Is it worth the pain and depression?

Do you ever get tired of it all?


Some days I really do get tired of everything and wonder “why am I still here Lord?”  This rarely happens, but when I’ve been in pain for days on end, I can get pretty depressed and think those kind of thoughts.

Living with chronic pain

Actually I can’t remember when something didn’t hurt.  It seems like there is always some part of me that is in pain. Between the fibromyalgia, degenerative discs, hip pain and of course the neuropathy, I never seem to get a break.

It doesn’t help that docs are so hesitant about issuing pain meds nowadays.  For me, the extra strength Tylenol just doesn’t do it.  The tramadol my rheumatologist prescribed does help some, but I’m afraid of taking too many of them because of side effects.  It is a synthetic version of codeine and can be just as addictive.  It can also cause strokes, seizures, and other issues.  However, recently I have tried taking one or two more each day.  Up to now, I’ve doled them out 1 in the morning and 1 at night.  Now I’m taking an extra 1 twice day when I absolutely can’t relax or sleep because of the pain.

The worst of it is that when I feel a little better, I try to do more things and then I have to bear the consequences of doing that.  For instance, Mel and I went to our vacation home 5 hours away for a long weekend recently and I drove on the way up and basically paid for that for the next three days (Mel had oral surgery the morning we left so I had to drive).  Then when we came home and Mel drove.

I was still hurting so much from the drive up, that I was literally miserable the entire way home. I couldn’t get comfortable no matter what I did.  My restless legs kicked in and I spent the entire trip basically rocking back and forth in my passenger side seat without my seat belt so I could stretch forward and relieve the pressure on my lower back and stretch my legs.  I was exhausted when I got home and went straight to bed.  After getting up and trading the bed for the recliner several times, I finally went to sleep and woke up around 10am the next day.  Today I’m researching chronic pain.

Being in pain is not easy, especially when the pain does not go away. Chronic pain is a debilitating condition for the millions of people who live with it every day.

While medication goes a long way in pain treatment, it is often not enough to control all of the symptoms. When chronic pain is poorly controlled, living with chronic pain can be a challenge.
Found in this article.

Coping with chronic pain

Some things I do try when I’m in pain is:

  1. Exercise:  I mainly do stretches since I can’t walk more than a few steps.  I usually stretch lying down in my bed or back in my recliner.
  2. Hot showers or bath.  When my legs and hip hurt, a hot shower or even better, a bath seems to help relax me. But I can only do that at our vacation home with its step-in tub.  I can’t get out of the regular tub at our main home, so I’m stuck with the shower.
  3. Think about other things.I like to read to try to take my mind away from the pain and sometimes that helps but not all the time.
  4. Bible reading and prayerI enjoy my Bible reading also and especially reading the Psalms.  Reading them I know that I’m not the only one crying out to God for help in the middle of the night.  When its really bad, I post for prayers from my friends on Facebook. When I was going through the awful neuropathy pains with my leg and feet ulcers, I posted for prayers regularly – I’m convinced that is the only way I made it through that terrible pain each night.  At times I was ready to call it quits and prayed God would just go on and take me home.  But He didn’t so there must be a reason why I’m still here.
  5. Music. Sometimes I tune into Pandora and the hymns radio channel and lay in my bed listening untill I fall asleep.
  6. Heat. My heating pad and my rolling massager is my best friend when my hips and legs are at their worse.  I lay on the heating pad and enjoy the warmth.  I roll the massager up and down my calf and the outside of my thighs, where knots have formed from the fibromyalgia.  I have knots and trigger points of pain all over my body that can be felt under my skin – its really weird.
  7. Cold.  Funny how the opposite can also help.  Icing my hip and low back can sometimes help too.  I think in reality, it just helps to get your mind off the pain.

Battling Depression

I know I sometimes get really depressed after days and days of pain and discomfort.  I see and experience every day all the things I can’t do anymore.  I envy people who get up and walk across a room without a thought of how blessed they are to do that so effortlessly.  I dread dropping something because it hurts so much to bend that far over in my wheelchair and pick it up.

Managing my wheelchair takes so much time and effort and I’m so slow at everything I do – it drives my husband crazy to see how slow I am at doing things and moving around – but I like to do things for myself so I don’t feel so entirely useless – he doesn’t understand that.

