Tag Archive | depression

It’s Spelled C-H-R-O-N-I-C ~

This post is about chronic pain, plain and simple. I’m not looking for sympathy, neither are those who share my condition. Just looking for understanding, respect and tolerance.

I never ever thought I would be “one of those” people who had to tolerate pain in one or more parts of their body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Yet, here I am. My feet are “riddled with arthritis” as my orthopedist told me. Also my knees. Osteoarthritis. An interesting diagnosis, I thought at the time, surely there is a cure. No, he said, only pain management. “Pain management”? Okay, then give me a pill and let me go back to my life, I thought. I wasn’t yet aware of how much my life was about to change.

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I tried several different pain medications, injections, etc. and none seemed to keep the pain at bay for very long. And, in the beginning, it was even “that bad”… more of a nuisance than a driving force. I might limp while going to the grocery store, or shudder at the thought of crossing a large parking lot. I obtained a temporary handicapped parking tag with the intent of turning it in after a few months and I got the pain under control. The months lagged. I kept asking for a renewal from my doctor each time the expiration came due on the tag. I figured, surely by the time THIS ONE expires, I’ll be able to walk better and longer distances.

Last month I had a bi-annual checkup with my primary care physician. I asked for the permanent handicapped parking tag. He looked at me and winced. He clearly did not want to go that route. Indeed, he told me if he gave me the permanent tag, that I might start thinking of myself as “handicapped”… and he didn’t want me to do that. And he forbade me to use the electric carts in stores. However, he did give me the new tag. Neither of us was happy, but I have to be realistic. The pain, especially in my feet, was now unrelenting.

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I think I finally came to grips with the fact that I will have to live with chronic pain for the rest of my life. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, and it will, in fact, only get worse. I would soon get used to measuring my activities by the amount of pain I am currently in, or am likely to be in at the time of the activity. That probably sounds pretty unbelievable to most of you reading this. My life is now measured by increments of pain. It makes sense, considering 90% of my particular pain is in my feet, making it very difficult to walk. My knees are secondary, and 3 herniated discs in my back count for something as well. I’m always looking for “shortcuts” to my activities. Can I get dropped off closer to my destination? Is there comfortable seating? How close is the seating to my drop off point? Are there stairs? Hoping for a ramp. Will I need my “cane” (my father’s wooden shillelagh)? Will there be lots of people to stare at me, and judge? Will there be people I know there, who do not know of my hidden secret? Will I have a lot of explaining to do? What if it just hurts too much? What if I just can’t stand it another minute? These are things that run through my mind any/every time I need to go outside my home. Yes, even when I go to work. So, admittedly, my social life is waning.

People with chronic pain think way differently than you do. And granted, even though my personal pain is considerable and distracting, there are so many others that are way worse off than me. They are my heroes. I know them and feel their pain as I do my own. Chronic pain “people” do not stand out in a crowd. You cannot look at them and know there is anything wrong. And they (we) do not like to share that information with anyone. If shared, there is always skepticism. People say things like: “Suck it up,” “C’mon, it can’t be THAT bad,” or “You’re just faking it.” No one wants to be held up to that kind of ridicule. Or they’re look you up and down as if they’re going to see some clue as to whether or not you are really in pain. And when they see no clear evidence, there is disbelief.
Chronic pain is exhausting. On a “good day”, at home, I might get one or two chores done ~ dishes, laundry, vacuuming. On a “bad day”, I cannot stand. I sit in my recliner with my feet up, take aspirin, and feel them ache and burn all day long. If I need to get up, I have to thrust myself to standing, then wait until my feet give me permission to move, to shuffle to my destination and then back to reclining. The entire episode is unbearable and to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes I use a prescription rub-on gel to curb the pain, but the side effects are not worth using it constantly… only when I really cannot bear it. Restraint is an important lesson. Chronic pain alters your mind. Your priorities change or may be clouded. You don’t think right when you hurt. Have you ever had a migraine, or a sprained ankle or any broken body part? Think of that pain as never ending. It will be with you for the rest of your life. No healing, no getting better. At first you just deal with it and don’t really believe it will be forever. Then it becomes a “normal” part of your life. It’s with you every day, all day, just like your pinky toe. Then it gets worse and you’re thinking desperately. And you imagine what it would be like to be pain free… just only for one day, even if just a few hours. How glorious would that be? Chronic pain makes you think irrationally. It gives you feelings of desperation, depression, worthlessness, dependence. ALL. THE. TIME. Do you even get that? There is no relief. Hence the word: C-H-R-O-N-I-C. You feel like your loved ones, those that “know”, resent you. They don’t believe you. They think you’re lazy because you don’t do your housework or go shopping etc. anymore. “You’re just lazy.” For me, even my biggest love, quilting, has suffered. I can’t concentrate on it when my mind is full of pain management wishes. I cannot, in good conscience, ask my husband to do things for me that I can no longer do. I feel like he resents me… even though I know he doesn’t. We’ve talked about it. But I cannot shake the feeling.

