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Sometimes it's not just the physical pain

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Chronic Pain
Sometimes I feel like it's not just the physical pain that's breaking me down but the emotional pain. I don't mean the emotional pain caused by chronic pain, I mean things outside of our physical pain that makes our CP worse.

I hope I'm making sense, but those of you who know me, know that I recently lost my little doggie sole mate. I have a new puppy, but xome days the loss of my little buddy still hits me like a ton of bricks. It physically makes me hurt more when I think how he's not here anymore. I love our new little guy, but nothing will take the place of my buddy.

I'm not saying this to bring it to anyone's attention, I only want to say that sometimes we have pain in other parts of our lives that exacerbate the physical pain we have.

There are so many things that it can be: missing our child's rehearsal, not being able to travel with our loved ones or if we do, not being able to participate like we'd like. Or not having loved ones that support us or hiding our pain from our loved ones that think we should be ok by now. Maybe that we tried to make a nice dinner and couldn't quite make it because we couldn't stand long enough. The list is endless.

There are so many different scenarios that could play out that can make us feel bad beyond our physical pain. I'm not sure why I even posted this except that maybe I'm feeling this way tonight. Would you like to share your experiences? Venting is free.



  • I completely agree. The physical pain is almost more than one can bear at times, but then the mix of emotional stuff can put me over the edge.

    Today at church there was quite a lot of focus placed on mother's day. One speaker talked about how mothers are superhuman and can clean the house, pay the bills, bathe and dress the children, do the carpool, and do 3 loads of laundry, all this before noon. And then the afternoon chores are every bit as impressive. I sat there thinking, okay... once upon a time I cleaned the house, bathed and dressed the kids, got them off to school, did the laundry, then left for my day job only to come home just in time to prepare supper, help children with homework, run them around to all their activities, and still have energy to put a smile on my face when my husband eventually walked through the door that night. Geesh, makes me tired just thinking about it. Now my routine is more like remind the kids to brush their teeth after they finish eating cold ceareal in the morning, go back to bed when they leave for school, maybe if we're lucky I'll get a load of laundry washed but certainly not folded, go back to bed again, load dishwasher, go back to bed, sit on the computer (which is like going back to bed), figure out what is for supper that comes in a box, and did I mention go back to bed? I just don't get anything done, and hearing how wonderful mothers are, how you can always count on a mother to cook your meals, make your bed, clean your clothes, solve your problems, etc. was just a bit more than my depressed state of mind could take today.

    My daughter had a questionnaire she had to fill out about how well she knows her mother. She struggled with answering the questions, and so she gave it to me to figure out some of the things. Sad part is I don't even know the answers anymore. i am still in the stage of trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up... um now that what I used to be doesn't work anymore. But there were two questions on there that I knew the answers to:
    1) What makes you the happiest? My answer, watching my children all lounging around talking and laughing together, enjoying one another, and being a part of a family.
    2) What makes you the saddest? That I fall short in the mother of the year category now.

    Okay, enough feeling sorry for myself. It's just been a hard reality day. i've always loved mother's day... until this year. And I think this is exactly the kind of mental pain Cath111 is referring to.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I am so sorry you lost your best friend. I lost mine about 3 years ago. I cried for a year! I finally got a new baby but when I was ready and my greaving had eased. She is a little rescue dog and my baby. Yes all these things add to our pain. You are still greaving dear and that pain is as hard to bear as our other pain.
    Patsy W
  • My wonderful doctor boss always says, "It's not just the pain, it's the psychology of the pain."

    Things like not being able to participate, having to stay in bed due to pain while loved ones go have a good time, and not being able to do the things you once did, and so much more are all a direct result of our pain situations and can wreak havoc on our emotions and self-esteem. Sometimes, I wonder if this is the hardest part of having daily pain. Feeling inadequate, sometimes feeling helpless to control pain and get things done, and missing out on parts of life are all things that contribute to the strong emotions we deal with. It's great to acknowledge these things and make a plan of action to mitigate the damages to our emotions. I had to work with a counselor for nearly a year because I was becoming bitter, super-frustrated, angry, and didn't feel too good about myself. I'm grateful that I'm coping better now, but some days are still quite hard.