Recently a friend lost her son, who’s the same age as my daughter, due to a workplace accident and it struck me so hard that that beautiful young man is gone and yet I’m still here.  I grieve deeply for my friend and her husband, parents are not supposed to outlive their kids.  With my own daughter and her family moving to a third world country to become a missionary, I do worry a lot about their safety and health.

I manage my depression in several ways:

  • By taking Cymbalta.  I take it for its off-label use to treat my fibromyalgia and neuropathy and it does help for that. It also keeps my mood pretty even.  Most days I can’t force myself to cry because my serotonin and norepinephrine is working well.

There are two naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that are responsible for mood and mood stability. Under normal circumstances, these two chemicals — serotonin and norepinephrine — are in a specific balance. However, these chemicals can become out of balance, causing changes in mood, specifically depression. Cymbalta works by re-establishing the balance of these two chemicals, and in turn, relieving the symptoms of depression.

The same two chemicals responsible for mood also have an influence on pain perception. Just as an imbalance causes depression, an imbalance of these chemicals causes pain. When Cymbalta re-establish chemical balance, the symptoms of pain may be relieved, as well.  Read more here.

  • I read my Bible a lot and pray a lot when I get depressed.
  • I also keep telling myself my family loves me and needs me, over and over.
  • I always try to have something to look forward to even if its something small.  I make plans or set goals to reach:
    • Losing a certain number of pounds by a certain date (a near date).
    • Setting a day/time to paint or go out to eat with friends.  Maybe planning an artist retreat with a friend.
    • Plan to FaceTime my daughter and talk to her and my adorable grandsons.
    • Plan to eat out with my husband so I don’t have to cook.
    • Plan a visit with one of my sisters to catch up.
    • Buy and download a new ebook I want to read or buy and stream a movie that I really want to see.
    • I enjoy researching online and posting on Facebook or in forums with people who like the things I like.
    • I truly enjoy going to our vacation home in the hills of Northwest Arkansas.  Even though I do hate that 5 hour drive, I love it once I’m there.  I take lots of massage baths in the step-in tub and when I feel good, I can go to the indoor pool.  We bird watch in the sunroom and on the deck and enjoy the peace and quiet.  When I feel really good, we can drive around so I can take pictures.  We have a trip planned in two weeks and I’m looking forward to that right now.  I also have an artist retreat planned with a friend for the last week in April and I have that to look forward to also.

The trick is giving yourself a reason to look forward to or make it through another day. Also I try to accomplish certain things each day.  Like I always load/unload the dishwasher and do at least two loads of laundry.  I wipe off the counters and start “Rosie”, our robotic floor cleaner to go over the floors daily (I love our Rosie)!  Once or twice a week I dust furniture and clean the door glass where Boaz, our giant schnauzer has left his paw prints.  It also helps to have Bo around to pet and love on – he gives great “giant hugs” too.  You can read about him at my “Living With Boaz” blog site.

Sometimes I think about surgery for my back and a Pain Management Clinic to help with the pain.  However with my blood condition (essential thrombocyemia) and having thrown a clot and had a stroke after a previous surgery, I avoid any elective surgery.  So maybe one day I’ll check out a Pain Management Clinic. But for now I’m staying with my current treatments for pain and depression.

Comments

Thanks for looking at my site and coming to this page. I would love for you to leave any questions or comments below.  In addition, I’m open to new topics to research and comment on as they pertain to my own health and experience living with diabetes.  Please share your interests and questions in your comments.  I also love to hear others stories about how they handle their own diabetes issues.

– Shirley

 

Success – Weight is going down!

Weight loss Success


Since my last post, I’ve been doing so well.  After the 10 pound backsliding gain, I’m doing great with losing that.

This morning my scale sat at 261.2 pounds, very close to that 257 I had reached before the holidays.

I’m keeping up with my breathing exercises.  I’m doing them at least once a day.  I also actually went to the gym and did 35 minutes of weight training.  Just a little and a very light workout.  2 sets each on about 5 different weight machines and 5 minutes on the treadmill.  I was using the lowest or next to lowest weights on the machines.  The treadmill was sitting at #1 for resistance.  That tired me out and also made me very sore.  So sore I had a fibro flare-up that evening the next day.  I may try to go to the gym again on Saturday but I’m waiting till I get over the flare-up.

