Everything Hurts

chronic pain

Chronic Pain Confessions

chronic pain, blog, mental health, pain, wellness, personalAmanda Vinci3 Comments
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It's time to set the record straight about my chronic pain. Like Usher once said — these are my confessionsssss. And you might find that some of them are yours too.

I feel pain every day.

Most of the time I'm so used to the pain it doesn't really effect me.

If I have more than 2 days of terrible flare up pain, I start to become depressed.

My pain causes depression and depression causes more pain.

When I don't feel good and people ask what could have caused it, I get mad.

I have a love hate relationship with my pain. Sometimes I'm happy I have it. It's made me stronger in other facets of my life.

I really enjoy going to the doctor. I feel like I'm accomplishing something each time I go.

I hate exercising "for fun". Extraneous physical movement is never fun.

When people innocently share what a good workout they've had, I feel resentful.

I push myself just to prove that I can be like everyone else.

I sometimes use my pain as an excuse to get out of things I don't want to do, even if I can do them.

Lots of times I do things I know will cause me to be in pain, just to show that my condition won't stop me.

I loved getting every surgery I've had.

My scars make me happy, because they make my pain visible. Giving it credibility that it is real.

Getting out of bed is the most difficult part of my day. I have a hard time functioning before 10am.

My pain changes constantly and is hard to predict or keep track of.

My ferret, Sneaky Weasel, is the best form of therapy for me.

I sometimes feel jealous of people with conditions that are more visible.

I find too much comfort in my favorite foods. 

Most foods completely disgust me.

Sometimes wearing clothing hurts.

Listening to my body is the best way to treat myself.

I've learned to love myself, chronic illness and all.

I'm very proud of my battle with pain, and love sharing my story with others.

A story of our pain, then and now

mental health, pain, self help, books, story, personalAmanda VinciComment

The other day, my friend asked "can you imagine having chronic pain in the 1800's?" I immediately recalled a short story I read in college — The Yellow Wallpaper.

"You see, he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?" The narrator of the story is at a loss for how to get her doctor husband and brother to see her invisible illness. They tell her that the very worst thing to do is to think about her condition, that doing so will only make her sicker. Boy, if I haven't heard that before.

The woman and her husband rent a mansion for the summer, and she's immediately uneasy with the decision. Everyone around her tells her it'll be good for her, she'll be able to get fresh air and exercise, and the change of environment will help with her poor mental state. Sound familiar? I thought so.

This story was published in 1892. When I read it in 2009 I felt as if I was reading a memoir of myself. Here was this woman, a woman trapped in a time period that felt so long ago — and she was experiencing the same treatment of her illness as I had received. She feels guilty for not getting better, and for not fully appreciating the help others have given her. She struggles with the treatment plan put in place for her. She is ordered to not work, get plenty of exercise and take pills at every hour of the day. She also struggles to define what she calls her "nervous condition."

If you haven't read The Yellow Wallpaper, I strongly recommend it. It is relatable to all of us suffering with an invisible illness, both mental and physical. It perfectly captures in a very personal way just how women with unseen pain were regarded not too long ago. Most women were passed off as "hysterical" when they complained of their pain. Unfortunately most of us have experienced modern day treatment reminiscent of this throughout our own medical journey.

I remember sitting in class as each student read a paragraph out loud. When we had an open discussion about what we read I really wanted to share my story, and how easily I could relate to this woman — but I stayed quiet. I was embarrassed that like the main character, I would be thought of by my peers as crazy or self obsessed. This only made me more like the lady trapped in The Yellow Wallpaper.

This story is a perfect depiction of what can happen to a person when their condition is ignored and their pain is not believed. Although it is not a story of triumph, it is a story that must be heard. Read it here, and let me know how it made you feel.

 
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I get by with a little help from my furry friend

chronic pain, pain, self help, wellness, mental healthAmanda VinciComment
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One of the greatest love stories ever told? It is about the love between a spoonie and their animal companion. Specifically for me, it is between myself and a ferret named Sneaky Weasel. Yes, his name is Sneaky Weasel — Sneaks for short. As many can attest, animal affection is so beneficial when fighting a chronic illness. Mine just so happens to comes in the form of a fluffy, big-butted weasel, with a passion for toy donuts.

Baby wearing? Weasel wearing. Sneaks loves to be held close, and his cuddles are just what the doctor ordered my constant pain is getting me down.

Baby wearing? Weasel wearing. Sneaks loves to be held close, and his cuddles are just what the doctor ordered my constant pain is getting me down.

