Chronic Pain

A 49 year old female living and dealing with lumbar back pain and fibromyalgia. Sharing things I do for relief, reduce stress and control weight gain.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A lot to be Thankful for

Here we are a little over a month later from my last post.  I always have good intentions to blog, but getting on my computer has not been a priority.  Even though there are many holiday things I should or could be doing I've made me the priority.  Many days I've been resting or reading and thought I should update my readers and let them know how I'm doing.  Finally, here I am.

I saw my rheumatologist a week ago Monday.  On that day I had started the medication he recommended just 3 days before. To soon to tell anything yet.  I was shocked to hear him say that patients who have never been on an opioid have a higher percentage rate of it working.  What?  Now you tell me.  I'm always in that low percentage so I didn't like hearing this.  Never the less, I'm thrilled to no longer be taking the pain medication.  I'm at the point that every day that is a "normal" day my pain scale is level all day.  It never decreases, only increases with activity.  I can live with this much better than the highs and lows of the way narcotics effect you.  If this new medication will help my FM pain I will feel really good about the place I'm in right now.

The first Monday of December I saw my therapist and asked her if I could taper off of my antidepressant.  I really expected her to say no.  What I was taking is also good for anxiety so I didn't think she'd go for it.  At the end of our session she told me it was obvious to her that I was still hurting but she saw many differences.  The tone in my voice, the sound of hope, and some smiles.  (Geez, didn't realize I never smiled)  She said, "YES".  Woo hoo another one bites the dust. ( pills ).  I've been off it for 11 days.  So far so good.

I really believe everything I've been trying in the past and taking now was not helping because of the narcotic.  Last week I had a particular day that was tough for me.  That night I had hives by the time I went to bed on my arm on my hip on same side.  The next day I was down most of the day.  Sore muscles, nerve spasms in most of the FM tender points.  The good news is that I seem to be having fewer of these days.  If I'm at home and don't over exert myself with something out of my normal routine I can say I'm doing better.  Again, the day to day pain has been so much more manageable than before.  I know this is it.  This is my life.  I think part of dealing with it better is that I no longer have any idea of what "normal" feels like.  You don't miss what you don't remember.  I have no clue what it would feel like to wake up and feel well.  

I'm still walking as often as I can.  If you suffer from back pain and you can manage to get started it will be so beneficial for you.  If you don't do something to continue to strengthen it, it just gets weaker.  Does that mean it's chance.  I really do a lot of "I can do it" chanting and I listen to Christian music while I walk.  It has become therapy mentally and physically for me.  I get a natural "high" when I make it to the finish line.  It must be something like that for runners.  It is a big challenge, and you should take it on.  It is so worth the time you put into it.  Stretching after it must, so it adds a little more time.   If your going to do it, do it right so you really do some good.  I feel the best I feel all day for the first hour after my walk.  Web MD has some great stretches for people with lower back pain.  Do's and don'ts.  You have to make sure they are ok for your particular case.  

So what am I up to right now?  I'm recently obsessed with The O'Reilly Factor.  I've learned more about politics since the Michael Brown shooting than I've learned in my adult life.  Not to mention all the other things going on in this INSANE crazy world we live in.  

I'm making a reading list.  All of a sudden there are a lot of new books out I want to read.  Also some new music I'm interested in.  I'm not stressing out about Christmas.  What I get done, I will.  What I don't, I'm really not that concerned about it.  That's unusual for me.  

Going to the movie theater is not big on my list.  To hard to sit through the movie.  I'd love to see the Hobbit (The Battle of the Five Armies) and the theater.  If I go once a year that's a lot for me so I'm challenging myself.  There are some movies you just need to see on the big screen.  Last night my husband and I watched "When the Game Stands Tall"
It was awesome and I highly recommend it.  It's based on a true story.

What am I excited about.....what else? The Celebrity Apprentice is BACK! Jan 4.  A great cast of celebrities.  The only thing that makes up for the end of DWTS.
Alfonso was my pick from the beginning.  I was so happy for him.  Everyone in the final four was great though.  All deserving.  