    I can completely relate! I was at a friend's surprise party and all the girls were standing in a circle talking while my friend cooked on the grill. Me, yeah, I was sitting on the only thing outside to sit on, completely excluded from the circle of girls because I had already reached my 10 minute maximum for standing. Occasionally, someone would ask why I was sitting or tell me to come join them, but I had to explain, AGAIN, that I have a bad back problem and can't stand. I felt so sad and alone in my pain. I felt left out, jealous of the people without back problems, and angry at my pain and at my body for failing me.

    This is the point where everyone has a decision to make. Do we adapt or just stay stuck in misery? Granted, not every situation completely leaves room for adapting, people around us might not want to adapt, and our pain might leave us anti-social or just plain stuck in bed, but luckily, this one did. I came up with the great idea of spreading a blanket on the lawn. This way, I was included AND I could lie down. If we get creative, there are often things we can do to feel included.

    I've found that, although I can't be even close to as physically active and able as I once was, there are ways of still being part of what's going on. I've accepted (on most days) my situation and have begun to figure out how NOT to let life pass me by. School has changed a lot for me since my back got bad. I'm one of those lucky people that others hate because school has always been a breeze for me. BUT, when my pain got super-severe 3 years ago (I've dealt with it for 7 years total), I found that my brain was less able to concentrate because it was screaming PAIN, PAIN, PAIN!!! But again, I'm determined to NOT let life pass me by. I started bringing a fancy-shmancy green pillow to sit on! I think people might be jealous of how beautiful my butt-pillow is, hahahaha!!! =)) I spoke to my counselor about the problems I've been having and we came up with a plan. I'm now allowed to miss 3 or more classes without penalty for "medical reasons." When I miss class, the teacher must tape-record it for me and put it on our school website so I don't fall behind. If my brain is screaming about pain, I'm allowed extensions on assignments. All of my teachers have a copy of this letter signed by my counselor and me. All schools, by law in the United States, have to have an office to help people with physical and emotional problems. Getting through school isn't easy, but I'm doing it on my own terms. I had a hard time dealing with the fact that it is taking me a bit longer than it would if I didn't have pain- I've had to drop a few classes throughout the years because there was just too much on my plate. I have a huge goal in mind; I will ultimately get my PhD in Psychology, specializing in supporting Chronic Pain Patients and Sexual Abuse Survivors. I'm giving meaning to my difficult experiences. It is definitely not as easy as it would be if I was physically-able, especially because I'm paying for it and can't work full-time due to my back, but I've found that I can do amazing things when I put my mind to it.

    I had a great teacher in a positive psychology class. He said something that really stuck with me that has made my emotional life much easier since I've always been pretty hard on myself. He said, "Just give yourself permission to be human." I would often stay after class and talk to him. Since he is also a therapist, I considered it like free therapy! :D He told me that my pain is not an excuse, but that it's a reason. If I don't accomplish everything I want to in a day, if I have to miss/drop classes, or I miss work, I have a reason and I'm not making excuses. I know the difference now between when I'm just being lazy and when pain is limiting me. This has helped me so much emotionally. I used to beat myself up for every little (or big!) thing I didn't accomplish when I wanted to or everything I used to be able to do but can't now. My teacher helped me to realize that I'm just working within my situation and limitations and that I'm allowed to have a little self-pity party sometimes. If we all put things into perspective, we really do a lot given our limitations. We should be proud if we take an entire shower while standing. We should be proud if we throw that "box-o-food" into the oven. We should be proud of basically anything we do because of how hard it is to do it. I actually get really excited if I'm able to make it to 3 out of 4 of my classes. I used to beat myself up for missing the 4th, but now I focus on what I did do rather than what I was unable to.

