Turns out, getting back into this kind of shape after having a baby would do irreparable damage to my back.
Hey, sorry It’s been a while…
Every time I sit down to write this, I stop. I’m tired of hearing myself talk about it. I’m tired of complaining. I’m tired of being in pain. I’m. Just. Plain. Tired.
Here’s the thing about chronic pain: it consumes you. Morning, noon and night, and especially overnight, it’s all I can think about. It’s like pain has permanently taken up 50 percent of my brain, leaving the other 50 percent for things like oh….a full-time job. A busy toddler. A house full of people and dogs to maintain. You know, the little things…
I never understood chronic pain and the mental struggle that goes along with it until now. I *thought* I understood it when I was pregnant because I was pretty miserable the entire time, but there was always the promise of a baby at the end, so it was worth it. Now, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, there’s no end date. Just waiting, and surviving, and hoping this will end soon.
Now you’re probably wondering: WHAT IS WRONG?! *that is, unless, you’re following me on social media, where it’s all I’ve posted about for the last 3 months! (I know, sorry)*
Sciatica. Sounds not that bad, right?? A little shooting nerve pain now and then. Well that’s how it started, right around the time I decided I needed to step up my workouts and get in “bathing suit season shape,” the ever-so-present annoying nerve pain started in my right hip.
But then, slowly but surely, it got worse and worse and worse. I was doing kickboxing three times a week and LOVING the feeling of hitting the bag again! But the intense workouts and kicking were making my pain so much worse, so I had to quit.
Oddly enough, working out (when I do it gently) actually HELPS the pain. It still does. But only temporarily. As soon as I sit down, BAM – shooting nerve pain down my leg. And for the rest of the day and night, it only gets worse.
Every morning when I wake up I pray today is the day the pain goes away. Doctors keep telling me it will likely eventually go away on its own. Three months later and it has gradually intensified. Now I spend most of my mornings laying on the hard ground with my daughter trying not to cry while taking care of her and my nights at work taking breaks by laying on the newsroom carpet (thank God it was recently replaced!)
I’ve done the stretching, the physical therapy, the MRI, the x rays, the epidural steroid injections, the acupuncture, the wet cupping, the oral steroids…everything but surgery. It’s my last resort, but at this point it’s my only resort.
Doctors tell me I have two herniated discs, one of them is putting pressure on my sciatic, and all of my discs are genetically misshapen. All this pain and stress is also causing my adrenal glands to weaken, so my blood pressure is dangerously low and I’m lightheaded and nauseous 24/7.
They keep telling me “it’s a combination of age, being an athlete and bad genetics.” I have to laugh at this. AGE?? Yep, being over 30 puts you at a much higher risk for this, apparently. (Also, thanks for those bad genes, mom and dad!)
BUT there’s always a silver lining. Here is what I’ve learned during these last few months.
But I’m just honest with people when they ask and it turns out, a lot of people over 30 have dealt with this same problem! Or some back problem, at least. It’s amazing how much you can bond with someone over chronic pain. I’ve literally made several new friends just because of this, so it’s almost worth it ;) *almost*
I’m not doing well.
That’s a hard one to admit. I always considered myself a tough person, almost sociopathic when it comes to this kinda stuff. I've been through a late-term miscarriage, divorce, and work one of the most stressful jobs in the world - nothing can bring me down! But this has, and it's been like mental marathon training to keep going every day.
And I'll admit: downloading those silly meditation tracks on my Apple Music and forcing myself to slow down and stretch has helped fortify my will to work, my will to parent, my will to live, really.
Tomorrow, I go in for another round of epidural steroid injections. Even if these work, I know I have a lot ahead of me. I need to drink more water. I need to be more kind to my body. I need to do more yoga. But I’m thankful I *can* heal from this. There are so many people that experience chronic pain and have no solutions. My heart goes out to you. Seriously.
Life after 30 and after baby looks a lot different than I expected, but it’s a good reminder than we really do have to be more mindful of what we do to our bodies, our minds and our stress levels or they can manifest themselves in painful ways. In the meantime, I hope you’ll share your experiences with chronic pain and how you cope. I’d love some tips and advice!