Tag: back pain

Crashing

This is a hard post to write.

I have not been coping physically with my job for a long time. I have really tried to ignore this. Since I started it made my pain levels worse and ever since they have kept increasing. I kept hoping it would at least stop getting worse and maybe that I’d get better at coping with it. I wanted to be able to do it. Be some kind of normal. My job sometimes helps me mentally, engaging in something creative and focusing on helping customers and giving the best service I can. It takes my focus outward which I’ve long believed is really important in staying well. The tactile aspects of my work, handling the different fabrics and trying to create attractive displays, can in themselves be grounding and soothing. Additionally, it’s an area where I can try`to do some good and not feel useless. (I know that’s something I need to work on, how connected my sense of worth is with others’ outward perception of me, but I can’t deny it helps for the time being.)

Now I’ve come to the point of crashing completely. In the last 3 months in particular my pain and physical weakness has increased faster. Since around the time of my operation I guess marked a real down-turn physically and it was to be expected really that  my fibromyalgia symptoms will be worse for a while afterwards. Everything is worse really, my back problems (I had a slipped disc years ago), arthritis…

I know I haven’t really talked about it so maybe this sounds weird. Whenever I talk about my physical health I worry it all sounds stupid, nobody would believe me, I’m a fake and I should just get on with it and everything’s my fault. (There’s a lot I have to work on there too, I know.)

I feel like I’ve crashed suddenly. Gradually it has got harder and harder to – move, to put it bluntly…  Getting harder to get through the day….harder to be able to get home, having to sit and rest, and crumpling as soon as I get in, lying down most of the evening… Today I have had to spend most of the day lying down. Pain and shakiness in my legs makes any standing and walking really hard. My legs are cramping and jerking out of the blue. I can’t feel in my right foot normally and at the same time the pain is really bad through my lower back and hips, worst on the right… I’ve had all this before although not as bad, but I am very scared right now. I feel scared and shaky and lost and so tired. I slept a lot today too. My support worker came this morning and I was so tired I was struggling to literally get words out.

So I find myself admitting again that I am probably going to have to leave this job. The physical deterioration from trying to meet its demands is too much. I have tried to look into reducing my hours but it does not look as though this will be possible. I;d have to massively reduce them in any case. My manager has been kind and understanding in her approach but has to follow the sickness absence procedures set down by the company. Since I have been off sick 4 times within a 6 month period, this is flagged as a problem. I can well understand that it is not fair to colleagues to be off too frequently and I know myself that I am struggling more and more with daily tasks, which is increasing my anxiety and in turn my psychotic thoughts and my fears about what colleagues are saying and thinking about me and making it harder to cope with the hallucinations and all the mental struggles of every day.

Outside of work the effect is great too. Not only are the pain and mobility problems an issue, but I have no energy or coping resources left to manage day to day tasks like keeping my house clean, keeping in touch with people, doing positive things to bring a balance to life outside work, or perhaps most importantly right now, giving the energy to therapy and recovery that I need to. The months I have left with the PD service are precious and working on making use of my individual and group sessions is demanding. I want to be mentally “present” for it, not shut off protecting myself because I’m desperately trying to cope with pain and utter exhaustion.

I’m going to be referred to Occupational Health so I await to see what they will suggest.

ergonomic occ health

I also have to follow my doctors’ and my support worker’s advice. I believe they would all prefer me to reduce my hours. My support worker definitely thinks so.

The one thing that ironically, in a twisted way makes this situation possibly not quite so bad, is that I may actually not be worse off financially working fewer hours or not working at all. I want to talk about this more in a separate post shortly. It’s a bizarre situation that doesn’t sit well with me. At the moment I am struggling in pain and making myself physically worse every day, working part-time, earning just above the minimum hourly wage.  I receive less than £10 per week help towards my rent, I am not entitled to any help at all with things like council tax*, and although I was initially assessed as eligible for a small amount of tax credits, this decision has now been changed and I have been told that I am not entitled to any.  Now, I strongly believe that it is morally right to work as much as I can and not to expect to receive handouts when I could be earning myself. However, what I cannot get away from is that on my current earnings whilst I am working as many hours as I can (well, I have to admit now, more than I can) I cannot live. I do not have enough to cover basic bills and simple living costs and I would not be getting by if it were not for regular help from my family and even occasionally my very good friend who has lent me money for grocery shopping when money has been tightest.