    This is not always easy. I've had to consciously change the way I look at things with the help of a counselor that I saw for about a year. My teacher also said, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." I missed this whole past week of work and I'm here today, again, in bed with worse-than-normal pain. I could get down about this, and have had moments that I have, but for the most part, I give myself credit for surviving in this plagued body. I try to do things like listen to and read jokes or funny things online, sing at the top of my lungs, write, and talk to people, even if it's just talking about nothing. Even though I've been stuck on my back for more than a week, I'm actively working on not getting down on myself for not being physically-able, another thing to be very proud of!

    I'm sorry to get a bit off track here! I have to admit; I re-read this and realized that I mainly wrote this for myself to re-affirm that I'm not defective. If any of this helps anyone, that makes me very happy. I can say that it really helped me to remind myself of these things. Thank you Cath for prompting me with your post and I'm sorry I kind of went off on a self-serving tangent! I started out wanting to say that I completely understand and I'm so, so, so sorry that others have to feel this way!!! I hope you are able to find the little things to be proud of and to remember that you are doing great within your unfortunate, sucky limitations. We may not be as physically-able as we once were, but we are still great people and this is something to be VERY proud of!!! If you ever need to talk, vent, or just need someone to listen, I'm always here, and if you can't tell from the novel above, I do understand...

    Much love and understanding,
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,836
    but the emotional and other non-physical pains are so much more difficult to handle. With physical pain, there are hundreds of different medications, different dosages, different colors, flavours, you name it to help with this type of pain.

    But now, look at the emotional pain. Are there as many medications available??? And if they are, sshhh, its sometimes kept quiet, because its acceptable to have physical pain, but having emotional pain, many people turn their heads or worse look at you as if you came from a different planet.

    I think to an extent we all have some pent up emotional pain. Its hard not to when dealing with the type of lives we have to go through with chronic pain. But many times, we never know what is going to be that trigger, what will be the catalyst that sends us over the edge.
    I know many times, it is silly things, a TV commercial, a newspaper ad, etc, seems innocent enough, but for some reason it strikes a chord with you and it hits so hard.

    Cathie, I know you will totally relate to this and I am sorry to bring up some pain, but with that pain is also good memories. My wife and I watched Marley and Me the other night..... Good movie, very funny, until the end, I was bawling my eyes out, I couldnt even see the TV anymore.
    I realized just how much stored up sorrow and pain I had and never released when our four legged Lollie was put down.

    We are all here to help each other and give each other strength when it is needed. And there are so many of ous, that dont even need a cue, we know when to be there!
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    We have a toy Manchester Terrier that is 9 years old. 19 days ago she accidently ate some rat poison at a neighbors house. We raced her to the vet and spent several hours there that night. He was great to meet us at his office after hours. 2 days later she was so bad we thought we'd have to have her put to sleep. We all cried...mostly me, well my 18 year old son too. Our hearts were breaking but we decided we wouldn't let her suffer. We stayed up with her every night and watched her constantly. We took her back to the vet and had her on IV for two days. Then after we brought her home I had to call back because she wouldn't eat anything (I even tried baby food in a syringe and everything else) and he thought she was shutting down. The next day, I finally got her started eating and so far she is so much better. She's running and playing just like before. She's even gained a lot of weight and has been eating more than before. I hope and pray that nothing will happen to her now. I will worry for a long time still. I thank God that she's still with us. I didn't realize how much she meant to all of us until now. Now I spoil her rotten and I will continue to do so as long as I can. She's so precious. All pets are, they're family. I just wanted to share what has so far been a happy ending.
  • I just wanted to say I hope your day is better today.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I thought of one more thing to add to my novel above as I lie here, past 2am, in pain, nauseous from pain, and unable to sleep. You know when you're a little kid, and your mom is walking too fast, and you get that frantic, dejected "wait for me Mommy" feeling? Yeah, that's often what I feel like within my situation. Only I'm not just dealing with my mom, I'm dealing with the whole world! Most often, once a mother hears that, she will slow down, take her child's hand, and then move forward. Most of the world is not that accommodating. Most people don't slow down, even for a second, to make sure we're ok. They don't want to be bothered with our well-being. It's sad but it's true.

