Is it just me or has this year gone by fast? It could be that I spent the first several months of the year recovering from arthroscopic FAI/labral tear hip surgery, but either way I think as they say the years do seem to go by faster as you age!
2013 has been a year of great blessing as I was finally awarded disability after a 2 year wait, but it's also been a year of great disappointment and hurt as two full-time church ministry positions (one we had been waiting on for 8 months) fell through for my husband and he continues to work the horrible, long hours and low pay of retail management. The past 3 months we have struggled to understand what God is doing in our lives or what He wants us to do, but we continue trust in His mysterious providence.
I've been a poor blogger this year thanks to headaches that began after I did an intense juicing detox this past summer (in hopes of it helping with my pain levels). I had a headache every day for 2 months that no medication, rest, or alternative medicine would touch! I continue to get them periodically now, but I am grateful to God I no longer have them every day. I do not know what caused the headaches, but my theory is that the detox and diet elimination (no sugar, gluten, or dairy) I tried for 3 months was very labor intensive and the long hours cooking and standing caused muscle compensation and strain resulting in headaches. I continue to try to eat as "clean" as I can because I do think diet affects the way we feel (though I am confident it is not the soul cause of my chronic pain), but I no longer am adhering to such a strict diet because my body could not handle it!
I am now 1 year post-op from hip surgery. In the last 3 months I finally feel like some of my surgical pain and muscle soreness has gotten better, but I still struggle to lay on my left hip for very long and I still have major muscle tightness (particularly in my IT band, adductors, quadricep, and psoas - though it's hard to tell how much of that is just from long standing muscle compensation and pain). My hip pain was not my worst pain pre-op and most days it is still not my most debilitating symptom. But I do struggle with hip pain if I am on my feet or walking a lot. Overall I would say that I did not see the effect from surgery that I had hoped (namely less overall pelvic pain and improved ability to sit), but I do not regret having the surgery. There were some scary days early in my recovery when it seemed I might have developed full blown CRPS, but while I do have symptoms of central nervous system sensitization I am grateful they are not as severe as they could be.
I have not done a lot treatment-wise this year other than occasional physical therapy visits, self PT (I've found the Therawand to be helpful for pelvic floor pain as well other tools mentioned here), massages (I've found I function much better when I get bi-monthly massages), and of course medication. The first 2 years of my debilitating pain I tried many invasive treatments that only caused my pain to flare and did nothing for my overall pain. Until there are major changes in diagnostics and treatment for pelvic pain I plan to continue to focus my efforts on pain management in the future.
I have spent very little time researching causes and treatments for my pain this year and have for the most part stayed away from forums and message boards. There is definitely a time and need for those things, but for me it has been good to focus on the life God has currently given me this year instead of worrying and wishing for a better quality of life. My daughter is growing up before my eyes so I've been trying to be as involved in her life as I can which leaves little energy for things like pelvic pain forums and blogging (one day my daughter will be in school and there will be plenty of time to work on my writing!).
Ever since my pain became debilitating and I began to accept my new life my biggest prayer was that if it was God's will for me to have chronic pain that He would help me get to a place where I could manage my pain and have a decent quality of life. In my mind I thought that would mean I would have pain managed by only occasional ibuprofen or Tylenol and I could sit for a couple of hours before having to stand up due to pain. I am FAR from those standards of pain management, but if I am very careful to stay within the limitations I've learned over the years including: very limited sitting, limited walking, taking medications, resting frequently throughout the day, getting frequent massages, stretching, doing physical therapy, taking warm baths, etc, many days I am able to care for my family, avoid pain flares, and have a decent quality of life (though very different from most 30 year old mothers).
I still miss my old life, struggle to fight for joy in the Lord, and am often lonely, but I am very, very grateful for how God is sustaining me in my journey with pain. 2013 brought many surprises (including a new puppy) and graces and because of the hope in knowing Christ as my Savior and Lord it is with joy that I can look forward to 2014 and what the God has in store for our family. I hope you've come to know that peace and hope and well. If not, feel free to email me at purposeofpain (at) gmail.com I'd love to talk with you more!