Help, I’m stuck in the weeds!

backyard weeds
Weeds in my backyard!

Like, for real. I mean, literally. Yup, stuck in the weeds. Not the quaint colloquialism that means I am hopelessly behind or mired in the details (okay I’m that too, but that’s not what this post is about), but literally I was stuck in the weeds. I’ll explain.

Last week I wrote about trying to recover from the pain and exhaustion I was experiencing after traveling a bit (spring break). Well, rather than allowing myself sufficient time to get better, I pushed my luck and got worse. I am the type of person that feels like I am wasting time and being lazy, if I’m not accomplishing something. This is the reason you won’t find me watching many movies or initiating  Netflix marathons. I get itchy with the feeling of needing to get to that “to do” list that is always growing. I’m also the person that doesn’t want to waste good money paying someone else to do something that I know I am capable of doing myself. As well, I’m sort of crazy about not using chemicals in my backyard where I grow food and my dog goes out to play. So, last Saturday, after spending most of the week doing the bare minimum and otherwise resting, I decided I was going to go pull a few weeds. I had a game plan (as I always do), I would go out for only 20 minutes and pull what I could, not a minute longer. Then I would come in and rest for an hour and see if I was up to going back out for another 20 minutes. I was doing great, until…that one wrong step.

Our backyard has a bit of hill that drops off on one side. That’s where most of the weeds accumulate. I had cleared a space of about 4×4′ and came upon a particularly large patch of clover that was rooted into the side of the hill. I decided I would start with that side to try to get all of the root system. The problem is, as soon as my foot was at an angle on that hill, my back gave out, and down I went. I was literally stuck in the weeds. I was able to get myself up and hobble to the patio, where I could sit down and try to recover for a minute. After I gathered my composure, I willed myself up and in the house. I immediately began the heat and ice routine, as well as applying Deep Blue Rub. You see, this has happened before. On top of everything else that causes me chronic pain, I have bulging discs at L4, L5, and S1, from a car accident years ago. Not bad enough to be helped with surgery, but bad enough to cause crap-loads of issues when I overdo it.

Fast forward to today (Thursday), and I am typing this while lying flat on my back, because it still hurts too much to sit. Add to that my joint and nerve pain in my wrists and hands, and it has already taken about 30 minutes to type this much, as I have to take breaks every few minutes. For the last 5 days I have been unable to walk very far, drive, sit, even making it to the bathroom is a challenge. You can imagine how thrilled that makes me. I’ve had to ask for my boyfriend to come back from working out of town to help me (which also drives me crazy, as I have a terrible time asking for help and can be a little stubborn about accepting it), missed out on important appointments, and watched the stacks of chores that I normally do, pile up around me. And I’ve had to resort to taking pain medication and muscle relaxers in order to get any rest, as the pain has been too overwhelming to sleep without them.

On top of all of this, I found out yesterday that my short term disability insurance has decided not to pay my claim, because my condition is not severe enough to be off work, they said. Want to know how they arrived at that decision? They considered only the notes of the Pain Management doctor that I have oh so much respect for (interject sarcastic tone here), and have only seen one time, for a sum total of about 12 minutes. Why take his opinion and not my Primary Care Provider’s? He is a specialist, I was told. Want to know my response? I said, “He sure is special, special at being an asshole!” It isn’t kind, and I’m not particularly proud of it, but it conveys the frustration I feel with this process.

Okay, the lesson for me? I need to be aware of only the now. What is happening in this very moment. I have to drop the expectations, the old feelings of inadequacy that cause me to try to live up to some unachievable standard. I have to quit worrying about what others think and concern myself only with what my body will allow me to do at this moment. I need to be grateful for the abilities that I do have, and the knowledge that everything will eventually work out as it needs to. I can’t be concerned with the future, as all I have is the moment that I am living right now.