    I hope you are faring a bit better Cath! And I hope all the rest of my spiney family are hanging in there too!

    Much love,
  • I am thinking of you today.
    Patsy W
  • A big thank you for the kind words and your stories.

    Cindy, you were right - your story about Mother's Day was exactly what I meant. Thanks you for sharing it with us - I hope it helped to get it "out there." Being a wonderful mother is much more than cooking, cleaning, etc. Being a wonderful mother is someone who loves their children more than anything in this world, being their friend, and being there when they need you. You are all of those things. You're a wonderful mother and I know your children agree. They love you and know they're safe with you.

    Pat, you're so sweet and I thank you for the hugs. I've been thinking about you too and the problems you're having waiting for your SCS implant. Hugs back atcha and I hope you had a great dinner last night! :-)

    Lisa, I read your entire novel (lol) and I'm glad you too shared with us. You've been through a lot but I'm proud of the way you've made a plan to get through it all. Congratulations.

    Sunny, that's a fantastic story and I'm so happy that you have a happy ending. About three years ago, my little Merc collapsed outside in the snow and we rushed him to the hospital. Long story short, he had a tumor that had ruptured in his spleen and had to have an emergency spleenectomy. We found out a harrowing week later that it was not cancerous. When he came home to recover, we bought him a new bed to put on the floor in front of the couch, I slept on an air mattress next to him, my hubby slept above us on the couch, and our other dog, Maggie, slept on a chair nearby. We did this for a week until he could make it upstairs to sleep with us. After that, we decided we'd spoil him rotten for the rest of his days and we did (yeah, right, like he wasn't spoiled already). I take comfort in the fact that he had the best life of any dog I know.

    PapaRon, did you know what the ending was going to be in Marley and Me before you saw it? I did, so I haven't seen it. I'm sure you had a lot of pent up grief over Lollie that had to come out sometime. My theory is that when you start to cry at slightly-touching commercials, it's time to go upstairs along, get in the shower and bawl your brains out. It feels so much better the next day. As always, I treasure your friendship, PapaRon. You're the best!

    I'm feeling better and have been since yesterday. Wally helps to keep my mind off things because he's a barrel of laughs and so cute. He'll be 12 weeks old on Thursday and it's time to start training. He's already learning not to nip at our ankles, but still tries to get a few in when he can.

    Thank you so much, my fellow spineys. I'm having a little extra physcial pain today, but I'd rather have that than having to carry around a box of kleenex all day. I truly appreciate you guys - my friends here on SH.

    Hugs to each of you.

  • You always know what to say and word it so well! You started the thread I wanted to but couldn't find the words to begin. You know how to write what you feel and think very well. And then all of our friends related and I felt better ...boy, you guys are good! I can relate and feel evrything written above.

    Here is part of what I have been trying to deal with and explain to myself and others. I never thought twice about empty nest syndrome because our kids are spaced so far apart my youngest is still home and we don't know if we'll ever have an empty nest...LOL! We figure by the time the youngest leaves another will return! LOL! So I had (had is the key word because now I'm not sure if some or any will transpire) plans for our life after kids at home or at least now that they are grown! In fact, my plans were suppose to start last fall! Although our youngest lives at home while going to community college and working he is a very self-sufficient, independent, happy kid. So I was looking forward to taking an extended vacation to visit family and friends! Even then, I knew it would be a challenge for me but then my life changed again last October and here I am today.

    Right now this is how I describe my life, how I feel as I am still trying to improve daily yet come to terms with life as it is and will be. I have "Empty life syndrome".It's true! LOL! It's hard to deal with. I try to laugh about it some days because you have to laugh at your situation or you might cry more and forget to enjoy the little things you still can do. But I have been trying to figure out my purpose now....

