Dealing with long-term chronic pain is tough. Each day I wake, I am grateful for what I can do, instead of what I cannot. Of course, I would like to do more and some days it does bother me that I can’t do things as I used to. I am aging a little faster and it can be overwhelming, but not impossible to overcome. I take one day at a time and I try to smile each day, because smiling is healthy and good for the inner person as well as the external person.
I suffer from Cervicogenic Headaches that stem from having multi-level DDD (Disc Degenerative Disease), Cervical Spinal Stenosis. Osteoarthritis of the neck, Spondylolisthesis and Lhermitte’s Sign among other things. Each disc in my neck is damaged. C1 & C2, according to my MRI appears to have slipped into each other and the rest are filled bulging discs, bone spurs, and some herniation as well as Osteoarthritis. Not fun, but I am grateful each day for the reminder of pain, stiffness and soreness. I know there are people much worse out there, barely getting through an hour, let alone a day. I purposely try each day not to complain about my pains and the ordeal I live with each day and remember that I have two legs, aching they may be, but they still work for now. I can breathe on my own and on most days my cognitive abilities are sharp. I can feel the sun, a breeze; I can hear my cat purr when I pet her and I can enjoy the happy, wiggles of a dog that has missed my company. These things and more, we as humans tend to take for granted until something comes and makes these little joys difficult. I don’t give into the pain most days, I try to rise above it and work through it by the practice of breathing and connecting to the spirits as often as I can.
I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes unable to feel my fingers, or with hand and arm numb or cramping. My neck is always aching and swollen at the T1-Junction from all the surrounding muscles doing their guarding thing. Pain, throbbing, stabbing, numbing pain hits me all day long. Just typing this note hurts my neck, shoulders, arms and hand, etc. My life has been turned upside down because of the degradation of my spine. My spiritual practice has been hit hard by the pain level that prevents me from even meditating for five little minutes. It was during meditation that I began experiencing the shock like feeling of Lhermitte’s Sign. I can experience this while washing dishes or just walking down the street. Sometimes I suffer what is called spinal cord attack where it feels as if I am partially frozen but not cold. It feels like it is raining when I am indoors and I am unable to speak coherently and I am slow to move. It can be frightening for me at times and it is because of my health and how quickly it has deteriorated over the past few years that has caused my son to remain home an additional year. I did tell him that regardless if he goes away this year, or next or whenever, my conditions will get worse but not necessarily to the point I need constant aid. I am learning how to cope and manage my pain and see each day as a new beginning, for that is what it is; a present. I take a deep breath when the pain is a 10+ and exhale; I might say inhale healing, exhale peace, inhale peace exhale love, inhale love exhale hope, etc. I find this kind of breathing exercise is healing physically, and mentally that ends up lightening my worries and stresses. I try each day to remain balanced within all my faculties and on the days I am lacking something, I trust that the Universe is working with my inner person so I can bring myself back to genuine wholeness of mind, body, spirit and heart.
I have to take 3 different medicines everyday and truth be told, they don’t do much good. I do go through physiotherapy twice a week and massage therapy as prescribed by my specialist. According to my test results, some of my issues at my cervical spine are slowing down, but I wonder, why then do I still hurt so much. I have undergone the painful Nerve Root Block at the C6. I could not use my right hand for the remaining day and the injection made the pain worse, not better. I was then sent for an EMG with a full consultation. Well, it turns out that I have no nerve damage or disease, but I still have no concrete answers to my neck and the pain I am getting other than its boiled down to referral pain. Well it sucks. I have been told by my spine specialist that I am not a good candidate for surgery because my condition is so complex and would create more problems that would need fixing later on. I see this now as a good thing. Surgery doesn’t mean the problem with my spine would be fixed and that I would not feel any more pain. And I don’t want more things going wrong when my spine is already aging quickly as it is… no need to speed it along.
I have been made to remember that I also have Cerebral Palsy’s Little’s Disease which effects my gait, balance and coordination. I have discovered that I am okay walking short distances, but anything longer than 2 miles, from experience, I will often stagger off my direction, legs buckling, and some spastic motions from my legs… like as if they don’t want to go. It is not overly painful, except for the Plantar Fasciitis that is present in both feet. I do wear orthotics, but they do not solve everything. I think it is this that bothers my son the most. He’s afraid I will wonder off into the road, but I don’t go on long walks at night except when I am with him and it is he that wants to walk nearly 4 miles after watching a movie. I am okay for short distances and if I don’t have to rush.
When I was diagnosed last summer with Plantar Fasciitis, I was also diagnosed with arthritis in both knees. This only came about because my knees kept locking and to unlock the sudden stiffness I had to turn my legs this way and that way trying to undo whatever what was happening. My knees, I remember were so swollen, red and warm. From the X-rays, was evidence of arthritis in my knees and in my ankles as well as the Plantar Fasciitis.
With all the pain, I still try to see the good in things, even though the quality of my life has greatly diminished. I look at pain as a reminder of how alive I am and that it reminds me to be grateful everyday that I am above ground, and I AM. No doubt there are people who suffer in pain much more than I do. I am sorry for their pain and I wish they had no pain.
Pain sucks. I have learned how to work around it the best I can. I have learned to let go of certain things because of the pain, and put things aside that encourage too much pain. It is not great, but managing the pain is better than allowing the pain to take over everything. I may have lost somethings due to the pain and suffering, but I have gained also. I see life in all things, beauty too. I appreciate more and I am actually at peace with who I am and where I am, even though I am disabled, I am still looking for employment because I want to be busy. Being active is an important aspect to my mental, emotional and physical health. My spiritual health is there, I breathe it in and out wherever I go, sending healing, love and peace wherever I go.
May both the Gods and Goddesses of Olde always walk beside you.