Disclaimer: In this post, I discuss mental health. If this is something you aren’t interested in reading, it’s totally okay to skip this post and read a happier one. I know sometimes when I read or when people describe anxiety symptoms it makes me sensitive and prone to having higher levels anxiety. Also, I am not an expert whatsoever, I am just sharing parts of myself so you can get to know me more. If you think you may struggle with any sorts health issues, I highly encourage you to see your health professional to receive the proper treatment.
My Chronic Pain Story
This is a post I’ve been wanting to do for some time, however I debated over whether to do it or not.
Once I got started, it turned into more than just a small ‘Oh by the way, this is my current life situation‘ type post. The more I started to share, the longer the post went, so I decided to split the post into two parts.
This post is about my physical pain and the other is about my mental health.
Before you get started, feel free to apply a mask. Hell, let’s make it a double mask session to be on the safe side.
Let’s jump into the story.
How things started
I’ll start off by taking you back to March 2015.
My husband and I were driving home after work on a Friday, excited while we decided what we were wanting to do over the weekend. We were stopped at a red light, when suddenly we were in a car accident. Another car had slammed into the back of us. I was pretty shaken up, but luckily my husband was with me and took control of the situation with the other driver. Fortunately an ambulance wasn’t required, but we were both immediately in a world of hurt.
The accident has left us both with, what feels like never-ending health issues, which the specialists now tell me is chronic level health issues.
Now I am in no way putting this out because I am seeking sympathy. I’m sharing it because someone out there may relate to a similar situation.
Sometimes when I need to escape from the pain and try to feel like a normal person, even if it’s for 20 minutes, I turn to my precious skincare. It never makes me feel judged.
Disclaimer: I am in no way whatsoever an expert and of course am not able to give any type of advice. I am just a girl with a blog that happens to struggle with some medical issues.
The beginning of my pain
My physical troubles started with excruciating back pain, neck pain and headaches. When the car hit us my head flew forward and then slammed back against the headrest. As time went on, the pain progressed to other places over my body, especially in my lower back and down to my legs.
The weeks following the accident, my back pain was so intense that even trying to drive to work always ended in tears.
Sitting in the car for 45+ minutes just to get to the office would leave me completely spent. Once I would get to the office, my pain was off the charts. I’d stand up for a while to change positions. The pain would hit. I’d lay down on the floor to try to get some relief. The pain would hit. I would sit down for a few minutes. The pain would hit. Rinse and repeat, all the while crying and not being able to take the pain relief medication prescribed. The level of the pain medication made me drowsy and left me unable to drive, so I wouldn’t be able to get home.
It seemed like a full-time job going through what felt like a revolving door between my doctors, taking medication, trying to go to work, attending physiotherapist, scans, osteopath etc.
The most noticeable outcome of my injuries, was that I now have a limp and need to use a walking stick to get around.
What wasn’t visible, however, was my other reoccurring symptoms:
- Unable to sit down for weeks at a time due to the pain in my spine that felt like it was broken. I’d be bedridden or would have to lay on my stomach on the floor.
- Before I could get out of bed every morning, I’d have to rub my numb legs until feeling returned to them, or I’d risk falling over when I’d try to stand.
- Many times I’ve needed to crawl, just to get around the house, the pain was so severe in trying to stand.
- Consistent chronic level pain that just never goes away.
- Flare ups, which cause my pain to spike from a normal 7/10 every day to an excruciating 10/10. The flare ups last anywhere from a few days to months.
- Various embarrassing moments, including falling off the toilet seat because my back gave out.
When all this first happened, I thought I’d just need a few weeks of physio and things would settle. I’d have my old life back. Never did I imagine it would turn into this.
How I was feeling
Me, an early thirties, active wife who worked full time, making future plans for holidays, having financial goals, who undertook small home improvements with my husband. Me, who loves our 2 dogs so much, used to taking them for daily walks as well as to the dog parks and swimming pool on the weekends.
Just like that, a moment of carelessness by someone else changed mine and my husband’s life forever.
As you can imagine I was and still am, totally devastated. I have pain that just won’t go away. Dealing with all this and the doctors are unable to pinpoint exactly what is wrong, much less being able to treat the issue. The scans all coming up clear in the sense that nothing showed up that can be operated on. The only diagnosis is that it is chronic pain and I will have it for the rest of my life.
All I want is to get back to old life and put this in the past. To have my independence. To be pain free. To have my career back. To be free to travel and enjoy what I used to enjoy. But, they have told me that now, this will most likely never happen.
Every morning I’d wake up, attempt to get ready for work and then my pain would hit me like a truck. Just like that, I was out for the count. No way I could go to work. Hell, I could barely make it back from the shower to my bed. I’d have to crawl back and pull myself onto the bed.
I ended up having to stop working for an extended time after the accident because I was missing so many days due to the pain. My pain has a mind of its own and it’s not something I can control.
