A few months after we committed to adopt Glory, my world changed. I do not talk about it much, it’s incredibly defeating. I like to pretend that it doesn’t exist. About 2 1/2 years ago, the summer we decided to pursue adopting Glory, and proceeded to do the ever so popular paper chase, I came down with an illness like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
At first, I had pain in my feet. I thought perhaps I had injured them during exercise. The pain spread, it began to radiate down my hips and legs into my feet. I am quite tough when it comes to pain. I did not use pain medication aside from ibuprofen and tylenol during the recovery of all 3 c-sections that followed 30+ hours of natural labor attempts. So, trust me when I tell you that chronic pain is no joke.
Along with the pain came the fatigue. Not just run of the mill exhaustion, but deep down, completely incapable of movement, fatigue. I had days where it was all I could do to keep up with the children, and I would fall into a heap of tears, unable to cope with not being my “normal do-it-all self.”
I began to have pain in my shoulders and my back. I couldn’t figure out why there was so much pain…..neither could the doctor. My muscles ached, I was completely fatigued, and then my memory and recall became fuzzy. I lost a lot of my hair over a year’s time. And I became unable to sleep. Every night was tossing and turning, despite reduction in caffeine and electronics, just not being able to get into a sleep mode. Initially I did test anemic, but once that was resolved, the pain didn’t go away.
The worst thing was that I couldn’t exercise. If I did, I would be in intense pain for the rest of the day….if I could make it through a workout at all. This was the worst, because this was the thing that proved to me that this was serious. I have always enjoyed exercise as a way to reduce stress. The day I delivered Zeke, I walked my littlest sister to death trying to get labor to progress. I walked 27 miles the week I delivered Grace. It is just something I love to do.
I have had PCOS since I was 22, probably well before that, but 22 is when I was diagnosed after crazy high testosterone and multiple cysts on my ovaries showing via ultrasound. PCOS does not make it impossible to lose weight, but it does make it more difficult. It is also common for people to say they are trying to keep the weight off always, any break in constant effort, could result in a 20lb gain in like 2 weeks. In addition to stress relief, I have used exercise to help keep my weight down. It’s nowhere near goal, but it’s also not 244 like it was at 21. Needless to say, when I couldn’t exercise, I was more than a bit nervous.
Having pain like this is hard to cope with mentally. Not because of the physical discomfort (although that does take a toll), but because of what pain steals.
Pain steals days.
Pain steals happy moods.
Pain steals precious time with my littles.
Pain steals memories that could be made, but instead you watch from the sidelines…..or say once again….I’m sorry I just can’t.
Pain steals pride and self confidence.
Pain steals my children’s perception of me being the “best” mom.
I refuse to use prescription pain meds. I come from a lineage of addicts, and I just feel it best to not even go there, not even non-addictive drugs. So, I have been on a journey over the last few years to find a way to build energy and reduce pain. I have tried a myriad of supplements, some work better than others. Holla to my fave: collagen!
I started exercising again doing just 15 minutes of mild walking. It would nearly knock me out for the day, but I persevered. I kept at it, building more time and endurance. Now during good weeks, I can do 45-60 minutes of kickboxing. I started taking melatonin to help me sleep. It helps to get to sleep, but I still roll around often to readjust in the night and try to ease the pain.
I do not have some miracle cure story.
I have the truth about what it’s like to look “normal” and feel completely destroyed. On the outside, I look just like any other 30’s mom with a little pudge going on. I am stubborn and refuse to back off on my daily routine any more than I already have, so people see me teaching my kids, playing with them, cleaning house, cooking from scratch, sewing (when my hands aren’t stiff and throbbing), and doing whatever other normal moms do.
On the inside though, I am sobbing. I am hurting, I am silently begging for relief and enough energy to carry me through the day. I do not get to fully enjoy things as I once did, because everything is burdened by the pain.
Last week, I took two kids to Nashville (a five hour drive each way), for a doctor’s appointment. After the appointment, they wanted to walk the mall. So we did. I was already pretty worn down, but we did it. Then they wanted to walk another big store. We did. However, I had to turn down the last requested activity. I was hurting so bad that I had literal tears and I just couldn’t walk anymore for the fatigue (and I still had to drive us home).
Andy asked me if all moms were tired and hurting all of the time.
That cut me to the bone. I don’t want to feel this way, and I push hard to always be doing stuff with and for the kids. I don’t sit down much during the day, because if I do, the pain gets worse and I have a hard time getting back up for life. So, I work to be engaged with the kids. Yet, I just couldn’t do one more thing that day.
That day, pain broke my heart a little.
How do you explain to someone that you look great but feel agonizingly bad all of the time…..they don’t know what that is like, so it is really really hard for them to empathize.
Pain is invisible.
How can something invisible be so damaging.
I am still trying to find what is wrong. They have said fibromyalgia, but now with my wrists and the joints in my fingers being so stiff and in pain, it may not be fibro. Whatever it is, I want it gone. I want to heal it, and I’m on a mission to do so. I’ll let ya’ll know if I fulfill my mission.
In the mean time, have some compassion for your fellow man. They may be suffering from something that you have no idea about. Be forgiving and give grace to others, for you have no idea what troubles fill their shoes.