It feels like forever since I wrote an update. It isn’t because there is nothing to write (there is always something to write) but I have been very focused on life and living.
There was a time that I wasn’t sure how much life I had left. We all realize on some level that a new day is not guaranteed. Some of us have faced the reality that our last days may be sooner than we expect. During those times we can freak out or we can immerse ourselves in the joy and experiences that we have left. I learned in that time that each day is a gift, and being well is an extra special gift.
I am working with a wellness coach and a physical therapist to recalibrate my body and my soul – recalibrate in the sense that if you become hyper vigilant to all the things that can and do go wrong with yourself, you fundamentally change the way your body works.
For me this has led to significant chronic pain.
When it came time for my last surgery in October, I was looking forward to it for two reasons. One, to repair my abdominal incision and muscles, plus finish my breast reconstruction, but also because I knew I would be back on pain meds that would eliminate my chronic pain.
And they did. That is the gift of opioids.
But as many of you know, after the scary near death experiences last fall and the subsequent open abdominal healing drama, I became addicted to opioids.
I will never forget the actual moment that I realized it. I couldn’t believe it. Lucky for me I just stopped taking them in that exact moment.
Was it easy. No. Did I feel bad? Have pain? Yes, I did.
But I told myself no amount of pain was worth that slippery slope.
You see I work for an organization that openly talks about opioid abuse and the epidemic it is causing. I vividly remember a presentation from one of our leading physicians about how opioids change the way our brains work around pain. Dr Haake spoke so passionately and openly about how patients can and do change the way their brains respond to the want of opioids, but it is a difficult process that so many people just cannot find their way through.
I told myself enough is enough – sepsis didn’t kill me.
Opioids don’t have a chance.
After my last surgery I was on opioids. And ALL of my pain was gone. It was a relief to wake up and not have to live with it.
But it was a short reprieve. I knew it was only a short break.
Because I stopped taking them after a few days.
Pain is back, but I don’t believe pain is here to stay. My brain is sending messages to my body that have ratcheted up my alert responses. Essentially my “fight or flight” response is at red alert all the time.
Hence the pain, even when there is no reason for there to be pain.
This week I started physical therapy to begin the recovery that I want.
Bringing my body back to baseline. Increasing strength. Improving flexibility.
And decreasing the pain.
This will be a long slow process but it will happen.
Every day just a little bit more.
And someday I will wake up and realize that the pain will be gone.
I look forward to that day.