You Start With a Lemon and Squeeze the Heck Out of It

So, I am serious about this lemon kick. First think of course,  I looked for a photo of a good squeeze. This was the first one that came up and, Ahh!! I cringe looking at it. Why? Because it looks so painful to squeeze a lemon like that!  I can barely open a bottle  of lemon juice without  wincing so to squeeze a lemon like that… whew. No thanks.

I’m concerned that what is going on will look more dramatic than it is, and freak out some friends.  Also, I hide half of it trying not to talk or make a big deal out of it, so I send mixed messages… It just is what it is and I’m trying to deal with my days.  And I’m not one who likes the extra attention, actually, even though I need it desperately.

So,  it started with getting sick 2 years ago, exactly, in January/February.  What seemed like the killer cold/flu combo that would not go away was actually Epstein Barr.  At that point I was already struggling to keep my exercise up, because I love exercise and I need it. I had torn a ligament in my right ankle the summer before (2010) and was still unable to do most of the things I had enjoyed so much that kept my body going.
I couldn’t get better. For months. Suddenly, overnight, I was a completely different person.  I went from the woman with a freak ability to go days without solid sleep and still have a smile and energy, to weak, constantly aching, and needing 2 naps a day ON TOP of a full nights sleep. I suddenly couldn’t follow through with anything.  My body was so angry at me it wouldn’t let me live life the way I always have, full of activity and adventure, of kids and friends.
Around the same time that I got sick, my gall bladder started acting up.  I knew what was up.. I had it’s number. I just kept ignoring it.  I’ll do this cleanse and this diet..all the healthy types to try and lose weight AND balance my body’s mounting list of complaints.  The gall bladder attacks were bad but I know people live with this, right?
That summer (2011)  the gallbladder escalated. I had an extreme attack and a midwife friend of mine insisted that I go to the ER. She even threatened to drive to my house and get Travis (at 3am) if I tried to drive.  I complied and another friend sat with me in the ER long enough for them to call me in and confirm what we expected.  My gall bladder looked like CRAP.   Being who I am, and always wanting to check my options.
Wait, I’m making this too long. If I describe how everything has unfolded over the past 2 years we will be here forever. Let’s summarize.

  • I spent the next two weeks researching options, doing a few crazy sounding things to clear gall stones. Then I just had the surgery.   After surgery I did not rest the way I was told (surprised?) which resulted in an infection that knocked me out a few more weeks.
  • During this time I started seeing a neurologist, after seven years of pain and issues with my back from a large herniated disk and degenerative disks.  Tried physical therapy (have done chiro off and on over the 7 years), I still deal with the pain daily but it is much better. Unfortunately it is better because of prescription drugs that I do not want to be taking but being a mom, wife and doula was becoming impossible. I’ve been on cymbalta for the pain for almost 2 years now. NOT good. I want off.
  • After surgery, I started having extreme attacks of chest pain and went to the ER a few times for it.

This is still going to take forever…Try again.

1. Pain has been a consistent theme for me ever since the car accident in 2004 that injured my back. It’s frustrating that it’s not “that big” of an injury, but it limits me extremely.  Over the past 2 years pain has seemed to spread like wildfire. But that’s not it either.  To be more accurate, my tolerance for pain in different areas has disappeared.  I remember pain in my hip as young as 9 years old when I was in dance classes.  And telling myself to get over it. After acting like it’s just a quirk for my entire life, the pain is NOT cooperating and I finally had it looked at.  Did you know that it’s not just puppies and babies that get hip dysplasia? Or 70 year olds?  It can actually be told to a happy 34 year old woman who is loving life that she has to have hip surgery or she can expect a hip replacement around 45.  Yeah. Nice. If you click on that link there it shows the different states of dysplasia.  Mine is about a C. You can actually SEE my hip sticking out if I’m standing.  My hope is to get to the chiropractor and start working on this and to do some physical therapy. I just feel like my past experience has shown that…well… my body’s a bitch. I don’t have much hope of avoiding the surgery, so if I’m going to have it, I’m doing it before July so I don’t have to pay another $2500 deductible.

2. Back to other pain… It’s everywhere. Feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, neck, back, wrists, hands… Dear Lord, my hands. It’s taken me hours to write this so far because I can only type for about 5 minutes at a time before I just can not move my fingers anymore.  At least once a day I stare at my wrists and hands, as I feel them throbbing and shooting pain… and I think… What the…?!?!?!  It’s really just amazing that fingers and wrists can writhe with a pain so all consuming.  I’m intrigued… I want it gone!