Not only can this situation not go on – I am over 30 now and I simply cannot go on needing financial help from my dad; I have to support myself – but the cost of this job physically is just too much to go through to still not be able to live. It is painfully ironic that because if I were not working or were working fewer hours, for example for a few months or so whilst I complete my therapy, my financial situation would actually be more stable because of the greater help I would get towards rent and living costs. That makes me really really uncomfortable and it isn’t right. Yet I have to be able to live.

It isn’t the main factor that has led me to this point. If I were coping physically I would keep going and if I could I would see if I can increase my hours. But I’m forced to accept that just isn’t so and physically things are not good right now.

I feel really worn out and vulnerable right now. The last time I was so low physically, about 7 years ago, I didn’t feel so afraid or sad. I wonder why that change has come. Perhaps I feel more responsible now. Perhaps I am sadder about potentially leaving my job because there are aspects of it that I genuinely like this time. Perhaps I feel more of a failure that this has happened again.

I need to focus on the good things that could come out of it if I do have to leave. My health problems are not life threatening or anything that serious and so many people are going through much worse, much more medically severe, perhaps without friends to help them and understanding doctors. In moments I can see that there can be ways that in the next few months I can try to turn things around.

I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. Tonight I just needed to get all this out and admit that I’m scared.

Thank you for listening. I can’t imagine where I would be right now without this blog and the support of you lovely people who read and care and comment. There’s so much more I should say on that. I hope you know how much you mean to me. Hugs xxx

Ginny xxx

(*apart from the 25% single person occupancy discount. For non-UK readers, council tax is a roughly monthly fee payable towards local government spending like policing and other emergency services, refuse collection, some elements of care for vulnerable people, etc. Most working adults pay council tax. The amount payable depends on the value of the property you live in.)

Image not mine, sourced on the ever useful Google – I am afraid I do not know the artist (it says in the top left I believe but I was not able to expand it to read it.

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Post op confused.com

Post op confused.com

I’m sorry for such a long silence. On Thursday last week, I had my small operation. It has taken me a few days to get back to the point of being able to write again. Anaesthetic and I are not the best of friends so the first couple of days after the op were not very nice. Now it’s good to be back! I’ve missed you all and I’m looking forward to getting caught up, both here and with your lovely blogs. I still have pain but it’s manageable.

The operation did not go in the way expected and it isn’t medically bad, but it is confusing.

The plan of the operation was to do a laparoscopy and laparotomy – look inside the womb, look outside the womb and at the surrounding organs, remove the endometriosis and insert the coil, all under general anaesthetic. (I don’t want to bore people going into too much detail as I’ve posted on this several times before, however you can read more about it here , here and here.)

I had been told for around the last 2 years that I have endometriosis and that this is what has caused the last 10 + years of heavy, really long and painful periods, bladder problems, constant pelvic pain, back pain, amongst other things. So I was expecting a big benefit of the operation to be removing the endometriosis and that therefore my symptoms would reduce or go away afterwards.

When I saw the consultant right after the operation, he said that they found no endometriosis at all. I don’t have it. It was the wrong diagnosis. They cleaned out my womb (eeek!) but found nothing wrong with my womb or the fallopian tubes. There were no cysts and no growth of cells outside the womb or onto other organs like the bladder, which they had previously been sure there would be. They did insert the coil.

I was stunned. Of course, it is really good that I don’t have endometriosis. From the reading up I have done over the last couple of years (for example, here), I know what a terrible condition it is. On the other hand, this outcome has left me really confused. It has left me without any specific explanation for my symptoms. It means I do not know whether or not I am going to get the improvement in my symptoms, especially the debilitating pain, which I had so much hoped for after the operation.

