New Year’s Resolution

This year I resolve to live with my pain, but not with suffering.

<Emma>

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Pole Fitness

I am going to start pole fitness as a workout regime. As recommended to me by my chiropractor.

I am also going to start Dahn yoga. It is supposed to be particularly helpful to those in chronic pain. This was recommended by a friend who is also a certified yoga instructor, but this didn’t sound as cool so I left it out of the title.

<Emma>

I quit

Last night I had an “I quit” moment. And I meant it. I was done. I didn’t know how I could continue on like this. Laying in bed exhausted, wanting nothing more than sleep, and not getting it because I was in too much pain. The constant struggle, the uphill battle, the overwhelming frustration.

 

I cannot be more thankful to my boyfriend for simply being there with me. Reminding me that he is here and that I am strong and he knows I will not give up.

For reminding me that I am more than my pain.

That I can do this. Although it seems unmanageable at times, I know that I have made strides in the right direction.

I refused to move backwards and I refuse to let this define me. 

 

<Emma>

Riding with Joy

Driving was something I had enjoyed from the moment I got my license. I loved the freedom you feel behind the wheel and the ability to just go.

As I begun my journey with chronic pain this event that I once loved became a labored chore. One I never looked forward to. I was no longer able to listen to music in the car as it often trigger terrible headaches. Once, after starting a new medication, I fell asleep at the wheel and almost got in a terrible car accident.

Tonight, I have experienced a huge win in this battle with embracing my pain. I decided, as I sat behind the wheel of my car about to start a trip, that I was going to enjoy this ride like I used to enjoy driving. I was going to put the windows down, turn the radio on, and just go. And I was flying! I felt high just on my own enjoyment! It was amazing. I have never felt anything this incredible before. My pain was still there, but it was in the backseat– literally just along for the ride. It was not dominating me, it was not at the forefront of my thoughts, yet I never forgot it was there.

I was able to embrace my pain for this brief period of time and just enjoy myself. Simply amazing. These are the moments I fight for.

 

<Emma>

Find your inspiration

“Toughness has nothing to do with it. This is physical agony, not weakness of character.”
– Jeanna Safer, Ph.D. in “The Will of the Weed” an article from Psychology Today magazine

It took a while for me to digest this quote. It struck me on a very deep, personal level. I have been battling this pain for so long, and for so long I have felt like I should be able to deal with this, I should not let this hurt me so much. When this whole time it has been a physical ailment, not some flaw in me. I have fought so hard to conceal how much pain I am truly in every single day because I think that people will see me as weak if I don’t. I think they will look at me over time and start to say “She is faking it. Her pain isn’t real. She just wants attention.” So I forge on and I say I am okay when I am not. That I can go on when I feel I can’t. That I can handle it when I know I will pay the price for it later.

I pretend it doesn’t hurt in order to maintain relationships. No one wants to spend their time with someone who is in constant agony and consistently has to stop things short in order to maintain the delicate balance of “it doesn’t hurt that bad.”

I pretend because if other people look at me and think I am not in any pain that means it cannot hurt that bad, right?

I pretend because I want to feel normal. Because I don’t want to see the pained face of pity looking back at me anymore.

And I pretend because no one understands. I have felt alone in this journey so many times. I have felt betrayed and abandoned by those I hold dear.

But this quote has given me something that often escapes me, hope. Hope that one day I will be better. That my physical body will find a way to heal itself. And it fortifies the idea that I do not possess a weakness of character, but perhaps even a greatness of character. That this is not the cause or result of some flaw in me. That I am beautiful and I am brave. That I look this pain in the face every day and I say “Give me your best shot. I will not quit.” I do not win this fight every day, but I fight it. There are days when I am down in the dumps and days when I soar. This journey has changed so many things about me. And although I am still in (too much) pain, I think I have been changed for the better.

 

weak v. strong

<Emma>

The Little Engine That Could

I think acupuncture is helping, slowly but surely it is helping me. This week was better than last week. Last week had a multitude of issues as you gathered from my last post. Now I’m still not sure what caused the extremity of my ailment last week but this week was less of a roller coaster. Don’t get me wrong, I still felt like the warm side of the pillow of death but we will take the small victories as we get them, right? Right!

