I am going to enjoy life after 50 if it kills me!

Posts tagged ‘chronic pain’

Not a Happy Camper

I have been looking forward to summer vacation for months now.  The idea of getting up in the morning without anywhere I have to be, doing great little organizational projects at home, crafting stuff, writing stuff, and cooking stuff.  Just lots of fun stuff.

So far, I’ve been teaching a half day of summer school, which has been the best part of my days.  For someone who has always been shy around strangers, I am horrible at enjoying time alone.  I’m good for an afternoon, or even a day or two once in a great while, but I need interaction with people, whether they’re in fifth grade or collecting pensions.

In one more week I will be done with summer school, and then I’ll have to keep myself entertained for entire days at a time!  And this is probably obvious to all of you already (I’m slow to catch on sometimes), but doing crafty things, organizing pantries, and fixing meals is not the least bit exciting when you are the only one who will see the results of your labor.

Poor, poor me…

Hmm… what would I tell my kids if they came to me with this problem?

Get a life.

I’d probably be a little nicer about it, because that’s just the kind of fabulous mother I am, but basically – get off your butt, and go do things.  Meet people.  Join something.  Seriously.  And I do have friends.  Honest!  But do I have people over to my place for dinner?  Never.  Do I call them up and make plans with them to do… well… anything?  Not so much.  It’s tough to do with chronic pain, but most of my friends have known me long enough to know I can’t tell when my head will take over my day, and they’re genuinely nice people, so I think they’d understand.  And most of them are teachers, so they have the same time off I do.

I find that most often I make my own unhappiness.  This quote has been making the rounds on Pinterest – which I have an unhealthy attachment to, by the way.  I laughed because it was a little bit snarky sounding, but then I realized it really is that basic.  If you’re not happy, DO something about it.

We’ll see how this turns out.

 

 

 

Missing Inaction

I realized recently it’s been over a month since my last post!  How on earth did that happen?

It may have something to do with the fact that it’s the last quarter of the school year and like a car on its last fumes of gas, I am sputtering slowly to a halt.  It happens every year, and the older I get, the worse it hits me and the longer it takes me to recover.  This is my way of forewarning my loyal readers – you know who you two are – it may be awhile between posts until the school year ends.

I actually took two days off work this week due to my migraine.  I made it until about 10:30 Thursday morning when my team told me to go home.  God bless them, they took my kids for the rest of the day.  I knew it was bad when the guidance counselor saw me and told me I “looked like death”.  She’s really much more sensitive with the kids, I swear!

If I’m not mistaken, we have five more weeks of school left.  This is doable.  I can do this.  The key for me is to rest when I need to rest.  I haven’t been doing that, because I feel guilty and lazy if I come home and take a nap, or spend the day in bed on Saturday.  So for the next five to six weeks, I am relieving myself of all feelings of guilt.

I’m even checking into getting a cleaning lady twice a month.  If my budget allows it, I’m going for it.  (That’s me being nice to me!)

Machine Head

I ran across this stock image this evening.  I was struck that the gears in this woman’s head are on the same side in which I get almost all of my headaches.  I thought about how much the grinding of those gears would hurt, especially behind her eye.  In my imagination, those gears are rusty and dry, having to struggle to move and keep everything working.  Sometimes that’s how my head feels.

 

Today was not one of those days.  I woke up pain-free this morning and have spent most of the day at a Level 1.  I can sense the stiffness in my neck, but I am functioning and clear-headed.  What a productive day I had!  Sometimes I think I am lazy or incredibly depressed because in the evenings and on weekends I often do nothing but sit in front of my computer or take naps.  Then I have a day like today and realize what an incredible difference it makes to not have that shroud of pain enveloping me.

 

Right now I can feel the pain developing on the right side of my head, but hopefully an Advil or two, a drink of water, and a good night’s sleep will allow me another day like today.

Migraine, PastaQueen, and Me

I have “suffered” from migraine disease since I was five years old (at least that’s my earliest recollection).  My childhood headaches were reasonably predictable.  If I didn’t get enough sleep, or I got overly excited (read: stressed), I would get a raging headache, throw up, then sleep a couple of hours, and the pain would be gone.  I probably had a headache once every week or so.  Sometimes I’d go longer.

As I got older, they became more problematic.  When I student taught, I had a few, one of which had me on the couch in the teacher’s lounge trying to sleep it off.  A snarky P.E. teacher told me I’d never be able to teach if I couldn’t handle a headache.  He was wrong, but sometimes it does affect my ability to teach effectively, and I use all my sick days (which are generous) every year because of them.

When I began the phase of my life in which I was often pregnant or nursing a baby, I did not get any headaches.  It was such a blessed relief to go a year at a time without the debilitating pain.  For several years, my headaches were limited to two or three a year, although I noticed they were lasting seven or eight hours.  But a few times a year – doable.

Then I had a hysterectomy about ten years ago.  All hell broke loose!  Since that time, I have had headaches more often than not.  Over the past couple years, my migraine has become daily, so I get to say I have “chronic daily migraine” now.  Lucky me.

Migraine is hereditary in my family, so I can’t fix that.  I wear sunglasses almost always when I’m outside, and avoid being in the heat whenever possible.  I no longer go to loud, crowded places or anywhere there might be cigarette smoke.  I have tried diet changes, which help significantly, but are very difficult to maintain.  I do better some weeks than others.  I have tried every over-the-counter pain reliever.  Advil works sometimes.  That’s about it.  I got myself a neurologist, who I pretty much fired after months of  “Try this.  Try that.  Huh, those should have worked.”  He never once spoke to me about lifestyle changes, research, diet, or anything else besides medications.  He had me on so much Topamax I got forgetful and was having trouble speaking and acting intelligently.  My own doctor dialed it back, but after several years on this med, I decided it wasn’t really helping since I was in pain daily anyway.  I have tried vitamins and herbs.  I still use Imitrex, which works most of the time.  The problem is, within 12 to 24 hours, my pain is back, and the mental fogginess and the snaps, crackles, and pops in my neck, along with the tightness in my neck and shoulders never goes away, even when the pain subsides.

I was raised in a family in which it was not okay to whine and complain, which is good, but I never feel comfortable talking about being in constant pain.  Even as a blogger, I have resisted more than mentioning that my head hurts.  That barely begins to cover it.

This weekend I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, PastaQueen.com.  I started reading it because its writer, Jeanette Fulda, lost half her body weight over the course of a couple of years.  I have been so impressed with her!  Three years ago, however, she got a headache and it never went away.  When I read her archived posts, I was struck by how similar our lives have been over the past several years, although she lost the weight…  ahem.

Anyway, she wrote an eloquent post on what it’s like to live with chronic pain.  She put into words what I have wished to express to those in my life.  If you are in constant pain, or care about someone who is, please read her post.  I’d also like to add that her new book, Chocolate and Vicodin, hit the bookstores this week!  I can’t wait to read it, and I’ll let you know what I think.  I’m expecting it to be funny, insightful, and just plain good.

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