I’m in my fourth month since I found out that the unexplainable aches and pains throughout my body are partly due to osteoarthritis. The grieving process kicked in as soon as I heard the news. I have been through all five steps, and most of them more than once: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Denial dominated my thinking for three years before I finally went to the doctor. Depression and anger stepped in immediately upon diagnosis and bargaining lingers somewhere in the background. Right at this moment, I am experiencing a moderate level of acceptance.
Pain management has been my focus for the most part. During the day, I have been functioning fairly well but at night the pain was keeping me awake for hours. As soon as I became settled in my bed at night, the aching would start, mostly throbbing or shooting pain in my legs.
Carrying heavy objects, walking uphill, or walking up stairs causes pain in my lower back, right hip, and leg so I am learning not to do those things. Using stairs is an inescapable reality in my current lifestyle but if I lead with my left leg and follow with my right, one step at a time, I can do it without too much regret later. It feels silly and I hate it that people can hear the odd clunking rhythm from a distance but hey, it works.
I avoided Tylenol for the first couple of months because drugs of any kind scare me. Eventually, I allowed myself to take one at bedtime and it took the edge off enough to allow for a fitful night’s sleep. After about ten days of Tylenol, I decided that it was too scary and I turned my focus toward avoiding any sort of activity that might cause pain later. That helped somewhat.
Diminishing Mental Anguish
Living in the country, surrounded by farms and orchards, and driving through the countryside on the way to work or even the grocery store is soothing. My heart dances when I look over the pastures of cows, puddle-turned-pond that beckons ducks, and orchards with perfectly lined trees to see the sun rising on yet another new day.
The giant smudgy, old and damaged windows at the front of my house flood my workspace with light and a view of swaying trees that fill my soul with gladness. A tiny opening in the nearby door allows the sound of the wind and scent of fresh air flow through and mimic the joy of sitting in the woods after a long hike.
Even the scent of chocolate wafting from the kitchen perks me as my son works on his latest creation: chocolate truffles for his sister who will take him out for a few hours today.
A New Perspective
Feeling sorry for myself led me to join several online support groups where I found out that I am not alone in my suffering. In fact, my challenges are nothing in light of what others are going through. The anger at this crippling disease appearing when I was only in my fifties and just starting to live dissipated when I realized that some face the same challenges in their twenties or younger. Aches and pains that haunt me in the night seem insignificant when others take heavy drugs, shots, and surgeries and can’t find relief even during the day.
The Good Things
Most of the time when something unfortunate happens, it leads to good things that probably never would have happened if the bad thing hadn’t happened first. In only four months, I have experienced so many of these good things.
First of all, in pursuit of a new line of work and source of income, I found Wealthy Affiliate University where I am learning how to create websites that will eventually be profitable. Perhaps if I were a little more diligent in creating content, I would be seeing an income by now but I am having a little too much fun in the community. There are thousands of people in there from all over the world and at different stages of growth but we all have one thing in common: we want the freedom and income to live life on our own terms.
Watching a young man in his twenties celebrate as one of his projects exploded overnight from the well-formed plan into an income exceeding $100,000 makes me happy enough to keep plugging along whether I make any money or not. Another newbie like me was recently “discovered” by an outside organization and asked to recreate a website for them similar to what she has done for herself. Others have been surprised to be called upon to give speeches or teach classes and share what they have learned.
These things are fun to watch but sometimes I spend more time celebrating other’s successes than I do pursuing my own. After all, I have created a comfortable retreat for myself at home and the lure of mountainous resorts is shrinking and the desperate need for more money along with it. Sipping home-brewed, freshly ground, gourmet coffee with the scent of chocolaty goodness in the air and the sound of the wind in the trees as fresh air tickles my skin makes for a rather cushy life, after all.
New Ways of Coping
Pillows have become my new best friend. Constantly adjusting them under various body parts, behind my back, and even on top of me has gifted me with a new level of comfort. Twenty minutes was my time limit on just about anything but I find now that I can sit for hours when I use pillows to change the pressure on any given area.
Pillows are very handy for sleeping, too, as my friend Jerimy discusses in this article about sleeping positions. My bed has become a land of pillowy softness and I wonder how I ever managed to sleep in the past. Correction: I wonder how I ever managed to get through life without sleep in the past. Sleeping has never been one of my strengths.
When I am not all cozied-up with pillows, I find it helpful to stand while I work. That, too, used to have a twenty-minute time limit until I found this cool gadget through another blogging friend. This adjustable laptop stand enables me to adjust the angles of my laptop in seemingly infinite ways so that no one part of my body experiences undo stress. Not only is it helpful for standing but I can be flat on my back if I need to, which used to be the only position that offered me freedom from pain even though it was uncomfortable and boring.
Finally, one more recent change seems to be making a difference. As soon as I announced on Facebook that I have osteoarthritis, I was flooded by this advice: “Try CBD oil. It fixes everything. CBD oil will help you sleep. It will relieve your pain. Besides, it’s legal.” Sources of the “drug” were popping up everywhere and honestly it was just too much information and not enough “inside dope”. Then I connected with Effie, another Wealthy Affiliate blogger who writes about CBD oils.
Effie has become my personal CBD coach and after months of patiently answering my endless questions, often with a brand new blog post, I have finally begun experimenting with CBD. Wow, and I thought pillows were good. They are but pillows and CBD combined are heavenly bliss. Sleep is good! In the fifty-plus years of my life, I have never slept this soundly for more than two consecutive nights.
Sound, deep sleep is an amazing experience but waking up pain-free is a perk I didn’t expect, especially on the morning after being really stupid and carrying a heavy box down a flight of stairs and having to use a commercial string mop at one of my cleaning sites.
I’m still on my first bottle of CBD tincture and in my first week of experimentation but I really hope this is my new normal.
This blog post has gotten long enough and I don’t want to bore my readers to the point that they never come back.
I hope that someone out there who suffers from chronic pain, the desire for a new career or curiosity about the benefits of CBD oil will find something in this article that will help them in some way.
Perhaps this article will help or encourage someone you know. If so, please share it. Also, if you relate to anything I have shared about my journey or have something to add, please use the comment space below. You can also follow me here: Theresa Horn on Facebook.