Balancing Act

Juggling a healthy work life balance is difficult for most people. Throw in suffering with pain and you have a circus worthy balancing act on your hands! I have always been taught nothing in life comes for free and you will never be handed anything on a plate. Everything I have I have worked hard for and earned for myself. Something I am very proud of and wouldn’t change for the world. This has led to me having a great work ethic. Currently I am balancing two jobs. My main job is as a support worker. I work 3 days a week doing 12 hour shifts. This leaves me 4 days a week I can pick up shifts in my second job working in a pub, where I aim to pick up about 10 hours a week. I love both jobs, don’t get me wrong neither are my dream job but I do enjoy them.

This week my combined hours from both jobs where over 60. Before my chronic pain I would have no problem doing this. With our wedding in July, a dying car and saving for a house 60 hours a week is what I need to be doing to get everything I want. And I’m not shy of working after all nothing in life comes for free. However throw the chronic pain into the mix and 60 hour weeks are all of a sudden a daunting and impossible task. Knowing you’re going to be agony by the end of the week is a horrible feeling and entering the week with a positive attitude is just not going to happen! Throw in the new pain meds which make me stupidly drowsy and finishing one job at 10pm and then getting up for the other job at 6am is grim. I finally make it to a day off only to spend the entire day running around cleaning the house, doing the laundry and making sure there’s food in. Basically this week I have been a groggy, grimacing mess. I do my best to smile at work and pretend everything is fine. Taking it out on my co-workers in not an option. It is my choice to work so much and saying no to work is almost never an option for me.

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I’m a workaholic! However I am facing the fact that with this chronic pain being unfixable I am going to have to think about cutting my hours down a little. This is something that fills me with dread. I have always worked hard and been proud of what I have to show for it, whether its something as small as I have treated my self to a new t-shirt or that my new car saving pot is getting bigger. The thought of cutting my hours immediately makes me worry. I want to have money and be comfortable. To achieve that to me means working hard. Cutting my hours makes me worry I wont have the things in life I want. Earlier I found myself ranting to my husband to be about how we will never have any money, we will be stuck with my s*** little car and we will never have the money to move out of our little flat. The truth is that cutting my hours a little will make very little financial difference but will make a massive difference to me. It will give me that one day a week to sit around and do nothing and rest! I need to convince myself to stop being so pig-headed and give myself a break! We are not going to face bankruptcy if I work 5 hours less a week!

Another kick in the teeth this week was seeing my old job advertised. Working with horses was more than just a job, it was a way of life. And loosing that because of this stupid chronic pain feels like loosing a part of myself. I got very upset seeing the job advertised, I would give anything to be pain free so I could go back to it. But the job is just to physically exhaustive for my back. And with the doctors saying there is no cure I need to get my head around the fact the career I have worked so damned hard for is over. Working with horses was my entire life for so long that initially I felt so lost without it! I think this is why I throw myself into work so hard, as working 7 days a week and being on call 24/7 is all I have ever known.

My partner, Rich, is a great support in my life and I do not know what I would do with out him. Unfortunately for him he gets the brunt of most of pain endured anger rants. He’s learning to smile and nod and let me get my anger out! Getting married to him sometimes fells like the only thing keeping me going! Roll on July!

Until then I need to learn to slow down and give myself more me time! Everything I’m working towards will come in time but it’s not worth getting physically and emotionally exhausted over! I am defiantly no longer the hare! But this crippled tortoise will win in the end!

 

 

 

xxxxx

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m washing my hair that night!

I cannot believe the response I received from my first blog! I have had loads of people contact me sharing their stories and their tips and tricks to make it through the day! Knowing there’s people out there in a similar postion makes me feel far less alone and having people to talk to for help and advice is incredible. I cannot thank you all enough!

Making plans is tough when your in constant pain. I was always the one in our friendship group organising the nights out and the day trips and I would spend every day off seeing friends and family. This has almost come to a halt. I now find I’m the person who says their busy when plans are made or backing out at the last minuet. This is because my back hurts or my pills are making me drowsy. After spending a whole day at work grinning and bearing and pretending to be fine the last thing I want to do is go out for the evening and try to convince all my friends I’m fine too. It is so much easier so just go home after work and wallow in self pity. I find making plans really difficult. If it was a case of I had twisted my ankle I would know that a plan to go to the zoo in two weeks time would be fine as my ankle would be better by then. However with back pain I don’t know if on that day in two weeks time am I going to be having a good pain day or a bad pain day so its easier not to make plans at all! I’ve found I’m not getting out and having fun half as much as I used to. In fact I have pretty much become a recluse. Going to work, come home and repeating that process everyday. Why? Because this way I only have to hide my pain while I’m at work, I don’t have to try and hide it when I’m outside of work to!

Thursday night however I did go out. It was a friend from works leaving do. I had a good night and laughed more than I have done in a while. But not being able to have a drink sucked. While I’ve never been a big drinker I have always enjoyed a few beers when out with friends. Having to sit there all night sober and drowsy due to my pills was just miserable. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed my night out but found myself shedding a few tears on the walk home as I realised my days of dancing the night away until 3am are well and truly over!

This week I’m also struggling with the drowsiness caused by tablets. I have always prided myself in my work ethic (something that was drummed into me from a young age) and have always had a very get up and go personality. I have never been lazy and I detest laziness. These pills however are making me so drowsy they have destroyed all my motivation to do anything! I have found I have had to drag myself to work and I have even struggled with the motivation to take the dogs for a walk! I love getting out and about so not having the motivation is very rare for me! Doing the house work seems like a herculean task at the moment! This is really getting me down. I’m finding myself sitting around not achieving anything on a day off and then kicking myself for it at the end of the day. In order for me to stay happy I need to stay active, but my get up and go has got up and gone.

