my symptoms because I felt like such God-forsaken crap that I didn’t know if I was going through the worst of flares, my pain was getting worse, I was developing new symptoms, or I was dying. (The fourth one there is dramatic. I’m going for dramatics here.)

But you do literally go through withdrawal. It’s recommended that you withdraw from grains during a stress-free period when you don’t have to do much else beside feel terrible. Work fell by the wayside. I couldn’t focus on anything. After maybe three or four days, I emerged, feeling wizened, fit and lean. Still no energy, but I’m waiting on that. Pain is about the same. I’m hopeful, though!

Anyway, I will keep you updated on my progress. I’m sure there will be transgressions, because this is a hellishly difficult diet to keep up, but there have been many, many people who have healed themselves through diet. I’m listening to Wellth, an audiobook by the creator of mindbodygreen.com, and he was discussing the case study of Terry Wahls, the woman who healed her MS by diet. I find these stories so incredibly inspiring. Things can be changed.

I can be changed. I am not in stasis.

5 Work-At-Home Businesses That Can Work Around Pain

We have a contribution today from the lovely Victoria Greene, a brand marketing consultant and freelance writer. Put your hands together! 

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People who suffer from chronic pain sometimes worry that they won’t be able to have a successful career. While this concern is understandable, it’s also something that can be overcome. There are lots of jobs you can do at home and in your own time. If you’re having a particularly difficult day, you can rest and save all of your energy for when you’re having a better day. You can fit your work around you and you won’t have to worry about commuting either. If you need to find a work solution like this, here are five work-from-home business ideas that could be ideal for you.

1. Writing

Can you string a few words together with at least a modicum of cohesion and elegance? If so, you might just have what it takes to become a writer. There are a lot of opportunities out there for somebody to start working from home as a writer, as businesses need them for content marketing and SEO purposes. The numbers are only increasing, too.

What’s great about writing is that if you’ve got an idea, you can get the work done with just an internet connection and some basic word processing software! Some kinds of writing work will just require you to write good content about subjects you’re familiar with – other kinds will require a little more time and research. If you’re relatively new (or inexperienced) at writing professionally, you’ll want to start with the former.

You can also use dictation software and tools to take the pressure off your typing hands — but you will need plenty of time to train the tools to react to your voice in the desired way.

2. Ecommerce

The ecommerce industry is growing all the time and sales can be a great form of ‘passive income,’ especially as a lot of ecommerce management tasks can be automated and outsourced to talented virtual teams.

There may be a lot of competition, but now could be the ideal time to set up an online shop. This is especially true if there’s a specific niche you know you can fill, or a passion project you feel compelled to follow. There are lots of ecommerce solutions out there that make it quite simple for you to put together and manage your own store from home, and you can go for one that has 24/7 support if you need a little more reassurance.

You may worry about logistics, but if you are unable to handle this side of the business (and I don’t blame you), there are options like dropshipping, which is ideal for working at home — it will make your life a lot easier, and your customers need never know!

3. Customer Support

This is the ideal kind of work for somebody who wants to work from home, but doesn’t want to lose the aspect of human interaction that comes from working with people. Lots of businesses have somebody external manage their customer support services – and that somebody could be you! This is great for people who have bubbly personalities or who love to have conversations with people, but you’ve also got to be patient with cranky customers.

Generally, the way this works is that businesses will have their customer support line redirect to your mobile phone, so that you can take the calls no matter where you are (make sure you’re being healthy about it though). Other options include using email and Skype — you can probably sort out a relatively flexible work schedule, depending on the company and their needs.

4. Social Media

If you’re a bit of a social media expert, then perhaps you could do social media marketing from your home as a service? It’s the kind of work that requires creative flair, but it’s enjoyable and relatively easy to fit around your life and daily schedule. Most social media platforms will give you the option to schedule your posts in advance. If you don’t feel like working in the middle of the day, you can schedule all of your upcoming posts at a more convenient time.

It’s easy to spend your day making a ton of posts for a single business, but not everyone wants such comprehensive social media coverage. You could instead try to offer these services to several businesses to help fill up your work day (and earn more money). With tools like Feedly available to provide you with loads of interesting and relevant content, running social media accounts has never been easier, and you can easily design shareable imagery using tools like Canva (no graphic design skills required).

