Posted in Ankylosing Spondylitis, Hope & Inspiration, Living with Pain

A Heating Pad, TENS unit and Flexeril Walk in to the bar….

Did that catch your attention? If you live with any chronic pain you likely understand my title and for that, I’m sorry. I recently went through a week of having gorilla pits because I was in so much pain I could barely clean myself in the shower, never mind pick up a razor.

It was a Wednesday morning, like many other days. I left the house for work at the last possible moment, speeding not an option because: A – I don’t speed, B – There are too many deer that randomly run across the road around here, and C – I live in a small community and work for the county government and don’t want my bosses to hear my license plate and name over the radio as the deputy calls in my information to the dispatcher. But mostly I don’t speed because I live a life now that I don’t have to.  But I digress…

By the time I pulled in my parking space, I suddenly felt that long forgotten rusty rebar spine feeling. As I looked down to unbuckle my seatbelt, hot searing pain shot down my spine. Oh holy shit….what the hell just happened??? I painfully inched my way out of the drivers seat and managed to stand upright while catching my breath. Walking like The Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, I painfully and slowly navigated my way to the stairs to the front door, all while carrying on a conversation with a co-worker not letting on how much pain I was in. Fortunately she was walking just a bit in front of me and didn’t see my tin man walk or my one-step-at-a-time up the stairs. I was totally having a flash-back to the time when I lived like this 24/7 acting as though nothing were wrong. I initially thought this searing pain down my spine would go away in a few minutes, just a fluke, maybe a muscle spasm. Over the next hour it got worse, I could barely move an inch without shooting, red-hot stabbing pain running from my neck to my sacroiliac joints. WTF is going on??????? If I attempted to lower my chin to my chest 1/2 inch the pain level went from a 9 to a 900 on that pain scale with no resemblance to a happy face. I sent my husband an email at work, looking for advice. He said it sounded like a muscle spasm and to take a flexeril. I protested at first, I didn’t want to become a zombie at work. His logic was sound – he said I could be a zombie at work and not get anything done or I could sit there in utter pain and still be useless. So I might as well make an attempt at reducing the pain. I cried uncle and decided to go home 11AM, driving my car with my mom following in her car.  My pain level was so high the flexeril hadn’t affected my brain yet – so I felt safe to drive those six minutes home.

Gingerly stepping around cats who were very excited at my arrival home at an unexpected time, I worked my way to my bedroom, one hand over the other holding pressing along the wall to my bedroom whereby I carefully slid my clothes off and my sweats on. I wanted the couch….I needed the couch…I needed to close my eyes because surely the pain would be gone when I woke up. This was just a fluke I told myself.

It was not a fluke, unless you want to call it a week-long fluke. With pillow, heating pad and prayer shawl keeping me company on my couch, I visited the inside of my eyelids the rest of the day and most of that second day. My husband happen to visit the company doctor at work and mentioned how I was home with a muscle spasm. Thankfully the doctor mentioned a TENS unitDing Ding Ding – Oh Yes! I have one of those!! And even better – I know where it is! Getting the pads in just the right places, I dialed in my vibrational relief. Choosing between the various settings I was able to attack that spasm back. Add in a dose of heating pad and a flexeril and I was good to go. Until the third day. None of those three things really helped anymore…I don’t think this is a muscle spasm…hmmmmm.

It was then that I remembered…Oh yeah, I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. This is bone pain. In fact, it really felt a lot like when I had compression fractures from osteoporosis. Then the inner dialogue started….”this can’t be a flare, can it?” “if I have a fracture, how did it happen?” “could this be from my exercise last night?” finally to, “there is no way in hell I’m doing this again!” And once again, my fierce determination came out and I decided to be healed.

