Friday, July 31, 2009

Wait, I'm Not Invincible?

I've been keeping really busy today, but somehow have found that there's still been plenty of time for reflection. I'm attempting to write everything out in the hopes that by the end of it I will stop feeling sorry for myself and be thankful to God for what I do have.

After a visit to the doctor yesterday, my invincibility cloak (bad Harry Potter pun/metaphor) has slipped off my shoulders. Finally, after almost four years, I have a plausible diagnosis of a chronic pain in my lower left abdomen. August 28th, 2005 - I lugged a much-too-heavy suitcase upstairs and shortly afterward was doubled up in pain on my bed. I waited as long as I could stand it before I went to see a doctor. I had a CT scan done and a pelvic ultrasound. No hernia or other obvious answer for the pain showed up. The doctor I was seeing happened to have endometriosis herself and decided that's what I had as well. She told me that she had never been able to have kids because she had waited too long. She went on to mention that if I wanted to have kids, I'd better start trying now before the disease progressed farther because "it could take you five years to get pregnant... if you're lucky!"

Jake and I discussed it. We weren't sure we were ready. We had been together over six years, but we had just gotten married in June, and Jake had just had brain surgery in July! Did we want to take the risk of bringing a kid into this world in the midst of all these big things? But we decided that yes, we did want kids, and if it might take years to get pregnant, we were willing to give it a shot.

The next month, I was pregnant. What happened to five years? A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I had a miscarriage. Thinking at first that the miscarriage could have been because of the supposed endometriosis, we waited six months and tried again. Within a month, I was pregnant again. So much for endometriosis. But then, the pain practically disappeared during my pregnancy. I had a few "episodes" as I called them, but nothing that lasted too long. Huh, I thought. Maybe it was endometriosis. But the pain didn't really return after Parker was born. If it did, it was little episodes like I had during my pregnancy that I didn't worry about.

Then, about a month ago, the pain came back full force. Sometimes it felt like it did that first night and the pain was so bad I almost wanted to cry. Other times it was more mellow, and then sometimes there would be almost a whole day without pain. But it always started up again.

I had recently started eating peanut butter again after laying off of it for awhile because it made me feel blah, and I thought maybe the pain was a strange reaction to peanut butter. I kept a food journal, and it seemed as though it were possible. I stopped eating peanut butter and within a few days the pain was gone. Then I ate it to test it out. The pain returned six hours later! I thought maybe, just maybe, I had found the answer. But after stopping the peanut butter completely, I still had a few more episodes. Darn.

I gave in and made an appointment to see my doctor (a different one - I had stopped seeing the other kooky doctor long ago). About five days before my appointment, the pain pretty much went away again and didn't return. Even so, I decided to keep the appointment.

I discussed all of this with the doctor and he had me lay down with my knees up and started pressing on my abdomen. He found the spot, but it really didn't seem to hurt all that much. Then he told me to put my legs straight up in the air as he was pressing down on my side. What? I tried to barely lift one foot and pain shot throughout my abdomen. My face turned red with effort, I gave up and I told him I couldn't do it. The doctor gave me a triumphant grin (sometimes I really can't stand that guy) and told me that it was my abdominal wall.

He said I had probably strained it or torn my abdominal wall when I was lifting the luggage, but not enough to cause a hernia (hence why they didn't see anything with the ultrasound). He said that the pain now could be from scar tissue from not healing well, or I re-injured the area. Either way, he said, there's not much that can be done except to rest it, ice and heat it, and take anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen when I feel the pain. He said that, just as some people have "trick knees," I'd done some permanent damage and would probably have to deal with this the rest of my life. The only other thing they might be able to do if I don't get the pain under control is give me a cortisone shot in the area. He said we'd wait a month to see how things go before attempting that.

I left the office feeling surprisingly elated. This is an answer that makes sense! And I don't have to have any more tests! Sweet! I was a little bit in pain after the unplanned calisthenics on the doctor's table, but it didn't seem like anything I couldn't handle. Later in the afternoon, bam - the pain hits me full force again. There went my joy.

