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Friday, December 14, 2018

I survived chronic pain for 4 years...

This picture was from print photography I did for St. Jospeh's hospital in Texas, but I wanted to show you that this is what pain can look like. I was still in pain here, but for those of us who suffer from chronic pain, we don't normally show it out in public. A really hard day we probably wouldn't be out in public.

Yesterday I had a Facebook memory that came up and reminded me that it's been 1 year and 10 months since I've been pain free. Not everyone knows, but I battled chronic pain for 4 years. To this day there is so much relief in knowing it's behind me. I'm still so incredibly grateful and I feel so happy and excited about life that it's no longer looming over me. When I was in the thick of it, I truly believed that pain was going to be with me for the rest of my life. After 1 year of pain, you really start wondering. After two years of pain you're getting more and more convinced. After 3 years of pain, you're convinced that it's definitely for life. 

In the beginning, when it first started--when I didn't know what it was, when it hurt for the first 3 weeks and nothing was making it better, when I would sit at the table and just cry because it hurt, I would have thoughts of just driving my car into a tree. I didn't want to leave this earth, that's not what this is about, I just didn't want to feel this physical pain. I wanted to knock myself out unconscious just so it wouldn't hurt. If I could just be knocked unconscious quickly there wouldn't be any pain for awhile. Sleep would take too long. I had trouble falling asleep from the pain. 

Through it all, I still had a full time job (at least until I quit to stay home), I started a business, I had 2 more babies, a big move, everyday life. I had to stay busy. If I didn't, I would feel it more, plus I didn't have time to sit around the couch and dwell on myself. Hardly anyone knew or realized what I was really going through. Not even H understood just how much it hurt, because I wouldn't always show it. He would help me how he could though, and he would see me cry and rub my back and try to help me, or deal with my agitated moods from being in a state of pain. I was lucky though that through most of the 4 years there were weeks where it wasn't every day. Maybe like every other day sometimes, and the degree of the pain would vary. I was also getting treatment here and there, but very seldom. My pain wasn't something a pill could just take away or cure. It was deeply rooted in some of my muscles in my upper shoulders and neck. I'm also grateful that during the last two pregnancies, during those 9 months, the pain went sort of dormant. It would flare up a little here and there, but not like when I wasn't pregnant.

Ava as a newborn 2015. Pain was back from the strain of breastfeeding again.

It all started about 4 months after Layla, my second baby was born in 2011. The thing that triggered it all was breastfeeding and not supporting my arms. When you are pregnant, you have this hormone that is called relaxin produced in your body. It relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix. It's helpful but also affects other parts of the body. Because it loosens the joints, you have an increased risk of injury. This hormone lasts in your body up to a year after birth, so I believe it's one of the reasons I hurt myself so easily from breastfeeding. Layla was a slow nurser too, sometimes feeding up to 45 minutes each time. I would lean back against the headboard and let all her weight just fall on my arms with no pillow or boppy underneath. At about 4 months after she was born I started getting pains in my right shoulder and a little bit in my neck. I sought out the help of a chiropractor for the first time. He encouraged me to start coming in twice a week for 4-6 weeks. I did like the massage portion of it, but I was also getting adjusted twice a week on my back and neck. That was a mistake. Later on down the road I learned that getting too many adjustments is not good. I really believe that's why I had neck problems later on after that. So when I was getting treatment I was figuring out that the source of the pain was coming from a big knot on top of my shoulder. You can't see muscle knots, but you can feel them under your skin. I still have it to this day but it's much smaller now. The thing about muscle knots is that they can radiate pain elsewhere. Our muscles are all connected and we have what you call fascia over these muscles--that's all connected. So, you can have a problem area in one part and have referred pain in another because of these connections. When I was in the worst of it--when several other muscle knots developed, sometimes I would even get pain and sensitivity in one of my arms and hands. Sometimes it would hurt up the side of my face and the hairs on my head would be sensitive. Going back to the one big muscle knot I had, when you have a muscle knot, those fibers are not working correctly, so your other muscles surrounding have to overcompensate. Because of that one big muscle knot, I developed about 5 more small ones. I have a few in the back of my neck too along the base of my spine. So not only did I have pain from the one muscle knot, over the year I was developing more which meant the pain continued. I wasn't getting better, I was getting worse, but thankfully the pain stayed about the same. 

