Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What number is your pain? (aka the most annoying question to be asked when you are in pain!!!!!!!!!!!!) The above drawing is the visual representation of this question, the Wong-Baker Faces Scale. When you are in pain, this ridiculous cartoon is insulting and absurd. I mean, seriously.

I was hospitalized in the beginning of March due to unbearable, excruciating levels of pain. Shallow, hyper breathing led to numb hands, and the pain in my stomach shoved vomit out of my mouth. By the time my husband got off the phone with the on-call doctor, I couldn't even stand up. If my stomach would have exploded, spraying my organs all over my living room, it wouldn't have been surprising. Getting into his car was inconceivable, so he called an ambulance.

As the paramedics were wheeling me out of my home, one of them asked me, "What number is your pain, on a scale from 1 to 10?" (Now I realize he was just following protocol, and they were all very kind to me, so don't get me wrong. However...) I wanted to screech, "What the hell do you think!?!! I am bawling, vomiting, and being carried on a stretcher (into the cold without my socks, shoes or jacket)!!!! Ummm if only I had a chart of cartoon faces for each number, I would be better equipped to answer this question. I'm at freakin' TENNNN!!!! Actually, I might as well be at a 10,000!!!!"

If you have ever been in the hospital in terrible pain, it probably won't surprise you that I endured being asked this damn question over & over during my three day stay. The nurses would bring the morphine & before they would administer it, they would ask for my number. Each time in my head, I rolled my eyes and flicked them off...but actually responded, I hate this question, followed by my number. (I know they're following protocol too. And I appreciate their work too). Meanwhile I thought...

I have not felt every possible pain, okay?! I'm sure if a rabid lion pounced and mauled me, I may experience a higher level of pain. If I was run over by a semi truck seven times and then trampled by wild boar, yeah that might hurt more than this does. But as you may have noticed, I am still crying, doubled over with pain, my white blood cell count is elevated. So right now, it seems this is maximum misery. Can't you just look at me and ascertain this obvious fact? I don't need a Comfort Scale (aka Wong-Baker Faces Scale); I don't even remember what comfort feels like. I need morphine!!

The question feels more like an interrogation. You might be an addict, you know. (But I'll talk more about my experiences with pain meds in a later post).

(Jenndo observes) Poor 8 really wants to cry, but she's too fatigued to hear another person tell her to toughen up. And she's gotten used to choking back her tears. Sometimes even 6 cries too. Because pain sucks. And what number is your pain is hard to answer in one syllable. Feel free to attach whatever number you see fit to the description above.


Monday, July 26, 2010

The indescribable pain is gone. It is a miracle. (My doctor's word choice & I concur).

The pain arrived at the end of January. I started taking Vicodin (acetaminophen and hydrocodone) to cope. And I just stopped taking it last week. That's a long, long time (for someone who has never taken narcotics). Vicodin gave me the ability to slightly function; without it, I would have never gotten out of bed.

After six straight months of daily Vicodin use, it is fair to say that my body has become dependent on this drug. I didn't worry about this when I was in pain. I knew I would have to deal with it someday, but it was a small price to pay for the relief.

Last week, I started to reduce my use. I wanted to just stop taking it completely, to be done with it forever. But I knew that wasn't the way to do it. I would have to wean off the drug.

The first and worst symptom I experienced was extreme body aches. It was similar to the last time I got a terrible flu. My entire body screamed. I felt like I couldn't move. It was a frightening reaction, as if my whole body was demanding this drug.

Nausea, headaches, stuffy nose, shortness of breath & anxiety soon joined the body aches. I called my doctor's office for help. The doctor suggested I switch to Darvocet since it is not as strong as Vicodin. I was instructed to take the Darvocet at the times I was taking Vicodin, and reduce by one dose each week. I am now taking two Darvocet pills a day. I am still having minor withdrawal symptoms, but the Darvocet has helped. I can't wait to stop taking it all together, to take one more step toward a healthier life.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This is one of my most favorite songs. I've got two versions for ya. The orig Bob version & the super awesome cover by Ben & Jack.

This song represents all the love & close relationships in my life. (We love it so much, it was our bridal party dance song).

I dedicate this song to everyone who helped me find my way through one of the worst times of my life. It was a low, low tide. I'm gonna always be your friend.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Gracefield Labyrinth

I am attempting to utilize these weeks as an opportunity to find my inner calm space. Bask in the comfort of the quiet peace. I've been interested in meditation for awhile, but haven't yet given it my all. It's feeling like the time is now.

With perfect timing, I just discovered that my aunt (I am blessed with many wonderful aunts, you may have noticed) has a labyrinth at her church. I didn't really know about labyrinths (my first thought was the movie), so I have been doing a little research. I'm feeling so inspired by the concept.

