chronic pain

PACE….A Four Letter Word

For the first time since beginning blogging, I found it extremely difficult to put my fingers to the keyboard. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have anything to say, but my thoughts were so negative I didn’t want to bore or depress others who are struggling with their own illness or pain. When I first began blogging over a month ago, I found so many words bubbling around in my mind and writing came easily.

During my first month of blogging I had gone through a nerve block and changes in my medications, in late November, so that my chronic pain would be manageable over the christmas period. While the pain is with me daily, the nerve block provides a time frame of approximately 6-8 weeks, where the pain level can be 5/10 or less. This provides a real sense of euphoria and life becomes much more exciting as I can participate in social events without the fear that the pain will become so severe that an ambulance is called and I have to attend the ER until the pain settles to a more manageable level. I guess during this time I almost feel invincible and make the most of social engagements and outings.

On the 10th of January, and perhaps a few days before, I began to receive physical warnings that the nerve block had run it’s course. I kept this news from family who had travelled two hours on the train to have lunch & get me out of my apartment to celebrate another year of my existence. During the days that followed more pain began to break through and for the first time I experienced mixed feelings. In the past depression would set in and I would avoid leaving my apartment unless absolutely necessary. Social enagements were difficult to plan as now I was in the phase where I could not predict whether or not my pain monster would provide my body with a monumental flare-up. Unfortunately with the diagnosis of Pudendal Neuralgia, when the pain escalates it is incredibly difficult to sometimes gauge how severe the pain will become and when.

I have been working hard on the concept of ‘pacing’ and I have definitely not been the most cooperative or attentive student in this area. In my previous life as a teacher, not only was I required to work longer hours as a result of teaching Gifted Students, but my hobby(one that I thoroughly enjoyed) was studying, I had an immense pleasure in learning. I lived at 120 km/h at all times. Relaxation or sitting still was indeed a foreign concept to me.

But now my body has demanded I make my hobby one of balancing ‘out & about time’, resting horizontally and ensuring a consider all activities that may cause a flare up. Once a nerve block diminishes, pain levels can escalate rapidly if pacing is not my priority. I was reminded of this last Tuesday. I had a medical appointment at our local hospital’s Pain Clinic, a long wait at the Out-patient Pharmacy, a trip to the local shopping centre (which I had to cut short), another medical appointment, and then Buddhist Healing Class. Upon managing to get through the day, I attended physio the next day and was sent home to complete three days of bed rest to help settle my body and pain levels back into a more manageable state. Pacing = Failed!!

I experienced anger, disappointment, frustration and sadness. The difference this time around though, I was able to ‘snap out of it’ much quicker and the depressive thoughts, though heavy and felt ladened with lead, lifted to a more liveable level. The word ‘pace’ has taken on a much more positive role. Instead of viewing pacing as missing out on something, I find I am consistently thinking and planning active, non-active activities and a mixture of both, not only into my day, but more importantly, throughout my week. So now when I know I have meditation classes ( which is such a fantastic tool for pain management ) I try to ensure that there is rest time leading up to the class and also following the class the next day.

I am beginning to feel a shift in my mindset, while waiting for a cure to be found for my illness. I know that i cannot change what i have known and lived over the past 20 years but at least i can know say that i feel that i have taken some baby steps in the right direction towards acceptance and pacing in my current living environemmt. My next goal will be to find a purpose for my existence, as I am more than certain that my future holds more for me that being a chronic pain sufferer. While this job can be a somewhat permanent role at present, I will continue to look for the purpose and meaning of my life and what new adventures lay ahead.

Health & Happiness


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