Chronic Pain: My Own Story

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Originally this blog post was going to be about pregnancy and Chiropractic. It was also supposed to be written a couple of weeks ago. However, due to my own battle with chronic pain, it is late and on a different subject.

In my office, I have several patients whom I treat for chronic pain. Some have Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid or Psoriatic arthritis, DISH, and chronic migraines. Each person has their own level of pain as well as levels of tolerance. Some can still work and lead “normal” lives while some have been forced to retire due to disability. I treat each one of them with a combination of Chiropractic, cold laser therapy, diet recommendations, and nutritional supplementation. I have had great success with the majority of them while there have been a few I could only give temporary relief of symptoms due to the progression of their illness. This is one of the most frustrating things in the world for me since I truly want to help everyone that comes into my office. Now I have an even bigger challenge and that is to help myself.

As I said earlier this blog is a little late, about two weeks ago I started to experience what I call a flare-up of my Lyme disease. Since Lyme was first discovered back in 1975 (originally mistaken for Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, which gives you an idea of the pain it causes) it is usually treated with a 30-day course of Doxycycline and you are told you are good to go. If you are lucky enough to find a “bulls-eye rash” on your body and get these antibiotics right away, then there is a good chance you will be ok. However, for some of us, there is no rash and we catch it only after we begin to show symptoms.

For me, I had several signs over the course of several years before I finally tested positive. The problem is, even though there is a test for Lyme disease it isn’t 100% accurate. My tests always had me somewhere in a gray area until I was finally shown to be positive. The first sign for me was an unexplained jump in my blood pressure which several cardiologists told me I’m wrong about but still have no explanation for me. My blood pressure was 120/80 one month and then after a month of starting to get very flush on a regular basis, it was 205/140. Not very good for a man and the time who was in the gym 3 times a week plus practiced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Two years of testing still showed no cause for this so it is deemed Essential Hypertension. This really means “we have no clue”! Shortly after this spike in blood pressure, I began to experience severe joint pain and neuropathies in both my arms and legs. This is constant shooting and throbbing pain down the extremities. Over the course of the next two years, these symptoms would come and go intermittently, as well as week-long bouts with migraines, vertigo, nausea, joint pain, muscle pain, memory loss, and fatigue. Finally, after experiencing all of these symptoms at once I tested positive for Lyme and ended it up bedridden for close to a week. I was on the Doxycycline for 6 weeks and felt a lot better. I thought I was done, but I wasn’t!

It has been about a year since I came off the medication, however, I do experience what I call flare-ups. Not all doctors treat Lyme as a chronic disease but others do. The problem is the Insurance companies do not like to pay for chronic treatment so patients suffer because the health care provider is handcuffed.

I recently came off a cleanse/regiment of clean eating where I was able to experience a prolonged period of feeling pretty good. However, after a few weeks of being not so clean, I feel like I have been hit by a truck which then backed up on me. About two weeks ago I began to experience some joint pain and muscle weakness. I started having a hard time getting up in the morning to do my meditation before the day started. I also have experienced migraines; my left eye starts to close (so I look like Popeye) and now neuropathies in all my extremities. As I type this my forearms are screaming for me to stop. If you have Lyme disease you know exactly what I am feeling. If you don’t I hope you never do.

As a Husband, Father and Doctor I try to hide what I am going through from everyone. Sometimes I just physically can’t because I limp, move like I’m 100 or get my Popeye face. I hide it as much as I can because I am stubborn and I know my family and my patients need me. I suffer a lot of times in silence and even have broken down in tears more times than I will ever tell anyone. I refuse to burden anyone. I read horror stories about people that are debilitated by this disease which has led to joblessness, divorce, and even suicide and consider myself lucky. I try to stay positive and because of this current flare-up realize I have to make some permanent lifestyle changes. I will keep you updated.

If you suffer from chronic pain don’t give up! Make changes, try something different whether it be nutritional, spiritual, mental or of a support group nature. The Power of Positivity is what keeps me going. Even in my moments of weakness, I can always get back to being positive and knowing I can beat this.