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I recently joined an Osteoarthritis group online on Facebook. Wonderful bunch of people, mostly women, who share their experiences and ideas for pain relief and how to try to live a “normal” life. Exercises, weight loss help, potentials for medications that I haven’t tried. I know in my head that I need to keep moving and exercise or I will end up immobile. They give me hope. Even a chuckle now and then. I know many people scoff at Facebook, but there is so much knowledge there if you know where to look and how to use it. I have been blessed.

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What’s my point to this post? Chronic pain. It’s real. It exists for thousands of people, including me. We don’t look for sympathy. We don’t look for an “easy out”. We just want to be acknowledged, understood and respected like everyone else. These days, everything is all about “tolerance”. Quit thinking we’re “fakers” and get with the program.

Unfortunately, I expect very few people will ever seen this post. In a way that’s fine with me, as I’m not too comfortable sharing all this with anyone anyways. Anyone I know. Funny how I’ve put my entire life out here in my blog, some of which is pretty graphic and shocking, but THIS makes me uncomfortable! LOL!

Thank you for stopping by and checking me out.

Blessings ~ Tamara

Forgiven and Set Free ~

I am a child of God.  I am His daughter, His princess, His brown-eyed girl and his devoted and loving child.  I’m pretty happy with this arrangement, and I’m sure so is He.  I spent a good deal of this early summer learning and getting comfortable with myself, and my God.  It took a lot of hard work, tears and revelation to be able to admit, privately and publicly, that I had an abortion when I had just turned 14 years old.  It’s not something you can just discuss over lunch with a friend, or blurt out at some perceived opportune moment.  Even now I have difficulty putting this “out there” for all to know, but the difference is now I know it serves a purpose.  If telling my experience can save just one girl/young woman/woman from choosing abortion over any other option, I will consider this sacrifice of privacy a success.

   Yes, I found myself pregnant at the age of 13, in 1974.  Surprised?  I was!  As a 13 year old in 1974, I was extremely naïve, and just plain didn’t know much.  So when a young man approached me (he was also 13) and wanted to be my boyfriend, and he gave me lots of attention, I was flattered and loved the attention.  Who wouldn’t?  We took that next step, and we weren’t careful.  As I look back I think “What was I thinking???”  Well, obviously I wasn’t.

   There are some blank spots in my memory surrounding that summer.  Somehow our parents found out, and took it from there, making the decisions and all of the arrangements to get things taken care of quietly so that he (the baby’s father) and I would be able to continue on with our lives without interruption or inconvenience… I guess.  The next thing I knew, I was being admitted to Crouse Hospital for three days, and my parents left me there alone.  I wouldn’t discover until decades later that I was never alone.  But here I was.  This was not to be your “simple” abortion, by the way, somehow months had gone by before my admittance, and I was now almost 5 months along, well into my second trimester.  So a “saline abortion” had been ordered by my OB/GYN.  Now, at my age, I had no idea what was even happening, all I cared about was if it was going to hurt.  As I stared at the 10″ needle that was about to be inserted into my uterus, my doctor and his attending nurse tried to reassure me.  I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth, thinking about being able to go home and go horseback riding… after all, it was summer vacation! 

   Somewhere in the middle of the night the contractions began and kept me awake.  I labored for the better part of 10 hours in my hospital room, by myself, as I watched the nurses going about their routine outside in the hall.  I remember thinking to myself when would this end and what would be the result?  When could I go home?  Then I remembered “three days” and knew I’d be able to leave the next day.  The nursing staff pretty much ignored me and left me to myself as I felt like my stomach was about to explode.  Why hadn’t I been allowed breakfast that morning when I woke up?  Finally, after an eternity, I had to push and my child was born in the hospital bed.  I felt the little arms and legs jerk between my legs, and I called for a nurse.  A 40-something year old woman came into the room and seemed surprised to see a baby there, but she began to wrap him up and prepared to whisk him away to who-knows-where.  I quickly asked if it was a boy or girl, and she hastily told me my son had been born alive… then they were gone.  My parents picked me up the next evening after they finished work, and they took me home as if I’d just had my tonsils out.  It was never mentioned again, by them or by me.

