September and awareness of pain


 

The month of September is dedicated to help bring awareness to a very much misunderstood disease, Chronic Pain (C/P). In the USA, Chronic Pain has finally been inducted by the American Medical Association as a disease, with its own diagnostic code even though it encompasses multiple over-lapping conditions and diseases.

As a mother of a terminally ill child, who suffers debilitating chronic pain, I have researched pain extensively.  I have argue
d with physicians and meet with pain specialists at the pain clinic every month.  I have bullied hospital nursing staff.  I have witnessed and lived my child screaming like a wounded animal from pain….. Doctors telling her that she is a morphine addict and pharmacists double-checking and verifying Vic’s scripts…

Yet the levels of Vic’s pain force us to eat humble pie.  We have to go back time after time asking and even begging for pain medication.

Tracy at http://ohwhatapain.wordpress.com/ is a passionate advocate bringing awareness about this chronic illness, and this month she has a special project. Please visit Tracy’s blog. Even if you are not directly involved chances are there is someone in your life that is.  I have a headache (maybe) once a year.  I never have a tummy ache, earache, toe-ache or any ache as a matter of fact.  Yet I am a specialist on the subject of pain…  I will therefore participate as a caregiver of someone who suffers debilitating chronic pain…..

So from Tracy’s Blog this month and all month-long;

 Please answer the following questions:

  1. What condition(s) do you have that have led you to living with chronic pain?

Vic has a frozen abdomen, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Addisons Disease and severe Endometriosis.

  • Frozen abdomen,” is a condition  in which repeat surgeries to remove the fibrous bands create so much internal scar tissue that further surgical intervention becomes dangerous. Inflammatory conditions like appendicitis, internal infections and abdominal surgeries can cause the abdominal tissues to bind together, forming scars.  Adhesion formation in the abdominal or pelvic cavity can cause debilitating pain, nausea, vomiting, cramping. Patients with intestinal obstruction may experience constipation, diarrhea or a combination of both. In severe cases, adhesions can cause intestinal obstruction, bowel strangulation, complications with childbirth and infertility.
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a genetic bone disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily. It is also known as “brittle bone disease.” The term literally means “bone that is imperfectly made from the beginning of life.” A person is born with this disorder and is affected throughout his or her lifetime. http://www.oif.org

The condition arises from problems with the adrenal gland itself, a state referred to as “primary adrenal insufficiency”, and can be caused by damage by the body’s own immune system, certain infections or various rarer causes. Addison’s disease is also known as chronic primary adrenocortical insufficiency, to distinguish it from acute primary adrenocortical insufficiency, most often caused by Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome. Addison’s disease should also be distinguished from secondary and tertiary adrenal insufficiency, which are caused by deficiency of ACTH (produced by the pituitary gland) and CRH (produced by the hypothalamus), respectively. Despite this distinction, Addisonian crises can happen in all forms of adrenal insufficiency.

  • Endometriosis A major symptom of endometriosis is recurring pelvic pain. The pain can be mild           to severe cramping that occurs on both sides of the pelvis, in the lower back and rectal area, and   even down the legs. The amount of pain a woman feels correlates poorly with the extent or stage      (1 through 4) of endometriosis, with some women having little or no pain despite having extensive            endometriosis or endometriosis with scarring, while other women may have severe pain even           though they have only a few small areas of endometriosis. Throbbing, gnawing, and dragging pain             to the legs are reported more commonly by women with endometriosis.[4] Compared with women with superficial endometriosis, those with deep disease appear to be more likely to report shooting        rectal pain and a sense of their insides being pulled down.[citation needed] Individual pain areas and     pain intensity appears to be unrelated to the surgical diagnosis, and the area of pain unrelated to area of endometriosis.[citation needed]

Endometriosis lesions react to hormonal stimulation and may “bleed” at the time of menstruation. The blood accumulates locally, causes swelling, and triggers inflammatory responses with the activation of cytokines. This process may cause pain. Pain can also occur from adhesions (internal scar tissue) binding internal organs to each other, causing organ dislocation. Fallopian tubes, ovaries, the uterus, the bowels, and the bladder can be bound together in ways that are painful on a daily basis, not just during menstrual periods.[citation needed]

Also, endometriotic lesions can develop their own nerve supply, thereby creating a direct and two-way interaction between lesions and the central nervous system, potentially producing a variety of individual differences in pain that can, in some women, become independent of the disease itself.[2] http:

 2. What do you want others to know about what it’s like to live with chronic pain? (i.e.- what is it no one is saying about life with chronic pain? )

Vic has lost her spontaneity.  She has to plan every single outing well in advance whether it is a trip to the hairdresser or the doctor, watching Jon-Daniel play cricket or having a cup of coffee with a friend.  Vic has lost her ability to live.  She merely breathes.

