SICK BODY, UNHAPPY MIND – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I think of myself as a strong, healthy person. When I think about it at all. I’ve had periods in my life when I wasn’t healthy, but that was way in the past. Healthy is my reality now. I’m not athletic, but I can do what I want, when I want to. At least I could until four months ago.

Suddenly I started getting stiffness and pain that would come and go randomly. Then the episodes started getting longer and the stiffness and pain were accompanied by weakness and fatigue. Now I get these several times a week at random times and for varying durations.

The weird part is that on days when I don’t have symptoms, I’m absolutely fine. Totally normal. No sign of any problem whatever. This is making me psychizophrenic.

I went to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Poly Rheumatic and Fibromyalgia. I’ve been put on medication. But apparently these conditions get better very slowly. I’ve read and been told that a year is not uncommon to suffer before you go back to normal.

I’m going for a second opinion.

But in the meantime, my life has been turned upside down. It’s hard to plan anything because I never know how I’ll feel on any given day or night.

Did I mention that I can’t take much Ibuprofen for the pain? And unfortunately, that is the only thing that helps me weather my episodes. I donated a kidney to my son so I have to be very protective of the one I have left. Anti-inflammatories, like Ibuprofen, are bad for the kidneys. So I can only use them very sparingly. This means that I’m screwed.

So I’m left in this nether world between healthy sometimes and debilitated the rest of the time. It’s doing a number on me psychologically. On bad days, I feel old and decrepit. No energy and no motivation. Then I bounce back to my chipper, active self. But even then, I know that my good health is not going to last long.

This experience has emphasized for me the interconnections between body and mind. When my body is healthy, my mind can stay upbeat and positive. When my body is struggling, so does my mind.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about people who live with chronic pain and/or discomfort from a wide variety of medical conditions. I have a new respect for people who manage to deal with permanent disabilities or illnesses and still manage to lead fulfilling lives and maintain positive attitudes. I’m not sure if I could do it. I’m struggling with sporadic issues I’ve had for only four months!

If this is going to go on for seven or eight more months, I’m going to have to put my big girl panties on and get my psych back in fighting mode. I’m going to have to power through the bad days and make the best of the good days. Do what I can when I can and accept what I can’t do when I can’t. This is my version of the serenity prayer. I hope it works for me.

12 thoughts on “SICK BODY, UNHAPPY MIND – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

  1. Ellin, I’m so sorry to hear about what you are going through. What a wonderful gift of your kidney to your son. We often take good health for granted until something happens.
    Leslie

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    1. Thank you, Leslie! I’ve been so healthy for so long, it really is a psychological blow for me to have to deal with physical disabilities. It changes your whole outlook! On good days, I’m my old self. But when I’m not feeling well, I’m a different person.

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        1. Thanks, Garry! I’m so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I was active for two or three hours yesterday and had to spend the rest of the day on the sofa, passed out. That really sucks!

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  2. I don’t know if you exactly get used to it, but you learn to take it easy. Getting over tired definitely makes it worse and you cannot “power” through it. This is not one of those “just mind over matter” issues. You do what you can when you can and try not to get yourself too exhausted. Extreme PHYSICAL tiredness makes a big difference. You need very comfortable places to sit. THAT matters, too.

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    1. I’ve been sitting and resting so much I feel like a bump on a log! But you’re right, when I try to do too much, I pay a big price. It’s very demoralizing since I’m used to being able to do whatever I want whenever I want to.

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      1. It took me a long time to make any sense of it and frankly, it still doesn’t make much sense. The one single thing i have learned is if I feel very tired, I have to stop and rest immediately or I will pay a much bigger price. I will literally fall apart and it’s not pretty. I have a lot of little things that help. Very comfortable furniture. VERY comfortable bed. Heating pads. I have finally taken my doctor’s advice and when i feel a bad patch coming on, I take the medication before I go down the tubes.

        It really doesn’t make much sense. There’s no reason why some days your okay and other days, you fall apart. I always feel if ONLY I could make sense out of it, I’d somehow feel better. But no one can make sense of it and I don’t think there’s much research going on, either.

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  3. Has the gift of a kidney maybe had played part of your problems now? Was that the prize to pay for helping your child?
    It seems really hard and I can only hope that you’ll look after yourself the best you humanly can. Don’t ‘play’ Big Girl – love yourself enough to take care of your body and mind. I wish you really much help, strength, patience and an improvement of your health problems.

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    1. Donating the kidney didn’t cause my current medical problems. It just prevents me from taking the pain meds that really help. Fortunately I don’t have pain that frequently and when I do it doesn’t last too long. It’s more like twinges and aches than serious pain. The few times I am in real pain, I take the Ibuprofen anyway, even though it’s not ideal for my kidney. So the transplant really didn’t play a big role in what’s going on now.

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