   Decades later, when I began having bouts of depression and uncontrolled crying, my husband and I were stumped as to why.  That is, until I began having thoughts and memories of that summer in 1974, and regrets and doubts about what I should’ve/could’ve done to change my baby’s fate.  See, now I had become a Christian woman, a woman of God, and I didn’t believe in abortion… under any circumstance.  I believe in life at conception, and under no circumstances should a person take that child’s life or it would be considered murder.  Was I really seeing myself in that new light?  Certainly I could not be considered a murderer, as I had no control over what my parents did.  And they couldn’t be murderers, they were my parents, doing only the best that they could for my benefit and future.  Certainly neither God nor I could blame them!

   Well the depression and crying continued intermittently.  I sent to Crouse Hospital for a copy of the records of that abortion, and I got a clinical 4 page assessment of what happened.  “Products of conception” he was called.  My baby boy.  This year, 2012, it hit me again ~ very hard this time.  I confided in a friend, who told me about a post-abortion Bible study group from our church that might be helpful, and she gave me a name and a phone number.  I was skeptical, but I made the call and the arrangements to meet with this “group” and commit myself to getting through this and getting better, getting results, getting to the bottom of this.  The group was to be 10 weeks long, and we met once a week.  Two incredible young, devoted and loving women from church lead the group ~ each confessing that they, too, had been there and back, and that we would get through it and come out alive and better for it.  Seriously?  Who ARE these people?  But I devoted myself to my Monday night sessions, and to the homework as well, which consisted of reading a “workbook” and answering a myriad of questions in addition to reading Bible passages that pertained.

   I learned so much from this Bible study.  I was finally able to mourn the loss of my child.  Society supports women who have lost a child due to miscarriage, or after birth, but nowhere is there recognition or support of a woman who has had an abortion ~ also the loss of a child.  And society would say, “Hey, you’ve had 38 years to get over it,” in my case, but does any mother ever truly “get over” the loss of their child?  I put it right up there with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and in fact, it is referred to PAS (post abortion syndrome), and it is real.  Go figure?  Finally a NAME to address what I’d been experiencing, and an avenue in which to get better!  I learned how to forgive myself, as God has forgiven me, for being complacent in going along with the plans for my son.  I did nothing to thwart his death.  I also was able to forgive all of those people involved in this:  my son’s father, my parents, his parents, even the OB/GYN.  I needed to forgive and show mercy.  Having mercy means that we no longer hope in our hearts that they’ll get what they deserve, no longer want to see them punished.   I could finally put the depression, anger, guilt and even the suicidal thoughts behind me.  I was finally beginning to feel my life come back to me and my spirits lifted.

   At the end of the 10 week study, I felt like a new person (2nd Cor 5:17) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  I realize that there will be times when I think about my son, who has since been named, but I know how to deal with these emotions, and on who I can rely and trust.  I am my Father’s daughter.  Those of us in the Bible study, and our study leaders had a memorial celebration at the end of the 10 weeks at the church.  It was beautiful!  There were flowers, candles, music and speeches in memoriam of our children.  At the end, we let go of helium balloons outside and watched them glide away.  Al and I also purchased and planted a beautiful red oak tree in our front yard in memory of the loss.  The oak tree will grow big and strong, as I know my son would have.  He must’ve been a strong little guy to make it through and survive as long as he did.

   And now I’ve been able to move on and put the past behind me.  I know someday I’ll be able to see him again in Heaven, and I’m looking forward to that day.  Until then, I can rest each day knowing he’s with Our Father, and that my future is set.  And I’m thanking God each day that I’ve been Forgiven and Set Free!

My little red oak tree, planted in memory of Kirk Leroy Thomas (so named by his father and having the same middle and last name as his father). We call it “Kirkwood” for short. The yellow mums were planted from the memorial, as well as the white roses that were given to me by a special Sister in Christ at the memorial. Kirkwood has survived the weather/storms better than any of our other oaks or maples, including my King Crimson maple that stands not far from the strong little oak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4-3-2013 Update ~ Recently our church, Word of Life Assembly of God, in Baldwinsville, NY, helped facilitate a promotional video of the Forgiven and Set Free experience.  It can be found HERE on You Tube.  It breaks my heart and sets me free each time I see it, remember it, remember him (Kirk Leroy Thomas) and hear that song (about abortion).  I hope you’ll visit the link and listen in … can you tell which one is me?

God bless!