3. Which philosophy do you ascribe to:  Keep hoping that the pain will get better or learn to adapt to life with chronic pain?

Both.

4. What do you miss the most that you feel you gave up because of chronic pain?  What do you do now to fill that void?

Playing with her boys…. Vic was never able to play ball or “touches” with the boys.  Vic spent a lot of time reading to the boys when they were younger.  Now her health and pain is at levels that prohibits any compensatory actions.

 5. What have you heard from others that made you feel better? 

“It is okay to give up….”

 6. Do you feel that people view/treat you differently? How?

People get tired of hanging around people who are always ill and in pain.  They avoid Vic.  The average person does not know how to handle her raw pain and they are scared that pain or “bad luck” is contagious.  Vicky is viewed as someone who is past her “sell by” date.

 7. What coping mechanisms have you tried that worked for you?  Which ones did not work for you? (Traditional and Non-traditional)

Vic used breathing techniques earlier in the diseases timeline.  Now it is too painful.  When Vic has a good day she will do something extravagant like pick the boys up from school and take them for a milkshake.  It allows her for a brief moment to believe that her life is normal.  It is a form of a coping mechanism.  Living the moment and pretending that her life is “normal”

Related articles

 

 

Who is taking care of the caregiver? 5.7.2012


When my Dad was ill with Alzheimer’s, I subscribed to two forums/support groups.  I suppose I am not good at letting go because I have not left the groups despite the fact that my dad lost his fight against AD on the 20th of May 2011.  On the other hand Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness and there is a lot of synergy between my Dad and Vicky’s journeys.  I don’t think I would have gotten through my Dad’s journey if it had not been for the Caring.com group.  http://www.caring.com/home-care.  The practical advice of caring for an AD patient was of immeasurable help.  The members support helped us as a family in understanding the destruction of Alzheimer’s and recognizing the stages of the disease.

So when I received the latest post: “Who is Taking Care of the Caregiver While the Caregiver is Taking Care?” written By Carol Blackwell Alzheimer’s Reading Room, I was delighted.  I am in such a depression and totally at a lost as how to get out of it. http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2010/05/whos-taking-care-of-caregiver-while.html

I just knew there would be solid, practical advice in the article.

Carol Blackwell’s opening question is: “Are you taking care of yourself? You can’t be there for them if you aren’t there for ‘you.’ Your mood and stress affects their mood. It surely isn’t easy and life is sometimes stressful and difficult. Here are some things that helped me—you can decide if they will work for you.”

Exercise

Carol Blackwell wrote “I know you may be thinking you have no time to exercise because you are so busy taking care of your loved one and too tired at the end of the day. I say, that is exactly why we need to exercise.”

Right on Carol.  I don’t have time.  My days are very long and I don’t get a lot of off-time.  Last year Danie and I went for a walk every night.  Sometimes the boys joined us.  It was great and I miss it.  But I have decided that I will start exercising today!

Volunteer for service to others.
Carol Blackwell wrote:  “I imagine you are now thinking I am really weird. How can we find time to work for others when we are struggling ourselves? For me, initially, I found it was easy to sit in the house and feel sorry for us. We didn’t sign up for this disease invading our lives, we had just had gotten to the point where we could be free from work constraints, etc. Etc. Unfortunately, sitting in the house feeling sorry for us didn’t help much. It wasn’t fun and served no purpose except to make me crabby and Bob depressed. No one wants to be around crabby people.”

Carol you are weird.  I don’t have time to sit and do anything.  I have a career, a household to run, two grandsons to fetch and carry, Vic to take care of…  For many years I was very involved in working with the less fortunate.  I however believe that in the Chinese Proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  Done and dusted.  One day I would love to do some community work again but for the time being I have to concentrate on my family and their survival.  Selfish – maybe…  For now that is the way it has to be.

Do things you enjoy—you deserve it. 
Carol Blackburn wrote:  “What do you find fun and what gives you pleasure? It is different for all of us. I enjoy Wii games—I love the Wii Fitness Plus activities. They are fun. “

Tick.  I love my Children and grandchildren.  I love the patter of little children’s feet in the passages of our home, the sound of children’s laughter, and their little arms around my neck.  I desperately miss my UK grandchildren.  I am permanently miserable when I think of them.  I miss them with every fiber of my body.  Sometimes I am so weepy that I cannot even Skype with them.

