Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Are you a chronic pain sufferer? I feel you.
I was reminded today that many don’t fully understand the chronic pain that they see in others. It was difficult for my friends and even my parents to fully understand the level of pain I was in during those years. Why? Because when you have lived most of your life in pain.. you learn to hide it. Also, because understanding chronic pain when you have never experienced it is almost impossible.
It’s a 2-way street.
We need our friends and family to understand that the pain is real and we need to understand that no matter how hard they try, they may never truly understand the level of pain felt, and the toll it takes on us emotionally, mentally and physically. Chronic pain often leads to depression, anxiety, and more.
I lived in chronic pain most of my life. My L5 has a broken fin and is slipped at 52%. Many can’t walk with this. I was put on a waiting list for spinal fusion but got away from it. I’m pain free now but I have to keep a certain weight, keep my spinal muscles strong and flexible, avoid impact of any kind, and not carry heavy things even though I am physically strong enough.. all to keep it from sliding further. One wrong fall, one good hit at that vertebrae, one rear-end like accident, and I could end up in a wheel chair. For this reason, anytime and every time I ski or skate, I am afraid to hurt myself…. but I keep living and moving on. That’s what we do.
What is considered chronic pain
Chronic pain is different from the pain you feel when you get a paper cut, or say twist your ankle. Once your body is healed, the pain goes away. The pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. When your body keeps hurting weeks, months, or even years after an injury… that is chronic pain. Doctors often define “chronic pain” as any pain that lasts for 3 to 6 months or more.
Here is a link that you may want to read and share with family and friends. It’s a short read and covers the basics of what is chronic pain and its symptoms. Click here to read
My Chronic Pain Story
I was born with a broken spinous process of the L5 causing the L5 to slip up to 52% over the years. Doctors are not sure if this was caused at birth or during a car accident when I was 3 yrs old.
As a tween I would complain about a “fatigue” in my lower back, especially when I was on my bike. I clearly remember that “fatigue” feeling turning into pain when biking around with friends. I also clearly remember my friends expressions when I told them about it. Friends and family didn’t think much of this and I kept telling me I was too young to have any true back problems. In their defence, that was the way of thinking back then.
In my late teens, the pain got worse and I started to get shooting pain down my legs and tingling in my feet. I remember spending walking home from college in a lot of pain, to finally collapse in my bed barely able to move. It would take between 2 to 3 hours before I was able to move around again.
By my early 20s I was living in chronic pain. If you are a person living with chronic pain, you understand how we slowly build a tolerance to a certain level of pain. So when I say that the pain got so bad that sitting, standing, lying down and even carrying a 1L of milk was painful, you know what I mean. But to our friends and family that do not live in chronic pain, they can’t relate no matter how hard they try.
Friends and family do not fully get it
Understanding chronic pain when you have never experienced it is almost impossible. It’s a 2-way street. We need our friends and family to understand that the pain is real and we need to understand that no matter how hard they try, they may never truly understand the level of pain felt, and the toll it takes on us emotionally, mentally and physically.
Family and friends did not, could not, truly understand the amount of pain I was. My mother, to this day, admits that she had not idea how bad the pain truly was.
It was only in my early 30s, after giving birth to two beautiful babies, that doctors took me seriously enough to do X-rays and MRIs. This is when the L5 slippage was finally discovered. This is also when I was told the risks of a pregnancy on my L5 (too late, but I was lucky).
The pain was at it’s worse. I tried all I could think of to make it bearable. I tried medication, physiotherapy, meditation and acupuncture to alleviate the pain… and I was also put on a waiting list for a spinal fusion surgery. Thankfully the wait was long and life had other plans for me.
A happy ending
I discovered the healing benefits of gentle movement. I was able to rebalance my back muscles, get rid of the chronic pain and stop the L5 from further slippage. Although some can live a normal life with the amount of slippage that I have, some are in a wheelchair for life. I am one of the lucky ones.
I am grateful to say I never went for the operation and that I am now pain free. I started teaching movement since 2005. It was the first of many baby steps towards healing. Through each class that I taught, I healed a bit more.
This journey has taught me the importance of daily movement in our lives. Now, my goal, my passion and my drive is to pay it forward as an Essentrics instructor. Helping others alleviate pain and imbalances from their bodies, one cell at a time. For every healing experience a participant shares with me, my drive to continue grows.
Your body loves you.
Your body loves you and is always looking out for you. This chronic pain is not your body punishing you. Be patient with your body and with yourself. Rest when you need to rest. Do what you need to do.
I realize this post does not help alleviate the pain and struggle you are going through at this time. The reason I share this story with you is to let you know… I feel you… I get it…. I understand.
Nancy (Shimmy) Gould