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