Learning To Talk About Pain

I never thought I’d be someone who struggles with chronic pain

(the following entry is written anonymously by a mom in my tribe sharing about her daily battle with pain and her stepping into using her voice for healing and support)

chronic pain

I’ve always had headaches. It’s just part of who I am, and my momma used to tell me to make sure I ate well and often (as we thought they were related to blood sugar). I remember I would throw up in 5th grade due to them fairly regularly, and then I grew out of that phase. I continued just having occasional headaches, only needing ibuprofen to deal with it. Even right before becoming a mom, when I began having ocular migraines (seeing an aura prior to the headache), I didn’t need much for the pain. The pain was worse, and the vision problems were scary, but after being told it was normal, I moved on and didn’t get on a preventative medication or even use the abortive one I was prescribed very often.

My true difficulties began in February of 2017 when my kids and I all got the flu. At the time, they both needed me in the middle of the night if they woke up. My daughter was still somewhat adjusting to our family changing when we adopted our son in 2016. I did not do a great job of taking care or myself during that flu apparently. I remember not eating very well and not wanting family or friends to come over to help for fear that they’d get sick. I was doing it all myself, which was something I was comfortable with. I think I really like being the only one to take care of my kids even more than some, because I did not get the first years of their lives with them (as they were adopted as toddlers). So I tend to want to do it all, even if it’s hard, especially for the sake of our parent/child bond. It’s my privilege and my job as their mom to do it.

So about a week or so after the flu left us, I began to get a headache. I just couldn’t shake it.  My husband didn’t understand what was wrong with me because normally I got better faster from headaches or migraines. Five days later, it was worse than ever, and I asked my husband to look at a small spot on my forehead. I figured he would dismiss it, but his eyes got big and he said, “That’s shingles.”

And hence my life changed.

chronic pain

Nothing has been the same since that terrible diagnosis. It started with horrific, debilitating pain during which I thought I was dying multiple times. As a professional therapist, I eventually recognized that I was having panic attacks with the waves of intense pain, so I utilized mindfulness strategies with my pain medications. It was brutal. I thought it would be gone within a few weeks, at least.

It has now been over a year.

I don’t have the intense pain that I had during that initial outbreak when the rash was active, but I have daily, chronic pain from the horrible virus of shingles. My trigeminal nerve was impacted, so the vision in my right eye is not great and my right ear aches often. The worst thing though is my ‘pain spot’ in my head; it is a bundle of angry nerves that apparently don’t want to heal yet from shingles. Post herpetic neuralgia is nerve damage; I just have to wait and see if it will fade away or if it won’t. There are preventative medications I take for the pain now, but there’s nothing that works for the pain spikes other than ice and rest. It is different from migraines in that way. It has also interplayed with my migraines terribly, so now they are worse than they were before shingles, and I do have to take preventative and abortive medications.

chronic pain

My children are wonderful. My home and job are amazing. My husband is my biggest supporter in life. My family is always, always there for me. However, it has been the hardest year of my life. And in the past I’ve gone through things that should’ve been much more difficult in my opinion. My close people know the events that I’m talking about, both emotional and physical things. Those things should’ve been harder, and I’m a little angry that this issue is what is taking me down. Chronic pain, as I have just now claimed it for what it is, has clearly been the trial I’ve been the most humbled by.

It’s been helpful to let my shame about this go and to start talking to people about it. I mean, people knew I struggled some physically but no one knew the extent of how much this has taken over my life. I’ve been evaluating lately: what exactly do I feel so ashamed about?

Clearly, I didn’t want to get shingles, and being the 5% who maintains the nerve pain (called post herpetic neuralgia) wasn’t on my to-do list either. I can usually talk about emotional issues relatively easily, and even with infertility, I found a way to share that journey with people. With this, the pain has been so intense for so long that I’ve recently noticed I have isolated myself in some ways. I didn’t want to bring others down, constantly complaining of pain; I couldn’t stand the thought of being that negative person. I also didn’t feel good enough to talk. I am at my worst, and somehow telling everyone all about that isn’t priority.

migraines

However, I am learning. I did not choose this, just like I didn’t choose other paths that I more easily processed with family and friends. Just because post herpetic neuralgia from shingles is not as easily measured as strep throat or something- that doesn’t make it less. It is an invisible pain, people aren’t going to know anything about what I’m walking through unless I tell them. And I have not wanted to tell people. I have wanted my interactions with others to be lighthearted and not about this draining thing. I have wanted to ignore it, but it will not be ignored.

