I’ve been feeling better mentally. I’m still a little insane, what with the sprained hippocampus and chronic mental illness, but I feel solid. Maybe it’s because things are chaotic? Perhaps I need dark days and misery to shine?
I worry about the improvements lasting a little: I’ve felt new before. But there are changes this time that didn’t happen before. I’m not interested in being a doormat anymore, for one. I’m tired of being walked on, even by the well-intentioned. Some people are having trouble adjusting to the boundaries and changes. It’s odd how little I miss them.
I’m coming up on a year-and-a-half of pain. I bought wine. That’s almost like a cake. Eighteen months is a long time, though I’ve had ebbs and flows (the ebbs are less frequent these days. It’s about degrees of constant pain now).
I was hoping the pain was caused by my congenital hip displacement or lumbar spinal damage. I was hoping it was the osteoarthritis becoming more aggressive. I was hoping for hairline fractures or torn cartilage. I even occasionally thought about parasites (mostly the mind control-alien invasion kind). I wanted something fixable. I didn’t want an algia. That’s just doctor-speak for “aggressive pain we can’t do anything about.”
I dismissed the fibromyalgia diagnosis back in the day, sure something else was causing the constellation of symptoms. I worried that fibromyalgia was a diagnosis of convenience and prejudice. “We can’t figure your pain, but you’re a woman who struggles with mental illness, so fibromyalgia seems good.” Unfortunately, the new and younger crop of doctors is telling me the same thing. “Chronic” is not the droid I was looking for. I hate it when I weep in public. I suspect doctors hate it too.
On the bright side, I was supposed to be getting treatment for the past decade-plus. The most recent orthopedic guy seemed horrified that I’d been left to flounder on my own. It was sweet: I didn’t expect anything different. My GP gave me a prescription I take as needed and refill when it runs dry along with recommendations to not get tired. It turns out there’s more.
What hurts? Everything. All right, not everything, but lots of things. Anything I’ve ever injured is on fire, every area that has a problem has been made worse, and my joints have gone on a pain strike until gravity is revoked.
At least the doctors are making it easy for me to fire up my opioid addiction: doctors toss pain pills at me without a second thought or word of warning. I must look like a trustworthy person. I asked one about addiction once and he told me not to worry about it: “you won’t get addicted to pain control if you have pain.”
I didn’t scream at them: that’s a good thing. I hate it when they call security, though it has happened once. For the people in the back: “real” pain is no shield against addiction. Addiction to opioids is largely physical, a biological reaction to the drug (those struggling with chronic pain may be more likely to abuse the drugs, however, thus developing an addiction more rapidly). [i]
Fibro flares can come regularly or relatively infrequently. They can last for days, weeks, or months. And although fibromyalgia is strongly correlated with other rheumatoid conditions, like lupus or arthritis, it can also stand alone. Mine hangs out with and amplifies the aforementioned arthritis.
Every fibromyalgia warrior presents differently. For me, it makes my lumbar spine, hips, pelvis, and upper thighs feel like they’re on fire. They burn in a “too much lactic acid in the joints” kind of way almost all the time, and it’s not terribly responsive to pain medication. The perpetual hurt makes me a little mean. I watch that pretty carefully. It also makes me a little sad.
I miss sleep.
My upper body is okay, save for my shoulders, neck, wrists, and hands. Fibromyalgia also kicks up the arthritis in my feet, though the plantar fasciitis is a recent and miserable addition. What kind of cruel god came up with pain on the bottom of the feet? We’re a vertical, land-based species subject to gravity. Foot pain is an insult.
Plantar fasciitis refers to an inflammation of the fascia that connects the heel to the toes and makes walking possible. Problems with the bottom of the feet make one pray for levitation. I appreciate why foot torture is an effective technique. This little piggy is not happy; I’d share all the secrets if someone promised to make the pain go away.
PF can be caused by repetitive strain (my congenital hip issues might be a contributing factor) or by spending too much time on one’s feet. That’s a yes and a problem with no solution. Constant sitting is a habit I can’t adopt: the pain in my hips and spine becomes unbearable in a very short space of time. I’m down to fifteen happy minutes before pain and pins and needles kick in. Unfortunately, prone is also not a friend.
It’s a bit of a pickle.
Plantar fasciitis can also be caused by short tendons. My doctors didn’t tell me that. I stumbled across that bit of information a few days ago while chasing rabbits down holes on Google. It’s information, however, that I needed to know: I come from a long line of tense tendons.
When I was thirteen, I grew two inches. The tendons in my legs did not. This led to considerable issues with things like walking. The physiotherapist recommended stretching for fifteen minutes twice a day, so my dad built me a slant board to stand on. I’m going to dust it off and give aggressive tendon stretching another go: if things don’t improve for me, no harm, no foul.
I still have door number two.
I sold a sewing machine the other day. My parents gave it to me when my kids were small for mending and projects, but I mostly don’t use it. I don’t sew. After we’d loaded the victim of my decluttering into the buyer’s RAV4, I complimented her on her clogs.
“Thank you,” she said, “I love wearing them. They gave me back my life. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. I wanted to buy padded insoles to make walking easier, but the sales clerk suggested clogs instead. I thought she was crazy suggesting I walk on wood, but she swore by them and she was right: they saved my life.”
Synchronicity is so strange.
Anyhow, the clogs will be here Sunday.
[i] “Long-term use of opioids can lead to physical dependence – if you stop using them abruptly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, such as strong cravings, sweating, muscle aches and insomnia. People who take opioids long-term can become addicted, sometimes with dangerous results.” https://choosingwiselycanada.org/pamphlet/opioids/