Dr Google Says I am Probably Dead Already.

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How many people with chronic back pain also have generalised  systemic pain? I do. How many of you have diagnosis for those aches and pains that has a different cause than injury or Degenerative Disc Disease? I don’t yet.

I have many aches and pains that appear to come hand in hand with chronic pain. I’ve diagnosed myself with so many conditions I Dr Google even suggests I should probably be dead by now. I don’t want to be ‘sick’. That’s not the reason for my searching.  I want a reason for being in all-over pain. I don’t want to think it’s just back pain causing it all. Because, if that’s true, it really does fucking suck.It goes without saying that my back pain is ever present. To greater and lesser degrees of intensity but a constant nevertheless.  Sometimes though, I also have whole body pain. When this happens my hands hurt; my feet hurt; my blood hurts; I feel nauseous, often I vomit. I am exhausted. Like the flu but without getting the flu. I have flare-ups of skin problems: little blister-like spots on my face; bigger ones on my ears, and on my feet. Often, a ‘flare-up’ of these symptoms would indicate a massive flare-up of back pain. In fact, in the first couple of years I could predict a flare-up of back pain by my blood hurting in my hands, feeling sick and throwing up. Now often I get these symptoms without an increase in back pain, possibly as back pain is already quite high.

Needless to say I have spent a long time trying to figure out what this might mean and how it links with my lower back problems. I have some theories, of course I do! So does my GP, and others around me.

  1. It’s intervertebral disc leakage from a tear in the disc; leaking into my bloodstream and nerves, my body reacting to the toxic gunk that comes out. The problem with this theory is that since my discectomy in June 2013, as far as I know any tears are no longer there. I personally loved this theory of mine (no evidence to back it up!). healthcare professionals didn’t have much to say about it.
  2. These flare-ups are bugs: a common cold, a virus, etc. This is my GP’s favourite theory. It goes like this:  ‘Normal’ people get colds. But Degenerative Disc Disease means I have chronic inflammation in my lumbar spine, so for example it’s at ’50’ where people without chronic inflammation have markers at 0. When people/I get a common cold, normal inflammation rises to 50, but my spinal inflammation rises to 100. Thus increasing the already present inflammation and causing even more pain. And all the other symptoms are what other people with bugs would get, but i don’t feel it as quickly/quite the same until I am proper sick, due to it all being masked by pain medication and anti inflammatory medication. It also means that I don’t respond as ‘normal’ people do when I am sick, i.e. resting, more fluids, etc, because I don’t realise I am unwell.  Then I get rundown and this causes skin infections etc. Possible. It’s probably the most plausible. But, I get these ‘bugs’ an awful lot.
  3. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis or some other Inflammatory Arthritis. I return to this one occasionally as I keep going ‘oh! I have that!’ to various symptoms etc. I’ve not specifically mentioned it to my GP but have asked if I could have inflammatory issues of some kind and he pretty much laughed. No. He doesn’t think I have any of the symptoms, but did a CRP test to shut me up. And it was ‘normal’. Although, I was not mid flare when blood was taken and he didn’t do an ESR test. Strangely though, this week, I saw a locum GP and the first thing she said was ‘have you been tested for Ankylosing Spondylitis? Do you have a family history of this?’. Then she ruled it out, saying that the surgeons would have looked for and ruled it out before surgery. Not sure if she means they would specifically rule it out or if it would have been visible on MRI. Either way,  this theory is certainly not taken seriously by my GP. Research suggests that trauma or other environmental factors can ‘trigger’ Inflammatory arthritis in those who may be pre-disposed to it, so it’s still a reserve theory.
  4. I have something wrong that is nothing to do with my back pain (like a thyroid problem), and it’s a red herring, because it’s easier, and cheaper to blame one thing and treat that, than try to find another piece of the puzzle among thousands of possible pieces.
  5. It’s a reaction to my medication. This is the overall healthcare professional’s favourite! Despite having no correlation to the dose or type of medication being changed, and flare-ups occurring when not on medication. It is, in my honest opinion, Bullshit. And as above, easy and cheap.
  6. There is nothing actually wrong with me. It’s all in my head, and I am what is medically termed a Hypochondriac. I would like to think not, as I ignore most things until I have to mention them to the GP when too much to bear. But, this does mean I go with lists as I wait, wait, wait, and then take all my (individually minor to him) problems there at once. So, I may either be one, or the GP thinks I am one.

If you have any theories to add, or any ideas on the theories I have aired about what might cause my chronic pain other than back pain, drop me a line, or link me to more blogs/websites. I’ll try to revisit these theories from time to time.

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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I had an amazing Center Parcs Winter Wonderland Holiday last week with my family. It was just what I needed. I went down slides, ignoring the ‘do not go down this very fast slide if you have back problems’ signs, I rode a bike, I walked, I skipped, I felt better than I have for a Very Long Time. We ate lots of food, drank only a little wine (have gone right off it, oddly) sat in front of a wonderful open fire. The weather was freezing, producing a lovely glistening coating of frost over everything – very magical. We swam outside in the dark and fed ducks bread in the mornings on our patio.