I think others with ‘invisible’ pains will know what I am talking about here; it is extremely difficult to know how much to share before I’m oversharing. It’s like opening up a dam; I don’t want to open that up to everyone I speak to. Sometimes to even ask others how they are doing is near impossible with the throbbing in my shingles spot; I am so sad I can’t even hear their answer through the gnawing in my head. I’ve never been this debilitated before, and most people have absolutely no idea I even suffer.

I’ve watched primarily my husband (& my mom) see me change. Because at the end of each day, I can finally let go, and often times that means crying with an ice pack on my head. I cry so often in the evenings that I have stopped knowing how much is the pain and how much is my medication making me more emotional.

Both things make me cry; I can’t tell anymore. I am drained entirely, and I miss being me.

Side effects from medications are hard, but not as hard as the pain. I’ve never been so vulnerable to my loved ones, and they cannot fix the pain I am constantly in. My hopelessness in those moments turns to despair and depression. I have just now begun recognizing that I do have depression, especially during pain spikes. I don’t want to be the Christian who puts all their joy in circumstances; I have always known in my mind and heart that that isn’t the right thing to do. My body, however, has been failing me; I am not sure how to go through this painful season. I certainly don’t know how to coach others on how to help me through it. Humbling to my core.

support

I recently switched doctors, and my hope is renewed. There are certain friends (& of course family) who DO know my whole story and have walked me carefully and kindly through this whole ordeal. I’ve stopped asking God when it will be over, and now I’m asking Him what His purpose is.

And so, I wrote. I write today to validate the person struggling in silence. Maybe you can’t quite figure out how to let others into your story because it’s too sad, too awful to bother other people with. Let them in. Let someone in, not everybody in. Somebody or two somebodies or even three – they will support you in moments you think you can’t go on. Suffering in silence isn’t brave. It’s not the right thing to do or the kind thing, as I once thought, no matter the type of suffering. Don’t refuse anyone into your world, however hard it is. Claim whatever season you are walking through. “Hello, my name is ******, and I have had difficult, life-altering chronic pain for over a year now.” This is me, learning to accept my season. I didn’t want this season, and I didn’t ask for this season. However I better accept it. I’ve been refusing to for long enough, and that has gotten me nowhere.

So, my first step has been to claim it, to accept it. And to talk to my people about it-with a grateful heart for their loving kindness and patience. I know I can endure the pain, as I’ve been doing so. I just pray that this season of chronic pain does not go without the ability to touch someone else’s life. I want to give this to God to do what He will with it; I want it to produce something worthwhile if that makes sense. So with that, I give you my ‘rough draft’ of this year of pain. It’s not wrapped up with a pretty bow yet. The pain is still here and wreaking some manageable havoc, both physically and emotionally. However, just knowing I’m not alone in this and that I am loved fully through this has meant the world to me. And I won’t be seeking isolation from my loved ones anymore, no matter the temptation to protect them from this. Scripture is my refuge:

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

faith

I’m praying that my Rescuer will once again rescue me from this. However, I am okay whether God brings healing or if He doesn’t.

Work Life Balance: Is There Really Such a Thing?

Work Life Balance. Is there really such a thing as this? Balance, by definition, means “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright or steady”. Upright or steady. Hmmm. I suppose I am upright, I mean I’m not literally falling down. But, steady? Yeah, not so much. My life these days feels more like a balancing act. A juggling act. A mere attempt at keeping all the balls in the air and moving continually to keep them from crashing to the floor. Hardly balance.