My acupuncturist added some extra needles to help alleviate my headache and shoulder pain but he mainly focused on my stomach. He usually puts four needles in my stomach along with a warm lamp that is over my stomach. The needles make a diamond and the one closest to my rib cage is probably the most sensitive area. He took a lighter to some herb or incense thing, blew it out, and then placed it around the needle closest to my rib cage. It was made to perfectly fit around the needle, but it didn’t burn my skin. I’m not sure what it was but I found that after my session it was less sensitive in that area. He thinks that something is stuck in there and he suggested that I eat warm or hot foods rather than cold or raw foods and cutting my sugar and salt intake. I already don’t consume processed sugars and I have been limiting my natural sugars for some time now, but I decided to focus on eating warm foods and limiting salt. I have kind of seen a difference in digestion but this week has had its ups and downs. Wednesday was not a good health day. I was experiencing excruciating pain in my hands, knees, shoulders, and an awful pain in my neck–as usual these days.

Today, today was better. I did have several periods where I felt less like a zombie and slightly more human. I am currently in some pain right now via the area where my acupuncturist put the burning herb, but I’m hoping that will pass. I think it is interesting that he thinks something is stuck there because maybe that is what is causing this new flare up. I also forgot to mention that I researched some and cross referenced with my mom (who also suffers from one health issue after another) that eating warm foods helps the spleen. So I’m going to try to look up some essential oils and herbs that will help with spleens and digestion.

As much as I want to lose faith, and give up I force myself to keep going. I have a some great friends that really do help me through these tough times but a lot of them don’t understand the struggle because they’ve never experienced anything like it. But I have to remain hopeful that these herbs and natural ways can still prevail over western medicine. I believe firmly that the body is a powerful piece of machinery that can do amazing things if given the right tools.

In an effort to end now before I really start to ramble, I want to close saying that I will post more information on my herbs and the oils. Stay positive and be well.

–Natalie–

Acupuncture

I tried acupuncture for the first time this last Saturday, and it was an interesting experience. Interesting in a good way. My doctor recommended that I come every week at first, and then taper off from there as healing increases.

I don’t know a lot about acupuncture but I’m learning more each day. It started with my mom going to acupuncture and seeing a distinct difference over the last year or two she has been going. Both my mom and I have medical issues that seem to be a never ending domino effect. She has believed in a more holistic approach for quite some time. I on the other hand have taken many years to buy into it. I went through the “it won’t affect me” stage or “I’m invincible” stage for many years until my body rudely reminded me it is king. I am still learning to listen to my body rather than always relying on western medicine. I also have Emma as a reference to acupuncture. She has been doing it for quite some time too and it seems to help her even if only temporarily.

I went to the massage therapist on the same day I tried acupuncture. I decided to get an Indian head massage that focuses on the shoulders and everything above that. It was just what I needed to relieve some of the pain in my upper shoulders, neck, and head. I was telling my therapist that I find it fascinating that she can touch or work on an area on my shoulders and I could feel exactly where it hurt in my neck. The same thing goes for when she’d press on my shoulder blade or upper back area and I’d feel a sensation go up through my neck and arm and down to my fingertips. I also have problems with my hands and joints in my fingers at times. This is not a bad sensation I want to point out but enough of a sensation to spark my interest in how things are so connected. I swear I should have studied to be a massage therapist!

Now back to acupuncture, this is another thing I am fascinated about. My doctor explained that the body is like a road and pain is like a road block. Acupuncture serves to pin point the road blocks and help clear the roadway. Again, I find it so interesting that he can put a needle in my foot that is supposed to help my stomach, or a needle near my knee that is supposed to help with my neck. This fact and this fact alone could be the enough reason  for me to continue with acupuncture, but I did feel better after my session as well–added bonus.

I had about 30 plus needles in me all over my legs, arms, head, stomach, neck, etc. He turned every needle that he put in me, and some hurt more than others. The ones that caused the most pain were in my stomach and in my hands. My stomach illness had been acting up in the last couple of the weeks, so that does not surprise me when it hurt when he twisted the needles in my stomach. What I did not understand was why my right side of my stomach hurt more than my left side of the stomach. Now I never took anatomy in college and science wasn’t my thing, but all my procedures that I have had on my colon my left side of the colon is always the worst. So why would my right side hurt significantly more? It was my understanding the needles in the side of my hand were to help my shoulders which could explain why they hurt so bad with the needle in and still 20 minutes after the needle was removed. My mom also said that it could hurt due to minimal flesh in that area.

All in all, I was satisfied with my experience despite the fact that my doctor wasn’t a man of many words. I will continue to go and I hope to see more connections and more healing. Till then my friends–stay positive and believe. Do you have any acupuncture stories to share?

–Natalie–