3. I’ve also had problems with my shoulders for years. I’ve had it looked at in the past.  It’s been a problem since my early 20’s waiting tables and carrying trays loaded down like I was in a standoff with Hercules and had something to prove.  Searing, shooting pains that make so much of what I want to do impossible.  If I’m going to get this other stuff taken care of while my insurance is paying 100% , I need to be practical and work on this, too

4. I have a para-esophageal hiatal hernia.  This means that my esophagus is herniated (an enlarged bulge) above my stomach.  I have regular attacks of incarceration of the stomach, which means that the stomach actually slides up into my esophagus and gets stuck. It feels like a heart attack. It is living hell. I would trade for 14 hours of pitocin without an epidural, gladly.  The episodes last anywhere between 15 minutes and 4 hours of feeling like I am dying, laying on my back unable to move, speak, often vomiting from the pain which is even more dangerous because it can cause more of my stomach to rise.  I have worked on massage, yoga positions to release it, worked with a dietitian and take prescriptions for reflux.  Unfortunately, we can not get the episodes of incarceration/strangulation to stop so surgery is going to happen. I’ve been trying to avoid this for over a year but I’m at peace with it now.

5. One of the reasons for trying to avoid surgery was, what seemed to me, the absurd suggestion by my PCP and agreement from my neurologist, GI and nutritionist that I should absolutely undergo gastric bypass at the same time.  Because of the way the esophagus is repaired there is a great chance for it to re-herniate without the stomach also being taken in.   I didn’t like the idea. I actually still don’t and didn’t really agree to it until I sat down with the GI and told him I though it was BS. He agreed, it does sound like an excuse.  But then he explained what the potential is of not doing it. And he used a sewing visual, which I can totally understand. If you’ve ever turned a tube of fabric, like making a purse strap or something, you’ll be able to picture this.  the way my stomach is coming up into my esophagus now, there is too much room and that is why it is happening.  When they go in like a tailor with a big pair of pants, they will “take in” the large part of my esophagus.  If they don’t continue the “seam” down my stomach, there is a high chance that the pressure of a larger stomach will cause the esophagus to stretch again and they can’t keep doing repairs on it. To be honest, the herniation is quite common.  More than 50% of us have one of some extent and most people don’t even know it. I’m one of those lucky few who have one large enough to threaten their life. Nice, huh?

6.  I was told (I suppose I should say diagnosed, I just don’t WANT to) that I have fibromyalgia and that is why I’m dealing with such constant pain.  I still have my doubts about this. They have me on the highest amount of Cymbalta (for chronic pain) and I still am in this much pain? Every. Single. Day?  I work through it. I live.  A do my job which is very physical and supports others. I love it. I’ve limited my work load greatly.. but I’m still living and enjoying the life and family God has given me. I just want some of this to stop!

7. I have several other symptoms, chronic fatigue yet frequent insomnia,  random long term nausea for no reason, migraines,  blood sugar issues, high blood pressure, constant shaking….

There is my ramble of my most obvious issues. None are cancer. None are tragic. There are people out there who need much greater support and prayers.  For me, I’ve got over $200 a month in just “walk in the door co-pays”.  I’m living WITH all of this pain and still trying to be a mom and a wife.  And because I homeschool, I’ve been taking my children to as many of my appointments as I can.  I just can’t anymore.

So, yeah. My body is turning out to be a lemon, with many quirks and issues that are not fun. But I’m ok. I’m going to make the BEST lemonade ever out of what God has given me. And over the next 6 months that starts with the obvious, which is squeezing the heck out of this lemon. Finding ever little thing, every drop… to extract it all and turn it into the best batch of lemonade I can imagine.

Now, if you’ve read all of this you deserve a laugh. Here you go.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Megan on February 17, 2013 at 1:17 am

    I’m so sorry! I know how tough it is trying to be a mom and wife and homeschool teacher without all the added pain and troubles. My heart certainly goes out to you and I hope I can help out in a small way at least. My computer is shot at the moment and my Internet is acting up – so I’m doing all this on my phone and data plan. Praying you get much needed answers and wisdom to know what to do. ❤


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