I started working full time for my living when I was 18. Being unable to do that any more was jarring. We all bitch about our jobs, but try living without one. I was 54 when I had to quit working, so in addition to trying to cope with pain all the time, I had three and a half decades of workaday habit that was no longer applicable. There was no reason to get up, or take a shower, or get dressed, because nobody cared if I showed up or didn’t. I did of course get up, take showers and get dressed-and then faced the prospect of dead, empty hours. I found that I had really, really liked working every day, and missed it fiercely. There was nothing to fill that void, and time seemed to just stall. I felt useless, and nothing but a burden to Annette.
Add the increasing load of pain to all that, and it is no wonder I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Oh, and the opioid pain meds I was taking in ever increasing doses are depressants, which amplified it all. (They also generated vicious rebound headaches. Migraines twice a week.) Nothing felt good any more, except eating, and that only for a little while. It is no wonder that I crossed the line from obese to morbidly obese. I gained fifty pounds in a bit less than a year.
I found myself in my late 50’s on a trajectory I hated. I felt myself to be well and truly stuck with a painful incurable ailment, a growing dependance on narcotics and a body that had morphed into a fat tub of goo. If the tale had ended there, it would have been bleak indeed.
But it didn’t. Some Good Things happened.
The first Good Thing: I was found eligible for Social Security Disability, so at least we didn’t have to file bankruptcy, One huge source of anxiety gone. Thank you, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The second Good Thing: I discovered that cannabis works about as well for chronic pain as vicodin, with far fewer side effects. As soon as I quit vicodin, the rebound migraines I was getting every week went away. I also notice my energy level increasing. In addition to helping pain, cannabis is known for improving mood, and the inside of my head gradually became a happier place to live. Thank God for this amazing plant and for the compassionate people of Oregon.
The third Good Thing: Earlier this year I was indulging my passion for gummy bears. The next day, I had a crippling pain spike in every one of my major joints, and my brain made a connection-sugar=inflammation. I changed my diet that very day, as pain can be quite the motivational speaker, and shortly thereafter found the fat melting off. As of today, I’ve lost the weight I gained a few years ago, and am now lighter than I was even before the Bad Stuff began. I am giving my Fat Clothes away. Just like everybody says, once the extra weight comes off, other physical problems improve.
And one more Good Thing: Andy, Abby and Caleb moved to Grants Pass. Nothing helps depression better than grandchildren close by. This was the biggest and best Good Thing.
Two years ago, I was pretty much ready to die early, as more pain was all I could see for my future. Today I’m thinking that once I get my titanium knees, and possibly a titanium hip, there really is no reason not to make that Wallowas pack trip. Pain sucks, but life goes on, and i intend to live til I can’t.
Sixty, gimped up, but happy. It’s not a bad trajectory.