Also, I felt really stupid, fake and that I must be imagining it all. I shouldn’t have had the operation – yet again I’m a fake – my mind was screaming at me. The doctors were kind and they said it wasn’t my fault and wasn’t wrong that they did the operaiton. It was their decision to do it and my symptoms had worsened to the point that they needed to do it, if only for the exploratory purposes of finding out exactly what is going on. Endometriosis growth typically does not show up on any kind of scans – the only way to find out 100% for sure if / where it is present is to operate.

It’s a good thing they have checked out the situation. If it was essential to look inside, I almost kind of wish they’d have done it years ago rather than giving me all different kinds of medications potentially to treat the wrong thing. However, I do understand some women find that whatever the exact problem is, medications like the Pill and tranexamic acid can manage the symptoms and that’s how it’s treated, even if you can’t remove the root cause (kind of weird to try to get my head round).

Everything feels very confusing. My head is getting noisy at times with all the thoughts of being fake, having imagined it, having deceived people, specifically having deceived people into helping me and treating me. Fraud, fraud, fake, you made it all up, liar…. the voices say. When you have that struggle in your head already, having a load of “unexplained” physical symptoms that are horrible in themselves but are hidden and not able to be proved (you can’t see them on a scan, for example) is horrible and really triggering.

The doctor said that there could be a problem with my ovaries. I’m not sure exactly what problem he is thinking of. I was still reeling from the “no endometriosis” news and was still confused and foggy from the anaesthetic. I will have to check that out with my GP. The doctor also said that some women do have really heavy painful periods simply because of hormonal problems.

The coil I’ve had fitted should help with that. It’s definitely a plus that they have been able to insert the coil. All being well, I can have it for 5 years before it needs to be changed. It is good that it was done under the anaesthetic because for various reasons, some to do with the effects of the sexual abuse when I was a child, it is too difficult for the doctor and painful for me to fit it without anaesthetic. The doctor explained that the coil can take 3 – 6 months to settle in. (Seriously? 3 months? What’s it up to for goodness sake – is it popping out to buy a new 3 piece suite at Ikea? 😉 Still…) Then, it’s hoped that I will have no monthly periods, or that they will be much lighter.

This means the next step is to wait to see what happens in the coming months with the coil, and to find out what may be the issue with my ovaries. In addition, I will potentially need some more investigations. They may need to look further into what is causing my bladder issues, since it wasn’t endometriosis growths. This could be part of my fibromyalgia, or the neuropathic symptoms.

I’m also at the start of being investigated for a potential connective tissue disorder. I’ll leave that one for another post as it’s rather a long story, but I have just found out that it can contribute to a lot of gynaecological problems, as well as joint problems and pain.

Thank you so much everyone for your support in all your lovely kind comments leading up to the op. I do feel guilty now after you gave me all that support and it then turns out to be not at all the diagnosis that it was thought to be! I’m sorry. I feel really bad for posting before having been so sure it was something it wasn’t. It was what the doctors had told me it was, but I still feel bad. Your encouragement and friendship still really means a lot whatever the ultimate diagnosis and treatment is. I’m thankful.

Ginny xxx

[Image sourced from memecenter.com – with thanks]

A super quick question about BPD / PTSD and physical pain

This is a theme I want to come back to in a longer post. I have been meaning to write something on this for a long time. For now, a very quick question, if I may.

As well as my mental health problems, I suffer with fibromyalgia, endometriosis, chronic back pain following an injury, some degree of hypermobility and potentially now a nerve pain condition as well.

I have noticed from therapy and support groups I have attended that pain conditions and joint conditions seem to be suffered by lots of people with personality disorders, PTSD / complex PTSD and/or who have suffered abuse (often in childhood). Certainly in a group I participate in at the moment, I think a higher percentage of us suffer these physical problems than you would expect to find in a random sample of the general population, if that makes sense. I have also read a couple of articles on this theme recently.

I don’t want to push people to disclose something that feels too personal so please don’t feel any need to answer. I just wonder if anyone reading this also suffers pain conditions as well as mental health difficulties? And do you find any interaction between them eg when one is worse, another also is? Or do you feel that psychological things you have suffered have had a physical impact as well as an emotional one? If anyone did want to exchange thoughts on this I’d be really interested.

Ginny xx