All posts filed under: acceptance

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 …

Do We Lose Our Dreams with Chronic Illness?

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

Reworking Your Home Life to Minimize Chronic Pain

We have a lovely guest post from a new contributor, Jackie Waters, of Hyper-Tidy.com!  Living in constant pain can cause worry, stress, anxiety, and depression. You wonder if you’ll ever feel better or if you’ll keep feeling worse. It is possible to get your life back and get a handle on chronic pain. People who suffer from it can incorporate everyday, holistic changes to improve their quality of life and manage their pain. Lifestyle and Diet Mindfulness meditation is a way to effectively train your brain to turn down the volume on pain. According to The Huffington Post, “A typical meditation involves focusing on different parts of the body and simply observing with the mind’s eye what you find.” Doing this makes you aware of the connection between your mind and body; you observe painful sensations as they happen, and then let go of struggling with them. You may doubt the impact mindfulness meditation can have on chronic pain, but it has been shown to reduce it by 57 percent, and skillful meditators can reduce it by …

3 Weeks ACDF Post-Surgery Update

I had my first follow-up on Friday with my surgeon. Up until that point I’d been in my pajamas with a hard neck collar, buzzed hair, thick black-rimmed glasses, and obviously no makeup. There wasn’t anything close to “hot” in “hot mess” here. But hey, buzzed hair = barely shampooing = don’t knock it ’til you try it, because trying to shampoo your hair after neck surgery is a wench. My latest foray into the outside world before seeing my surgeon for the all-clear? Chasing my damn cat, Fattie, who decided that the cold muddy day of the week was the perfect time to sneak past me out the front door while I talked to a woman across the street. She made to leap from the front steps straight onto the muddy ground and then — after shrieking at me for grabbing her tail — gave me a furious look like the mud was somehow my fault. “Excuse me a moment,” I said before scrambling after the cat, socks in the mud while my poor neighbor just stared at me (thanks for the …

Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion… and Phlegmy, Phlegmy Mucus

That’s an ominous title, isn’t it? BUCKLE UP, BUCKAROOS! FIRST OFF: I HAD SPINAL SURGERY, AND IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT. My first surgery wasn’t quite the success for which I’d hoped. I tried not to hope for this one, because I didn’t want to get my feelings hurt. Well, boys and girls, this one worked. It’s like the first time they dug around in my neck, they only pulled out half a rotting tooth before stitching me back up. The second surgery removed the rest of that festering, pulsating monstrosity and cleaned it out entirely. So, was it worth it? Heck yes.  HEY HEY, I HAD SURGERY I am now a bit more than one week post-anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. I had the same procedure as I did two years ago (ACDF, levels C4-C5 as opposed to the earlier C5-C6). It was the same hospital, even the same surgeon, and yet so many things were different. Round I was March 27, 2014. I remember four things vividly: the feeling of funny juice speeding through my body right …

The Quell Pain Relief Device: 8 Months Later

Hi, everyone. It’s been quite some time since I’ve shouted into the electronic void. I had such grand plans, too. At the end of 2015 I left my full-time job as an associate attorney. My bosses did so much for me, but the way our office was set up, having me work part-time just wasn’t possible. The month of December was my slow transition to working from home. I still have my freelance editing work, but primarily I am home. In my sweatpants. With my cat. I figured I would use this time to write a ton of blog posts, start my new website (to be formally announced at a later date), do yoga four times a day, walk an hour every day, finally go to the gym, hang out with my cat, wake up at 5 a.m. during the work week, do some personal writing for the first time in years, etc. I had grand, unrealistic plans. At the very least I still plan to discuss transitioning to working from home, but that’s not the point …

Accepting Limitations Caused by Chronic Pain & Illness

Yesterday, after much deliberation (far too much deliberation), I finally accepted the fact that I can no longer work a full-time job because of my chronic pain. My bosses did everything they could to work with me on a solution, but I cannot fundamentally perform the tasks required by my job. Driving to the office, sitting in a chair every day, and traveling to meetings was chipping away at me, little by little, breaking down any resilience I had left… which sounds absurd, doesn’t it? A sedentary job being too much for me? But it was, and it is. Even mitigating devices put in place (like a kneeling chair at my desk or taking breaks in a recliner in my office) wasn’t enough. Husband has been begging me for ages to put my health first, finances be damned, but I kept dwelling on the decision and driving him out of his mind with my constant “What if?”s (again, I am sorry, Husband). The reason for my very extended delay in making this transition was that it …

Word War Won: “Being Careful” vs. “Being Mindful”

Husband offered up the topic for this edition of Word War Won (which, sadly, has not been on the radar for quite some time). To refresh your collective memory, WWW is when I delve into the meanings of words that we use and how some words are better than others for those working through chronic pain. It helps to re-frame negative thought patterns into positive ones (like the techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy). Careful: adjective. [kare-full] The state of avoiding potential danger or mishaps. Mindful: adjective. [myend-full] To be fully aware and present in the moment. I was reading through some of my medical records when I came across a shrink’s blurb who’d made a point of noting that I am afraid of interacting with the world. To paraphrase: “She is scared to go out in crowds, and in the wintertime she thinks that if she is not careful, she will slip on ice and injure herself further.” I might as well live in bubble wrap. For the record, I have tried. Please refer to Exhibit A below. Husband framed the idea …

Piss Off, Pain Management Clinics

“You have exhausted all of your options.” That is what I was told yesterday when I was denied as a new patient at Massachusetts General Hospital. Western medicine has officially given me the heave-ho. Because I have a “long-standing relationship with another pain management clinic,” unless I am being referred for a specific procedure that my current doctors do not have, I am not allowed to become a patient elsewhere. It’s so strange to reach the end of the road. It’s one thing to be told that the doctors are running out of ideas; it’s another thing entirely to have someone tell you that there is literally no other procedure in existence. All the treatments they are willing to try have been attempted. Science and research have not caught up yet. This is as good as it’s going to get. What they’re willing to try. That’s the operative phrase here. Despite my decade of experience in the medical system, despite never exhibiting pill-seeking behavior, my pain management doctors refused to prescribe any kind of opioid safety net. If …

Building a Shield for my Body and Mind

I am trying to better protect my body, which means trying new things in order to build a stronger shield on all fronts. My father found a powder supplement called “Arthroben,” which is generally used for those suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. For some reason the company decided that their original flavor should be green apple, so it tastes like I’m eating a Jolly Rancher (yes!) that I dropped in the sand (no!). I have also increased my Cymbalta by 20 milligrams, which I’m not thrilled about, but hey, what can you do.  Judging by my Pain Tracker instead of my shoddy memory, it’s been a fairly good week. Once I stabilize on the new dosage of Cymbalta, I will attempt to transition off the 2oo milligrams of Lyrica that I take each day. I am also strengthening my body to the best of my ability. After a week of no exercise because of being symptomatic, I am easing back into my morning swimming routine where I doggy-paddle (or I do Aqua Aerobics with the old ladies and …