You have to read The Beginning, The Day My Life Begins and Two Angels in order for this post to make sense. Seriously I don't even remember how I got into telling this story! Here goes.....
My first outing selling my bags did not just bring me success in terms of sales. The adrenalin, the exhilaration, the serotonin rushing through me made me almost pain free. What little ache I had was tolerable. I was still on full medication.
I started making more bags and going to sell at MAAD regularly and later on I ventured out to other venues. Some were successful but some weren't. My life became pretty normal again. But I longed to be free from my medication. As I became more and more busy with sewing, I wanted more and more time to sew. The medication made me sleepy and I had to take naps everyday. A nap could easily last up to 4 hours. If I force myself to skip my naps, the next day I would end up napping up to 6, 8 hours. Some days I wake up and it's night time! It was a complete waste of time.
Sometime in 2009, with the doctor's and SY's preparation, I went on a weaning off meds schedule. SY had a session with me to help me deal with the pain that may or may not come. First to go was the anti-depressant. Next was the nerves pills. Everything went well for a couple of weeks. And just as it happened the first time I stopped the medication, all the pain came crashing back. The stupid thing was, I kept holding on. I did not go back to the medication. I was so stubborn and endured the pain. This time the pain was like a tsunami. Each cycle started from my shoulder blades and swept up towards my neck. It almost felt like my head would snap off. It was such excruciating pain. By the time I caved in and took the medication a month later, the deep pains had come back. That meant I had to recover from them again.
I went to Dr Tay to get the injections. Dr Tay and SY weren't discouraged. They only wanted to find out what went wrong and get it right the next time.
I finally enrolled in a pilates class as pilates is known to help people with my condition. It was extremely hard to find a pilates class where I lived. I signed a 1 year contract with a gym to attend the pilates class. The class wasn't very good. But I did pick up a number of exercises which helped with my CORE.
By chance I saw there was a pilates class at a community club near my home and enrolled. The instructor was much better than the one at the gym and in total I attend 12 lessons. Her exercises were much more suited to my condition and I found that my CORE became even stronger. She also corrected my posture and I believe I am less hunched back now. Unfortunately, this instructor stopped her classes due to some complications.
A turning point for me came when I went to see my gynecologist. I told him my sad story (so many people had to listen to my sad story including you readers) and of course he had suffered similar pains although not as serious as mine. He immediately got on the reclining chair and showed me an exercise he said would help me recover. It was a simple neck exercise but I had never been taught this before. It is very strange but true. I went home and did this simple neck exercise every day and within 2 weeks I did find my neck getting stronger.
At the end of 2009, I made plans to stop the medication again. I just wasn't going to give up. I have been hiding something from you. One of the big motivation for me stopping the meds was it made me put on a ton of weight. I didn't want to keep on getting fat. This time I decided to do the opposite of what I had been doing. Previously I chose school holidays to stop the meds. I thought it was better because I needn't take the kids to school and monitor their homework. I felt that having a daily routine to adhere to was a better bet for me.
Once more Dr Tay and SY helped me prepare for it. This time they told me to take the meds quickly if the pain came back. In Jan 2010, I stopped my meds. I caved in after 10 days. I really felt like it was the lowest point of my life. I had to depend on the meds for life.
Around this time, a lower dosage of the nerves meds became available. This was good news as I could get my body accustomed to a lower dosage first. Dr Tay suggested I try it.
I remember this 2nd last session with SY and I'll be honest. I was a little disillusioned with her. It was a strange session because I was distant and not very cooperative. Before I left, she asked me this question:
What I would do the next time I felt frustrated or stressed?
I was quite stubborn and said I had no idea, nothing worked.
SY said: I want you to just get up.
And? I challenged.
Just get up and walk somewhere, do something.
Walk where? I asked.
Walk to the end of the room.
And then? I wanted to know.
Figure it out as you go along. Just get up.
So, SY's brilliant parting advice was to get up and figure what to do next as you go along.
I thought it was the most ridiculous piece of advice I had ever been given!
