Long overdue update

I retired at 44.  I was able to quit working a few months ago. I tried working full time again after unmanageable chronic pain, prescription drug addiction, and rehab.  I pushed myself way beyond what I thought I was capable of and then came to the point where I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I gave notice in January that I was going to resign.  B and I decided that my health was only getting worse and I felt the right thing to do was just quit.  We were going to lose the family health and dental benefits, but B was offered them with his job, although at three times the cost and 10 times the deductible!  I took the plunge and gave notice anyway.  Things were that bad.  Then the rep in HR asked me, “Why aren’t you applying for retirement disability?”  HUH?  I didn’t know there was anything like that!  She actually said I couldn’t quit and had to keep working until it got approved.

So I worked on the paperwork for a while and when submitted it mid-March and it was approved within 10 days, instead of the 4-6 weeks I was told.  Hallelujia!!  Things went even faster after that and HR told me the next day was my last day at work!  Yikes!  I delegated really fast.  It was hard to leave so quickly from a job I had for over 9 years.  I was at the hospital for almost 17 years.  Usually 30 years is necessary for retirement, but disability retirement lets me draw on it now and although it’s not enough to live on, it pays for the continuation of our previous health and dental benefits and a few hundred a month coming in.  So far we are doing ok on the reduced family income.

I spent the first month as a retiree laying around and in bed and going to extra AA meetings.  After about 5 weeks I finally felt myself coming out of the fog.  Good thing, because that’s about when school got out!  My first summer as a stay at home mom! No expensive Y camp anymore, the kids are hanging with mom! They weren’t too keen on that idea at first, but we’ve enjoyed time together. Once school got out, we got really busy and I’m having a hard time remembering to rest.  But it’s going well and being able to retire early was a real blessing.

We went to my dad’s near Myrtle Beach last week for three days and it was great to have the freedom to do that!

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It’s been awhile

Dangit. Wrote a post and lost it.

Time for a Change

I have been waiting to post, thinking things would get better, but returning to work full time has been challenging. I really don’t know what to do about it. It will really affect my family if i am not able to work – but I don’t feel I am able to work. There. I said it.

But I still need to go to work, bring home a paycheck and maintain medical and dental benefits for the family. It would be much more expensive with my husband’s employer and they have a huge deductible. Oh, there are so many excuses and things that circle around in my head! Make them stop!!!

The fibro fog has been horrible this week! I side-swiped a trash can on the way to work and it took a chunk of my side mirror.

I have been crying most of the afternoon. I am really having trouble functioning in this life that I am supposed to be living. I will cling to the hope and knowledge that this, too, shall pass. I certainly hope so.

Next day:
I feel better today physically. I will survive.
I met with my counselor today and she suggested looking for an easier job, one that won’t be as stressful and hard on me. I need a job for which I’m overqualified. Hopefully one that pays more than it should as well.

It will get better…

I’ve been having a hard time the past couple of weeks.  Feeling down because my back isn’t getting any better and it’s difficult to do my job, even half time.  I vacillate between self-pity, depression, and angry defiance that I will not lie down, I will not give up!  I know some of my mental state is just being new in recovery.  These are the wacky, crazy times as the brain is trying to live without drugs and repair itself.  My body needs to repair itself, too.  Not sure if that can happen.  Is it possible?  I honestly don’t know if I will get better physically.

Rough evening tonight but I managed to fold some clothes and do the dishes in the sink.  As I was laying on the couch tonight, telling the kids goodnight and sending them to their beds,  in too much pain to walk them to their bedrooms, I saw a photo on the wall.  It’s everyone’s favorite.  It used to be mine, too.  Now it symbolizes a time when things were different – when the smile on my face wasn’t fake.  Things weren’t blissful 3 or 4 years ago, but they were pretty good.  The picture is of my daughter and I, taken on the beach during our annual family vacation.  We are both freckle-faced and hair summer sun streaked.  Our hair is blowing all over the place and we’re grinning big, relaxed and happy.  And I don’t have a large scar on my neck yet.  No pain.  No cervical fusion.  No fibromyalgia.  No prescription bottles.  Well, a couple back then.  Looking at that framed photo on the wall got me thinking about how much I’ve been through and how chronic pain, fibromyalgia and drugs have made me feel like it’s unlikely that I’ll smile like that again.

I know I am battling all these feelings because I’ve been doing too much.  I’m run down and feeling overwhelmed at work, trying to do a full time job in half the time.  Next week starts a super busy time that will last three months.  I feel I don’t have other options.  I’m doing what I can – attending daily meetings, trying not to do too much.  “Regular” life seems to be too much, though.

A friend told me something a few days ago that I’ve been trying to cling to tightly.  If things didn’t get a whole lot better being clean and sober, there wouldn’t be so many people in the program with long term sobriety.  It will get better.