This was a CAT scan of my neck in January of 2017 because I had a thyroid nodule that had to be looked at, but you can see just how mangled my right shoulder area looks compared to my left. If you are looking at this picture, it's on your left where all the numbers and words are.

Over the first 3 years I saw several doctors. 1 chiropractor, 2 general practitioners, 1 renowned sports medicine doctor, and 1 physical therapist. The true relief didn't lie with any of these doctors. It was with a specific kind of massage therapy. Unfortunately massage is rarely covered through insurance. I wrote more about this here in 2012 and I also shared what home methods I used. I found another post where I was having a bad day with the pain if you want to read that herehere, and here  I know I've mentioned it several times in my blog but I'm not sure of all the posts they are in.

I'm going to fast forward to November 2016. I was still in pain and I also started to develop a muscle spasm in my right jaw. This came on suddenly and it's like my jaw muscle would spasm for a few minutes and then release. In the first few days it would happen, it hurt, but it was tolerable. I was getting very worried that I had now developed a muscle knot in my jaw. Like how the hell was I supposed to get rid of a muscle knot in my jaw? Muscle knots can go away but only through constant massage (like constant) and not re-aggravating the hurt muscle fibers. They have a memory. I had also developed a cold so I thought maybe it was related and I saw a family doctor. She wasn't much help and just wanted to prescribe muscle relaxers. I don't take those, not even on bad pain days would I take heavy painkillers or muscle relaxers. I would take ibuprofen when I couldn't take it and that was it. It didn't do much anyways but barely touch the pain. So after 2 weeks I finally caved and took the muscle relaxers. Big shocker, not really--it did nothing for the pain. It only made me sleepy. My mom convinced me to get reflexology since they can also work on your shoulders and neck in a different way than massage therapists. That I did get some relief, but only for one day. The spasms were starting to come more frequently and they would last for up to 5-7 minutes 4 times a day. I could be driving to pick up my kids from school, or just anywhere and I could feel it coming and panic. I could hardly talk when I was in the middle of a spasm. The best way to describe it was like my jaw was giving birth to a baby. I literally had to stop what I was doing if I could, and breathe through it. Night time was the worst when it was just my thoughts and the pain. H would be in the living room watching a show and I was usually in the room because Ava was still sleeping in our room, and I would still nurse her every time she woke up. There were a few times where I would just cry and plead to God to please, please deliver me from this pain. It hurt so bad! Far far worse than the muscle knot pain. I then sought the help of my dentist because I thought maybe it was TMJ or TMD. It wasn't that, but he took some x-rays and saw that I had a tooth infection on one of my bottom right molars. He prescribed me a week of amoxicillan. I started the antibiotics the next day. A couple days later I noticed the muscle spasms in my jaw were lessening. By 5 days of antibiotics they were hardly coming. By day 7, they were gone. A few days later my muscle knot pains of 4 years were also starting to go away. Not only did my jaw muscle spasm go away but it shut off the rest of my pain. What?! How? 

So here we are almost 2 years pain free and I still don't have all the answers. After I was essentially cured of my pain I talked to one of my neighbors who was a yoga instructor and a health guru. He thinks that I had too much candida in my body which causes inflammation (hence why my muscle knots radiated so much pain) and the antibiotic wiped out a lot of the overgrowth of candida. We also know that the teeth are connected to our health. One of my thoughts are that could I have had a tooth infection for so long that it was part of the issue as well? However I go to the dentist regularly and it never showed up on the x-ray before. It definitely was the cause of the jaw muscle spasm though. I hadn't been sick enough to visit a doctor for medicine in the past 4 years, so I hadn't had a need for an antibiotic. I do wonder if had I gotten sick enough and taken antibiotics before, could that have helped my pain and not gone through 4 years of it? I don't know. The body really is a mystery. 

