Chronic pain is something I’ve talked about on my channel before. But I find that to this day, I get so many messages about it on Instagram. I don’t talk about it often because well, I’m used to it and it doesn’t “define me”. I have that attitude of, “it could always be worse right?” So I don’t like to harp on it and be dramatic. (I can be very dramatic, I have to pick and choose my moments okay). But in the spirit of giving people what they want (I’m too kind, thank you) and having a space to tell my story…here it is.
I’ve dealt with chronic pain ever since I could remember. There isn’t a year in my life that I don’t remember having chronic pain. My earliest vivid memory is probably around four or five years old. I would be crying that my knees hurt and didn’t know how to describe it to my mom. Fast forward to high school. I was a competitive cheerleader which is extremely rough on your joints and the pain got even worse. It spread from my knees to my wrists, hips, feet, and shoulders.
Generally speaking, in high school my health just wasn’t all that great either. I was consistently sick and missing class. So imagine never feeling healthy while also being in extreme pain you can’t describe. But oh it gets better! Add on the fact that no doctor can ever tell you what’s wrong. No diagnoses. No problem solving prescriptions. Nothing. See, I told you I could be dramatic! But jokes aside it was horrible. There’s nothing worse than missing school and not being able to explain why you were gone. A conversation of concern quickly turns into a joke because “are you REALLY even sick?”. “Omg thank you SO much for asking Susan! No I was just at the doctor all week for fun!!” You know how it goes.
Eventually I was “diagnosed” with chronic pain, low white blood cell count, chronic fatigue, chronic sinusitis…and I basically was the joke of my class. “Oh you’re just SUPER tired *eye roll*”. So all of this effort to fix my issues, ultimately left me feeling hopeless and like a joke. It just became apart of my life that had no solution and I ultimately accepted that. You kind of have to when no one can tell you why or how to feel better. And keep in mind, there were many misdiagnoses along the way. Lymes disease was my personal favorite. Yes, I fully was treated for Lymes then told by a second doctor “Who told ya that?! You don’t have Lymes!”
“Oh sweet, guess I’ll stop taking that medicine now?”
It’s easy to get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Luckily I grew up. We fixed the sinusitis over a few years. We built my immune system back up so every time I caught a common cold it wouldn’t turn into a serious infection. And I say we because my mom was fully on this journey with me. Taking me to every doctor we thought would have the answer. I wish I could explain more how we built up my immune system. I genuinely think the sinuses were a big factor in all that and eventually I got two surgeries. But here I am to this day, just a girl that loves her sleep and loves her Advil. (Every year I cut out less and less Advil and try to work through the flare ups).
So what does it feel like you ask? I’d say Arthritis or Fibromyalgia. I stay away from saying Fibromyalgia because there’s a stigma around it. Some people say it’s not real or caused physiologically. I say “I don’t care!!! My body hurts!!!”
It’s kind of a two parter for me. Part one is I get throbbing discomfort and aching pain. It’s not like a shooting pain, it’s a consistent and disruptive ache. I have to toss and turn until it goes away (or take Advil). Hence why I was always late to school and couldn’t get out of bed! Part two is the physical touch. Occasionally if I don’t take care of my body (aka don’t eat healthy) I get super inflamed and my skin is sensitive everywhere. It doesn’t look any different really, it just hurts to touch. I remember telling my little brother, “Don’t hug me!! It hurts!!” Or I’d put on really tight high waisted jeans and it would hurt my stomach. Even right now writing this my left arm is starting to ache so (lol).
Once I accepted my pain & fatigue I tried one more time to figure it out. I went to different doctors in Los Angeles on my own as an adult thinking they’d have a different perspective. Of course the usual blood tests came back normal but then I found a different doctor. Of course he was a REAL doctor, he just looked for untraditional things in your blood tests. He found out what foods I’m sensitive too NOT allergic. Aka they won’t kill me so no doctor is looking at the fact that they’re still not GREAT for me. He also studied my gut which was full of bad bacteria and consisted of zero good bacteria. (Your gut controls your health!) And other random tests that aren’t necessarily standard.
This was eye opening for me in the sense of, I didn’t NEED medicine. I didn’t NEED a disease to label my struggles. I realized what we put in our body actually is a form of medicine and does take a toll physically. I also of course realized that emotional health contributes to physical health. So stress, anxiety, depression, doesn’t help any of my symptoms. This was a moment in my life when I realized, yes I may never be able to cure these symptoms, but if I take care of myself, I’ll feel a HELL of a lot better. I still eat pizza, I still get flare ups, and if I over work myself, I still need at least 18 hours of sleep to recover. (That is not a joke, I literally can’t function without a shit ton of sleep). But overall I’ve learned the consequences of not taking care of my body and I do my absolute best. You have to remember, growing up no one knew about food sensitivities, probiotics, green juice. I ate McDonalds twice a day.
So the moral of the story is, I learned I can never escape my pain, I learned I can deal with it. I am not perfect, I do not have this solved. I still struggle and make the wrong choices. But I have a much healthier life with less stress about the pain than I once did. I truly believe looking at what you eat, how active you are, how much water you drink, how you’re emotionally doing… all adds up to a very healthy life. Everyone’s pain and journey are different. But I stopped searching for answers and started creating my own and that makes me feel like I finally got somewhere.