A labyrinth is one connected path, leading you either to the center or the entrance/exit. You are never lost. There are no tricks; it's not a maze. You walk the path to your own tempo. Along the way, you can meditate & pray. Beauty-full.

I want to find space in my yard to create one for our home. I'm drawn to meditation, but am a novice & haven't mastered sitting still & quieting my mind. Incorporating movement into meditation by walking the labyrinth seems it would create a focus & the beauty of the outdoors would help quiet my mind.

I liked this website's explanation of labyrinths & their openness to sharing theirs with others. The serene labyrinth picture above is their creation. Visit the link for more information.

It may take some time for me to create my own, but I am excited knowing my aunt's church is a short car ride away. I can't wait to experience it for myself!

I want to be Zendo Jenndo even with Endo, my Friendo. (You know I can't resist a fun rhyme & making up words!)


Friday, July 9, 2010

Why am I thinking about Christmas movies again? It's summer & hot as all get out.

Whatever time of year, this scene is one of my faves. And so is smiling! Here's to having something to smile about.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I am excited to share my experience with an endo-related product I recently purchased. It's called EndoFEMM. I randomly stumbled across their site a few weeks back. I decided to give it a try.

EndoFEMM is a reusable popcorn-filled pad that can be used as a heating pad or an ice pack. It is specifically shaped for cramps & pelvic pain. (It kinda looks like a big pair of panties. See above). EndoFEMM comes equipped with loops to attach velcro straps (sold separately) so you can wear it on your stomach. This feature was what sold me. I could heat up the pad, strap it on, & move around (do dishes, fold laundry, play with my doggy etc.).

During the peak of my pain, I was using my plug-in heating pad a lot. A LOT. So much in fact, that I unknowingly burned my stomach. I realized this not because of pain, rather the strange lines that appeared on my belly. I didn't realize I could burn myself without knowing it, but apparently I did. So I decided it may be time to retire that old heating pad. So my random discovery of their product was timely.

I placed my order a couple weeks before my surgery. With that in mind, I decided to purchase two pads. I bought the original size & the travel-size (called Endo-Lite). I figured both would come in handy. My plan was to have one available as a heating pad & one as an ice pack.

I found the ice pack to be tremendous for post-surgery pain. I liked it so much, I ended up putting both pads in the freezer, so I could alternate & always have one of them cool & ready to use.

I found another use for them too. When they have lost their cool, I place a regular ice pack in between the pad & my belly & it holds the ice pack in place. I am happy with my purchase & recommend EndoFEMM for their effectiveness, shape/design, portability & dual use capabilities.

This is their website if you want to check them out: http://endofemm.com/products.html

They seem like they would be quite easy to make too.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Hey Friendos! I have many post drafts I have been working on for the past few months. I still want to share these posts, even if some of them are no longer current. Here is the first one. So don't be confused, I am still improving & feeling better. 

How are you? A simple enough question, right? It used to be. Lately, I have been having trouble answering this question.

When people close to me ask me how I am & they really want to know, that question is getting harder to answer. I am trying to remain positive, but the truthful answer to this question is not positive. It's quite depressing really. I don't want to be Debbie Downer. I certainly don't want them to think they have to endure lengthy medical discussions in order to have a conversation with me.

Here's a great example. Weeks into my daily pain, my Dad asked me how I was. I responded good. His face lit up & he excitedly responded, "Really?! You're feeling better?" I replied, "Well no, I'm not good. I'm the same." I felt terrible as the smile faded from his face.

The best answer I have found so far is, I'm the same. It's a simple answer & I can be truthful without delving into all the ugly details.

When things got bad, I initially retreated into hermit mode. I didn't call my friends or my family. I felt like I had nothing positive to say, so I didn't want to talk to anyone. I'm a talker, so this isn't normal behavior for me. I started to slip into a lonely depression & it would have been easy to plummet to the bottom of that hole. Luckily, I recognized what was happening & consciously pulled myself up. I tend to go into hiding during my period, when I'm at my worst. Who doesn't want to be home when they're ill? That worked fine for me when my worst wasn't every day. I had to develop new strategies & fast.

The main new coping mechanism was starting this blog. It gives me a place to voice everything I'm feeling. If someone is interested in all these details, then they can read this blog. Since they are reading it voluntarily, I don't feel guilty for expressing the truth of my condition. It's brilliant.

I sincerely appreciate anyone taking the time to ask me how I am. So please don't take this as complaining. I am very aware how blessed I am to have people who truly care how I am.

I hope the day comes when this is an easy question to answer again. I can't wait to tell everyone that I am good & mean it!