By September of 2017 I felt more like myself again…feeling no more pain, able to finally walk, run, sit, do whatever I wanted without having to think about how long I could stand it for. Back to normal, so it would seem. The thing was, I was still taking a nerve blocker to help manage the pain. I started to wonder if now was the time to talk to my Doctor about weaning myself off of this drug; I remembered when I started taking it I was told I would have to slowly wean myself off of it, it would not be an overnight change. I wasn’t told much more about it, just that this was something that would help me get back to my life when I was in such intense pain. In that moment, if someone tells you this will work, you don’t hesitate to take it. Anything to make the constant pain disappear.
I started to cut back my dose in October, lowering the amount each month a little at a time. To be completely honest, I had a lot of anxiety around this; I didn’t realize I had become so dependent on this medication to get through my daily life. I’m not normally one to feel anxious or unsure about things so this was a surprising feeling for me. The first few days of my first adjustment were really tough days for me. Every twinge I felt had me afraid that this pain was coming back. Wondering if maybe I hadn’t healed as much as I thought I had….and I did feel some residual pain for that first week. Looking back I know now this was just because my nerves were starting to fire again and it takes a bit for your body to adjust to any kind of change like that. But the anxiety was a lot for me to manage and I started to wonder if I had made a mistake taking this medication in the first place. I was also a little bit angry that my Doctor hadn’t properly explained what it would be like to come off of the medication.
By December I was medication free, and all of a sudden it felt like I had never been taking it. I started to realize my body still had healing to do….I had muscles I had used very little over the past several months and all of a sudden I was trying to use them on a daily basis. My body would protest in small ways – short shots of pain running down my leg if I over did things, tenderness in my back if I spent too much time on my feet, muscles spasms in my left leg from my knee and all the way down my calf (at really random times like when I was sleeping at night), small reminders that I still had some work to do. Exercise was scary for me because of what it had led to last time so I was hesitant to add it back into my daily life and really took my time getting back into things.
Today, I am now able to do my daily walks again (usually they are about 3-3.5km), I can do lower body workouts without having leg spasms, I can do weights, I can use the elliptical, I can run, kneel, jog, really whatever I need to do. This healing took way longer than I expected it too and perhaps I would have recovered sooner if I had pushed myself a bit more but I really felt I needed to honour how I was feeling inside and not push myself too fast.
The final side-effect of this entire journey is that I lost a lot of ground with my physical health. My muscle mass really decreased and as a result I gained some weight. It’s a little strange when you can’t do anything about it for the better course of a year – really does teach you to let go of control and just let things happen, something that can be really hard for a lot of people. I have been learning to accept my body as it is, be okay with where I am right now, wear clothing that I feel good in, and have patience with myself as I learn all of this. I am by no means perfect but I’m working on loving myself a little more every single day – I don’t see how that can ever be a bad thing.
Lesson #5 – Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter what the situation is. Even is the person telling you to do something is highly educated, it doesn’t mean you can’t still question things. You are sometimes the only advocate for your life and the experiences you have – the more you know, the better prepared you can be.
Lesson #6 – Have compassion for other people. You don’t ever know what someone else is going through in their life. Chronic pain can really change how you are and how you behave; this really opened my eyes to the reality that people live like this ever day. There is no pill they can take to take the pain away….it has made me incredibly grateful for the life that I live and the freedom that I experience every single day.
Remember to have patience with yourself, whatever journey you are traveling in that moment. Everything will come together as it is supposed to, just have patience and trust in yourself. Everyone is worthy of self-love, and that is an important message to remember when you have people pushing you down every day. Remember who you are and always assume positive intent.
Until next time.