Sunday, April 17, 2011

PFAM: Diagnosiversary

Patients For A Moment (PFAM) is a patient-centered blog carnival to build connections within the community of people who blog about illness, disease, and disability. Rachel, at Tales of Rachel, is hosting the April edition of the PFAM blog carnival. This month's topic is: "Diagnosiversary: Explore what living another year as a patient means to you. Is a diagnosiversary or birthday something to celebrate, or more of a sad thing, or both?"

Rachel writes:
"Some look to their diagnosis with relief that their symptoms have an answer. Others lament another year with a condition that saps their physical and/or emotional strength, hoping for a cure to materialize. Still others were diagnosed soon after birth or as young children and know nothing of life without their conditions. And, of course, there are some of use for which a diagnosis still lingers."
I've had pain for such a long time, that it's actually nearly impossible to remember a time that I didn't hurt. While I don't know when exactly all of my pain and diagnoses began, there are a few dates that are instilled in my memory.

April 6, 2001 - I experienced an intense hip pain at a track meet, which ended up being tendinitis bursitis. I thought this was an end to my running and softball careers; but I worked hard through physical therapy and retraining, so I could compete my senior year of high school (I had to sit out my junior year).

August 2002 - I had worked hard to heal and retrain after my hip injury. We were just about to begin cross country training... I woke up one morning, unable to move. My low back hurt so badly. I did physical therapy, but never figured out the cause of the pain. I had some back pain before this injury, but it was pretty well-controlled by chiropractic visits. I've had chronic low back pain (with ups and downs), since the injury.

October 10, 2008 - I was in a car accident. I hurt my neck and right shoulder. I also suffered a concussion. I've had chronic, debilitating migraines, since the accident. I've had numerous tests done, visited a lot of doctors, taken more meds than I care to think about, done physical therapy a few times, etc... The accident has also resulted in depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I had some headaches and migraines before the accident, but they were infrequent and controllable... not even close to the same kind of pain that I have now. I also had some struggles with depression and anxiety before the accident, but I was on antidepressants and had been doing well. Then, after the accident, I suddenly couldn't handle stress anymore. The depression became worse - both the highs and lows became lower. I'm still trying to work through these things, but I think it's going to be an ongoing process.

Photo by Kaptain Kobold

I had a hard time for years following my April 2001 injury. The injury ended me being able to play softball and run - things that were major parts of my life, and helped me express all of my emotions (positive and negative)... without them, I was lost.

Since my October 2008 accident, I find myself having a difficult time dealing with it... especially around every 6 month mark. Whenever I cross over to the next half year, I struggle with the reality that I'm still in so much pain, we still don't understand why I'm still hurting so much, and all the changes that the accident/pain have made in my life.

So each year that goes by has mixed emotions. I don't have answers for why I have a lot of the chronic pain I have. It's another year of unanswered questions, numerous doctor visits, and unsuccessful treatments. But, it's another year of being grateful for my family and having access to medical care.

HAWMC Prompt 17: Mindful Moment

I'm participating in WEGO Health's Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge (HAWMC) in April.

Today's challenge is to describe something sensory with as much imagery as I can. Mindfulness is "an attentive awareness of the reality of things (especially of the present moment)."

Van Gogh's Starry Night
The soft breeze brushes across my face, as I lounge in an open field below the blanket of stars in the night sky. Looking up at the heavens, surrounded only by the beauty of nature, allows me to spend precious time alone with my Lord. And, for those moments, I feel peace.
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