My Chronic Pain Labor Lessons: When you can no longer push.

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22 hours before I gave birth to my daughter I was sitting in my doctor’s office, it was just the weekly check-up. I was 39 weeks and feeling horrible. The doctor did an in office induction. He told me to go home and rest because I would not make it through the night, the baby would be born by morning.

I went home, spent most of the day in bed and as he said went into labor close to midnight. Off to the hospital I went.

As the contractions grew closer, the doctor arrived and we got ready for the delivery. let me backtrack a bit and say I was exhausted. It had been a rough day. My body was worn even before the labor began. I had an IV and oxygen and was just trying to have a living baby and stay alive myself.

In the room were the doctor, midwife, my husband and me. People were asking me questions and I could not answer:

Lesson 1: When in pain its difficult to think

This has been my experience over the past few weeks as my pain has continued. I have an increasing amount of brain fog. To the point where I am making a statement and midway I completely forget what I was saying. I forget people’s names; things that were so simple and almost second nature to me have become difficult in those moments.

Back when I was in labor, it was Ok. It was accepted that I was in too much pain to process what I was being asked. Now people just call me forgetful or question my brain function.

I wonder why?

As the labor progressed, I started to whine. really whine. I had come to the point where I thought no other person understood what I was feeling and I didn’t have much energy left.

Lesson 2: When you talk about your pain……….people think you are exaggerating.

I was telling everyone how I couldn’t take the pain any longer. The responses I got while in labor were meant to encourage but came across as being ignored. I was reminded that I had done it before and that my body knew what to do and not much  more to go etc.

I have the same experience now. Only thing nobody really bothers to encourage. Let me say here that I do have my small, faithful group of cheerleaders; they are exempt from the “nobody”.

Generally though, people think I am exaggerating when I speak about pain. I’ve gotten so many “it can’t be that bad” and “you’re making it seem worse than it is” comments that I actually stopped talking about it. I’ve gone silent…for the most part.

Although labor was painful, it was better because at least people believed the pain existed…….even if it was minimized in order to provide encouragement.

 

As I stated earlier, I had oxygen and an IV during labor and I was becoming exhausted. After the doctor checked and said I was ….cm dilated I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed help.

Lesson 3: There comes a point when we can no longer push through…we need to ask for help and keep asking until someone listens.

The doctor did two things at that point. He got me some pain meds and asked me to pull myself up into a sitting position using the bar over my head. the meds helped with the pain and sitting employed gravity to help the labor progress.

I came to the point this year where I could no longer push. See, I am accustomed to just pushing through the pain. Doing what I have to do regardless, just getting it done. I realized that all that I was accustomed to doing and using were proving ineffective. I needed another level of intervention.

 

Again, people understand and accept this with labor. In my case they just behave as though I am making the choice to stop doing what I am accustomed and using an illness as the excuse……….instead of just saying I don’t want to do it.

Labor is known to or known of by everyone. I guess that makes it easy to empathize and sympathize. My illnesses being unknown and misunderstood must automatically place me in the category of someone who is pretending or lying.

 

Shortly after the sitting and meds I was ready to push. One push and she came screaming into the world.

Final lesson: Regardless of the journey, bruises and bumps along the way….I can make it through.

By the time my daughter was born, I was spent, physically, emotionally and psychologically. I was hungry, sweaty, bumped and bruised but I made it.

I take comfort in that. I know that chronic illness is not like labor. Labor is an event. It passes and then is no more. I am not going to have these illnesses one moment and then a few hours later no longer have them.

However, there will be acute pain episodes and sometimes weeks or months where the pain flares beyond the norm that can be likened to labor.

From January to now I’ve been in labor. The contractions are almost back to back now and I know it will soon be time to push. Through all the challenges with brain fog, talking about pain and being ignored and having to ask for help I know I will make it.

I will still be ill. However, this period shall pass. I will have the scars and memories but I will be ok.

After that, whenever next my labor experience begins again…..I will remember the lessons I learned to get me from one point to another.