5. Graphic Design & Illustration

Speaking of specialized skills, if you’re good at graphic design or illustration, then that’s another potential avenue for you to use to make money from home. There are always going to be people looking for logos, for someone to touch up images, and other little jobs like that. If you know where to look, this can be quite a useful source of income, and you can say yes to projects as they come in, declining work when you don’t feel up for it.

You might also find that there’s a market for creatively oriented visual design work on the internet. People will pay artists to draw specific things that they’d like to see. Websites like DeviantArt allow the artists who use them to take commissions for their work, and by posting more pieces, they reach and expose themselves to more people. Illustrations can also be used for loads of different celebrations and occasions, from custom wall art to corporate anniversaries.

Chronic pain does not mean that you cannot start a business and enjoy the successes that come as a result of taking charge of your own destiny. Any of these five suggestions could make for a fantastic home-based work life. There are lots of other career paths that are possible too, though some will require very specialized skill sets. You may also find, if you’re lucky, that you can get a contracted position with a business, which allows you to be entirely home-based. What’s the best work-from-home job you’ve ever encountered?

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

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I work with ecommerce businesses & marketing teams to create content and targeted digital strategies. I’ve worked from home many times and I’ve encountered many businesses based around this lifestyle. It’s something that is very feasible and is opening the door for more people to have meaningful careers that work around their unique needs.

When You are on a Medication You Don’t Like, But Need

I’ve been on Lyrica for a few years now for nerve pain in my hands and feet. I’m not sure exactly when I started taking it, but I know it’s been at least three years of fighting to get off it, taper it, or change it to something else. Instead, I am increasing it.

My main reason for not liking it? Fear. The lawsuits. I read one article that led to another article that led to many more. How patients started a class-action suit because doctors had not told them about the near-impossibility of coming off this drug. How patients would break open capsules and remove one granule at a time, because they couldn’t take tapering in any larger doses. How it hooks into your brain and stays there, camping permanently among the gray matter, growing and writhing and changing.

My other reasons? I didn’t like how I felt on it. I still don’t. There are a host of side effects that are only tolerated because they’re outweighed by the enormous benefit: The medicine takes care — to a degree — of the electric shocks in my limbs.

It’s been a balancing game with my neurologist. Every few months, it’s the same scene. I sit in front of his desk and complain about the side effects. I say that I can’t think as clearly as I want. I get dizzy. I forget words and names. I bump into door frames. I drop things. My hands are stiff and sore, almost arthritic. (I usually refer to this as “ham hands,” which my doctor now knows to call it. Once I get him to include that in my patient notes, I will have succeeded on some small level.)

Every few months, he tells me the same thing: There is literally nothing else with which to treat me. We have already tried everything, and new options have not been invented yet.

My main frustration has been that even though I work from home, even though I have a lot more time on my ham hands, I can’t write. This is writing, sure, but it’s not writing. It isn’t diving into a deep well of creativity and swimming downward into the cool darkness for hours, surfacing only to breathe because the sun has gone down and suddenly it’s eight hours later, and where did the time go?

 

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WHAT YEAR IS IT?! Photo via VisualHunt

I used to be like that.

Now I stare at my screen and cannot open the door to where my characters wait. They have been waiting for more than a decade now.

Artists and writers say that anti-depressants and nerve medications lower creativity. They change brain chemistry and dampen our ability to create. It doesn’t mean that we can only create artwork when we’re sad. It means that when we are clouded by milligrams upon milligrams of medications, we will likely not be able to find our way back into that deep well. Some can, to be sure. I haven’t found a way yet that is satisfying to me. I can’t sit for that long. I can’t think for that long. I can’t even type for that long.

It isn’t even just the Lyrica, though that is the particular subject of my ire. It’s everything else I’m on as well. All mixed together, a veritable cocktail of pain medication that aims to keep me functioning, the very expensive human being that I am. How am I supposed to create something beautiful when I’m wrapped in gauze? How do I write when my hands are covered in ham?

Are we artists if we are not creating? Am I a writer if I am not writing?