My Battle With Chronic Pain Part II: Tendonitis, Sacroiliac Pain, Muscle Strain, Whatever

my battle with chornic pain part II

Vacation in Boston, Summer 2012, Pain level was way down. Such a fun time!

To read Part I Click here. Again, this is a chronic pain post: feel free to skip this one if it’s not your cup of tea. I promise to not always blog about hip pain y’all…

Now onto Part II of the saga.

So where did we leave off? Oh, yes. I was lying on my bed, probably on a hot pad, staring at the ceiling, praying, and crying.

I prayed for help. It came. God has always been so faithful.

The doorbell rang.

“I’ll just pretend I’m not home,” I thought.

“Mom! Mom! Mom! Someone’s at the door!!!  Mom!! Get up! The doorbell!”

Groan. Obviously, we are at home.

“I’m coming. Okay.” I hobbled down the stairs, keeping my arm tucked in close. I answered the door. Just a nice lady needing to ask me a few questions. I don’t even remember her name.

I apologized for taking so long to answer the door. I explained that I’d been having trouble with my back. (It’s just much quicker than saying hip and shoulder.)

And do you know what she did?? She said she could relate! And then she pulled out her phone, and she said, “I have this chiropractor, his name is Dr. Bodnar. Let me give you his number.”

She assured me he was the best, and then she left. I never saw her before that day, and I never saw her afterwards.

I had only been to a chiropractor one other time, way back in 2005, when I was 8 months pregnant and also desperate for help with the hip.

 

I called the chiropractor. They got me in the very next day. Take that, physical therapy clinic! They were thorough. As my Granny, a fellow pain sufferer, once said, “They measured every bone in my body.” They also took x-rays.

One visit. One visit was all it took to fix the rib-cage thing. He just crunched my back, and bam! that rib went back to where it belonged. The truly fantabulous part is: It never came back!! Phew!

My neck was also repaired quickly. In only a few appointments, I could back up my car with a clear conscience. Wahoo!

Even the hip and shoulder tapered down to a manageable level. I was sold. I didn’t even bother to go back to the doctor who did the x-rays at my regular clinic. These chiropractor people were helping me, so I’d stick with them. No, my insurance didn’t pay for it, but I was breathing, walking, and sitting! Things were looking up!

They explained to me that my neck was straight rather than curved as it should be, and one side of my pelvis is higher than the other.

That’s when I also began to exercise. Dr. Bodnar gave me a few basic stretches and elbow planks to strengthen my core.

Y’all! When I began to do elbow planks in 2012, I couldn’t hold it for more than 3 seconds! It was so sad!! Now I can do 3 sets of 30 seconds a piece, in a row! I have come so far. At that time, the weak core explanation for my pain was something I could settle for. It was true back then. Not so, these days.

chronic pain battle part II

The exercise phase.

 

I lost 15 pounds. I ran. I swam. I was feeling great.

“Hey! Let’s have another baby!” You know I love babies.

But the truth had sunk in by this point that my hip and shoulder were chronic. This is a pain I will be “managing” for the rest of my life. Sometimes, even with the chiropractic care, my hip would flare up for a few days and then calm back down. The shoulder is more of a steady pinch, but I mostly only notice it when I’m lying down or sitting.

I call it sciatica, a hip problem, or a rear end problem. I know it’s confusing. The thing is that when it’s flared up, it hurts to drive, sit, lay down, or climb stairs. When I touch my foot to the pedals of a car, it hurts in my rear end and lower back, just to the right of my spine and deep into my rear.

But then there’s another aspect beside the sacroiliac pain.  The hip joint itself is also angry, so if the flare up gets bad enough, I have trouble walking. Maybe it’s all part of the same thing, but that’s why I keep saying I don’t know what I have, I just know it hurts.

So I was careful about the fourth pregnancy. I faithfully visited Dr. Bodnar every other week. It was my healthiest pregnancy of all four. The pain still came and went, but no horror stories. It was super mild. The worst problem I had was pregnancy anemia and women in grocery stores asking me if I was sure I wasn’t having twins!

Rudest thing ever people. Just tell pregnant women, “You look great.”

That pregnancy agreed with me.

That pregnancy agreed with me.

During that pregnancy, I also finally made it to a dermatologist for several things. I’m supposed to go every year, but I don’t. That was when I learned that I had psoriasis. Phew! What a relief! I was afraid that crazy nail was fungus or something, and oh the public disgrace! But no, just psoriasis. No biggie. I’d had the scalp and nose rash for as long as I could remember, but I’d never bothered to find out what it was. It’s not big or very noticeable, so I don’t worry about it.

