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.

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's back


New Years day and my birthday

My holidays were anything but typical. A lot of my grandchildren were sick, my daughter and myself.  As I mentioned in my previous post I had a spot removed at my dermatologists request.  He felt pretty confidant it was nothing, but because it was in the same exact spot (on my scar from the 2011 melanoma) he wanted to shave it off and have the lab take a closer look.  I teased him about telling me it "was nothing" last time.    

My medicine I'm taking for the fibromyalgia since November seems to still be helping most of the time.  If it's just a typical day at home I feel as close to normal as I have in some time.  When I do go out for errands, shopping, watch my youngest grand baby etc. I still struggle with the same issues as the past.  The good part is that my pain seems to be at a lower level.  Leading up to Christmas I had some bad days where I took ibuprofen.  A couple of times I took more than a dose a day to keep in in control.  I didn't think anything of it because I'd mostly used acetaminophen 650 so I figured a little here and there wouldn't hurt anything. 

The Tuesday before Christmas Eve late in the evening I got a call from my dermatologist. When I saw Dermatology Clinic on the caller ID I knew if they were calling something was up.  If the biopsy is normal they just send you a notice by email or by the email portal through the clinic.  When I answered it was my dermatologist, not the nurse.  My stomach suddenly hurt.  It was malignant melanoma IN SITU.  The findings stated that given the history of melanoma in the site, a recurrence is favored.  This meant I needed to go back just like the first time and let him do a small incision and take more tissue around site.  We set that up for the 29th. The Monday before New Years.


2 days after.  My skin stayed irritated from the  dressing.


Just a little about melanoma stages for those who are not aware:

Stage 0-1 tumors/ 0 is localized and in situ which has not penetrated the surface of the skin.  This is when you want to catch it for best outcome.  I was asked to come back at 6 months then once a year (unless I see something) Stage 1 has invaded the skin at a slow rate and are small. 
Stage 2 tumors/ though localized are larger (1 to 2mm) and/or can be ulcerated and can be larger up to 4 mm.  The depth is as important as the size.
Stage 3 and 4 tumors have spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body.

In between that time I had a flare up with my back and I was having terrible stomach pains.  Christmas eve it was really bothering me but I didn't want to say anything to my husband because I was afraid he'd just feel it was stress from worrying about the upcoming results of new biopsy.  Some of my husbands family came for Christmas day.  I hope it didn't show for them, but it was an awful day for me.  My stomach kept me awake most of the night and I wasn't sure I could get through helping my husband finish cooking.  I did what I could and thank goodness they were very understanding to how I was feeling.  
That afternoon as soon as they left I went back to the couch where I'd been most of day. After an hour we decided I needed to go to the ER.  Something was definitely not right.

I was there from 5:30 to 11:30.  I must say they were on top of things and constantly working to get me comfortable.  Someone was always there either giving me something or taking me for lab or x ray.  I didn't spend a lot of down time with nothing happening.  In the end they found something to reduce my 10+ pain in my back.  A cocktail to drink to numb my stomach, and a shot of pepcid (yes, a shot...a real needle) to calm my stomach.  I guess the ibuprofen has been harder on me than I thought.  My gastritis is speaking volumes.

I'm still struggling with it.  Most days it's hurting.  I have no appetite and I'm nauseous.  I find something soothing to eat because I get weak if I don't.  The ER doctor asked me to go back and see my gastroenterologist if not better in a couple of days.  I have talked to them on the phone and they've changed a few things from what the ER doctor put me on.  I plan to go back in, but want to finish this melanoma fight first. 

This past Thursday evening I get another call from the Dermatology Clinic.  It's the dermatologist calling again.  When you hear the doctor on the line...not good right?
Right, it's not clear.  Melanoma still present.  Stage 2 but not really deep.  So that's good right?  I didn't find that out until today.  She set me up for today to get my stitches out and to an Oncology Surgeon she was referring me to for more invasive surgery in that area.  She made me aware that they sometime want to biopsy the closest lymph node to melanoma site.  My appointment with her went well.  She said I did an awesome job of caring for my incision.  Personally I think it looks terrible.  I'm sure it's because it was over the previous incision site.  

She decided she wanted to do a head to toe check while I was there.  She found two spots she was didn't like so "just because" there is a history now she shaved them and sent them off too.  When I saw the oncology surgeon he put my mind at ease a little.  He said my lymph nodes in armpits and neck felt normal. Due to the fact that the melanoma was at 0.5 depth (although still serious and dangerous) he is always more concerned about spreading with a 1-4mm depth.  He agreed with everything my dermatologist recommended including being checked every 3 months vs. yearly and that it is a recurring melanoma.  "For how long I do I have to do every 3 months?"  "For life" was his answer.

We decided together we'd schedule for two weeks instead of next week for the surgery.  He really wanted to have the results of the two biopsies from today so there wasn't any chance of having to go back again for another surgery.  So it's back to waiting again.  

I'm really not concerned.  I've studied melanoma a lot the first time I had it and have continued to read any articles I've discovered on it leading up to now.  I'm a proactive patient and go with my gut.  My gut brought me in at the first sign when many would have sat on it and watched for a while.  Love yourself enough if you have any fears of something wrong with your body/health to have it checked.  Don't every fill silly about knowing for certain if something is wrong or not. 