I still haven’t got the hang of timing when to take my pills either! Take them to early and I pass out by 9. Take them to late and I’m drowsy at work the next day. All in all this week I have been a permanently exhausted pigeon. To make matters even worse these pills are doing sweet f*** all for my back pain. I’m still in agony. Why take them then? Because if I don’t finish the course the doctor will prescribe them again saying I haven’t given them enough time ect ect. Very frustrating!

 

So all in all many ups and downs this week! But still pushing on determined not to give up!

 

xxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing the pain game

So this is my first throw into the wonderful world of blogging!! I have never really understood blogging but after another pointless trip to the doctors, where I ended up bawling my eyes out but more on that later, I think I finally understand. I, as I’m sure many other chronic pain suffers do, have a lot I need to get off my chest. As I am rubbish at actually talking to people this seems like a good way to do it!! Even if no one reads it getting it off my chest makes me feel a lot better!! So here is my story…..

I’m 24 and live the very quiet and frankly dismal town of Taunton. Taunton is known for a few things but mainly being that boring town worryingly close to Bridgwater! My chronic pain journey started a few years. I used to work with horses, every little girls dream job. My dream job. I loved every second of it!! I started working in a racing yard at the age of 17 and at 22 was running a polo yard. To most people this would not seem like a “proper job”, but to me it was everything! I worked exceptionally hard and would not be shy to say I was bloody good at my job!! About 2 years ago I started to struggle at work with back pain. In my line of work this was not exactly uncommon!! But mine progressed getting worse and worse until I could no longer do my job properly! So a year ago I made the heart breaking decision to quit my job and get one of these “normal jobs” everyone was banging on about!! My theory being a 6 month break from working on the yard would sort my back out and I would be back to my wonderful love in no time! Obviously this was not to be….

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So here we are, a year down the line. I should be back at the polo yard cantering the horses around the woods and smelling of horse poop. Instead I’m lying in bed with chronic back pain. Things are not exactly going to plan. My back pain has not got any better since my decrease in work load! In fact its got worse. Every week it seems to get worse. And my dreams of going back to the best job in the world seem to have slipped away entirely!

It’s very difficult to explain chronic pain to some one who doesn’t suffer it themselves. The best way I have found is to imagine watching twilight over and over 24 hours a day 7 days a week. But without ever feeling it yourself it is impossible to identify with someone who does. Chronic pain is exhausting both physically and emotionally. Having to do everyday tasks while it feels as though a burning hot knife is in your back is bad enough, let alone having to work a 12 hour shift with it. You get into bed exhausted from the day willing yourself to sleep. But you can never get comfy as where ever you lie feels like a bed of nails. So you lay there all night thinking of how it would be if you where pain free. how you would skip through the corn fields and get your dream job back. Then get up in the morning to repeat the same process again on 2 hours sleep.

Emotionally chronic pain is indescribable. I have never felt so alone in my whole life! I spend my days pretending to friends and work colleagues I’m fine. I don’t want to be treated like I’m incapable. There is nothing worse when you have chronic back pain than someone saying “sit down for a bit” “ill pick that up” “watch your back”. I am not injured. reaching to pick up that pencil will not hurt my back more and you doing it for me will not make my back hurt less. It hurts all the time. If I’m carrying shopping bags, if I’m doing the dishes or if I’m sat on the sofa watching TV. The level of pain changes everyday, but it never goes away. Pretending to be ok to avoid acts of sympathy and then locking yourself in the bathroom for a mini breakdown seems to be current meathod to get through the day.

 

I am very lucky in that I have an incredible fiancée Rich. He is my rock, he never pesters me asking how my back is. I think he has realised now that the answer is always the same. My back is bad!! He does pick up on the times I’m struggling more than usual and without making a fuss or pitying me he helps me through the rest of day! How other chronic pain sufferers cope without someone like him I will never know. But even with him around this pain is making me feel so alone. People ask “whats wrong with your back” and you can’t answer. People expect a clear answer. “oh ive slipped a disk” or “I just slept funny”. When you try to explain you have chronic back pain, it has no explanation, no cause it’s just there and it’s getting worse people don’t believe you. I have been called lazy and its been said I’m just trying to get out of work. Or its been said it’s all in my head and I’m making it up. The latter of which has been said by family members, this huts more than anything you could ever imagine. Your battling constant pain 24/7 and because you have no bruise or cast ect people don’t believe there is anything wrong with you at all.So you stop mentioning it, you hide it. But bottling up never ends well!! Everyone knows that!

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Today I had a very miserable trip to the doctors. As any chronic pain suffers know your pain meds are your life line to a normal existence. So visiting the doctors once a month for a top up of meds has become a regular thing. I always find dealing with the GP difficult. I have the up most of respect for GPs but they are always so rushed to see the next patient they can hardly see the one sat in front of them. So today I saw a doctor I had not seen before. After a quick run down of everything that had been going on to this point I asked him where do we go from here. After over a year of consistent back pain I was hoping for more than being chucked some pain killers and being shown the door. But lucky I know better than to hope for too much. “Well there’s no point doing more scans, ill write you a prescription that should see you through the next month, but I would say you defiantly wont be going to work with horses and should never ride again” Just like that not only did he crush all my hopes and dreams of regaining a normal life he admitted they would never find the source to this pain. So at 24 I am looking at being in chronic pain for the rest of my life! Not exactly the prospects every 24-year-old would like to face. While I sat there head in my hands crying my eyes out I decided one thing……

This chronic pain isn’t going to own me……

I’m going to own this chronic pain.

 

These new pain meds however are making me exceptionally drowsy so that more than enough blogging for one night!!!

 

Goodnight

xxx