From 2012 to Fall 2014, the shoulder and hip would wax and wane in intensity, but it mostly stayed mild and manageable. We moved across country, and I made it–all of that car riding!–with no problem. Those were two happy, fit years, even with the c-section thrown in. I was quick to recover. I worked hard to get my ab muscles back in tact, thanks to my Lindsey Brin fitness DVDs and my yoga instructor, Monica.

But then came the 2014 move. I was good the first few months, but as I began to home school the boys, I could not find time to exercise. Plus, I was so tense and stressed. My old pain came back knocking hard.

Such a beautiful place to move to! Who wouldn't want to live on the coast of California?

Such a beautiful place to move to! Who wouldn’t want to live near the coast of California?

I found a local chiropractor. That helped. Then I went on Christmas vacation. I had a truly happy outlook. For some reason, that seems to make a difference. I had a fun time in Alabama, and when we came back I had my very first 4 completely pain-free months since 2011! I was ecstatic. I’d thought that ache was just part of me. But it disappeared for four whole months!! Wahooooooo!

While the shoulder ache and the hip pain evaporated, a new pain showed up around Fall 2014. Remember the white pinky nail I mentioned in Part I? Well, eventually every single fingernail, save one or two, went white and yellow and pink on me. Toward the tip, it gets super thick and looks like it’s separating from the nail bed. It’s embarrassing.

fingernail psoriasis: a surprisingly obnoxious condition. This is also called onycholosis.

my fingernail psoriasis: a surprisingly obnoxious condition. This is also called onycholysis.

Also, it hurts. That was when I learned to wash my hair with only whatever one or two fingers was working properly. It wasn’t like the arthritis fingers, where they have swelling in their knuckles. It was just the tips of my fingers that hurt. I still have it in my thumb.

I learned to not even attempt buttons or jars. At least I could walk. Four whole months of no shoulder or hip pain! 2015 was off to a smashing start! I was happy. Home school was going better. I was finally making friends, and suddenly I had offers to make money blogging.

Life was looking up for April. I even began to tell myself that perhaps the shoulder and hip thing was truly over. I even took on a sponsored post with a personal trainer who put me on this Water Challenge that totally fixed most of my nails:

nail psoriasis

If you look closely, you can still see it in my index finger, but look at my happy, healthy thumb nail! All from drinking tons of water. Thank you, Coach Cox!

We’ll talk about Part III next time: The pain came back, and I finally met a health care professional who questioned my spine theory.

Read Part I here.

Read Part III here.

 

 

 

How I Lose the Pregnancy Weight

 

BEFORE

BEFORE

What I look like, every single time, right after giving birth:  This was a few days after I had Caleb. I weighed about 170 pounds in this photo.

And this is what I normally look like:

cryingJDArlington

That’s a 35 pound difference.  (After all, a few pounds actually DO belong to the baby.)

  This is not my favorite topic:  weight loss.  I don’t like discussing it because it often makes us feel bad. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m going through a heavy phase, hearing skinny people talking about their weight really gets on my nerves.  It can be a sensitive issue, and I like to make people happy, not sad, so I’m going to address this just this one time.  After this, you’ll read no more weight loss posts from me.

Being the vain person that I am, I do eventually always buckle down and get the baby weight OFF.  That may be easy and happen naturally for some of you.  If you gain 20 pounds, then what work do you have to do?  This post is for the women like me:  the ones that gain 40+ pounds no matter how hard we try to eat right and exercise.

I always feel like people come and visit me right after I’ve given birth, expecting to see me looking thin already.  Instead, they meet a chubbier version of April, that still looks pregnant, but the fact is that WEIGHT LOSS TAKES MONTHS, NOT DAYS.

When I’m pregnant, my body handles food and exercise completely differently.  It clings on to every bite I eat.  I have gained 55 pounds every single time, save this last time.  This time I gained 40ish.

By the time the baby is 9 months old, I almost always have it whittled off.  I can’t tell you how to get stick-skinny because I’m not stick-skinny, but I can definitely tell you how I lost 40-55 pounds.  ; )

Oh!  And you have to give the tummy circumference extra time.  After giving birth more than once, it may take you up to two years to get your middle shrunk back all the way, and you may always have a little extra skin.

