“If I can’t get back on the anti-inflammatories then my life is over. I won’t be able to cope with physio on my pelvis, having a girlfriend or going out five days a week for a job”.
In the last three to four years I must have said the above statement(or words to that effect), to my dear Mother well over one hundred times. I have said such emotive words usually at the of the day when tiredness and anxiety have taken hold of my entire rational being. I say such words on the verge of tears, panic stricken that my life is over before it has ever really truly begun. In the last few years chronic pain has completely dominated my life. In the last few years I have been constantly worrying that I no longer had a future to look forward too due to suffering from chronic pain daily. Nevertheless, encouraging events in the last two weeks are on the verge of changing this negative mindset of mine. I am on the verge of crying happy tears ………but I am scared too just yet, just in case this new found positivity turns out to be misplaced!
As fellow sufferers will be aware, continually suffering from chronic pain for a long period of time is a near hellish experience. It is unforgiving, unrelenting and completely exhausting. By nature I am a jovial character but the trauma of chronic pain has regularly broken my fighting spirit. Whenever my suffering has really got me down then my only solace is sleep. In the morning I wake up still all sore but now with a much more positive mindset that I must try and fightback, fightback from the misery that chronic pain causes me.
My story of chronic pain started way back in the late 1990s. I was diagnosed with a condition called chronic bacterial prostatitis(a prostate infection). As a consequence it caused all my pelvic floor muscles to tighten up and go into regular painful spasms. I was left with chronic pelvic pain. It led physios to diagnose me with pelvic girdle pain, that thing some women experience when having a baby. I often joked that my pelvic issues must be due a phantom pregnancy, in reality though I was crying inside. I can remember a time for about twelve months where it literally felt like somebody had got a baseball bat and whacked my pelvis all over with it. Then there was that horrific feeling like I had firework stuck up my bottom whenever I stood up or walked anywhere, this description may sound slightly amusing but it was a living nightmare trust me. Two things for a time really helped the pain. Firstly, a Urologist at Addenbrookes hospital recommended to me that I try something called quercetin. It is unripe mango or something and is claimed by some to be natures most powerful anti-inflammatory. Secondly, I took an NSAID(non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) called etoricoxib. These two things were not the long term answer to my suffering but they made it bearable whilst I tried to finish off my degree.
After Uni I then got diagnosed with a lumbar spine problem called spondylolisthesis. I also had a compressed nerve down there so that accounted for the sciatica I was getting down my left leg. I started seeing two physios for my lower back and painful pelvic pain conditions. One physio treated my internal pelvic floor muscles that were in spasm, with the other one treating my musculoskeletal issues. Things improved steadily and the future did not appear that gloomy a picture after all.
My chronic pain became this massive issue in my life like never before once I started suffering with gallstones. Whereas up to this point I had been able to manage the pain somewhat by taking quercetin, etoricoxib and latterly tramadol, I now had to come off all of these due to them making me feel very ill with the gallstones. I had these horrendous shivery shaky episodes whenever I took them, not to mention the awful pain that they gave me to my lower right ribs. I thought once the gallstones were out then I would be able to take them once again for pain relief. However, whenever I tried taking any of them afterwards they carried on making me feel very ill, so I was forced not take anything for awhile.
As a consequence of not being able to take any anti-inflammatory medication my chronic pain became very severe. This as a result made me suffer with depression for the first time in my life and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder went off the charts. It hurt to stand, to walk anywhere, I was even in agony just after sitting down in a chair sometimes. I got at loggerheads with mental health professionals because they thought my resistance to taking OCD medication was due to my OCD, rather than the actual reality which was that they made me feel very unwell. I felt stuck and my life was seemingly going nowhere. Unless I could sort this sore rib issue out and/or be able to take an anti-inflammatory drug, then I found it hard to see a successful life for myself.
At the turn of this year I decided I would try and start another fightback from the miserable life that I found myself in. On the chronic pain front this consisted of me arranging to go and see a new physiotherapist. Even though I think some of what I said to her about my symptoms went over her head a bit at times, overall my first appointment went quite well. My second appointment is in two weeks time and I pray she can really help me mend my achy body. At the same I decided I should try taking an NSAID once more. It may well again make me feel very nauseous and a bit shivery and shaky too I thought, but I needed to at least try because my bad reaction to such medication may have altered. Being able to take an anti-inflammatory drug is going to be a key component to my chronic pain levels decreasing. For example, it will reduce the pelvic inflammation which will thus enable me to have physio down there without it absolutely killing.
After a cock-up at my doctors concerning which NSAID she was supposed to have prescribed me, I ended up trying to take one called naproxen. I was prepared for it not to work because I had tried taking this a few years back without any success. It had made me feel ill as well as not helping reduce the pain that much. Before taking it again I thought to myself that whatever kind of bad reaction I get straight away from taking this, I needed to carry on taking it for a few days at least before I definitely decided that I could still not tolerate it. To my utter amazement I could feel it helping me within the first few hours of taking my first dose. I did not want to get too excited though at this stage because I had been here before with new drugs, i.e ones that instantly helped me but then made me feel that ill a day or so later that I had to stop taking them.
A week passed by and to my great surprise I was still being able to take the naproxen without feeling very unwell. It felt a bit surreal that here I was FINALLY being able to take an anti-inflammatory drug that I had not been able too for yonks. I could now see things improving in the coming years, I was starting to dream of a better life for myself once again. I could now envisage my chronic pain improving and hopefully as a result of this, potentially being able to take OCD medication without feeling ill. The pain all over my body was definitely not feeling as bad as it had been for the last four to five years. I was that happy that I felt like ringing up the Manchester Evening News and asking them to do a double-page spread on me FINALLY BEING ABLE TO TAKE AN NSAID………really!!
I said to my Mum that as a result of being able to take the naproxen I felt like crying happy tears, but was scared too just yet. I said this because I am a little scarred from the many setbacks that I have experienced in my life thus far. I guess I am also emotionally protecting myself when I say this statement because my health history has just been one heartbreaking setback after another. I know that these naproxen are not magic tablets and that if I only just took these and did nothing else then the chronic pain it is not going to decrease as much as I would like it too. It will just enable me now to hopefully have physio without it really hurting me. They come as a package you see, I need to have manual therapy and to be able to take an anti-inflammatory drug for my chronic pain.
I therefore end this blog on a somewhat cautiously optimistic note. I can see light at the end of tunnel now regarding my chronic pain, whereas in the last few years the suffering had filled my soul with complete and utter darkness. I said to my GP the other day that if 100 is completely better then I feel I am on about a 5 at the moment. This is progress though because before being able to take the naproxen I felt stuck on -20 chronic pain wise. I want to try another NSAID soon called celecoxib which has been proven in studies to really help men who suffer with chronic pelvic pain like me. Admittedly, I do have a long way to go yet but finally being able to take anti-inflammatory medication feels like a fresh start for me. This time last year my life no longer seemed worth living due to the daily torment of suffering with chronic pain. I pleased to say that thanks to taking the naproxen and the pains now slightly decreasing, I no longer feel like this. I pray the day will soon come WHEN I FULLY ALLOW MYSELF TO CRY THOSE HAPPY TEARS!!!