The main reason I’m wanting to do some weight training is to help with sagging skin.  I’ve been watching “My 600 lb life” and “Skintight” every night and the sagging skin after major weight loss is really worrying me.  I want to lose about 138 pounds by the end of 2017 with a final goal weight of 145.

With my bone marrow disorder making me a clotting risk and my previous stroke after surgery, I really do not want to have surgery to remove excess skin.

I’m aiming to go slow, at around six pounds a month.  I would like to be at 200 by the end of 2016. That’s 83 pounds this year –  about 6.9 pounds a month. And then lose the rest during 2017.

My Eating

One thing I am doing is eating healthy.  I’m trying to eat lots of cool salads, fruits, no white bread, lots of vegetables and I’m adding things like hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, spirolina and dried cranberries to my salads and using olive oil as my dressing.

I’m also purchasing eggs from veggie fed hens and free range hens, drinking almond milk and V8 juice and water.  I’m using turkey bacon and very lean meats too.

My dinner of rice and veggies, squash, salad and multi-grain garlic toast
My dinner of rice and veggies, squash, salad and multi-grain garlic toast

Tonight I’m having chicken with small potatoes, onion, seasonings and rice cooked in my crockpot with veggie broth. I have left over squash and onions to go with it.

Things to help with sagging skin after weight loss

I’m researching things to do to help with sagging skin.

  • Lose weight slowly
  • Weight train to keep muscles under your skin
  • Be patient even after weight loss and give your body at least 2 years to tighten the skin naturally.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use creams (I’m using a special cream for pregnant money to avoid stretch marks).
  • Eat healthy and give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs.

The one thing I have going for me is that I never did get stretch marks during my pregnancy which is a good sign.  But I’m 62 years old which is not good.  I’m looking into essential oil therapy and I’ll let you know how that goes.

Deep Breathing Technique

I wanted to share some videos of the deep breathing technique I’m using.  I only use the first exercise because of my physical problems.  I’m hoping to add more of the exercises as I lose weight and can move easier.  Here’s some YouTube links you can use to learn the techniques from Greer Childers:

There are several other videos on Youtube you can check out.  Just look for Greer Childers, bodyflex, or oxycise.

Comments

Thanks for looking at my site and coming to this page. I would love for you to leave any questions or comments below.  In addition, I’m open to new topics to research and comment on as they pertain to my own health and experience living with diabetes.  Please share your interests and questions in your comments.  I also love to hear others stories about how they handle their own diabetes issues.

– Shirley

I’m healed of feet ulcers at last!

Released from care!


Eight days ago I was released as a patient by my wound care doctor.  This ended  an 8-month journey of severe pain, great fear of amputations and searching for correct care-givers.

I can’t explain the sheer joy I’ve felt from being declared “healed” after all this time and all I’ve been through during this period.  But to be sure, I’m very happy to be able to get on with my life.

I’ve learned a lot through this ordeal also, about paying attention to my body, my diet, exercise and who to choose as a care-giver.

My journey started with a red rash that covered both feet, legs, forearms and my tummy.  I first visited my family doctor, who sent me to a dermatologist who diagnosed me with vasculitis and began treatment;  then I visited my hematologist who sent me to yet another dermatologist.  Several months later, now with painful, non-healing, open ulcers on my lower legs and feet and the fear of amputation in my mind, I saw my rheumatologist who advised me to go to a wound care center.

Fortunately, after an emergency room visit because of one of the ulcers tearing open and ER docs also advising me to go to a wound center, I made an appointment with our local wound care clinic and met Dr. Bennett who took over my care, prescribing more prednisone and both medical and surgical debridement of the wounds.

From that appointment forward, I made good progress toward healing.  I had more than 15 ulcers on my feet and legs and one by one, they began to mend together and heal.  My experience with the wound care center was very positive, although I admit the first couple of debridement’s were extremely painful.  But Dr. Bennett did prescribe me pain killers which my dermatologists refused to do.  So finally after months, I was able to sleep at night again instead of spending hours battling the pain of severe neuropathy and praying for God to take me home.