I'm counting down the months until this cold weather is over.  Especially damp cold days like today.  The fibromyalgia just amplifies everything.  I'm trying to hang in there without the pain medication but I'll tell you it's hard.  Many times over the last couple of weeks I told my husband it's just not worth it.  I'm stopping the new drug and going back to my narcotic.  At least I get some good relief for a few hours.  I've actually went back and reread my post about getting off of it to remind myself the down side to taking it.  Then a good day will happen again and you start to doubt yourself.  Am I crazy?  I know my regular FM and back pain suffers that read here know what I'm talking about.  You've let me know I'm not crazy and you experience the same.  

I really need to do better with writing more than just when I have news regarding my health.  As I've said in the past, I've really started to hate being on my computer.  

My youngest grandchild is turning 1 in 2 weeks.  It seems like just a few months ago we were at the hospital waiting for her arrival.  She is something else.  So sweet, yet so BAD.  She is her mother as a toddler.  She is really going to have some kind of personality.  Like both of my other grandchildren she has learned to sigh and definitely lets you know what she wants.  All of them keep me going.  They cause me to push myself and not let myself get to down.

Recently on an episode of 60 minutes a wise woman said, "the first 50 years are for learning and the second 50 are for living.  I'm ready for that....

Full of H.O.P.E. ( hold on pain ends )
Theresa






Handsome boy P
AJ with all her Minnie's


A in her Elsa hat Aunt B made for her :-)

Monday, December 22, 2014

In Honor of our protectors

My heart has been hurting so much for the two police officers killed Saturday afternoon. 
They were on duty, in their car and never had a chance.  A crazy mad person who had a long criminal record approached their car, fired multiple shots and killed them.  This sick individual had shot his girlfriend earlier that morning and made it known through an instagram post what his next mission was.  This is what it said...

"I'm putting wings on the pigs today." "They take 1 of ours....Lets's take 2 of theirs, ending with "this may be my final post" #EricGarner #MichaelBrown #shootthepolice

I am so outraged.  These officers were working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill.
Being a police officer is a volunteer career.  I believe it's a calling.  Who in their right mind wants to leave their family every day and not know if they will return home or not? 
Sure, that's a risk for us all in this day and age, but we're not going out and intentionally put our life on the line for the American people.

America.....land of the free.  The land where we have the right to protest something we believe is wrong or right.  No other country would allow us to do that.  Because of that right the police have been protecting protesters even though they were chanting "shoot the police".  Do you think you could do that?  My heart has been breaking for them since the beginning of this terrible terrible nightmare that started in August.  

Where would we be if no one wanted to be a police officer.  Who would protect us?  This brings up something else that makes me angry.  How can they protect us when everyone has available to them the same weapons that they carry to protect us.  They are being used to kill the very people who provide protection for us.  

Rafael Ramos was 40 years old with 2 sons.  They are left to grow up without their father.  His 13 year old son posted several posts today on his Facebook page that are so moving.  The Ramos family came out and spoke to the public today and said they forgive the killer because thats the kind of man Rafael Ramos was and that's what he would have wanted.  

Wenjian Liu was a newlywed of only two months.  He had served seven years on the force.
I heard a conversation on FOX News today from one of the broadcasters regarding Mr. Liu.  It was a story about him stopping by somewhere on his home one day when he was still in training and some friends asked him why he wanted to be a cop?  He said, " because you don't want to do it, a lot of people don't want to do it.  If no one does, how can we keep the people safe.  Someone has to do it, so I will."  

It's been said that Officer Liu & Officer Ramos never had the opportunity to draw weapons. They probably never saw their assailant.  We need to stand up for our police officers.  They get paid very little and have such an important job.  I've had a bad experience with an officer before but I'm not disrespectful to them because of it.   Four officers have suffered minor injuries in scuffles with protestors.  Two were attacked on the Brooklyn Bridge a week ago.  Still they have to go and protect the very people who are rioting against them.  What's wrong with our world?  

 I can't tell you how passionate I am about this.  You don't see people who support the NYPD out in the streets protesting now.  There is nothing but calm and an entire side walk filled with flowers and candles in honor of the fallen officers.  I'm praying for both of their families and urge you to do so too.  I've felt so helpless.  I have a voice so I'm using it.  I live where we have freedom of speech, so I'm speaking it.  

Teach your children to respect authority.  If the situation is bad,  just go with it and if your innocent it will work out.  Know your kids friends and where they are.  It starts in the home.  As I read about many of the thugs who kill cops and their own kind  I  find they have been living on the streets.  If they do have a home, they have one parent and it's usually a mother working two jobs to survive.  It's going to come to cops being hesitant to feeling safe to do their job due to these past acts of rioting and luting.  Innocent business owners losing their business that they spent years building up.   If they can't do their job where will we be?

RIP to everyone who has died in this unsettling battle of blacks vs cops.  Blacks believing cops hunt them down.  *Shame on ALL the hollywood stars and athletics who used that status to sing about bad cops and how "they ain't gonna stop til there people are free, go on national tv with their hands up when they obviously don't know the truth and wearing shirts to promote more uproar instead of calling for peace.  Let me fill you in....your people have been free.  Stop crying about it and act like educated, respectful, free people you could be.  

Praying for Peace and living with H.O.P.E.
Theresa


*Samuel L Jackson
*LeBron James
*St. Louis Rams football players

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 easy...no 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 Unbroken....at 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.
Theresa

The joy in my heart
Thanksgiving day