Chronic Pain and the Work-Life Balance

I talk a lot about emotional healing. I’ve lived through a trauma that no one wishes on their worst enemies. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel _all_ the emotions. Some are days I can tolerate and push through, others make me feel like I’m falling all day.

On another personal healing note, this has been a very challenging summer for me with ongoing physical pain. I try hard to not put my physical challenges in the spotlight, and certainly not at the forefront of the wool shop. My hope for the shop is for it to feel like it belongs to our community, and isn’t all about me, so I try to keep the social media feeds focussed, while at the same time staying authentic and relatable.

The humidity this summer aggravated inflammation in my body in ways I haven’t experienced in years. Many days in recent months have been excruciating, but I’m very good at “walking it off”, dealing, staying on top of acupuncture and other therapies. I wear pain extremely well. Too well.

Flare ups can come out of nowhere, affect any joint or limb in my body- usually my arms, shoulders, and often my hips. They can last a few days to a couple weeks, and shift throughout my body in that time. The pain can waffle between a nuisance to debilitating. The last few days have been on the debilitating side. When it’s this bad I can’t do simple things like: get dressed by myself, wash or do my hair properly, put a bra on, pull up my underwear, put deodorant on… – these all become things that my amazingly supportive husband will do for me. Obviously in days like this I can’t drive, or do basic household things – which is extremely difficult when you have a small child.

This morning I had an injection of a powerful anti inflammatory and given some back up pills. I’m not crying anymore so I’d say it’s starting to work.

The culprit? Call me a medical mystery. It all started ten years ago in August 2009 when I caught what I thought was a flu. Within days I was having major flank pain, and by the time I saw my doctor I was deep into neurological problems. Lead suspect at first was Lyme’s, but since then

I’ve been diagnosed with everything from fibromyalgia to MS. It’s not MS. Current leading theory is back with Lyme, but what to do about it after ten years is highly questionable.

When I was first having symptoms it was primarily weakness in my hips and legs accompanied by extreme neurological pain in my shoulders and arms. Sitting has been extremely difficult at times over the years. I have to be able to move around freely to “walk it off” when needed.

Crochet, felting, knitting, and photography have all been outlets for me to both use my arms and keep sensation flowing, as well as a creative platform to seek mental healing. It’s not always easy, my arms often hurt and my coordination can be iffy., but I persevere because what else can I do.

I’m sharing all this now in order to explain a few reasons why I occasionally have to close the shop without much notice. Thankfully I have an amazing team of friends who volunteer and help out in all kinds of ways, but sometimes there are days I just can’t control it all. Thankfully I also have a supportive community with customers who understand the work-life balance.

Tomorrow, Friday August 23rd, my husband has to leave town to travel to Ottawa to pick up our daughter and all her belongings as she is now finished her university degree. I’m a very proud mom and excited to have her home, briefly. She’ll be heading off to basic trading with the Canadian Armed Forces shortly and off on endless adventures from there.

This also means that as of tomorrow morning I’m alone with our youngest, who still rides in a car seat. I have no strength to put the car seat in a cab, and likely won’t be able to drive myself anyway, which leaves us few options for both getting to daycare and work, but also getting home at the end of the day.

If this anti inflammatory shot doesn’t work by tomorrow I won’t be able to go anywhere. It’s not just about driving, but drying off after my shower, getting dressed, and simple basic life needs.

Hopefully the medication will kick in enough to allow me to move around tomorrow and be here at the shop – my healing space.

How much does this suck? So many ways. I want to be out on my bike again, I want to go kayaking, and I want to be able to pull my pants up after visiting a bathroom. Is that too much to ask?

While I continue to look for a solution to my problems I thank you for your patience and understanding. Chronic illnesses are often invisible to others, but are very, very real to those suffering.

My family doctor is very supportive and curious, and I have a team of support: acupuncture, physio, chiropractor, naturopath/nutrition, restorative yoga… you name it, I’ve got them by my side. What I don’t have is an infectious disease specialist focussed on chronic Lyme Disease. If any of you know of a doctor who could help I’m willing to go anywhere.

Thank you, everyone, for all you understanding.