Four years ago, my boyfriend and I became the proud parents of this little ferret. We welcomed him into our home, and quickly into our hearts (and everything else he could squeeze through). He began to change the way we thought, felt, and interacted with each other. Importantly, he changed how I was able to handle the highs and lows of living with constant pain. 

Waking up in pain isn't quite the same when I've got these guys by my side.

Waking up in pain isn't quite the same when I've got these guys by my side.

It is no secret that those of us who suffer with any long term illness will also experience depression and anxiety. It's so easy to slip into these mental states when thinking about our pain, about the uncertainty of our health and the barriers it has created in our lives. My darkest moments are when I begin to focus on the incurability of what I have, how I may always feel this way, no end in sight. One night last year, I cried for hours in my dark bedroom thinking about this. I was inconsolable. My boyfriend, genius that he is, fetched Sneaks from his sleeping place and placed him on my chest. Sneaks stood perfectly still (uncharacteristic of ferrets). He let me hold him until I calmed down, licking the tears from my face.

I always feel better when Sneaks is nearby, but that night I knew he had become an essential part of my well being. I swear that since then something has changed between us. He senses when I'm having a flare, or am hitting a rough patch emotionally. When I lie in bed, groaning in pain, he hops right on up and gets all up in my face, as if to say "you okay ma?"

Having to take care of Sneaks — clean his litter box, give him fresh food and water, make sure he gets plenty of play time — motivates me to take care of myself. Getting out of bed each morning is so tough, but with cheerful Sneaks looking on, waiting for me to let him out of his habitat, I have extra motivation to start my day.

A sweet celebration. We went all out for the little man's 4th birthday, complete with real gourmet donuts for the humans and tons of toy donuts for Weasel.

A sweet celebration. We went all out for the little man's 4th birthday, complete with real gourmet donuts for the humans and tons of toy donuts for Weasel.

I've had a connection to animals ever since I was a little girl. Being an only child until the age of thirteen meant that I had a lot of nonhuman siblings. From Yorkshire Terriers to a New York Red Rooster to a terrarium of snails, I swore I could talk to the animals, and heard them speak back to me. No matter how sick or alone I was feeling, I always knew I had the companionship of my pets.

My love for all animals has only grown as I've gotten older. Now, more than ever, I know it is essential to my health both mentally and physically to coexist with other creatures. I have become a vegetarian for many reasons, the largest being out of respect for animals. I am so grateful for how they help me to heal a little more each day.

EH Reviews: Atlas Foam Roller

eh reviews, health, fitness, exercise, productsAmanda Vinci2 Comments
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I am so excited to tell you guys about an awesome product I've been using lately! See that big red thing I've got behind me? It's a foam roller. And it isn't just any foam roller — it's an Atlas Foam Roller. If you haven't used a foam roller for your muscle stiffness and soreness, you've got to try it. This has been my first time using one, and I really love it. And if you have tried them out before, take a look at this one by Atlas. It's super high quality, and proven more effective in smoothing and soothing soreness and stiffness (that alliteration is killing me).

This "exercise" wasn't featured on the site, but it's the first thing I did when I tried the roller. Not actually what rollers are for,  but , it felt nice for my shoulder blades and arms.

This "exercise" wasn't featured on the site, but it's the first thing I did when I tried the roller. Not actually what rollers are for, but, it felt nice for my shoulder blades and arms.

New to foam rolling, I had no idea what to do with this big red foreign object I was now in possession of. Where do I start? Here of course ➡️ Atlas Foam Roller's Video Page . I browsed through the videos and singled out some movements that I thought would be beneficial to my pain, and not too difficult to start off with. The guys and girls in the videos were super fit and healthy looking, so I was hesitant. But, within 30 seconds of trying out the roller, I was confident I could learn quickly.

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I started out with rolling out my calves and hamstrings. My calves are always stiff and a little swollen. It's hard to massage-out the pain I feel there, it never quite relaxes. The foam roller didn't hurt while I was doing it, but once I stopped my calves actually felt a little looser. All I had to do was use it for about five minutes too!

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The Atlas Foam Roller has been getting a ton of use since I got home from my cross country road trip. My neck and shoulders are a wreck. Turning my head to the side and using the roller up and down each side of my neck really gives it a nice stretch. There's no set time to roll, do it as long as you feel comfortable.