I am forever grateful and incredibly fortunate, to have an employer who was concerned about me and was very flexible to my situation. They even worked out a way for me to work from home a few hours a week.
Anyone who has gone through something like this, will appreciate how much it helps when you don’t have to worry about your job on top of everything else.
After a few months, my doctor referred me to a pain specialist. Following the specialist’s recommendations, I was enrolled in a pain management program, working closely with a series of doctors who specialised with people in similar situations.
Over the 5-6 months of the pain program, I managed to build my working hours to 20 hours a week, working from home. Under the supervision of my doctor, I was slowly trying to increase the number of hours I worked. More than anything, I wanted to get my independence back and wanted to get back to work. I love my job and my employer has been nothing but supportive and accommodating during this whole process.
When things went sideways
Months later I went to see a third party specialist that the insurance organised. I believe that was around April 2016. In July 2016, my employer called me and told me that they received a letter from the insurance company stating that their doctor advised them there was nothing wrong with me, that I’d be starting to work 40 hours a week the following week and I also didn’t need any special means of transportation to get to and from work. (paraphrasing)
My employer, fully aware of my situation, in no way agreed with the assessment. I stayed in constant communication with my employer and they knew how my health conditions.
No one had spoken to me about the insurance doctor’s decision. None of my treating practitioners, who had treated me continuously over the previous 12 + months had even been consulted or advised of the decision. The insurer went solely on the word of their doctor on the basis of that one consultation. and advised my employer directly.
To say I was shocked, is an understatement.
After my Pain Program
At the end of the program, I felt like I understood my pain and how there would be times when it would flare up and times when hopefully it may not be so bad. Still waiting on the “not so bad”. This is something that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.
Part of the program was learning how to pace myself. An example being, instead of vacuuming the whole house in one go, I would need to break it up into sections over a number of days.
The goal was to be able to live a normal life, but to pace myself and learn to live with my limitations. This is easier said than done, especially when the pain is at a 10 out of 10.
This is something that I struggle with so much, even to this day. I hate asking anyone for help. I like to do things myself and in my own way. I go through stages where I try to rebel against my body and attempt to do what I could do before. This is an ongoing issue because I try to pick myself up and push myself a little more each time, but it always ends in tears. My stubbornness backfires with the end result being lots of pain, leaving me unable to move, nor go out of the house for weeks after.
It is so hard to see my body and mind not able to do the things it use to do, especially at such a young age.
My daily routine
Fast forward to now, 2.5 years of different treatment methods.
There is a small routine I go through everyday:
- I do my walking around the house/backyard.
- I do some stretches/exercises that my physio planned out for me.
- If my pain is higher than usual, I use a heat pack to try to ease my spasming muscles.
- I do some meditation.
- I do a little bit of housework when possible, something as easy as emptying the dishwasher.
- I try to cook on very rare occasions since it was one of my all time favourite things to do.
- When my pain is higher than usual, I take a hot shower and then just lie down in bed to let my muscles relax.
How I feel now
I try to focus on the fact that even though things aren’t ideal for me, it could be a lot worse. I try to pat myself on the back over completing the smallest task. On those days where I feel like I’ll fall apart just by blinking, even getting out of bed and having a shower feels like my biggest life accomplishment.
Of course, I have moments that I just feel hopeless and useless. When my flare ups go up and the pain is 10 out of 10, those times are the hardest. Both physically and mentally.
I am not always able to drive due to my medications, so I have to rely on a taxi. It drives me crazy (pardon the pun) because I feel like so much of my independence has been stripped away. I used to be able to get up and go where I wanted, whenever I wanted, but now I’m so limited.
There are other issues affecting me, resulting from the accident, but I’ll go through that in the other post.
Now that I’ve shared some of my daily struggles and a little more about my background, I hope you may get to know me a little more.
In the next post, I will describe the mental health issues I have had to endure, resulting from the accident and why starting this blog has helped me so much.
I hope this wasn’t too much of a downer post but I wanted to share how something that weighs heavily on my day to day life has lead me to create my blog as a little mental escape.
Please keep in mind I am not an expert whatsoever, I am just sharing parts of myself so you can get to know me more. If you think you may struggle with any sorts health issues, I highly encourage you to see your health professional to receive the proper treatment.
On another note
I found this beautiful young lady on YouTube, her name is Caylee Cresta, who talks openly about her chronic pain and illness.
If you struggle with something similar or are interested in makeup related topics, I highly advise going check her out.
She’s such a sweet woman and my heart goes out to her, I absolutely admire her determination of following what is in her heart and not letting anything defeat her. Her channel is also about makeup, she’a newer channel. I am a sucker for supporting new bloggers, new YouTubers, new businesses that sell things I like and of course local Australian businesses.
The way she words her feelings about her health problem is so spot on. She describes her feelings in a way that I have never been able to describe to others.
Her channel can be found here.
Her story can be found here.