I returned relaxed, walking normally, and everyone has commented at work how much better I look, how freely I am walking. I have been smiling, beaming ‘yes, I just needed to let go, I needed to stop worrying and just enjoy life!’.

So, with my upward positive attitude in tact, I headed off for a swim last night, and did 20 lengths, followed by the spa and a quick turn in the sauna. Brilliant, felt great.

At lunch time today I left work due to increasing back pain, and  the now regular flu like feeling that I get when my back is about to ‘go’. My boss agreed to get home and take meds to avert any major disaster.

I am now in bed, unable to stand straight. I just know that as soon as I stand straight, the searing pain will go through my back and legs and my back will, once again, be fucked. Excuse my language but that is the best word I can find to describe it right now. I now know the signs, and the tight deep pain along with the flu symptoms (my blood hurts) which seem to start in my back means only one thing.

I took my normal dose of 100mg slow release tramadol this morning but I don’t want to take another Tramadol through the night as I will be wired and won’t sleep so I have taken the dreaded 60mg Co-Codemol. Shame I have no diazepam left, which is what I ideally should take to stop the muscle spams in their tracks before they start.

Only yesterday I was skipping into work. I only had to do tomorrow before christmas leave, I am not sure I can make it to work for that final day

is this ever going to end? But on a good note, I have gone almost 6 weeks without a proper relapse, which is a good amount of time.

I Balanced My Body!

I did not go to Body Balance last night. I rushed out of the house to cries of ‘but mama, I will miss you! can I come? one more cuddle, and a kiss…pleease? don’t go mama! I have not said goodbye!’ [for the millionth time]. Drove like a maniac the two minute distance to the gym (I could walk but a) that is more exercise, let’s not push it b) it is dark and c) it is going to rain) parked across two spaces like a woman possessed, sprinted (walked fast) towards the entrance to be pipped at the post by three hippy women and as I got to the check-in I was met with a ‘sorry class is full’ as the hippies casually took their shoes off and sort of elegantly tiptoed towards the class, ankle bracelets twinkling. Bitches. That was my class.

What happened next well, I have no clue. I expect it had something to do with missing that mornings meds. After returning home, I joined the family on the bed, for stories, and R put them to bed while I ‘rested’ my eyes. I passed out. Like, actually, no recollection of the next hour until R came up and complained he was all alone.  I could not speak or move, I ‘slept’ until 6:45am and woke with The Most Horrendous Headache, having also missed my meds last night. Tramadol withdrawal is Not Pleasant and I’m not looking forward when I no longer need it.  I have had the shakes all day and my legs almost gave way walking back from the school/nursery run.

I felt so rough, but there was another body balance class at 12:30. I looked terrible, hair was sweaty and yucky, clothes were crumpled, I took the kids to school looking like a fright, baseball cap and long coat on. But I was determined to get to that Class.

And with the help of 3 cups of coffee and some Guitar Hero with R before he went to work, to lift my mood, I did! I had a chat with a personal trainer about parting with £130 per month to get a proper exercise regime going (sod that I can work it out myself thanks) and 10 mins later, I was floating. Ok. I was falling. A Lot. The instructor was brilliant, gave me little shakes of the head which was my cue to stay in Down-Dog or whatever instead of contorting my body into some snake like position (see, I am using the lingo already). I could not even hold my arms out straight without them shaking, but I did it anyway.

And then. Get this. I Went For A Swim. I thought, well, I am here right? 6 lengths of the tiny pool, 15 mins collapsed in the Spa, 20 mins sat in the disabled shower purely to catch my breathe. Well, not purely, I shaved my legs.

Roll on 3pm, I was collecting Winter Boy from nursery like a new woman. My hair had been styled and dried, some BB cream and a little sparkle wake up cream, mascara, lipgloss and I was transformed. Apart from the slight limp from some pain cutting through my hip into my almost numb foot which I was desperately trying to ignore.

Rock On Friday for the next class!  And if anyone is thinking of going (denialandpanic for example) do it. It is brilliant!

I’m On A Mission

Today I am more upbeat. I am thinking positively and this is Dangerous. It means I am on a mission to cure all things that are wrong with me, will be firing a million questions at R and expecting quick responses. Now thank you very much.

The first thing I need to do to cure my ills is to Start an anti-inflammatory diet – I have reading a lot about this recently and I want to start it to help me reduce continued inflammation of back muscles and sciatic nerve. In order to complete this mission I must: find out what increases inflammation – cut that out of my diet, find out what reduces inflammation – add this into my diet, find recipes for food I can eat, find recipes for food we can all eat, cut out dairy, cut out wheat, cut out coffee, cut out wine.WHAT? I am realising quickly that my current diet is made up mostly of pasta, bread, coffee, wine. I will starve. Oh, hang on. caffeine and red wine are also anti-oxidants which are anti-inflammatory. So I can add those to my shopping list? Or not? My head is spinning.I am confused.

But at least I am not Grumpy.