Breathing was a chore, and it was very shallow. But I know when you are experiencing pain the last thing you want to do is hold your breath and constrict so I forced myself constantly to observe my breath, to take slow deep breaths until I felt a stabbing pain in my vertebra. I meditated, did Reiki, and thanked my guardian angels for their help. I repeated out loud and silently “I am well.” I also gave in and got out my cane to help me walk. I felt like getting out the cane was an admission of guilt, of needing something else to help me. But I also figured the way I was walking all hobbled over was going to cause problems too, so a cane would be a good thing. Slowly as the weekend progressed, I did start to feel better – not 100%, but better.

At this point, you might be thinking that this girl is full of it….trust me, I know it sounds like a total load of crap that doing these things helped me to feel better. Seriously, talk yourself out of pain? Well in fact it is possible, because I believed it to be possible. I knew that by focusing on my connection with the Universe/God/Goddess/Gaia/Deity – (whatever you look to for a higher source) I would begin to feel better.

One of my favorite spiritual leaders in the world is Dr. Wayne Dyer. I was listening to him recently on a recording of The Aware Show with Lisa Garr. He said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Jesus said, With God – All things are Possible. It’s in the Bible – Matthew 19:26. He didn’t say Some things are possible, he said ALL things are possible. If ALL things are possible, what else is there?” So why not believe that focus and connection with the universe can help us feel better. If we solely focus on our pain, illness, injury that is what we see. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here pain free as I write this. In fact, I’ve got some nerve pain in my rib cage that is three years old that still hits me out of no where. But my changing my focus, I change my experience.

So my challenge to you today is to try something new. Rather than focus on your pain, focus on one positive thing, one beautiful thing. Let that feeling fill up you, even if it is a distraction for just a moment – that is your moment of pain free life. When you practice this, those moments grow one by one.

I’ll leave you with this thought today from Dr. Wayne Dyer:

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change”
Posted in Ankylosing Spondylitis, Crohn's Disease, Crohns, Feelings, Hope & Inspiration, Living with Pain, Writing

Who said farts aren’t funny?

I’m at the point in my book where I’m writing about the times I nearly died from my disease. My background in the book is particularly on Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Nerve Pain; Ankylosing Spondylitis; and the depression that comes along with living with those diseases. I know, totally sounds like a bummer of a book, doesn’t it? Well, that’s just a small part of it, but necessary. The good stuff comes after that ugly stuff!  The whole point is that where I am today is because of all the shitty stuff I’ve lived through – literally! As you come to the topic of shitty stuff, inevitably it all comes back to gas. In my family, that means fart jokes.

Seriously….you can’t tell me that people in your circle of friends or family don’t make fart jokes. I mean, farts are funny after all. How in the hell does our body manage to digest our food and then squeak out gas in such a myriad of tunes? They have to be funny to enough people because you can download fart apps for your smart phone (admit it, you’ve either done it, thought about doing it, or know someone who has). You can also buy props like The Pooter.


 The Pooter is a handy little device you hold in the palm of your hand and at just the right moment you give it a squeeze and voila!! Fart = laughter. These items of course are all the modern day version of the whoopie cushion.  We had a lot of fun with the pooter at a convention once…we even had someone take the blame for the “fart.”

When you live with Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease or any of the other digestive disorders and diseases, farts no longer are funny. They don’t exist anymore for fun, they are just part of the disorder. As I sit here writing about the time I came very close to death because of my Crohn’s Disease I am having a difficult time focusing. So much of that time period was buried in my subconscious, layered in between copious amounts of narcotic pain medications. I’m reliving the really shitty parts of this disease, when my body seemingly turned against me. It’s not easy to think about, and definitely not easy to write about. It was two years of my life that I have varied memories, many of them humorous in spite of the awful stuff happening.  So in the midst of the ugliness that I’m writing about today, I am taking a little break to share some humor.

Remembering and sharing are ways to let others know they aren’t alone. I know I’m not the only person that has ever dealt with this, and unfortunately I won’t be the last. What I do hope is that people will learn that life is tenuous, short and full of surprises. Sometimes those surprises come in the form of a little toot from the nether-region. So next time, go ahead and laugh about it, you have my permission.  Seriously, farts are funny.