I never thought my later years would be engulfed in chronic pain.
How did it come to this? I knew eleven years ago what my future might portend. “You’ll be on pain medications until you die. Your spine is riddled with arthritis, and there is nothing we can do.” the doctors told me.
My journey with chronic pain has been an insidious one. I have run from him, fought with him, and sometimes embraced him. You notice I use the pronoun him. He doesn’t belong to me, but he has been a constant companion for many years and still is.
Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience suggest that chronic pain reduction is achievable by retraining your brain.
They posit that pain occurs in some areas of the brain as opposed to the body.
Cognitive processes such as learning and biofeedback can train the brain to heal itself through increased neuroplasticity resulting in a dramatic reduction of pain.
What force has conscripted me to this life of pain? God? No. Genetics? Yes and no. The scholars and philosophers can argue ad infinitum. The fact remains, I hurt. Constantly. Non-stop.
Therefore, I am rendered in need of care, and my husband has gingerly stepped into that role.
Caregiving and Body Parts
I’ve been a caregiver my entire life from my brothers to my children to my grandchildren. Now I have come full circle, and my husband cares for me. His love is expressed every day in helping my body to function.
Parts of my body don’t work correctly, which includes my feet. Why are they so cumbersome? I always wanted to be light on my feet, but now, I am not. I cannot lift my left foot to put my pants leg on, or my socks, or my foot in the car. It is frustrating!
When one functionality of the body is reduced, often, it affects other portions. For instance, sciatica limits movement in my left leg which makes it weaker. My ankle now tends to roll which creates an additional risk of falling.
Sheesh. Back to my feet.
The spine controls the feet, you know. Then those little nodules of bone from arthritis grow and put pressure on the nerves that run throughout your body.
So my husband bends the knee to me. To put on my socks, my foot in the shoe, and my leg in the car. He also steadies me on my feet. Meanwhile, these feet are attached to my legs.
Oh, the struggle these legs endure. The left one feels like a steel-trap is clamped on at times; therefore, it is hard to lift one leg after the other. When I lay in bed, he props my legs on pillows and positions the adjustable-base bed he bought me for Christmas last year.
Love and Caregiving
Love said to spend all the money you saved from your job for the bed before you had angioedema and went into a coma. We had been talking about that bed forever, it seemed. Every time we saw the commercial on T.V., excitement built until the time came for the purchase.
But you hid the fact you bought it, and then surprised me with a big purple bow. (My favorite color!) Oh, how I love it. But that is a story for another time. I believe I’ll write it soon.
Caregiving was never your forte. However, you eased into that position rather smoothly, I believe. Never a domicile type man, you are old school, or the old guard, or from the era that real men do not perform domestic duties.
You believed men worked and women stayed home. But that worldview has been in decline for the past 40 years. At least in my reality.
However, I am amazed at your progress. You lovingly tell me how you will take care of me till your dying breath. Whoa.
I’m not that far gone, yet. But the thought is what counts.
However, I caught you watching an episode of Rachael Raye’s cooking show on T.V. about grilling vegetables. We laughed and watched it together.
Meanwhile, I pray for him, encourage him, and love him.
However, over the years, I have learned that to love my husband; I must first learn to love myself.
Meanwhile, my husband would get angry over some small incident. He yelled at anybody close to him, which was usually me.
I would get defiant and yell back
We played tit-for-tat like little kids. Then tears and fears flowed between us. I retreated to my room, angry. He retreated into himself, angry. We played this game for years.
I used to call my son to complain and cry and bemoan my life. It was then I realized I had been stewing in self-pity and bitterness.
My eyes opened. I had been harboring unforgiveness. You have shown me the meaning of real love.
Despite the pandemic, I’m still limited in my abilities to go places like the mall (been over a decade), out to eat at a restaurant or even a movie. It’s too painful. The doctor said the goal is not to be pain-free but to help me function. Wow, what a way to live.
Medical Device and Therapies
At least, I’m not bedridden like I was from 2015 to 2017. I begged my doctor to tell me of any other therapies available. That is when I received an implanted medical device called a Spinal Cord Stimulator. It comprises a palm-sized battery pack implanted in my back with wire leads running through my spinal cord.
The device zapps the pain so I can rise up from my bed to become upright. I’m not jumping up and down for joy, but I am not staring at the ceiling, either.
All during this time of surgeries and managing the pain, my husband is lifting, bending, reaching, and waiting on me. He gives care so I can fulfill my purpose. Writing.
His sacrifice is the seed of the words you are reading. To encourage someone like me to encourage someone like him. Love that gives care.