A few of the muscle knots still twinge a little here and there, if I've over done it with lifting Ava or too much strain, but it's nothing like it was. There isn't anymore pain. They say we go through things in life sometimes to help us grow as a person, or for one reason or another. I don't know why I had to go through this, I'm not sure what I was supposed to learn, but I guess you can say I'm a stronger person because of it. I'm more understanding of people I know in pain. My faith in God stayed the same. He was always there for me and continues to be there for me. I do believe he heard my cries and delivered me and it wasn't just the antibiotic. I give all the glory to God. God works through us and the people around us. From my understanding, he doesn't just snap his fingers and cure us (though I have heard of people making miraculous recovery before), rather he gives us the tools to help ourselves. A thought, a gentle nudge to seek out the help of someone or something else. People, and things are put in our path sometimes because we need them. I hope my story gives one of you hope today. There is a lot more I learned about muscles and health over my journey that I couldn't put in this post, because it would be a book. If you suffer from chronic pain and have any questions that I could possibly help with, please email me at: itsapinklife@gmail.com. Also know that there are several message forums as well for chronic pain sufferers, this I didn't look into until I was at the tail end of it. Most of all though, don't lose hope. Keep praying, keep hoping, keep doing. You're so much stronger than you think you are.

Happy weekend and God bless.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Weekend wrap-up + Fashion post


This weekend went by too fast! Sadly it always does and I just say the same thing in my head every Monday. Saturday was fun. We went to my friend's Christmas party at her house and took the kids. They had so much fun and it was fun to mingle with old friends and new friends. I am completely obsessed with the new faux leather skirt I posted about on Friday, and wore it to the party. The purse was a great addition too. The whole outfit was very feminine and comfortable. I just love a great skirt.


Black faux leather skirt: {similar here} I can't find the actual skirt on F21's website for some reason, but I think you can find it in person. There were several in stock. I got a small, but had to sew on to elastics on the back inside for a tighter fit.
Blue gingham blouse:{similar here}
Black purse: {Forever21}
Rhinestone bib necklace: {similar here}
Nude strappy heels: {similar here}I love nude heels. I wear these a lot to events because they are tall, relatively comfortable and go with everything! A nude heel adds length to your look as well.

Sunday we took it easy, and I drove Serena and her friends to a volunteering event which was a gingerbread holiday concert at the Boca Raton resort. Today was yet another morning where we were flying out the door, and the kids were dragging their feet. Layla and Mariam seem to not have that many pants for the cold days we've been having on and off, and I'm over them complaining about wearing the pants they do have, or wanting to wear non-dress code pants to school. I bought 11 pants today. Hopefully that fixes the issue for awhile!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Wrapping up the week. What's up weekend?

Hallelujah we made it to Friday....albeit with probably a few more grey hairs, but that's ok. Nothing a little box hair dye can't fix. Speaking of which, I'm thinking of going back to light hair. Obviously not through a box. Hoping to find a good hair dresser here in South Florida that can take me back to light without the brassiness. It's so hard because my hair pulls so much red!

It was like peak brassiness here. Yeesh. I may have to go like blonde just to avoid it, but I'm afraid of how drying it will be. I mean yolo right? Always said I wanted to try blonde once. I still have this outfit. Haha! Will probably pull it out again this month. 

Today was a good day. Drove to my friend's (former neighbor) new house and we walked and talked at 10 am. Afterwards I had to buy a new laundry basket for Serena and then also ran into the mall looking for something in particular. Ended up buying myself a few things.


Looking forward to this weekend. No waking up super early and just a small Christmas party to go to at a friend's house with the family. Serena has a busy schedule though. Tomorrow her and Hank are doing some volunteering at the historical society, and Sunday she's volunteering at the Boca Raton Resort for the Gingerbread holiday concert through Lynn University. 

