“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about. —Unknown
Disclaimer – this post talks about women’s health issues and is simply my experience and not meant to diagnose in any way. Should you be suffering from pain or have questions about any of the conditions mentioned, please see your trusted health professional.
One of the guests featured at the Rocking Midlife® Virtual Summit recently was Lisa King – aka the Fulfilled Pharmacist – who specialises on helping women who live with bladder pain. During our interview, I shared some of my story as someone who does suffer with chronic pain “downunder,” and the reception to that interview made me realise that it is time to speak out more, to encourage other suffers of chronic pain – particularly in the pelvic region.
I’ve lived with chronic pelvic pain for years now – in fact I wrote a short blog about Living with an Invisible Illness back in 2017. To be really honest though, I’ve lived with pain “downunder” right from my first period at 11 years old. My teen years were punctuated with monthly trips to the nurse’s office at school, with clotting, flooding and horrendous pain. At 18 I was raced to the hospital for emergency blood transfusions and surgery following 13 days of haemorrhaging and fitting, (and I am grateful to God that I emerged from this ordeal relatively unscathed, given I was operated on by this doctor!) At 38, after more years of debilitating pain and crippling anemia from heavy blood loss each month, I was back in surgery, this time enduring a long, complicated hysterectomy which revealed adhesions, a swollen womb and insides riddled with endometriosis.
One would have thought that was it, however unfortunately my pain free status didn’t last long and I’ve lived with chronic pelvic pain along with Interstitial Cystitis for well over 15 years. The pain is especially debilitating and recent research now links IC with possible nerve damage following surgery, which would explain why the pain and symptoms I suffer from today only kicked in after that hysterectomy.
Living with an Invisible Illness:
We acknowledge the pain and suffering of someone with a broken limb, or a bad back. We are getting better at supporting those with mental illness, but those who look outwardly okay – the sufferers of chronic fatigue, of fibromyalgia and the like – are harder to understand – and even more so when the pain is in your “women’s bits.”
Telling someone that you can’t make their party due to the pain of your broken leg is far easier than explaining the pain in your pelvic area or the discomfort of your vagina feeling like it is on fire. Even when a friend does kind of get it, you are bombarded with advice like “drink cranberry juice!” which might work for a bacterial urinary infection, but is actually a trigger food for IC.
The pain I live with ebbs and flows according to numerous factors. Travel, tight clothes (eg gym leggings) certain foods, sitting upright at a desk – all of these things can cause a debilitating pain flare up, and I shudder at how flakey I appear to others when I need to pull out of things at the last minute. Indeed, the pain I was living with, along with the 20 or so trips to the bathroom I would make during my shift at the gym, was the main reason for my walking away from my Personal Training business.
Living with chronic pain can be debilitating, isolating, lead to depression and cause almost complete withdrawal from the world – and I write this as someone who has battled every one of these things. For many though – including myself – it is something that we live with, and while I don’t always succeed, I have determined to not be defined by the condition I live with, but rather be committed to working around it. This is much like the ethos of my Rocking Midlife® facebook group where we purposely choose to find joy and be positive, even in the midst of the crap that life often throws our way.
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On the Podcast this week:
Hence, this week’s episode of the Rocking Midlife® Podcast is titled 5 Tips for Living Positively with Chronic Pain and I share some of the tips that have helped me navigate life when suffering with chronic pain. My hope is that it encourages those who also live with pain, while giving some understanding to those who don’t but who might have people in their life who suffer.
You can listen to the episode at your favourite platform, (click HERE) or watch the video below. Please be sure to subscribe, like, share and leave a review on whichever site you tune in to. I’d love to hear your thoughts too! Do you or does someone in your life live with chronic pain? How does that impact you and do you have any tips to share as well?
Here’s to Rocking Midlife!