Today, even after taking the recommended double-dose of Ibuprofen, the pain still hasn't completely gone away and I'm playing the blame game. I'm always injuring myself because I tend to act like I'm invincible. I think I forget sometimes that I'm 5 feet tall, 100 pounds (OK give [not take] 5 pounds or so) and not Wonder Woman.

About 8 or 9 years ago, I moved an office desk all by myself because I wanted it in a different area. The very next day, I had a sharp pain all the way down my left leg that made it nearly impossible for me to walk. An advice nurse told me over the phone that I probably had a slipped disc in my back and it was pinching on my nerve. Oops. It took a really long time to heal from that episode.

You'd think I'd have learned from that, right? No, not really. A few years ago I tried moving a whole bunch of heavy boxes in the storage area at work and ended up hurting my wrist. That is an injury that still acts up once in awhile.

Then last year I injured my back again when my 11 year-old 80-pound neighbor surprised me and jumped on my back. Instead of making her get down right away, I stupidly tried to carry her and ended up straining my lower back. Again, I had to rest it to heal. Not really easy seeing as how I still had to carry Parker around everywhere. I tried to be good, but I couldn't stop carrying him completely. I mean, he wasn't even two at the time.

And now, Ms. Big Shot thought that she could start a workout regimen without consulting her doctor first. Today was supposed to be my last day of my training program before trying the 100 push-ups and 200 squats in a row (I was a few weeks behind on the crunches so not quite there yet). I'm bummed that it appears I can't finish my goal. I was so close!

I'm beginning to realize that I have limitations and I often over-do it because... well, I think I just don't want to admit to myself that I can't do anything and everything. No wonder the Bible touches on pride. Well, God, today my pride has been knocked down a couple of notches. That's probably a good thing. Maybe I needed this as a reminder that I still have a lot of things left to learn. I haven't been using "common sense and sound judgment." Proverbs 3:21.

Today Parker was unusually loud and hyper everywhere we went, loving all the attention he was getting from people. He was uncommonly adventurous and wanted to climb a rock wall at the playground all by himself. Actually, he wanted to climb everything at the park and to try jumping off of things. I felt terrible because he finally was being brave enough to attempt these things and here I was asking him not to go up certain things because of the pain I was in. I knew that I wouldn't be able to guide him or be able to keep him from getting hurt. It was a reminder to me that if I want to be able to keep up with this kid in the future, I had better take care of myself now and let people help me more often instead of stubbornly trying to do things by myself.

I do feel better now (emotionally anyway), especially after spending some time reading the Bible and finding the verses below. Thank you, God, for everything you've done and please forgive me for feeling sorry for myself! I know everything happens for a reason and this, too, shall pass.
"Too much pride can put you to shame. It's wiser to be humble." Proverbs 11:2

"I have made everything; that's how it all came to be. I, the Lord, have spoken. The people I treasure most are the humble - they depend only on me and tremble when I speak." Isaiah 66:2

"We don't have the right to claim that we have done anything on our own. God gives us what it takes to do all that we do." 2 Corinthians 3:5


Eartaste said...

I'm pretty aware of the "trick knee" pain - have learned to live with it when it happens.

But, yep - think it through. Aunt Karen's undiagnosable trauma happened after picking up a box of xerox paper.

And you know about grandpa's slipped disks and pain when he got older.

Be careful with that body. And 100 pushups & crunches? What? Why?

I remember my philosophy teacher in college ruminating on the fact that all the athletes at school were always at the doctor's office, and they even have special doctors for athletes.

Keeps me chubby but happy =:-)

Jenny said...

I'm glad you're feeling better after writing this post. Isn't it amazing what a little writing therapy can do?

I'm proud of you for 'going for it' and believing in invincibility...some people don't even try.

I once decided that a large desk just had to go upstairs, which resulted in a twisted pelvis. Not fun, but I do understand how you're feeling!

Take care and thanks for sharing your story!

Aimie said...

Glad you are doing better!

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