I would more accurately describe my life as Work Life conflict. No matter where I am or what I’m doing I feel like I should be somewhere else doing something more. If I’m at work I certainly feel like I should be home with my kids. Helping my 5 year old with reading, playing with my 3 year old, soothing my fussy 6 month old, taking the load of all of this off my husband. I certainly believe in equal partnership between my husband and I, and I am grateful he is such an awesome dad to our kids, but for whatever reason it is so hard for me to shake the idea that I should be there, too. Inevitably when there is a 6:00 pm exhaustion meltdown I think to myself, maybe if I was there to help manage the chaos the night would have gone more smoothly. Except really I know these things happen whether I am there or not. But the mom guilt finds a way… it always finds a way.

And then there’s work. I love my job. Like really love it. Listening, helping, being with other people and their emotions – gives me all the feels. I think I’m doing pretty well most days with keeping my focus on work when I’m at work, but ask me for anything extra and you’ll probably get a big fat nothing. Not because I don’t want to, but because I just don’t have the extra to give. And this is what I’m struggling with right now. My life is filled to the brim, pressing at the seams, and barely contained by the lid holding it all in. In my mind I can easily imagine myself getting to the meeting on time or fitting in an extra call from home. But, think again. At least I’m having to try and do that – Think. Again.

I am (veeerrrrry) slooowwwly learning how to say no to things that I may actually want to do. I know how to say no to something I don’t want to do, but this saying no despite my desire to do it, that’s new. I’ve thought before, if something is important to you then you’ll find a way. Well now while this may be true, you have to consider the cost of doing it. Will getting to the meeting on time mean less sleep than the no sleep I’m already getting, yelling at my kids in the morning because I’m a ball of stress, still showing up late despite my efforts and making people wait? Is that the outcome I was looking for? No. Not at all.

I am having to evaluate and reevaluate my priorities. In truth, just because I want to do it doesn’t mean I can do it WELL. Not at this current point in time. And I do want to do well. In work, in home, in life. So for me – during this season of my life – I am looking to find balance by being more of who I want to be, which seems to mean doing a little less extra. This may be unnerving at times, but if it saves my sanity and gives my family and my work a more focused, calm, and happy me then, and only then, will I call that balance.

			

I AM THAT GIRL

GIRLS MATTER.

Girls receive over 3,000 messages a day telling them what they aren’t and I AM THAT GIRL exists to help them celebrate what they are.  I am that girl is a movement inspiring girls to love, express, and be exactly who they are.

My Girl…You have a beautiful heart and a beautiful mind. I love you! Mom

They have several local chapters of forward thinking girls & women on High School and College campuses. These chapters work to shift girl culture in America, by raising the standards for how girls treat themselves, each other, and the world.

When I spotted this noble venture on line, I was reminded that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is rooted in exploring and challenging negative core beliefs individuals have about ourselves,  others, and the world. This type of therapy teaches the skills necessary to overcome negative & destructive patterns of thinking.

Cognitive behavioral therapy also helps to identify which factors are playing a role in maintaining a negative body image and works to address each one by teaching the skills necessary to allow healing to occur.

Once the negative thoughts have been identified and evaluated for truthfulness, it is time to replace them with positive, productive thoughts that create a favorable outcome. this involves practice and dedication but has been demonstrated to be extremely effective in breaking the cycle of negative thinking.

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” Maya Angelou

If you or someone you know suffers from body image problems, low self esteem, or body dysmorphic disorder, I would encourage you to contact a counselor in your area for guidance and support. Please take a minute today to visit I AM THAT GIRL.COM and take the pledge today!  I have done it…Now it’s your turn. http://www.iamthatgirl.com/

I, Angie Glancy, am that girl…

I have a brilliant heart and a beautiful mind. I am me, an amazing work in progress, and perfectly flawed. I promise to lift other girls up, have their backs, and make it safe for them to be exactly who they are. I’m on a mission to raise the standards for how we treat each other, how we treat ourselves, and how we treat the world. Every time I look in the mirror I’ll remind myself that I’m not alone, that my voice matters, and that I am enough.