Tomorrow will be two weeks on the new medication.  I really want to believe it's helping.  Time will tell.  Oh and one more thing.  I found some research that links hives with FM.  I've been doing a lot of trials of getting off of things to see if that was the cause.  I really believe I've found my answer, which is, they are not going anywhere.  Monday I had to have a biopsy for a spot on my arm and it just so happened that the other arm had several hives out.  I discussed with my dermatologist once more and showed him some pictures so he could see how many more I have at one time these days.  Not to mention the size of them seems to have increased.  He gently told me after this long I can't count on one thing, they are here to stay.  The good news is that studies have found that sometime in your 60's you "outgrow" them.  Such a hilarious term.  I'll be 50 in a few weeks. 10 down 10 to go.  Something to look forward to.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and fun New Year.

The joy in my heart
Thanksgiving day

Monday, November 10, 2014


After what seemed a life time ( reality..2months) I'm finally free of pain medication running my life.  It's true, it did.  Everything I did was planned around when or how long ago I'd taken my pain medication.  It was never questionable.  If it had worn off, and wasn't time for my next one, I couldn't do it.   I don't regret having to take it as long as I did but I do regret that my doctor didn't encourage me sooner to see what would happen if I stopped taking it.

My rheumatologist had mentioned in the past when I would complain about the various FM drugs I've tried not working that it could be the narcotic blocking it.  No pressure, just information.  You never could have convinced me that I could function without it.  

Wednesday will be one week completely free from a pill doing me more harm than good.  I think each two week step down was just as, if not harder than,  the first 3 days of being totally off.   

Wednesday:  I awake thinking OMG how am I going to get through this day?  Nothing for relief.  I AM NOT a bed person.  How in the world will I manage?  No NSAIDS allowed.

Text message from my husband: How u doin?
Me: Brave of you to ask.....then a list of complaints 
Him: no, your brave!

 My first accomplishment was to take a walk, which I done 43 out of the 58 days I've been on this journey.  During the summer I was swimming and walking in the pool for exercise.  Don't get me wrong,  this is excellent exercise.  Everyday that I was in there I was praising God we were fortune enough to work out a way to have a pool for me to exercise in.  All of my doctors have said, "KEEP MOVING".  Walking was a different story.  I had slowly worked up to walking short distances after my first stimulator surgery.   Several months later I was walking a little over a mile and increased to a good pace for me.  After I had the revision surgery a year later as soon as the doctor gave me the ok I got back to it once
more.  This time I couldn't keep with it.  I couldn't walk through the pain.   I stuck to swimming, walking, PT stretchs in the pool and riding my recumbent bike for exercise.  

A week before I started the tapering I made up my mind that I was going to walk it out no matter what.  10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever I could do was better than staying inside and fighting this battle with no other help.  Once I made up my mind I was able to do it.  I had to do it right away or I'd let the pain take over my mind and win.  After the walk I did a 25 minute stretch routine that consisted of all the back and core strengthening exercises that my physical therapist taught me.  It took and is still taking commitment to get it done. If I had an appointment I got up early enough to do beforehand.  I knew that if I could get my back a little stronger would help me in the end of this process. 

Thursday:  Each day will be a little better.  Not day 2 was worse than day one. 
During the time of day that I usually took my pain medicine my body was screaming at me. My back hurt so bad.  I just couldn't imagine how this was going to work.  I reminded my self I trust my doctor.  Why would he just torture me for nothing.

Text message from my daughter: How r u?
Me: A bunch of nonsense about how it has to get better than this : < (   A comment my PM doctor said to me on Monday when I saw him. ( you'll find after about 2 months your pain will level off to a lower degree and mostly stay the same.  90% of people find they feel so much better in the end)  I go on with my nonsense to text, " he obviously forgot I live in the 10%". 
Her: Well you've had victory with every other med step you've taken so we'll believe you will here too!! Take it easy.

doing a lot of soaks with this
It's that kind of support that helped me through some though days.  There are very few people who understand what I've been through I have many who care.  Even some of my readers have checked on me.  Thank you, it means the world to me to know you understand and support me.  

Unfortunately when Friday rolled around I had an added discomfort jump on board.  It started as a flaming throat and nose.  At first I just thought it was allergy but by Sunday it involved my ears and chest.  I feel like an moose is sitting on my chest.  I'm hanging in there since I have a doctor appointment Wednesday anyway.   Of course my old friend "the hives" have been lurking around just to make thinks a little more uncomfortable.  A few days I didn't have any but most days I had at least one and at most four.

I hate these buggers :-(

They'll never leave me!

