Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My name is Mary Anne and I am learning to embrace life, moment to moment, while living with chronic pain. I have created this blog to reach out to others who have similar challenges and to share the small steps (and big leaps) that can improve our quality of life. I believe intrinsically that I am to advocate in some small way for those of you in similar circumstances.
First, I would like to share a little background with you. I don't intend to spend a huge amount of time on this, because I don't feel it is helpful to dwell on our disabilities. But I believe it is crucial to accept them, to be validated by our friends and families, and to know our limitations. My particular issue began in 1996 after a fall on the ice. I strained my lower back and hip and so began my journey of treatment. Initially, I responded well to conservative treatment of PT, muscle relaxers and exercise. In fact, for the next 5 or 6 years, I was still very active and able to participate in all of the things I loved. This included dance, skiing, rollerblading....you get the picture. However, occasionally my back would "go out" and I would have to return for PT or osteopathic manipulation. Over the long haul, it took it's toll and by 2002 or 2003 I was beginning to have much more invasive pain. By 2004 I was finding it hard to walk any distance or sit any length of time and in 2005 I had a lumbar fusion with titanium rods. At that point I had pretty severe degenerative disc disease and I was desperate for any relief. Because I had worked in worker's compensation insurance business for many years, this was very much a last ditch effort to get some relief. I knew fusion surgery did not have a huge rate of success, but I made up my mind that I would be one of the successes!
Unfortunately, all my optimism was not enough to make that true and although I noticed some changes in my pain, I never felt that it fixed the problem. In the last 2 years I have had increasing pain and an additional diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. The constant sitting at work became a huge problem for me and so I am currently on disability. The whole disability process is a nightmare unto itself and I hope to share with you some things I have learned. Perhaps (I hope) you will have some wisdom to share with me as well!
One of the key ingredients, for me, in coping with pain has been having a creative outlet. You may be a person who finds creativity in cooking, or in gardening (both of which I love!). Everyone has some creativity, even if you don't think you do! My outlet for creativity has been art and crafts; I am obsessed with jewelry making, scrapbooking and flower arranging. I am fortunate that people seem to love what I create and they are hobbies that have supported themselves for the most part. I cannot always do them to the degree I would like, but even if it's just one little thing in the day, I feel like I have accomplished something! Sometimes when coping with pain, you have to take baby steps.....take a little step each day to do something that makes you feel good about yourself!
Have a wonderful and blessed day!
Your's in fellowship,