Will I fight the disability thing? Yes, I will. I know that I’m not capable of being at work, and I know it’s because of the disabilities that I really do have, and that have been diagnosed and tracked for at least 3 years now. I will also keep learning and fighting to get answers to help restore my body to optimal wellness, for me. And, I’ll keep sharing what I learn with you. 🙂




Spring Break

Dana Point Sunset 2
Sunset View from our Dana Point, CA Beach Cottage Rental

No, I didn’t quit my blog. It was Spring Break last week and I am not at a point yet where I have had enough time to backlog and schedule posts for when I’m not at home. 🙂

Everyone who has ever attended school in America knows that Spring Break is the time of year that you look forward to. The new has worn off the school year, your friends are starting to get on your nerves, and the promise of summer vacation is just around the corner. You want to get away. You need to let go of some stress. As parents, we remember this feeling, and many of us feel the same types of yearning to get away from work at this time of the year. I’m no different. Even though I am currently off work with my disabilities, I had planned a vacation from work for Spring Break. So, we went ahead with it. I’m going to share with you what I learned about traveling with chronic pain.

As I have been sharing on my blog, this time away from work has been about improving my health. My primary focus has been on myself, and finding out exactly what helps me feel better and improves my overall wellness. So, I had BIG plans for this vacation. I have found that sun and warm weather help my symptoms, and I have always had a yearning to be near water, so going to Southern California seemed like a brilliant plan. It’s not too far from home, so the travel time shouldn’t be too hard on my body (I thought). I have spent several vacations there, so I know the area and figured it would be less stressful to try to get around and find what I need. There are gorgeous beaches, sunny weather, and lots of restorative qualities to be found from the ocean and the amazing views. I brought my essential oils, I had my meditation and yoga spot picked out on the deck of the cottage  we were staying at, I even packed apple cider vinegar and local honey to use in the daily morning “tea” I make for myself. All sounds like it should have been a relaxing time, right? Not so much.

What I found was that traveling is just as stressful on my body as work. Being confined to sitting in one space and position for more than about 30 minutes at a time (without being able to get up and stretch or shift to elevating my legs) hurts. So, traveling at all begins the pain cycle. Also, since sleep is an issue for me (in regard to being comfortable enough to not hurt), sleeping in a bed that isn’t the right firmness is also an issue. Although the beach cottage we stayed in was great, the bed in it was not great – for me at least. Now add exhaustion from lack of sleep to the pain. Next, my very fair skinned daughter spent a bit too much time in the sun (the first full day we got there – and the only sunny day) and got a terrible sunburn, which caused her to be dehydrated. Okay, now emotional/mental stress is added to exhaustion and pain, from worrying about her. Should I continue? I also wasn’t able to find great choices of gluten free food that were also free of my other food sensitivities, so I was eating things that caused inflammation to worsen in my body. Finally, with the rain we had there was no way to use the fabulous deck for yoga or meditation, and we were 3 adult sized people and a dog in a 4o0 square foot cottage, so you can imagine there was no space to be found inside to practice either.

What’s the good news in all of this? First, my daughter is fine. We were able to get fluids into her, I used coconut oil and lavender oil to cool and soothe the burn, and she is recovering nicely. Also, I did get to spend time with people I love and see some great Southern California scenery. Lastly, I learned a valuable lesson. I can’t plan for chronic pain. It is what it is. I can do my best to  prepare for it and manage it, but it’s still always there. Does this mean I can never travel again? Of course not. But it does mean that I have to be more aware of what the pitfalls are and how it might affect me. Also, that I may need recovery time after doing so. This is day three after returning home and I am still so exhausted I can barely make it up and down the stairs. I am back on track with my self care, and am hoping to experience some improvement from the pain soon. The main thing is, my attitude is still positive. I know I have the ability to choose my perception of life, and I am choosing to embrace and enjoy every moment as it comes.

Do you have any insights on traveling with chronic pain or Fibromyalgia? Please share!

In love and light, Bobbie

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