I've been out very little ( besides my walk ) A trip to the fruit stand, very close to my house.  Saturday evening went to eat at some friends house and watch the LSU-BAMA game.  I really wanted to get out of the house and knew my friend would keep me laughing which would be so good for me.  I was right about that too.  I was happy to see my husband getting to watch the game with friends.  We used to always do something for the game but this season we've been right here.  Today I tackled getting gas and going inside Wally World for a few things.   I can tell you I've spent quite a bit of time soaking in the tub but it really helps.  

In conclusion I feel like when this allergy/sinus issue is better I can really tell how I'm feeling.  I feel like my back is getting stronger and when it does start to hurt from activity it's a totally different pain.  There is a constant "soreness" more than "pain" from the start of day that turns into a medium grade pain.  When I'm over this I can't wait to see how I really feel.  I'm quite surprised at how my back felt today and praying it continues and is real.  I guess what I mean is sometime when something else is hurting you can put your chronic pain at the bottom.  I'm not saying this a good situation but just how it can be.  I plan to update you in a couple of weeks to let you know how I feeling.  For the first time in a long time, I'm looking forward to each coming day.  

Live in Peace not in pieces
Iylana Vanzant

My big princess

P on his 5th birthday

My little princess

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where I am

Here I am 6 weeks into tapering off of pain medication.  I'ts going better than I thought it would.  My latest step down brought me to one half in am, one fourth one forth in afternoon and bedtime.

Initially I was taking 2.5.  One in morning, one again when I just couldn't take it any longer. (Anywhere from 2-4 pm depending on what I had to do that day) and 3-4 days a week a half at bedtime.

My first adjustment was one half three times a day.  After a week of that I was feeling like stepping down was for the birds and to slow for me. I decided to stop taking bedtime dose completely,  then stop taking afternoon.  NOT.  Two nights in a row of no sleep at all put me back on the half at night for a couple nights then I moved to a quarter at night for two weeks.

During this time I had a conversation with my pharmacist and she really encouraged me to take it slow.  I heard everything my doctor said.  It's not about the amount you were taking.  It's about how long you've been taking it.  She said the minor withdrawals I was experiencing will be much worse if I just skipped doses instead of tapering slowly.   The rebound period will be more intense after if I didn't take it slowly. 

I just wanted it to be over.  However, I took her advise and stuck with the plan.
My next move was half, half, quarter.  Two weeks later half, quarter, quarter.  Next week I will move to quarter three times a day. 

Funny thing is even though I have my hives flaring up right now, fatigue, night sweats and brain zaps,  it's not so bad.  Pain wise I mean.  As far as my back.  What you find, at least for me, after a couple days the half works the same as a whole.  It lowers my pain number to the same and wears off at the same time.  Same when I moved to the quarter.  It takes a couple of days but you adjust.  I'm understanding how it doesn't just relieve pain but makes you body dependant on it.  I've always understood the difference between addiction and your system being dependant, but now I'm experiencing it for real. 

I have more faith than I ever had in the last 6 years that some parts may get better. The ultimate goal is to have my stimulator give me enough relief to not need any narcotic and find a medication that WORKS for the fibromyalgia.  It's been long enough to stop dwelling on why I have to live with this.  It's about keeping myself comfortable in the safest way possible. 

I had to stop by my psychologists office to pick up some samples last week.  She happened to see me at front office and asked how I was.  I explained where I was in tapering off the pain medicine.  I shared with her my thoughts of how even though my pain increases at some times of the day it hasn't effected my mood.  In fact, I seem to be in a better mood than usual.  She wasn't at all surprised to here me say that.  They are downers, that's a down side she explained.  They can make you moody and depressed.  I'm now wanting to believe that if I can get off completely and the other drug my rheumatologist wants me to take for my FM works the depression will be better. 

Nothing wrong with being hopeful.  I've been hoping for years with each coming appointment something would change.  I'm just a little impatient getting to that point.  Some days the FM is worse than my back.  I saw my rheumatologist last week and he said I need to be off the pain meds for two full weeks before starting the new medicine.  (It takes that long to be completely out of your system) This will be the toughest part.  Nothing to help with pain and the withdrawals I will experience.  I have to believe it will be worth it.

I picked up a prescription and the pharmacist asked how I was doing. I let her know where I am and how it was going.  She gave me a huge boost of encouragement and some advise on what to do after I complete this last step down.  It felt so good to get some encouragement.  It's been hard, but I feel so positive about it.

Hanging in there full of H.O.P.E.