Epic Meltdown

 

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So my appointment as I mentioned before was for March 5. Didn’t make it……………well obviously today is only March 3.
Yesterday I had an epic meltdown; I was in pain –more than usual- from Wednesday at work. I hadn’t been at work on Tuesday so went on Wednesday in hopes of staying the entire day. By 10:00 a.m. I was ready to return home. Things weren’t going well.
I contacted the doctor but he was on the road all day doing visits and advised me to come into the office the following day.
By the time I awoke in Thursday morning the pain was pushing 9 and I was a wreck.
Hubby helped me into the office and went off to work. I sat doubled over just waiting until I could make it back into the exam room. I must have sat there probably 20 mins when it hit 10 and I started to cry. Softly, at first, no noise…………….but tears none the less.
I did not want to be that girl, you know the one who falls apart in the waiting room? The one who everybody is staring at and talking under their breath about. Well apparently I didn’t have a choice in the matter.
I grabbed the wall and went around the corner towards the bathrooms. I messaged a friend and asked them to call so maybe it would be a distraction and help……………didn’t work………………I all but collapsed against a wall and wept. If you can imagine loud, uncontrolled gut wrenching sobs with snot running from the nose and an inability to speak; that was me.
In the Midst of it I was thinking “this is really happening in truth? I gotta get a hold of myself”. Easier said than done.
In that moment all the pent up frustration and anger and pain from before that I had been keeping inside just came out. I wept for every time I had to say no to my children or my husband. I wept for all the days I wanted to do something, anything and couldn’t. I wept for the day I had to turn off the treadmill and get off because the pain was so bad. I wept for all the times I wanted to cry but held the brave face. I just wept.
It was cathartic…………but it was ugly.
As I squatted there, with my eyes closed, completely broken, around the corner came the secretary…..”Lyn come, come with me, let me get you in the back away from these eyes out here”. She said she had been watching me and had seen me go towards the bathrooms but when I didn’t return in the expected time had come to look for me.
She took me to the empty exam room, helped me onto the bed and then went to get the doctor. He quickly came with the IV stuff ready………………..we had spoken so he was aware of the pain levels earlier in the morning…………..As much as I hate IV meds, I was happy to get something for the pain.
It took about 5 minutes for me to settle a bit, enough to talk. By then the IV had started to do its job. The doctor just stood next to me rubbing my back and waiting until I was settled so we could talk. We had a mini conversation since I was exhausted and groggy and then I went off to sleep.
I am aware of him entering the room every 15 minutes or so to check on me as I slept.
I lay there for over 4 hours, mostly sleeping with the IV now on an extremely slow drip. I needed that rest.
If I think about it, I would like to control the places where I fall apart. I know it will happen time and again if I keep bottling up my anger and frustration. I get tired of subjecting my family to that though……………but it is what it is.
Hubby came back and sat with me until the IV was finished and we spoke with the doctor for a bit. As I said a few days ago in Downward Spiral, the time has come for action. To this end I have an appointment with the surgeon on Monday March 6. Time to put the wheels in motion. My life at this point is too impacted and controlled by these illnesses.
Hopefully we can one day soon put it all behind us and get on with life as it should be.

Codiene :(

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So I have been taking Codiene for the last two weeks or so since my IV meds at home experience. The prescription said 30 mg 3x a day. However, I usually only take the meds when absolutely needed.

The recommendation was the Codiene paired with the Tramadol but I didn’t do that after the first day because I need to do more from day to day than sleep or drag around doing nothing.

I was taking the Codiene, drinking loads of water- which is something I always do anyway- enough to make my bladder feel constantly full and necessitate frequent bathroom trips. I added prunes to my usual daily fruit regimen and yogurt as well for the probiotics. All I did I still felt my system slow to a crawl.

I went from frequent everyday bowel movements to sitting waiting for something ….anything to happen.

As part of the Pelvic Congestion Syndrome I am accustomed to bloating. From day to day I have no idea how big my tummy will become. This situation took the bloat to a whole new level. Not only was my tummy huge but it also became sore to the touch. I am accustomed to my pelvis being sore to touch when the pain is bad but not this.

So not only could I not touch my abdomen but I was seriously backed up. That was an issue in itself because my pelvis is already congested……there’s not much space there people…..so I was really in pain. Unbelievable pain!

Along with the swelling I had some gastro -intestinal issues as well. I found that I couldn’t eat as much as I was accustomed to. Mind you….that’s not much to begin with. I had to cut my already small meals into two or three and have them throughout the day. I felt nauseous most of the time and resorted to clear tea and soup on some days. It just felt like every possible thing that could happen was happening to me.

It came to the point where the very act of walking delivered excruciating pain. I was walking only when absolutely necessary. This last week I went into work 3 out of 5 days and of the 3 I hardly moved from my desk. My assistant and interns did everything that required more than sitting there. I wasn’t totally unproductive, there is much that can be done from that position, just I was nowhere near as productive as I could’ve been.