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Clearly this is not the most flattering look, but it feels really great on your lower back. You simply slip the roller right above your butt, and lift your legs in the air and place them back down. It's a nice light exercise, and also rolls out all the muscles in your hip and lower back area. It's even safe if you've had surgery on your lower spine, like I had. I would just double check with your doctor if your surgery has been recent.

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Luckily, my arms never really hurt me. That wasn't the case this weekend though, after I took my little sister and a bunch of her thirteen year old friends bowling. I hadn't bowled in years, and by the end of our first game my entire right arm hurt from my wrist to my neck. The roller is great for this pain too. Just wedge it against a door frame and your body and squat up and down a bit. This movement was a bit more strenuous than the others I tried, but it really helped me work out this new set of pains.

There's really no limit to what you can do with the Atlas Foam Roller. My favorite part is that you can get a partner to help roll you out too — just lie on your stomach and have them press the roller into you and roll you from top to bottom, just like cookie dough. It's the best way to use it if you're really not feeling well enough for movement.

If you're interested in giving the roller a try, definitely take a look at their video "learn" page on atlasfoamroller.com — they'll give you an even better idea of all that you can do to simply and effectively ease your pain. There are few products out there that allowed me to take my pain relief into my own hands, and this is one of them.

The Atlas Foam Roller has both bearings and handles built into it, this really helps you to get targeted relief, reaching down into your myo-fascial layers of muscle. Really ideal for those of us suffering from chronic muscle pain. The pain at the myo-fascial level is stubborn and difficult to relieve, and the Atlas Foam Roller does a great job at soothing the relentless tension we often feel throughout our bodies.

Check out their website, Facebook and Etsy page.  And if you're located in the Dallas area, their super helpful and friendly founder Mark teaches foam roller fitness classes!

Now excuse me, while I go roll out my pain. Happy MLK day!

Sponsored.

 

 

EH Reviews: Sock Style

style, trends, shopping, pain, eh reviews, chronic painAmanda Vinci1 Comment
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If there's one thing I've noticed in the online spoonie community, it's that spoonies have some great socks. And of course we do, they're a great way to express ourselves and be cozy and comfortable doing so. I'm a sucker for socks – fun patterns, silly sayings, chunky knits – I even collect a pair from wherever I go on vacation.

But socks could do more for you than just look cute and keep your feet warm. Because of my fibro, my calves tend to cause me a lot of pain.The muscles in my calves tighten, making the pain sharp and throbbing, especially during a flare. I purchased a pair of "old people's" compression socks at an airport newsstand. They were nothing special... but I was on my way to a 6 hour flight, and my legs were already pulsing with pain. They were worth the try.

Since then, I've used my bleak, unsexy compression socks to help me get the blood flowing on bad leg days. They help quite a bit, but gosh... do they have to look so unflattering?

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I was on the hunt for some cute compression socks I could rock without feeling like Grandma Moses. That's when I came across these bright colored beauties from Samson Hosiery. They remind me of the basketball socks all the cool kids are wearing, but they provide the same relief I felt with the "medical" pair. These unique socks come in an endless variety of colors, and provide compression gradually to help increase circulation. 

Samson Hosiery sent me 3 of their fun pair to try, the blue and pink were definitely my favorites, and fit the same as the purple. I have wide calves and size 8 feet, and they were just right. The 3rd pair was a slightly different neon green pair with great traction on the bottom of the feet, but a bit too long on my legs – I'm only 5'2".

Samson also carries compression sleeves, providing calf support without the foot being covered – perfect for under your pant leg when you're wearing flats or sandals. Their socks are all one size, unisex, and are performance socks... but if your performance consists of getting out of bed each day, these are perfect for you.

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Here are some stats about the socks:
15-20 mmHg* (medium support compression)

  • Help prevent and relieve minor to moderate varicose and spider veins.
  • Relieve tired, aching legs, and minor swelling of feet, ankles and legs.
  • Help prevent varicose and spider veins during pregnancy.
  • Help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Used in post-sclerotherapy treatment to prevent the reappearance of veins.
  • Ideal compression level for those traveling long distances.

When I first wake up, I'm a little shaky when stepping out of bed. Pulling these socks on in the morning makes me feel like Ariel in the Little Mermaid when she discovers her new legs. They help me to feel stable, giving me a little boost in getting the day going. 

Check out all of Samson Hosiery's amazing compression socks, as well as their fun and unique regular socks over on their Etsy shop. Got to tell you... I've got my eye on their laser cat socks :-P

Sponsored.