Friday, 15 May 2015

A Review of the Week

Although my posting frequency has been rubbish this week, pain-wise progress is being made I am pleased to say.

Every day still includes a fair amount of pain, but it is pretty regular now in that is starts between 7 and 8am and with the help of some painkillers (which have never worked before!) it is usually gone by about 11am.

The sleepiness is getting worse but that may be the pain killers combined with the amitriptyline.  I did try to not take any pain relief this morning and that backfired massively, leaving me in agony for far longer than I was happy about.

Earlier this week I stumbled across the concept of Mindfulness and how it can be helpful for pain that is psychological rather than due to a definite medical condition (and I strongly suspect that my pain is psychological).  A bit of googling and a quick visit to Amazon later and I find myself in possession of a brilliant book about how mindfulness can help you get on top of your pain.  I am literally only two chapters in and already the pain is starting to make more sense.

The concept (clumsy explanation alert!) is that pain divides into two separate bits - the actual pain and the emotions that the pain generates.  The brain learns the emotions attached to the pain and increases the strength of pain you feel in line with the strength of the emotion.

I had a bit of a test with this this morning and found that if I stopped emotionally feeling the pain and just simply felt it - so no thoughts about how awful it is or how my life is dominated by it - just a cool, calm assessment of the how the pain feels physically.  In doing this, I actually experienced a different pain sensation - albeit briefly - but in that moment it felt more manageable somehow.  

The book leads you through an 8 week meditation course and I will be getting started on it as soon as I have read the book cover to cover (which it recommends).  This feels like it really could be something worth trying, and the benefits seem to extend beyond pain in that it seems that by embracing mindfulness, I could potentially develop the ability to handle stress and anxiety better too.

The likelihood of stress and anxiety being key factors in my pain experience makes this experiment something I would be mad not to try!

If you are interested,  the book is "Mindfulness for Health: A practical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing" by Vidyamala Burch and Dr Danny Penman.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


So.....higher dose of amitriptyline seems to be making a small dent in the pain and a huge dent in my ability to stay awake!

Add to that the co-codamol that I am taking to try and tackle the large chunk of pain that the amitriptyline isn't dealing with and you have one very sleepy me.

Yesterday I got up at 10am having slept through since 11pm the night before.  I was asleep again in the afternoon - I think I managed to be awake for about 4 hours before I needed to hit the hay again!  

Today has been a little better.  I was up at 8.30 through necessity rather than choice and have managed to stay awake all day but I must admit its now almost 6pm and my eyes are fighting a losing battle to stay open!

The pain is more bearable with the combination of meds but still not at a level that means I can function properly.  Also, I have zero energy or enthusiasm for anything (even my crochet and knitting thing has fizzled out) and I am going stir crazy stuck in the house.

All good advice says that to deal with the depression and start getting my life back on track, I should be going out and trying to do some "normal" stuff like grocery shopping.  But I don't like going out because apart from looking like a zombie through exhaustion, I don't really look ill.

This is one of my biggest issues with this situation.  Pain is silent, invisible.  You can't see pain unless the person experiencing it doubles over or screws up their face.  My pain is so frequent that it takes a full on 9/10 for me to double over and I wouldn't screw my face up for anything less that a 6/10 but that doesn't mean that the pain I feel below a 6/10 isn't bad.  It is pain.  Strong pain.

Every day is a chance for the pain to lessen or stop.  I am holding on to that at the moment.  The meds can take weeks to have an effect so I am holding on to the possibility that tomorrow might be the day they finally work. 

One day I have to be right.  Please.

Sunday, 3 May 2015


So after a reasonably good day yesterday - which I naturally attributed to the increase in my meds and considered to be positive - today has been awful.

I woke at 7am in pain and drifted in and out of sleep for another three hours whilst the pain came in waves.  It wasn't excruciating but it was more than just uncomfortable.  Again, I thought perhaps the meds are taking away some of the strength of the pain.

I got up just after 10am and made it downstairs for some breakfast but by 11am I was in agony and back in bed, staying there until 2pm when the pain subsided.

The meds are almost certainly making me sleepy - it is a known side effect - and I am steadily increasing in weight - another known side effect.  I think it is fair to say that today I feel extremely low.

My husband made me some lunch and then persuaded me to take our dog for a walk, which I grudgingly agreed to do.  Now I am back and feel exhausted.  No pain but very fed up and sleepy.

I seem to live in comfy, baggy clothes and my face hasn't seen anymore than a lick of eyeliner in almost 8 weeks now.  I can't go anywhere because I am off sick and I feel like I am going stir-crazy stuck at home every day.  I have had enough.

I just want my life back.   

Friday, 1 May 2015

Crocheting My Way Through

My posting frequency has been poor this week and there are two good reasons for that, and they are linked.

Depression and Crochet.

I realise that these are not two subjects that are commonly placed together but in my case, one is very much containing the other.