I WILL GET BETTER.

Pain and its evil sister, Self-Pity

“Pain is God’s megaphone.” -C.S. Lewis.

Rick Warren says that pain is God’s way of rousing us from spiritual lethargy. Pain isn’t just physical, but also emotional in nature. Your problems are not punishments; they are wake up calls from a loving God.

Well I hear ya, God!

I’m still dealing with back pain, neck pain and fibromyalgia.  And I’m dealing with them raw, real and full strength like I’ve never felt before – ever.  It’s not pleasant, but it’s ok.  The more difficult part of this new life of mine is dealing with emotions, including the lack of them.  Those synapses have to rebuild in my brain because they were dulled for so long.  Relationships are hard because I either don’t know what I feel or I don’t feel what the other person thinks I should feel.  Expectations.  We all have them.  But you can’t feel what you don’t feel – until you feel it.  I’m starting from scratch now.

How I spent my summer vacation

It wasn’t really a vacation, more like leave without pay.  But I went to rehab for six weeks.  I wasn’t living on the street smoking crack, but it was just as dangerous.  I was on so many presciptions that I could hardly function.  I had/have major physical issues and every time I’d go to the doctor (surgeon, family doc, psych, then pain mgmt clinic) they’d give me a new prescription or switch one out for another.  And every time you switch one of those major meds, there are big side effects.  Many of those were of the class that affects your brain chemistry, like SSRI’s and SNRI’s.  When you’re switching off and on those types of meds, it MESSES WITH YOUR BRAIN!!  So yeah, I got kinda wacky there.  Luckily, my family stepped in and suggested I go to a hospital and get help in getting off all of them.

Interestingly (now), I saw my surgeon back in the Spring and when I asked him about what my future was going to look like, he said when he has patients that are on tons of medications and not getting any better – sometimes it’s best to get off all of those meds.  I said WHAT???  I couldn’t possibly do that – I had real pain!  Little did I know that I’d soon be doing just that.

I feel like I got my life back at Willingway.  I met wonderful people.  I did hard stuff.  I got through it and learned I was strong.  Much stronger than I thought.  I learned I wasn’t in control.  I wasn’t able to do a very good job of that and I didn’t have to! 

I’ve been home about 3 weeks.  Returning to the real world has been an adjustment but it’s been a happy reunion.  I went back to work last week, only half time.  I’m gonna do that for a while so as to not stress myself too much physically.  I have good days and bad days.  That’s ok because I’m present in my life now.

Today I picked up a black chip and it felt great.    ; )

Maybe it’s not just me…

Finally I get to share a positive update!  I went to the Pain Mgmt Clinic Tues of this week not expecting a lot due to previous experiences and the dr was a little hostile at first (spent way too long telling me why people shouldn’t ever get back surgery), but after I told her I was interested in looking forward, not back, things soon got better.  She was confident that trigger point injections will give me some immediate relief from neck and shoulder/arm pain so perhaps I will be able to wash my own hair again soon.  For real – for over a month now my husband has been washing my hair because I can’t hold my arms up and I just wear it curly and let it dry naturally.  That mean dr in clinic turned out to be quite an advocate when she became furious that she couldn’t give me the trigger point injections right then at that appointment – because I have the stooopid HMO insurance.  So I’m going back this coming Tuesday and am looking forward to it.  They can stick me all they want.   They’re going to follow that up June 21st I think with a steroid shot into my cervical spine that should help with the nerve inflammation and a promise that if that doesn’t help or help long enough, there is another type of electromagnetic injection that forms a field around the nerve so the hardware won’t touch it.  That’s the problem evidently.

And as a bonus – the dr suggested some gabapentin and anti inflammatory pain relief gel and I said I was already on neurontin and wasn’t sure it was helping.  Well then let’s switch your PM dose to Topamax.  “It has few side effects except sometimes weight loss.’  I said ‘GREAT!’  And the dr pointed out that neurontin can cause weight gain so if that was a problem I was experiencing, they could get me off Neurontin and 100% onto Topamax. Uh, YEAH!  I can’t believe I didn’t know this was a side effect.  I usually research everything.  My doc had doubled my dose back in November.  Things make so much sense now.  It can cause cravings.  A LOT.  So I’m not the complete lunatic that I thought I was.  So I left that appt thrilled.  Trigger point injections for pain relief AND an answer and hopefully soon relief to my weight issue.  I’ve gained about 40 pounds since my surgery last August.  I checked some online back pain/fibromyalgia bulletin boards last night and saw similar stories of weight gain on Neurontin, and also stories of people losing 30-40 pounds with Topamax.  Yipee!  

 So I got a big dose of hope this week.  I hope I’m back to participating in life again soon.