Coping with Chronic Pain

I never glowed during pregnancy. Sure, friends and family would tell me I looked great and praised the baby belly, but I never felt good in my pregnant body. For me, back pain started very early on. I can remember discomfort at 7 weeks. Discomfort then turned into pain, which turned into chronic pain that has persisted, long after birthing my son. My most recent doctor has named this pain lumbosacral instability.

Living with Chronic Pain

woman sits on bed holding her stomach in painLiving with chronic pain for almost 5 years now, mothering through it, has been debilitating, to say the least. It has stopped me from being present with my son and husband too many times. It has robbed me of so much, and has made a bitter woman out of me. We always thought our family would be bigger, but simply because I cannot fathom another pregnancy in this broken and still healing body, we’ve stayed a little family of 3. The trauma is still very much alive. I am often asked by new doctors if the pain causes me to want to hurt myself. My typical answer is, “No, but I have thought about how much easier it would be, not having to live through it.”

Being Gentle with Myself

This has been the hardest thing to learn and relearn throughout flare-ups. When the pain is unbearable, I tend to spiral. I start thinking the worst things about myself, which does no one any good, least of all, me. The depression becomes deep and thick. Only through therapy, both emotional and physical, has this weight lifted. I have to repeat phrases to myself often: “This pain isn’t forever;” “You are getting stronger;” “This is just a bump in the road.” I no longer hold myself to these high and unrealistic self-expectations on hard days.
Now, when I know my pain isn’t going to let me have a good day, I let things go. We will order food out, or my husband will cook. I spend the time I had allotted for house chores instead of doing my stretches, exercises, epsom salt baths, ice baths, etc. We bump the activities we had planned for the day, and it becomes an at-home movie day. Thankfully, my son is also old enough now to understand when Mami is in pain and can’t do a whole lot. And he definitely doesn’t mind the extra TV time.

Being My Own Advocate

woman lies on bed with hands covering her face
To date, I have seen several general practitioners, chiropractors, physicial therapists, a gynocologist, a rhemutologist, and a pain management specialist, all for my condition. I have followed through with every test, medication, and treatment plan they have recommended. I am just now seeing this doctor who has helped ease the pain, through a specialized form of physical therapy. She has been kind and understanding, listening to me explain my years-long struggle with chronic pain, all from pregnancy. She has been the first doctor to really see me and validate me, telling me that pregnancy was a trauma that my body endured. Pregnancy, she said, changes your body so much, and for many women, way beyond birth. Her treatment plan for me has finally helped me learn to hope for a pain-free future.

Hope for Women Who are Suffering

I write this for my fellow women, especially women of color, who are often ignored by medical professionals, brushed off as difficult, and given band-aids for their deep pain. Doctors and physicians study the human anatomy, yes, but YOU know your body best. Don’t let anyone dictate what you’re feeling in that body. Follow that gut instinct if something feels off. If you feel like you aren’t being heard, look for and find medical professionals who hear you.

I am still only beginning my recovery. I still have bumps where I am tempted to spiral. But I now have the tools to help me along the path to healing.

 

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Liz was born into a big, beautiful, and loud Ecuadorian-American family. For the first nineteen years of her life, they lived in Clifton, New Jersey, until the cold weather got to be too much. While she was not initially a fan of the move to Texas, Liz now adores the city of Houston, so much so that she had the downtown skyline tattooed on her forearm. Houston proudly witnessed her graduate with a degree in Bilingual Education and joyfully watched her become a seasoned classroom teacher. Houston most importantly taught Liz how to two-step and line dance, while reminding her of her deep love for old-school Latin salsa. Houston beamed with excitement when she unexpectedly fell in love with a Pasadena-raised country-lovin’ boy who would become her husband and the father of their little boy. Now, Houston gets a front-row seat to Liz’s unfolding, healing, and becoming through the art of storytelling and poetry. Telling and writing stories was always Liz’s first and greatest love, and coming back to it now for her feels like coming home. Here in Houston, or wherever she and her family end up, she rests easy, knowing they are forever gathered under the wings of the Divine.

2 COMMENTS

    • I am so sorry you’ve been suffering for that long. No one deserves to live like that. That being said, if you read the article linked in the same paragraph you are referring to, you’ll read about studies that prove women of color, in particular Black women, are often harmed by implicit biases in medicine. Thanks for reading.

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