Lessons learned

From this ordeal, I’ve learned to take care of my feet every day, looking for sores and wounds and using lotions to keep them smooth and crack-free.

I’ve also learned that when one doctor is not working for you, don’t just suck it up and stay – find someone that can help.

Also, from now on, I believe in Wound Centers and Clinics.  They are more likely to be up on the latest method to heal nasty wounds.

 

Comments

Thanks for looking at my site and coming to this page. I would love for you to leave any questions or comments below.  In addition, I’m open to new topics to research and comment on as they pertain to my own health and experience living with diabetes.  Please share your interests and questions in your comments.  I also love to hear others stories about how they handle their own diabetes issues.

– Shirley

Prednisone – handling this strong medicine as a diabetic!

Corticosteroids and Your Blood Glucose


Image of pill bottle and pills, copyright Microsoft
Image of pill bottle and pills, copyright Microsoft

Prednisone is considered to be a corticosteriod(which mimics hormones produced by your adrenal glands) and is used to reduce inflammation from many illnesses, like vasculitis, myositis, and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and others. It is also used to suppress your immune system as in helping to reduce rejection of organs.

Corticosteroids can be taken via mouth, inhaled, in creams topically or by injection.

The synthetic cordicosteriod Prednisone is a very effective anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drug. However, this strong medicine can have several undesired side effects, especially if you are a diabetic.

Side effects of Prednisone Use

There can be many side effects when using Prednisone, from mild to severe:

  • Irritability and nervousness, mood swings
  • Chipmunk cheeks and buffalo hump (on the back of the neck)
  • Depression, even suicidal thoughts
  • Blurring of eyesight and even cataract development
  • Thin skin and easy bruising
  • Bone thinning
  • Excess hair growth
  • Increase in your susceptibility to infections
  • Appetite increase and weight gain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Elevated blood glucose levels.

Reducing the Impact of Prednisone on Your Body

Chipmonk Image
Chipmonk image

Here are some things to do to lesson the impact of prednisone on your diabetic body:

  • Use less salt to help reduce fluid retention and help avoid higher blood pressure.
  • Try to eat a more balanced diet to help avoid excess weight gain.
  • Reduce sugar intake, add more protein and fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce calories consumed and increase exercise
  • Add calcium and vitamin D to your supplements for your bones, and potassium for blood pressure.
  • Take your prednisone with food to help avoid stomach ulcers.
  • Also avoid drinking alcohol for the same reason.
  • Taper off your dosage of Prednisone when you are finishing treatment to avoid cramps, body aches and other side affects.

My Experience with Long-term Prednisone Use

In the past, I have used short term dosages of steroids and corticosteroids for my asthma and other mild illnesses; however when my problems with vasculitis and the formation of leg and feet ulcers occurred, I began long term use of Prednisone.  By long term, I mean months (so far, over six months).  While I realize that I really need the anti-inflammatory effects of the Prednisone, I am not happy with my chipmunk face, weight gain, trouble sleeping, blurred vision and some other side effects I am experiencing.  I’m also not pleased with the increase in my blood glucose levels.

I’ve really tried to work on keeping my blood sugar levels under control to improve the healing of my ulcers (something my doctor has reiterated over and over).  I’m reducing consumption of bread, sugars and other carbohydrates; and increasing my protein, fruit and veggie intake.  I’m also checking my blood glucose several times a day to see if I need to inject additional insulin.  As far as exercise, that is pretty much impossible for me to increase with my feet ulcers and my back issues and I’m in a wheelchair most of the day.  My goal is to keep my blood glucose readings below 200 and closer to 160 and so far, I’ve been successful.  I plan on really tightening up on my diet this next couple of weeks to speed healing of these ulcers.

Comments

Thanks for looking at my site and coming to this page. I would love for you to leave any questions or comments below.  In addition, I’m open to new topics to research and comment on as they pertain to my own health and experience living with diabetes.  Please share your interests and questions in your comments.  I also love to hear others stories about how they handle their own diabetes issues.

– Shirley

 

Time flies when you are in pain!

