Health Update

Starting off the year with pain

Hello 2024, except I’m starting off the year with pain and it is not something I can just push through so let’s chat about meeting expectations.

starting off the year with pain
Photo by Tao Yuan on Unsplash
Image Description: The words ‘I am in a lot of pain’ are shown in red against a black background with medications sprinkled around it like confetti

Life with chronic illness is never easy, I have spoken a lot about how I cope with it here on the blog, and generally I cope well. I am on good pain medications that usually manage my pain and have for years, as well as using things like CBD, exercise, and meditation so far it had worked.

However, at the start of the year I am finding that to no longer be true and honestly, I am unsure of how to move forward. I have been told by my doctor, and pharmacist that the next step would be opioids and I really do not want to be on stronger meds if I can help it.

So, let me explain my pain levels and where my new pain has decided to manifest.

starting off the year with pain:

  • My arms: I have always had pain and numbness in my arms, but recently it has been worse especially from my elbows down. It often feels as if I have banged my elbow and numbness is especially in my little and ring fingers. The pain however is all the way down and it feels like when you have done too much exercise, and your arms feel heavy and sore. This pain and numbness combination makes no sense to doctors and I have often found they look at me as if I must be making it up. Which does make sense as how can something be numb and painful at the same time? However, this is my life…
  • Ribs: This pain is something I have had looked at in the hospital, so I know it is not my heart, but it is Costochondritis. This is caused by my Fibromyalgia and as usual there is no actual cure or real understanding of this. I have been given Diazepam for it, but this can only be taken if I can just rest in bed afterwards so not especially useful for everyday use, but it is affective.
  • Neck: I have a lot of pain in my neck, especially where my skull meets my spine, and there is definitely a difference in movement either side of my head. This could be linked to my jaw problems due to grinding my teeth, but I think it might be something else I am just not sure. I do regular neck exercises which help but don’t really deal with it.
  • Torso: Now, this pain has been there since I started having gallbladder issues, I had that removed which did ease the pain. However, the pain is still there, just under my ribs, in the middle and right through from my back. Feels like someone has kicked me hard in my back or is pushing something through the middle of me! This has stumped every doctor I have seen, and generally I have scans they come back normal and then they discharge me so never really get any help or investigations.
  • Headaches: After a year without a migraine or headache, they have returned! I have had a headache every day for a while now, it mostly feels like pressure, and it makes my tinnitus worse. Migraines have not been around as much thankfully, but it makes it so hard to live my life when I am constantly having a headache!
  • Eyes: I need new glasses; this I know for a fact. However, I have never had my eyeball hurt before, the eyeball feels bruised when I touch my closed eyelid and hurts a lot when I look to my right. This I am hoping can be sorted with an eye test and some new glasses.

Now, you might say I should go see my GP show him all of this and get a good check over, let them go over your meds and get referred. And in all honesty, I believed this was what happened before I became sick, go doctor and doctor heals!

However, if you are someone who has chronic illnesses, you will know that this is generally not what happens. TV and movies lie because in them the doctor will not know what is wrong, so they will move heaven and earth damn the cost to find the answers.

In reality, you are lucky if you get referred to someone who is a specialist in the thing you are struggling with. They will then order a few tests, they come back negative, and they then state they couldn’t find anything with a celebratory look on their faces. Then as if they have cured you by telling you there is nothing wrong, they will discharge you to deal with the symptoms with no help or support.

This has happened to me so many times I have given up, I was even referred to the local pain clinic, after talking to me for a while about what I already do… they stated they had nothing else that could help and discharged me!

On top of this, is the issue that I am on the highest number of meds that I can take before adding in opioids. CBD helps a lot as a top up, but it makes me drowsy so I cannot possibly take that other than before a nap or bed at night.

I honestly don’t know how I am going to deal with these new symptoms and my new levels of pain other than just trying to cope. I know it all started after I had covid in November, so I am assuming this has been triggered by that and to that I say grrrrr!

If you are starting off the year with pain, I send you so much love and hope that this article helps you to feel less alone.

Thank you xx

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  • Nannette Lynne Blackwell

    Hello Beverley I know how hard it is to deal with and because I can’t find any doctors to do what I need them to I didn’t think I will go back to a doctor because what has happened to me the last 3 doctors I have had

  • Stefani

    Hi Beverly,
    I’m so sorry to hear your year has already been so challenging! As someone who frequently suffers from headaches for the dumbest reasons (I’ll get there in a moment), I might be able to share a couple of ideas. I absolutely sympathize with the frustration you feel about doctors not being able to diagnose issues and then looking like you must be making it up. A couple of years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with pain in my left arm that wouldn’t abate, no matter what I tried. It was so horrible that I started crying and my husband got so worried that he called the Tricare nursing hotline. They said to take some pain med, which I had done, and to go to Emergency if that didn’t help.

    As a “not-really-emergency “, I waited there for a couple of hours. The doctor had me move my hand and arm around, then gave me a prescription for super painkillers, and that was it. I was still in pain when my husband picked me up. After taking the pills, eventually the pain stopped and thankfully never returned, but I hate not knowing what the heck that even was in the first place!

    So, are you wearing a night guard or would you be able to? I used to grind my teeth a lot in my sleep, and having it in really helped.

    Also, do you have a variety of pillows to sleep on? I know it sounds daft when you have a pillow you really love. I have one too. Sadly, there are still times I just can’t get comfortable on the dang thing, or I fall asleep alright but then wake up with a stiff neck or jaw pain. Now I have four different pillows in bed that I can switch out, plus a sofa cushion for when nothing else works.

    You could also try meditation to support you when you’re feeling spent. When things are really dire and I just can’t muster any energy, sometimes doing yoga nidra feels nice and healing. There are lots of videos for both on YT. I like Yoga with Joy, Yogini Melbourne and Great Meditations for either option.

    Personally, I’d love to try a reiki treatment sometime. I had an amazing meditation experience once and a friend who was able to sense blockages during massage very well, so I think working with someone who can channel this kind of healing energy would be refreshing.

    Anyway, I hope you find something that works for you and helps you feel better and more energized again soon.

    • BeverleyButterfly

      Thank you so so much for this it sometimes just feels nice to know you aren’t alone!

      Yes I use a night guard, and it has helped but not a cure apparently if you don’t do the grinding in the day it is bad at night which is lovely lol! I have a good pillow it is made by bamboo and I saved up for it, but it is hard, might need a soft one too just in case… it is never easy is it?

  • Kaz

    Sorry to read about all the pain you are experiencing. When I have had dealings with doctors, some of the time I have thought “are you for real?” and other times I wish the person I am seeing could be my forever doctor. I want to start having reiki and reflexology treatments again, but they can be expensive. My best friend has fibromyalgia, her symptoms are worse after having covid. She even has some new ones.

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