Cheers to the weekend friends.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Is it Friday yet?


Can I just say trying to get 4 kids out of the door Monday through Friday by 7:20 am really, really sucks. It does. Bedtimes do too. There I said it. Somebody had to say it. It had to be said. So over it. Ready for the weekend! 

I guess you can say Mariam makes it harder than it needs to be. She's not much of a morning person and she cries about various things. Layla is always my sweetie, but she's a bit of a turtle. Serena is 16 so she gets ready on her own of course, but for months she just ignores her alarm, and I have to go wake her. I usually carry Ava out of the house sleeping and strap her in the car seat. She wakes up as soon as she notices her beloved Christmas church song CD isn't playing, and screeches "Church songs!" at the top of her lungs. Good times.

Sigh...one day it's not going to be so hard, and one day I'll have more time for myself and not be rushed in everything I do. I hate how this is really the best time of your life--when you're young, and you're kids are young and life is grand, but it's also so so hard. Why can't they just be easy when they are little? Haha.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Designers gonna design...

If their kids don't stomp out any creative energy that's left anyways....

New holiday glitz headband: {www.FHJBaby.com}

It's been a few months since I've designed anything new for the shop. I've had soooo many things in the works, but most of them are 10% done projects I haven't finished. That's going to stop though and I'm trying to be the designer I once was. A little late in the game for Christmas seeing how holiday products should have been out in October--the latest, but that's ok. A new year is coming and after next week, I'll be designing for Spring 2019. I haven't done seasonal collections in a year and a half--just adding product that I think my customers would love. I love Spring though and have some great ideas in store. You'll see. 


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

My universe has been forever altered.


I did something I've never done in my life before last week. I ordered my groceries online and had them delivered.

It was amazing in every way!

I have a few friends that do it, and I get all those annoying ads on my Facebook feed about them, but never did it. Mainly because I'm a martyr that's always trying to save a buck. Why didn't anyone shake me and tell me I had to do it?! I'm not even kidding, I actually saved money. No impulse buying. No hurrying up and throwing things in my cart because my 3 year old has had enough, or all my littles for that matter--when I have to bring them. First I researched which grocery delivery app seemed to be the best and cheapest in my area and I settled on Instacart. Then I searched for a coupon code that gave me free delivery and $10 off. I made an account and then picked Publix to shop through. I pulled up their weekly ad online and meal planned for the week around what was on sale. I then started adding stuff to my cart. I love how you're able to see exactly what you're spending. You can hem and haw about a product for a good 2 minutes if you need too and no toddler is screaming at you. It's great!

 I selected a two hour window and the shopper showed up just a little over an hour later with insulated bags and my groceries inside. The app would text me along the way when she needed to replace something and when she was headed to my home. The rest of the day when I would open my fridge and see all the groceries I didn't have to get myself, it would just put a big smile on my face.

To have one less thing to worry about when you have 4 kids felt so freakin awesome. I told H about it later and he was happy for me. This morning I tried another grocery store that does grocery pick-up since I had another $10 off coupon and it was super easy. Now this is modern technology I can get behind!

Monday, December 3, 2018

It's definitely Monday...


Mariam wouldn't get out of bed this morning....It's Monday

Ava was screeching at me to meet her every demand....It's Monday

I let Ava bring her cereal....with milk in the car and it spilled all over one of the seats when I made a sharp turn...It's Monday.

I was trying to multi-task by eating and posting a sale for the business on my phone, and my bagel with cream cheese flipped over and brushed my hair on the way before plopping on my leg...cream cheese side down....It's definitely Monday

I overthink a lot of things, so naturally that would carry over into my writing style these days. I don't want to overthink everything. Writing is all about thoughts and I want to be more intentional when I write. Earlier this year I mentioned that I want to share more about how I manage a family of 6. What it's really like sometimes. What goes on in my head with a million tabs open, So here goes. Here's Monday morning. Today's picture brought to you by getting some chores done while Ava was watching Mickey's Christmas. Thank you Netflix.