Time is passing


Back on December first, I really thought I was turning the corner on this case of leg and feet ulcers, but boy was I wrong.  I’ve had three more months of pain and worry since then.  The only moment of light was when I visited my rheumatologist and after telling him about the awful pain I was having, he prescribed Tramadol for me.  That allowed me to begin to get some sleep at night and be more comfortable during the days also.

Then, two weeks ago, I had an ER visit when one of the largest ulcers split open to become a 4″x1″ wound and was hurting a lot.  The ER docs told me I needed to start care at a Wound Center and so the next day I made my first appointment at the Pine Bluff Wound Clinic.  At my first session, I met Dr. Keith Bennett, Board certified 3 times over (Family Medicine, General Surgery and Plastic Surgery)  and over 25 years experience in surgery.

That first visit, he debrided several of the ulcers (I have over 10 of them) to remove all dead tissue.  Wow, lots of pain and blood everywhere.  The only good thing was that he was very quick with the knife and he did prescribe pain meds for me to take afterwards and before my next visit.

He felt the ulcers were more typical of diabetic ulcers than caused by my chemo drugs.  I was also shown how to dress the wounds and apply a compression dressing and was put back on prednisone (more chipmonk face… uhg!).  I was told that the prednisone, compression bandages and keeping my feet elevated over my heart was very important for my healing.  I’m also to really work on keeping my BGL down below 200.  So I’m being a good girl.

The second visit was more of the same, but I made my dh drive me to and from the Clinic so I could dope myself up with codeine before the debriding; it still hurt a lot but less blood this time.  The ulcers are looking much better and several of them were reduced in size.  We discussed using a type of growth factor/chemical on the wounds to help the healing and even if it costs us several hundred dollars, both my husband and I are ready to go for it.  Maybe we will learn more about this next week.

There are several ways to clean/debride the wounds:

Image of scalpel, copyright Microsoft
Image of scalpel, copyright Microsoft
  • Autolytic debridement.  This method basically allows the body to degenerate all the dead tissue on its own, keeping the wound moist and then allowing it to regrown.
  • Chemical debridement.  This method  promotes the break down of dead and damaged tissue by using a chemical enzyme debriding agent. (I’m using this method also and applying the special cream to my wounds during re-dressing.
  • Mechanical debridement. This method using saline and gauze dressings which stick somewhat to the dead tissue and when peeling off, take the dead tissue with it.
  • Surgical debridement, In this method, the surgeon is using a scalpel or scissors to remove dead tissue.  (This is the method Dr. Bennett is using on me and boy is he quick with his scalpel)!

Continue reading “Time flies when you are in pain!”

The Pain of Neuropathy – Oh Yes!

Now I know?*


Image of stickman with foot pain, copywrite Microsoft
Image of stickman with foot pain, copywrite Microsoft

I’ve been a type 2 diabetic for many years now and each time I’ve visited my endocrinologist (my diabetic doc), he asks me about neuropathy and do I need more meds for it. I have never really known what he was talking about because as I wrote in a previous post, I’ve kept really good care of my feet and aside from some numbness occasionally in a couple of my toes on the left foot and a rare kind of sharpe pain up a foot, I’ve never experienced any neuropathy.
However, the past two months have educated me greatly on what neuropathy is and the pain it can cause.

Just what is Neuropathy?


Image of foot pain, copyright Microsoft
Image of foot pain, copyright Microsoft

I’ve been studying and reading a lot about diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PN) for weeks now and have found that it is one of the more painful neurological complications of diabetes.

Neuropathy is basically nerve damage.  Sometimes peripheral neuropathy is called “Stocking Glove syndrome.”  This is because it mostly affects the feet and hands.  When your feet are affected, there is a great danger that the numbness will cause you to not notice an injury to your feet as you walk about.  An injury that is not noticed and taken care of can lead to infection and gangrene and then to a dreaded amputation.

“Distal polyneuropathy” is another term for the most frequent form of diabetic neuropathy.  Distal, meaning far away from the center of the body (i.e., feet and hands)  Poly means many and neuropathy is disease in nerves.  This disease can affect many nerves and is moslyt noticed in the feet and hands.  Here is a link to a great article on neuropathy.  Continue reading “The Pain of Neuropathy – Oh Yes!”

The importance of testing! (free excel spreadsheet)

Importance of Blood Glucose Testing


Image of BG testing, copyright Microsoft.
Image of BG testing, copyright Microsoft.