I am so happy that Lanie and Tom have moved to Johannesburg.  Now we see them and the girls on a regular basis.  We spend a lot of quality time together.

Yuri, our youngest grandson asks his Mom whether he can’t come visit his Oumie every day before school…

Liza (the youngest daughter) and her husband have finished sailing around the world.  I look forward to flying down to Cape Town to visit with them.  As soon as Vic is able to cope without me we will fly off…

Vic finds the noise a little distressing.  But the little ones know Aunty Vic is ill and are so good!

Carol is right.   I enjoy having the grandchildren around and I deserve to have my grandchildren around me.  Grandchildren are the joy of my life!  And I love playing Cityville on Facebook.

Consider meditation/yoga.
Carol wrote:  “Research has found that taking time to meditate and to engage in yoga is beneficial in reducing stress.”

Maybe one day when I have time… and the energy.

Don’t be a martyr.
Carol wrote:  “Martyrs may be noble, but they really aren’t much fun. You can’t do it all and you shouldn’t have to. Find help if you need it.  Are you in a support group? Check the Alzheimer’s Association link to fine one near you. Join it—it will help to find others who are going through what you are. “

“Is there someone who can come in for a few hours and let you take a break? Someone from church?  A friend? There are people who would love to help us, but we don’t ask. Ask. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones!”

My dearest friend, Gillian, wrote:”I would like to half your work and cares.  Put you in a bed for sleep therapy.  But I know you won’t trust a soul with your family”.  Few people know me as well as Gillian does.  I cannot leave Vic.  There is that beautiful John Lennon song “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”.  Vic ain’t heavy she is my baby.

I am trying to get Hospice involved.  Danie does help a lot and so do the boys.  Esther bathed Vic on Tuesday whilst I was at a meeting.  The church and I deserted one another some time back.  I don’t have many friends.

People have their own lives.  We live in a world where we don’t have time for other people’s problems.

Only a mother who has watched her child suffer will understand the despair of another mother.  Will understand how difficult it is to face every day, the depth of despair when you cradle your vomiting child in your arms….to say “Just one more hour baby” when she begs you for pain medication…

Smile or laugh each day.
Carol Blackwell wrote:  

We do.  Today I watched Rango with the boys.  It was so funny.

Cut yourself some slack.
The wise Carol Blackwell wrote:  “Everyone has ‘blue’ days. It’s OK to have a ‘pity party’ once in a while. It just doesn’t help to let those days happen too frequently. Also, don’t beat yourself up. We can’t always be calm, patient, understanding and saint-like. We are all just doing the best we can. Wallowing in guilt for occasional impatience won’t help either.”

This week I am truly wallowing in self-pity.  I have been guilty of impatience, I have lacked understanding.  I am petrified that Vic’s pain and suffering will continue for many more years.  It is strange that Vic is having a better week than she has had in three months.  As Esther said, her eyes are bright and she has mobilised pretty well.  She is less tired… What if this vicious cycle of pain and suffering continues?

Don’t lose hope.
Carol Blackwell wrote:  “There IS a cure for this awful disease. Out there—somewhere, someone is working on it. We just don’t know it yet. It will come. Keep the faith, baby!”

Just as there is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this stage there is no cure for Osteogenesis Imperfecta.  But there may just be a cure for the adhesions that I believe will ultimately cause a fatal obstruction.  Today I found a website where a doctor who claims great success with the treatment of frozen abdomens.  On the surface it seems very positive.  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/5/prweb9432209.htm

Anyone who has ever wrestled with God can understand the bargaining prayer. I have bargained with God all of Vic’s life.  If there is a cure I will do this or that…. For MANY years I have put the Church and God ahead of Vic and my family and yet all my love and commitment has resulted in further pain and suffering.  I know this paragraph will result in many emails or comments but I ask of you “Do not judge me if you have not walked ten miles in my moccasins!”

So for today and maybe the rest of the week I will hold onto my new hope.  “Hope removes the blinders of fear and despair. Hope opens up our minds and allows us to think positive under dire circumstances.”  Until I receive a reply to my enquiries…

To all my friends, cyber friends and family thank you for your support and love!  Yesterday I considered stopping the blog as it has opened up fears that I have suppressed for so many years. I however think it is something I must do – for myself.