 

https://instagram.com/iamthatgirl

Going With The Flow: Accepting Change & Finding Peace

Www.happymindhappyhome.com

My mind feels quieter lately, less disturbed, and much more calm these past couple of weeks. I have gone through a lot of ups and downs this pregnancy and I feel that I’m finally coming to a place of peace, which is somewhat ironic given that soon I won’t be pregnant at all, but instead will have the change of my new baby to grapple with. At which time I’m sure I’ll have a lot of newness to contend with, but for now, I feel calm, quiet, serene even as I enjoy these last few weeks of holding my baby inside.

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These Are the Days

I just arrived home a little carsick & A LOT heart sick. Watching the Frio River disappear from view is undoubtedly my least favorite part of the summer.

My favorite part? Everything else.

My intention was to share my favorite memories with words but last night, while gazing up at 1,000 Texas stars, I drank in all of my favorite songs, and changed my mind.

(It is a girl’s prerogative after all & this Texas Girl is no exception!)

So hear you go folks….this pretty much says it all.

 

 

 

“When a girl asks you to listen to a song, it’s because the lyrics mean everything she is trying to say.”

 

Click below so I can tell you about my trip. 🙂

These Are the Days by Van Morrison

 

Will won our game of Garner Washers but he still owes me a dance!

one step at a time

Sometimes you just have to take life one step at a time. I have been telling myself this a lot lately as the storm in my life is still swirling out of control. I still feel so out of control. My dad lays in a hospital bed so confused about what all is going on. My mom is putting on her strong face while she is falling apart inside. My sister is waiting anxiously to meet her first child. Hubby is trying to hold it together but I know he is hurting as my Dad is the only father figure he has ever had. My kids cannot possibly understand the depth of this storm yet they are being troopers with the change in pace.

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Advice From A River

I am looking forward to hitting the road to the Hill Country for my family’s annual trip to Garner State Park. If you have never experienced Garner State park or floated down the crystal clear waters of the Frio River, then you haven’t Met My Texas...(To quote Pat Green).

The Frio has  become my happy place over the years.

Our Frio River bucket list includes:

  • Making a quick stop near Hunt Texas to watch my son Will put one of his first cowboy boots on the Boots & Barb fence...A memory I hope will last his whole lifetime! 
  • Giggling as my babies play “crack the egg” in the backseat of the truck on the way.
  • Dancing under the stars to the sound of the jukebox…The dance goes on  365 days of the year….rain or shine.No automatic alt text available.
  • Riding horses in the mountains (in flip flops). 
  • Hiking Old Baldy (with a quick stop at Crystal Cave to explore)
  • Watching my son catch minnows with his sister; without an IPAD or X-Box in sight. (This happens to be the one week a year that the phrase NO WIFI  doesn’t send me into mom panic mode)
  • Listening to old Texas Country Music instead of reruns of Sponge Bob.
  • Being quiet & still long enough to appreciate the natural beauty that God has gifted us.
  • Floating the river & covering my eyes when my Emmie & Will attempt rope swing!

A few summers back, in one of the Garner gift shops, I stumbled upon the cutest posters from  a  company called Your True Nature. I reveled in the advice from a river….especially the last line…The beauty is in the journey.

https://yourtruenature.com

 

My advice for this Self Care Sunday is….. get your boots on & get here as soon as you can. I’ll save you a tube & a Shiner.

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How’s your Summer going?

Okay Mamas, we are about four weeks into summer time here in Texas….

How’s your Summer going??

Hopefully you have had time to play at the pool, sleep in, maybe go see one of this summer’s great movies….

Mine, oh, thanks for wondering…..I am enjoying being able to sleep in a bit, having more time with my boys and more time to spend with friends. The boys enjoyed a couple camps to kick the summer off and now they are in the long haul at daycare when I am in the office. The movies this summer have us anxious for the next one and we love our long summer days playing in the pool. We are looking forward to our family vacation next week and the birth of my first nephew any day now. So far my summer is going pretty good! Continue reading