APRIL’S RULES FOR WEIGHT LOSS:

1.  Breastfeeding.  If you can, at least give it a try.  It takes a while to see results, but eventually you should.  I have friends that didn’t have to do anything more than breastfeed.  I have other friends that breastfeeding did not help at all with the weight loss.  It definitely helps me lose the weight faster because it burns so many calories.

2.  DO NOT SIGN UP FOR A DIET PLAN.  Boooooooooo diets!!!  Don’t do it.  Crash diets do not work, and any weight you lose from the one month you’re able to stick to your crazy diet plan will just come back when you wake up and realize that that Nutrisystem food tastes disgusting.  (It does.  I’ve tasted it.)

3.  DO make permanent changes in what you buy at the grocery store, and try to get your husband on board.  (That’s the tricky part.)  One year after having Daniel, I realized that I had actually gained a bunch of weight while my husband was in Afghanistan for 6 months.  This was not pregnancy weight.  This was sedentary lifestyle weight.  I knew I had to get it back in gear.  First I read this book:

  She will drill into your head great fundamentals of eating right.  For me, it was a great reminder that I do not have to have dessert every day.

Then I made these dietary changes:

a. I cut out soda.  (except for a treat once every couple of weeks)

b. I stopped buying any junk food at all.  Not even Oreos.  Since that time, Alan has added back in buying ice cream (ugh).  I guess I need to get back on his case.  If it’s not in your kitchen, you can’t eat it.  It’s really that simple.

c.  I replaced the junk food with these snacks:

-greek yogurt

-yogurt covered raisins

-popcorn  (Read the label.  It’s not bad.)

-almonds

-100 calorie granola bars

-blackberries

-cheese

-cheese and crackers

-cereal

Pssssst!  You know all those articles that tell you not to drink juice, etc.  Well, okay, fine, it’s worse than water, but it has HALF the sugar of soda.  Also, coffee is extremely beneficial to your health, and it fills you up too!

4.  Oatmeal makes a great meal, any day, any time.  That wasn’t really a change, as I’ve always eaten oatmeal, but I just wanted to put that out there. ; )  It doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming to be healthy.  These health magazines make it way too hard with all the complicated recipes with ingredients you’ve never heard of.  Instant oatmeal is just fine.

5.  EXERCISE.  Every day!!!!   I’m not talking P90X or Insanity everyday.  That is not my style.  Who has time for that?  Not a mom of lots of little ones!  You work in exercise wherever you can.  Buy DVDs that are 30 minute programs, or sometimes I just cut the long ones off at 30 minutes.    Just make sure that at least once a week you’re doing some kind of strength training.  I also do stretching at least once/week to keep back pain away.  Ever since my yoga teacher moved, I am a wreck.

WALKING IS GREAT EXERCISE!  Plus, it can give you alone time.  Whenever possible, as many days a week as Alan gets home before dark, I leave all the kids with Alan and hit the sidewalk for a 2 mile walk. Sanity time!  Remember!!  Jesus always went off alone to pray!  We should too!

In addition to that exercise, I walk my children home from school.  That adds in another mile, and when you add in pushing a double stroller, it is a significant work out.

If you really want to torch calories fast, RUN, or attend a strength training class.

My most successful weight loss was not related to pregnancy at all.  It was after that Afghanistan tour, when Daniel, my 3rd son, was a toddler.  I actually got to the point of no chubby middle section because I worked out really, really hard every single day.  I was doing a whole lot of running, and a little bit of weight lifting.

I will have to get my anemia under control before I can work out like that again!  I’m too tired to even think about all that stuff.  Meanwhile, I’ve still lost 45 pounds just breastfeeding, walking, doing yoga, and not buying cookies or soda!

6. DO NOT count calories.  Just eat somewhat healthy, and when you’re starting to feel full, you know, QUIT EATING.

7.  Sleep! Sometimes you might just be getting a late snack to stay awake.  Instead, assert your will power, and go to bed.

8.  EAT EVERY THREE HOURS, and duh, don’t skip breakfast.  Eating every three hours keeps you from getting that starving feeling that makes you pig out.  It also boosts your metabolism. Snacks should be small but nutritionally helpful.

9.  Oh yeah!  If you have a c-section OR even tearing from a natural birth, do NOT exercise until 6 weeks out.  Trust me.  I thought I could be all tough and carry around two babies at once, two weeks after giving birth, and there were busted stitches as a result.  Youch. You don’t want that. ALWAYS wait six weeks.