My depression is very firmly tied to my pain issues.  I am finding it increasingly hard to envisage what my future can possibly be with a pain disorder that cannot be controlled or cured.  This is exacerbated by the lack of any real interest or sense of urgency in the medical profession and a wealth of conflicting advice on the internet.

Online, I can find only the questions and concerns of thousands of other pain sufferers, all desperate for the same answers that I am looking for.  Any search about abdominal pain brings up a load of pages about IBS - which I am still certain I do not have - and the often conflicting suggestions of exclusion diets, anti-spasmodic medication etc.

Any ripple in the steady grey that is my life sends me spiralling into very black thoughts.  

So I needed a plan - something to focus my mind on when the pain is bad and/or the depression is swooping in - and the plan I settled on was crochet and knitting hats.  

I know its a bit bizarre but stay with me while I explain......I have limited ability at both knitting and crochet and with the assistance of Youtube tutorials, I am slowly increasing my skill levels and so far I have made eight hats.  All pretty good looking hats actually.

My plan is to create a shop on Etsy and sell them.....or at least attempt to! 

Here are seven of the eight but please excuse the mess around them.

As for the pain, no real change.  I am three days into my increased prescription and am ever watchful for any kind of improvement.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Update Post Doctors

Its been a quiet few days - the pain has been much less although I don't count that as progress as there seems to be a cycle of pain with a few days respite every always comes back though and even as I type, I can feel the familiar twinge in my left hip :-(

Doctors this morning and a prescription increase to 25mg of Amitriptyline each night.  10mg has been knocking me out so not sure how many hours I'll be awake on 25mg but if it kills the pain, it will be worth it.  I can go up to 75mg apparently.....not sure I'd manage any awake time at that level!!!

The doctor was nice and supportive, and asked to see me again in 2 weeks if the pain was easing to cancel my sick note or 4 weeks if there was no change to increase the dose again.

I will write again tomorrow when I wake up!!!!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Another Week Bites the Dust

I've been a bit rubbish at posting this week - I think I've skipped two days!  Mind you, my excuse is pretty solid.  Pain.

After having built up my hopes that the medication was working, I have had a really bad week of pain.  Tuesday and Wednesday were the worst days, with the pain running into the evening which is unheard of normally.

Things were a little easier yesterday - the highest the pain reached was about 5/10 which is pretty hard to ignore but definitely an improvement on the day before.  

Last night was my 12 year old son's first parents evening at secondary/high school and despite being terrified to be amongst so many people (social confidence at an all time low now too), I dragged myself along, drove for the first time in over a month, got there late, avoided speaking to too many people, and made it home two hours later.

My son knew it was a big deal for me and thanked me when we got home, which broke my heart.  I mean.....why should a child have to thank his parent for doing something as routine as going to a parents evening?  Except for me it wasn't routine, and my gorgeous boy was wise enough to know that.

The pain today has topped at 4/10 which is great.  It started early though and lasted until 1pm.  I am also exhausted today after going out last night (albeit not exactly a wild night out and I was home by 8pm!) and the joys of my son having a nosebleed around 1am.

Exhaustion makes me snappish and difficult so this morning was pretty tense and argumentative between husband and I but we seem to have worn that out and harmony is now restored again.

The biggest issue I have at the moment (and I believe this is common for sufferers of chronic pain) is that I am struggling to understand what my purpose is in life.  I can't work, I can barely think straight, I am exhausted, I am not engaging with my son enough, my marriage is kind of on hold until I get myself sorted out.  

I am existing rather than living.  

And that just isn't enough.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

At Least the Sun is Shining.....

I always find it easier to be positive when the sun is out in the morning.  Trying to get out of bed and face the pain seems harder when the skies are grey and its looks cold and damp.  

Sunshine on the other hand makes me want to grab the day.  So I find that on sunny mornings like today, I get out of bed and get myself ready with a smile which lasts at least until the pain starts (and sometimes beyond).

Today, I skipped breakfast.  The thinking behind this was that as my pain normally gets into gear around 10am, and I usually (whilst at home and not working anyway) breakfast at about 9.30.....ergo maybe food is what is causing the pain.

All that this experiment got me was the usual pain and hunger to boot!  Epic fail.  The pain is not related to my breakfast.

Yesterday I was firmly of the view that I have IBS (I swing backwards and forwards on this in the absence of any firm diagnosis) but today, I am more minded to think that the pain is psychological.  I suspect that my brain is so used to feeling pain in the mornings, that it kind of tells my body to do it.  And I must admit, I do almost wait for it to start - so maybe I am thinking the pain into existence?

There's a whole load of research on this that supports my theory - what I am less clear on is how to re-train my brain to concentrate on something a bit less painful.

So - pain levels today topped at about 7/10 - pretty bad by recent standards although a huge improvement on yesterday which was off the scale awful.  

Oh.....and lunch never tasted so good!