A few weeks ago I went a bit Prima Donna and asked the lovely Cindy Sowers to remove a paragraph that she'd written about me for the TDP Blog Artist's profile. She was confused as to why it upset me so much, but she very kindly amended her article. It was taken from my own blog after all, and just alluded to my joint problems, but I am feeling pretty touchy on that subject right now. I'm just in my forties but over the last few years the arthritis and occasional mobility issues have often made me feel physically much, much older and combined with other, deeper personal issues I've been battling for years now, day to day...well, of late I feel as though my problems are coming to define me. Am I becoming just a long list of ailments and issues?
What do I do? Do I pretend it's not happening, bury everything and just repeat "I'm fine" like some deranged mantra... or bleat on about it, here on my blog to virtual strangers and virtual friends alike? Neither option seems particularly healthy. A Confession: I have PTSD, I have had it so long that it used to be called Stress Anxiety Disorder when I got diagnosed. I don't want to share, but it causes havoc, even years and years after the event that triggered it and is something I just have had to learn to work around. I also have arthritis and other minor irritations that I personally believe are caused by living in a recurring state of high alert. I think I am using up my body's resources at a higher rate than I should and it comes out sometimes in weird rashes and nervous ticks and all sorts of tiny ways that no doubt summon the word Hypochondriac into my GP's head unbidden! Besides, I know if I remind anyone to file me under that overused acronym -ptsd- they will roll out The Medication (rejoin the Walking Dead, no thanks) and cajole me to therapy sessions which just trawl through the detritus and stir everything up again.
So I keep wavering on this topic of do I talk about this kind of stuff here or not? Some of the time I feel fine, my demons are quiet, my joints work, I forget about it all... but there is one thing I want to share with you... in the hope it might help someone else travelling down this road unprepared... Arthritis is tangible, I was fooled into thinking that something which has shown up very un-missably on an X Ray and even on an MRI scan, well, there should be pills for that, right? Something to make me feel better, isn't that why we go to the doctor? So, I finally gave in and opted for heavy duty anti-inflammatory and pain killing drugs. Big time!
It's not like me, but the Doctor doles out the pills and the agony becomes this hazy thing you stand/sit/lie beside... the injury this time is to my sciatic nerve and nothing can interrupt that signal to the brain, it's far too fast, so the pain killers just kind of displace the pain. Very odd sensation, to feel extreme pain but just not be so connected to it. What the doc told me is that they are highly addictive and have to be managed, what he didn't tell me is that for many, many people those drugs will have quite unpleasant physical side effects. What was not mentioned was the fact that those of us with a sensitive stomach will be affected quite suddenly and violently after about 2/3 weeks of relative peace, as our bodies try to purge what is poisoning our systems and that it will probably go on for about 48 hours. I won't go into the gory details as I'm sure you can figure it out, that lovely view of my window, or even a fuzzy cat head, is not what I've been staring at every 20 minutes or so since Saturday night, just my disheveled reflection in the toilet bowl. I seem to have morphed into a character from Trainspotting.
Charming, you're thinking, why are you sharing this on your blog? Because, as I said, Doctors might tell you about morphine, but they don't seem to tell you this about combining anti-inflammatory drugs and high dose painkillers that include a lot of Codeine. I know I am unlucky that they have affected me so badly, but I also know that I am far from alone in having this violent reaction. I'm just sharing this with you because a lot of people develop Osteoarthritis in later years, a lot od people have back injuries and need relief. When the doctor first prescribes these drugs they seem like a MIRACLE, but just go easy, try not to take the maximum dose and wean yourself off them as soon as possible. This is my third attack after trying 3 different brands of pill combinations and I think I'm done, I can't put myself through that again. I could joke about the weight loss but I am staring at a corpse in the mirror so maybe not, this doesn't feel funny at all. Dealing with the pain head on seems an easier, if daunting, option right now.
What is the best defense against arthritis pain and sciatica if you can't take the pills then? I need to get through this bad patch then exercise, weirdly enough, supervised stretching and low impact exercises that lengthen the ligaments and improve elasticity so the weakened bones are better supported. We need flexability and good posture not muscle bulk. Even when you have moderate pain the stretching will help, but get expert advice first so you know your doing it right. And I guess Glucosamine and a healthy diet and keeping the weight down won't hurt either... just keep moving, it's what our bodies are built for and ANYTHING is better than the hell I've just been going through.