Navigating rough seas

Maintaining a healthy mental state, is quite a challenge, at least it is for me.

I take medication daily which works well to stabilise my mood. I’ve been medicated for depression and anxiety since 2005, essentially 18 months after my dad passed away.

I had a full blown breakdown in 2005. I stopped working. I stopped functioning. I stopped doing pretty much everything. I spent 3 years getting better. I spent 3 years learning to deal with rough seas.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. In fact my breakdown brought MrH and I closer together. I learned he was strong enough to carry me and my problems without running away.

When my back pain started in 2008 I not only had to deal with my mental health issues but now my body was uncooperative too. I hurt. I hurt all the time. The slightest movement, the tiniest adjustment, is painful, and my mood became linked to that pain.

I don’t know if you know this, but pain doesn’t just hurt. Pain is exhausting. Being in constant pain drains your energy, and when you can’t do things because your body hurts, your mood is affected too.

Well mine is.

How many specialists?

I saw consultants in rheumatology, neurology, orthopaedics and physiotherapy.

They all told me the same thing. They had no idea why I hurt. It could be a bulging disc or arthritis. The treatment was the same, pain medication and learn to live with it. They did no scans (MRI or The likes) as the consultants believed that the scan wouldn’t help. As I was only in my 30s I wasn’t happy to spend the rest of my life unable to take 5 steps unaided!!!

Fortunately my step dad had a private medical insurance through his work which covered me as his daughter. They paid for an MRI which showed that I had bulging discs, advanced osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease in 2 vertebrae (L3, L4). I returned to see the same consultant privately, and with the MRI report in hand she decided that the drugs I had been given (gabapentin and when that didn’t help I was swapped to pregabalin) were not the correct treatment. Instead I was given anti-inflammatories and paracetamol and codine. They also paid for private physiotherapy. It took years but in 2016 I was off pain medication and able to function. I had learned to ride a motorcycle. Started to loose weight. Found a job that I enjoyed. Everything was going well. Then I woke up with the numbness. An ambulance ride and a short hospital stay later and I was told everything had got worse. The problem was now from L3 to S1, and one disc had ruptured.

I spent 5 months on bed rest. I eventually got some feeling back. I was seen by a pain specialist- and it’s not what you think- this man wasn’t there to inflict pain- he is a specialist in treating pain. He put me on slow release tramadol (my GP had been treating me with standard release tramadol) and within a week I was relatively pain free. I was able to return to work. He also tried steroid injections into my facet joints in an effort to reduce the inflammation. The pain was gone for 3 days thanks to the anaesthetic he also injected. Because of this they decided to try a nerve ablation. This was done last year and I stopped taking the tramadol.

Then in April, it happened again. The numbness returned.

Seriously!?!

Once again I’m in a constant battle to get pain free.

The GP doesn’t want to prescribe tramadol, which worked very well for me, and has instead started me on amitriptyline. The tiredness that accompanies these meds is awful. They have also got me taking paracetamol and codine which means I feel high and get constipated 😡

The GP prescribed Naproxen, an anti-inflammatory. That’s made a big difference to my joint pain in general (my knees and wrists).

I am hoping that next Monday when I see the pain specialist, he puts me back into the tramadol. I want a solution that works and means I can live a normal life. I want to go for walks with MrH and for 2 years tramadol enabled me to do that.

This relapse has of course affected my mood. I’m not awake long enough to participate in the online chats and I miss that interaction. Last night I got to participate for the first time in weeks and it felt good!

We haven’t been to the munch in a few months because I can’t sit in the car for 2 hours (the time it takes to travel there and back), or sit in the chairs at the club without paying for it for days later, and I’ve missed the outings with MrH too. Going to the munch is one place that we get to be us, without any pretence. It’s the one place where our behaviour isn’t considered odd. We’re off work in July, the week of the munch, and we have booked a hotel nearby so I only have to do one way at a time. We are going to the munch in July!

In the mean time, MrH has to contend with a sleepy, grumpy, frustrated, agitated and bored Sweetgirl. Oh and he has a really sore throat and a nasty cough too…. so you know there’s also that!!!

One things for sure, as much as I wish we were sailing in calm waters for the next few weeks I suspect they will continue to be rough.

8 Replies to “Navigating rough seas”

  1. I’ve read this a number of times. I have great sympathy with this long history of pain. Yet, I have no frame of reference in which to process it. The closest was a bruised coccyx that was agony for several months, which is not the same as years of debilitating pain management.

    I do hope you get the pain management to be able to lead a life as close to what you wish for. I’m rather stumped for words so will just say very best wishes for the future.

    melody x

  2. Pain is exhausting – it is one of the fears I will talk about this week in my food for thought friday post – I hope u are feeling better soon x

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Unfortunately, mental health issues don’t exclude physical health issues, they often go hand in hand. I am sorry to hear that your pain has returned and that the medication has not been helpful this time. I really hope that the appointment with the specialist will go well and you can get back on the meds that worked for you before! Have a great time at the munch in July!

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