I wish I had more before/after pics to share, but I’m so vain that I always delete my ‘fat’ pictures…. However, I do not delete pregnancy photos, so here are a few of those:

baby1weight

baby2weight

baby3weight

See, I’m not one of those thin pregnant women….

As you can see, I never really posed for any ‘before’ or ‘after’ pictures, because the weight loss was always so gradual.  That’s the kind of change that lasts.  It doesn’t have to be complicated to live a healthy lifestyle.  Just get moving, and skip the non-nutritive foods at the grocery store!

 

 

MisAdventures at 32 Weeks Pregnant …..Embarrassments and Getting Stuck in a Window

What an unbelievable day we had! Hilarious pregnant-lady-stuck-in window story

 

What. a. morning.

Before I tell you this, you must first envision me 32 weeks pregnant.  Okay, it looks a little like this:

What an unbelievable day we had! Hilarious pregnant-lady-stuck-in window story

and that was actually a couple of weeks ago….

So each day is something of a work out anyway, but this morning was……..especially special….

1st the walk to school was a little rough due to constant false labor contractions.  Don’t worry, they don’t really hurt, and once I quit walking they were gone.

It was “walk to school” day, which I had forgotten about since we walk to school everyday, but we came in on the tail end of it and joined the parade of walking school children.  They take a different route than we do, going by a very busy highway.

There was one minor scare/embarrassment when I heard my kindergartener, Caleb, being told to get back on the sidewalk.  I thought he was right beside me, but I turned around to realize he’d been darting around in the grass, by the aforementioned busy highway (don’t worry we never go that way normally), picking dandelions……gotta love a public bad parenting moment like that.

Then I walked all the way back home, pushing 2-year-old Daniel in his stroller and discovered I’d locked myself out of the house.  My cell phone was also nicely locked up.

No lectures, please, Dad.

…….So……first, Dan and I sat in the backyard and cried together.  Dan cried, “Daddy, daddy, daddy.”  But unfortunately, there was no daddy around.

My mind ran through all my options.  Finally I decided the quickest fix, perhaps not the easiest, was to simply break in.  I might have locked the door, but I knew of a window that I had left cracked (the weather was nice this morning).

…..yep.  That was my plan, fit myself through a SMALL window, 8 months pregnant, and this part of the house is slightly elevated.  It’s a first floor window, but it’s a high one, as in over my head.

 

Daniel and I went into the storage room, and of course, the ladder was in the very back corner of the very full storage room.

 

And of course, storage rooms freak me out, as you never know what wildlife may be lurking in there!

 

It took me about 5 minutes to very carefully climb into the window.  There was a lot at stake, so I knew I could not misstep and hurt myself, the baby, and possibly even Daniel.

 

I actually fit into that window more easily than I expected to, but there was a moment where I was afraid the ladder would fall over, and there I was with one leg in the window and one leg out…  When you’re 8 months pregnant, you don’t climb into a window belly down.  

 You have to go legs first, belly up.

Daniel was cool as a cucumber about that part, watching me climb into the window.  I had explained to him that I’d go around to the side door and let him in too.

You can’t imagine how excited I was when it actually worked!!  I heaved myself through that window, jumped onto the floor, ran to the side door, and there was Dan, waiting for me.

Please no email or phone call lectures about how dangerous I am.  All turned out fine.

Anyway, it may not sound like much, but to Daniel and me it was quite the victory, a serious adrenaline rush, and I won’t soon forget it, let me tell ya!

Finally inside my house, I took care of Daniel’s needs, rested a bit, and headed out the door to my fitness class.

I was dragging a little at my class this morning, but I still put in enough effort to get a good sweat in.

Daniel pooped in his pants during the class, so I took care of that…..

I came home feeling like finally sitting down, so I served lunch to Daniel and me.  Daniel finished quickly and moved on to the dining room table to color.  Lulled into a false sense of security, I leisurely enjoyed my oatmeal.  Now you probably think you know where this is going, but hang with me.

I finished my food, and proceeded to the dining room to take my sweet toddler and lay him down for a nap.  (Then I would be “free at last”).

What I saw instead was Daniel, happily pouring an entire, very full, bottle of syrup all over the dining room table…..

hilarious story of pregnant lady climbing through window

How could that face ever cause anyone a problem!?

I’ll spare you the details, but an hour and twenty minutes later, and all people here having showered, I am finally sitting down.

 

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