I know none of us enjoy the finger prick and testing of our blood glucose (BG) levels.  But we should truly be aware that this is very important for keeping this disease under control.

By keeping our BG levels under control, we help lengthen our lives and certainly avoid some of the very serious complications.  Who wants to go blind, lose limbs or go on dialysis? or have to have a liver transplant?

I’ve been told that I need to keep my BG levels between 90 and 180.  I tend to run high, so this takes real work for me to achieve.  My goal is to have my A1C down to the 6’s next time I see my doc.  It was over 9 last time I was him, but I’ve been working on it and I know its coming down.

Continue reading “The importance of testing! (free excel spreadsheet)”

The Power of NO!

What do I Mean by the Power of NO?


Image of heart attack victim, copyright Microsoft.
Image of heart attack victim, copyright Microsoft.

This week I have been reading and researching NO. I’m not talking about the word “NO,” but the molecule NO (made up of one atom of Nitrogen and one atom of Oxygen). I’m talking about “nitric oxide.” I’ve been learning about NO from reading various articles on the WWW and also the book “The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution” by Dr. Nathan Bryan of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, and University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Dr. Bryan’s research is directed to understanding the interactions of exogenous dietary nitrate/nitrite on the endogenous NO/cGMP pathway and how perturbations (agitations) in each system affect cardiovascular health. The other authors are Dr. Janet Zand and Bill Gottlieb.

 

 

I’ve been learning that NO or nitrate oxide can do many helpful things in our bodies such as:

  • Help prevent high blood pressure,

  • Help keep our arteries young and more flexible,

  • Help slow or even reverse the buildup of plaque in our arteries and stop the formation of blood clots,

  • Help lower cholesterol,

  • Help reduce the risk of diabetes and its complications,

  • Help limit swelling and pain of arthritis,

  • Help reverse erectile dysfunction,

  • Help reduce the inflammation of asthma,

  • Help protect our bones from osteoporosis,

  • Help the immune system in killing bacteria,

  • Help skin damage from sun exposure,

And basically help our overall health, especially that of our arteries and cardiovascular system.

Continue reading “The Power of NO!”

Exercise for the Non-walking Diabetic

Getting rid of that Leaned over Humped Back Stance


Image of Yoga pose, copyright Microsoft
Image of Yoga pose, copyright Microsoft

Hi there, this is Shirley and I’m back to talk with you about exercise today. Since I’m in a wheelchair a lot of the time, I find that getting any kind of exercise is pretty difficult.
But I do try to get some in. I especially enjoy water aerobic when I can find a pool open.   With the deteriorating discs in my lower back, I can only walk a few steps before I begin to feel a tremendous pressure in my low back area. If I keep walking, it turns into pain and sciatica down my legs. I have to find a place to sit or at least lean against and bend over to relieve the pressure for a minute. I’ll use my cane if I don’t have to walk too far and that helps a little.

However, I’ve found that since I sit so much, either in my wheelchair or a desk chair at the computer, when I try to stand up, I can’t seem to straighten out and I walk like a little old lady, all bent over. Continue reading “Exercise for the Non-walking Diabetic”

Would you Like to Reduce your Medication – Maybe come off it entirely?

Leo Ford – His Story


My name is Catherine and my husband Leo is shown below in this blog post about his story

Leo was born just after the Second World War when life was very different to today. He was born in London England and there was still rationing after the Second World War. Sugar was the last thing to come off rationing and that was not until 1955.

Image of Catherine and Leo Ford
Image of Catherine and Leo Ford

So when he went to school in 1952 all of the children were stick thin. There were no processed foods and very few chocolates, cookies or cakes. Also in those days there were very few cars and everyone walked everywhere. So we can say his lifestyle and his diet defined his size and his health.

In that respect (being stick thin) he was like his peers, in another respect he was very different – he came from a family of diabetics. His mother was a diabetic as were most of her family members. Diabetes is not always genetic, but when over 80% of your maternal family are diabetic it is not random.

He was not himself a diabetic that is until he went for a routine blood test when he was 60, probably the first visit to a doctor in 30 years. Continue reading “Would you Like to Reduce your Medication – Maybe come off it entirely?”