What made the situation even worse was the actual process of having a movement. Remember, my right ovary is stuck to the bowel? Well although I did not have the characteristic dry and hard movement, I found I had small portions at a time. Each time I could feel the adhesion stretching.

The stretching combined with the engorged veins, hormonal action of ovulation, bloating and tenderness……….it became too much. I wanted to weep but I couldn’t even do that ……….actually I forced myself not to because the thought of my body shaking was enough to terrify me.

I did both meds to deal with the pain for two days, when it waned I stopped the codiene cold turkey. I had had enough of that.

I know there are combination meds with the opioid and another med to counteract the constipation etc. but I don’t want them. I don’t want any medication. I feel like I have taken so much medication in the past 3 years that my liver is crying out for relief.

I would like to be without pain and only have to do the thyroid hormone replacement since I no longer have that gland.

At this stage that seems like a pipe dream. However, I am not giving up on it. I believe it is possible one day. Until then………I will continue to use pain meds only when necessary.

IV Meds at home…..good/ bad????

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I woke on Wednesday in unbelievable pain. Actually I was in this pain from Tuesday night. The Psychologist in me though refused to accept that it was a s bad as it felt. I literally said to myself ” Lyn, you are upset with the way things went at the hospital. This pain is not that bad. It’s the emotions getting in the way”…………..Right!

Recall I had been ill all weekend……..this was just writing on the wall.

So I accepted that I would have to see my doctor I needed to get some help because my pain meds weren’t working. When he messaged after 5 a.m. I basically said I couldn’t take it any more. Well to my dismay he responded that he was not going to be in office because he had home visits to do. Sigh!

A little later he told me that he could come to the house and set up the IV, do a visit and return to take it down. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Well desperate situations……desperate measures.

He arrived with the meds and stuff, asked for a clothes hanger and prepared to set up the IV. Then he said “well I have both IV Tramadol an IV Morphine; which one are we going with today?” Now it may seem strange to a reader that my doctor is asking me this but we talk through everything that is one of the reasons we get along so well. It was about what I thought I could handle and since I was the one in pain I could better gauge the severity.

I went for the morphine.

Problem #1: When I think of Morphine I think “that’s it, there’s nothing else to get now. You’ve been through all the other meds and now you are here. This is not a good place.” I have some real psychological issues to work through with this Morphine thing. Yet in the moment I knew that I had been taking the Tramadol all along and the pain wasn’t responding so there was no real choice.

Problem #2: This was all taking place in my house! All along this journey, I have been going to the doctor’s office every few months to get these IV meds when I hit a hump and returning home. Doctors are seen in office or at the hospital…….NOT AT HOME! So what does this mean? He visits those who can’t get out of their houses at home or those who are in need of palliation and / or bed ridden. Does this somehow place me in those categories?

See Psychological issues…………..need to go to therapy!

Yes I had a struggle for a few beats. Truth is I want my home to be free from all that. I want home to be a place of comfort and solace not a place where I get medical treatment.

However, I just said “girl get a grip. This is what it is right now, deal with it. Don’t attribute anything to the process that isn’t there. The doctor is here to help you and stop you from having to wait another whole day before you can get the meds. That’s all.”

Truth be told that was all. There was nothing more to it. If he had been working out of his office on Wednesday I would’ve gone there.

Still I would rather my home just be my home.

In this fight with chronic illness though we need be careful what we take issue with when it comes to our care. So I know now that if the situation arises again where I have to be treated at home I will deal with it. My care comes first regardless of location.

I can handle it………….home or not at home…………the outcome is greater than the means.

 

Sick in bed…….sigh!

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Today was on the scale of bad days about an 8.

I went to bed last night around 10 and haven’t really gotten out as yet and its not that far away from 10 again.

I had a rough night, not much sleep. Lots of cramping and sharp intermittent pain. My abdomen is back to bruise status……..do not touch……..for any reason…..its tooooooooooo painful. The skin is literally sore. I have little to no appetite and whatever I do eat just upsets my stomach. Not great as far as starting the week goes:(

I messaged the doctor and he advised upping the dosage of pain meds. “Message me in two hours” he said. I took the meds and got back under the covers. In two hours the pain had shifted from 8 to 7 and I was able to sit up and spend a few minutes out of bed………Yayyyyyyyyyyyy! It was still bad.

I have the hospital on Tuesday and I really don’t want to be in an intravenous pain meds induced stupor before then. So, I got back into bed and here I have been all day. Praying that tonight will be better. If not come morning off to the office and drips I will be driven.

Some days are just hard!