    I have been a good wife and mom and I loved every minute of it, it was what I was born to do! My first passion in life.I was the mom that loved summer, days off, time with my kids and all their friends, cooking, baking, cleaning, ironing, crazy but true, all of it even when I worked full time. I always enjoy time with my husband and kids. I'm proud of my family. Now I know they can do anything with or without me now and it makes me happy and proud. Also, I had a great job and loved my little ones at the elementary school I worked at and I miss my job, especially the kids! I loved being a band mom, volunteering to help others, field trips, going out with family and friends, traveling, the beach, the mountains, my hobbies, etc.

    Now I am trying so hard to find my purpose in life. I know I'm here for a reason but I can't figure it out yet. I'm trying to find myself right now. I'm lost and working hard at finding something I can do with a purpose as I enter this chapter of life with the "old me" lurking but the "new me" evolving.

    I have family and friends that are supportive. Regardless how much they care and love us life goes on in the fast lane. You all know they are all busy, we can't do what we did before so we do feel sad and left out.Sometimes we smile and let them go enjoy themselves without us beside them to hold them down, sometimes we know we are not capable of going, and sometimes we go and suffer by feeling we are slowing them down plus we pay the price of pain for participating. However, we don't want to complain or expain how we feel often because they do suffer enough with us and for us already. We don't really want them to feel bad for us, we don't want sympathy per say, we really just want to feel useful,understood and included.

    So my job now is to find something to give me purpose. Courage and strengh to accept the challenges ahead, whatever they are, to keep the emotional and physical aspects of life with chronic pain and symptoms of life as a spiney in check, take each day in stride. Take time to smell the roses, enjoy the little things, so the bigger things will follow!

    I'm thankful I have this place here with you all to share these feelings with. You know and understand. It takes away the burden on my family and friends when I turn here for support.

    Thanks! Sorry it's so long!
  • it is not the pain that gets me down, it is like an old friend to me. it is constant and there all of the time. it is with me at bed, work, travel, resting, movies, etc. i am used to it. i don't even think about the pain at all. what bothers me is the people i work with that don't want to deal with it. at work my principal does not care, or want to hear about pain. she just wants job done correctly even though my emotional state makes it hard. a little comfort or support would help. if i kick a kid out of class on occasion, it would b enice of her to know i might be a bit edgy due to pain. or if i goof up it might be due to pain. all i know she expects me to be perfect. she didn't even read my dr's note about accomodations that i have to have. she cared when i reported it to h.r. though
    oh well
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I', glad you are feeling a little better. I haven't seen Marley & Me either. I am like all of the rest of you, I don't know what a day of no pain would be like. After my first husband of 28years left me after I nursed him thru triple by-pass surgery, because he wanted to "enjoy what was left of his life", taking our 5 year old son with him, I felt like my life was over. I was a total mess for the first 2 years after that, a little better the next 2, then finally met the most wonderful man. We married after a year. We bought a small 60 acre ranch, had cattle, horses, mules, and remodeled an old farm house. It was just where we wanted to retire, and spend our "golden" years together. He was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, and died in 12 weeks. My world ended. I had to sell everything, and move to town. During the move, I herniated my cervical, lumbar, and thoracic discs. After my cervical fusion, I have become almost a total hermit. Only working, then coming home and taking the meds that help me cope. TV commercials, reading a sad book, sometimes even seeing someone who at first looks like my husband can set me on a crying jag. It's been 2 1/2 years, and I find myself crying more now than I did after about 6 mos. Most nights when I go to bed, alone, just the thought that this is all there is is so overwhelming, the tears flow. That starts the pain up worse, then interrupted sleep makes it worse. When they start signing up pts. for a brain transplant into a new healthy body, I'm signing up :))( I look forward to the day when I join my husband . I just so tired of being in pain and tired. Thank God for the wonderful spineys here, that understand.

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