In March 2010, I woke up one day and decided not to take my anti depressants anymore. One week later, I decided I would not take my nerves meds as well. Yes, history did repeat itself. I felt the pain stirring again. It really frustrated me. Then I REMEMBERED SY's advice. I got up and yes, I seriously walked to the end of the room. I reached the door. I turned around and walked to the other end of the room. Then I noticed something I had been looking for and I tided up a little and then I went and did something else. And every time I felt the pain stirring, I just walked somewhere and did something.
One day I was out with the family when hubs suddenly asked me if I was still on medication. I told him no and then it hit me. I had been off meds for 2 whole months and the big pains did not come back. I tried not to have high expectations and busied myself with my sewing.
♥ It's been 2 years 2 months since I stopped my medication.
♥ I no longer attend the Pain Clinic.
♥ Most days I have no pain. But I still have myofascial pain. I know now I will never be completely rid of it. It was very hard to accept. It pays little visits from time to time. I beat it off with a big broom.
♥ I do the exercises when I feel achy.
♥ A few times, the pains stayed a bit too long. It scared me but I eventually got rid of the pain without medication.
♥ I no longer have those crazy ceiling nightmares.
♥ Stress is still my biggest pain trigger.
♥ If you see me getting up and walking to the end of the room, it's just therapy.
♥ I no longer go for Pilates. I should. I will.
♥ And I still take the occasional nap.
Myofascial pain left its mark. I can no longer do these
♠ Tilt my head up for long. This means I can't clean the ceiling, the windows or paint my home. I think I can live with that.
♠ Lift both my arms in the air for long. This means I can't hang too many batches of laundry, clean the ceiling, the windows or paint my home. I think I can live with that.
♠ Dance in twirls or swirls. Too much neck rotation is to be avoided. I'll just boogie.
♠ Scrub the floor for too long. Too much stress on the shoulder blade is to be avoided. I think I can live with less housework.
♠ Carry heavy objects, grocery bags or move furniture. I can certainly live with that.
I used to think that myofascial pain robbed me of 2 1/2 years of my life. I have gone past that now. Of course I wished it never happened. But it did and I am grateful I overcame it. When it first happened, I felt so utterly alone and hopeless. The right people helped me and I honestly can't even express my gratitude in words. All I can say is they saved me. My poor family - hubs and the kids but especially hubs - they lived through the pain.
There is nothing brave about how I overcame my illness. In fact I can assure you I possess the appropriate cowardly traits. Everything I did was just human instinct to survive.
I wish I could say this pain made me a better person like in the movies where there is a happy ending. Nothing of that sort happened. This is real life. I'm still the same pain-in-the-ass person I was before. I still have bad habits and don't do everything that's right for my body. But I did learn one big lesson.
One day and I think it was during one of my most difficult pain episodes, hubs became very angry with me over something and he told me:
You did this to yourself.
When I first heard what he said I was very angry and couldn't believe it. I felt totally abandoned and alone. I went into this very bitter stage where I blamed him for every single bad thing that happened to me. I had all these revenge scenarios in my head. I wanted to inflict pain on him.
Later I thought about it and hard as it was, I agree with hubs. I did do it to myself. Myofascial pain doesn't just happen to you by accident. The person I was, the way I lived my life, my way of thinking, my stubbornness, my harbouring of grudges, my inability to be forgiving, the way I sat, the way I walked, the way I dealt with people, stress, situations, my carelessness when I overdid heavy moving, obsessive cleaning - all these led me to the pain. I am responsible for me.
This is a big lesson for me. I have changed myself in as many ways as I possibly can. This is one of the goals SY had for me. Change yourself and not others because you have control over yourself. It is an on-going process and I continually adjust my way of thinking, behaviour and expectations so "I never do it to myself" again.
Do I fear the tsunami pain coming back? Yes. Do I fear I won't be able to overcome it? Yes. My fear keeps me on my toes.
Thank you for reading my long story.
Dare you to move
Dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
Dare you to move
Dare you to move
Like today never happened