Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pain; Title Page

Does this sound familiar?

  • You have pain.  Maybe in your hip, or knee, or back.  Maybe in your shoulder or your neck.
  • You get leg or foot cramps, especially in bed.
  • You get tired easily.  An 8-hour workday is becoming impossible.  You can't concentrate that long.  You can't keep going that long without rest.
  • You can't walk very far anymore.  A half hour, or even 20 minutes, has you exhausted.  Perhaps it causes a pain in your back, or maybe you run out of breath, or your muscles hurt.  Or you just experience a feeling of desperation - you must rest!
  • You get strange 'colds' that go on and on, with a smelly, disgusting discharge.
  • You get depressed.  The rat race isn't worth it.  Or life isn't worth it.  Or it just isn't worth getting out of bed.
  • You know you ought to eat better, but all you really want is coffee.  Or soda pop.  Or chocolate.
  • You have a kind of tickle in your throat that makes you cough and cough, but it's really hard to get it up.
  • Once in a while you get kind of a twinge in the center of your chest.  Or in your jaw.  Or down your left arm.  And you're wondering whether maybe it's angina.
  • You've had a couple of tooth abscesses. 
  • Oh, yes, and you're constipated.

I've been fighting for a pain-free life for a lot of years now.

It started when I was 48.  I remember it explicitly  Oh, I had experienced an occasional twinge in my hip for years when I stepped or twisted wrong, but it wasn't a big deal.  I did not imagine that it was the start of arthritis.

But the major, debilitating pain started in 1995, when I was 48.  I don't know still exactly what happened, though I am pretty certain of the general possibilities.

The primary symptom was pain in the long muscles of my thighs, in the front.  I had great difficulty lifting my legs to climb stairs.  I consulted a doctor who, after x-rays, declared that it was arthritis.  I said, "But it's the *muscle* that hurts!"  He said that was an illusion.  The pain was radiating.  Or it was because I was walking wrong, putting strain on unaccustomed muscles.

My first bit of advice to every other Elder:
Listen to your body.  Trust your own feeling.  It's your body.  No one else knows how it feels.

The doctor was sympathetic but firm.  He also said that I was too young for a hip replacement.  He said, "Give it another five years."

Coincidentally or otherwise, my periods stopped at that time also.  I was only 48 and actively trying to get pregnant, so I was very aware of this timing.  February 1995 was my last period.  Boom!  In a matter of days, I was into menopause.

Within a couple weeks of the onset of the pain, my hair started falling out.  I didn't realize it at first, but after a month or so I noticed how thin my normally very thick hair felt when I ran my fingers through it.  By that time, I started having trouble with my fingernails also.  Normally, they grow long and tough, but they all broke off to the quick, and wouldn't gain any length again.

On the advice of a friend, I tried Super Bluegreen Algae.  I bought the starter system and followed the directions carefully.  After about two months, I had a period again.  My hair started coming back in - if felt like thinned hair growing in - little stubble all over my head within the long hairs.  And my fingernails recovered and grew normally.  Unfortunately, I will never know whether I could have completely recovered because I could not continue the rather expensive program.  I never had another period.  Or child.

No doctor took any interest in any of these symptoms, other than to dismiss it as 'arthritis'.

And I have been fighting for health ever since.

I've learned a lot along the way.  If you want to follow, I'll tell you the things I have learned.