by Liza Zoellick.
In June, I wrote a piece called “Chasing the Cure.” Well, it’s October, boys and girls and guess what? Still chasing it. A little preamble, I was having some shoulder pain in both shoulders, the right particularly bad and while I figured it was Rheumatoid Arthritis related, I thought to be sure I’d go and get it checked out by an orthopedic who both my husband and 18y.o. see. He treats shoulders and knees and I liked him because he gives all non-invasive procedures a chance before contemplating surgery. I loathe the idea of any surgery so it seemed like a good route to take. After all was said and done, he advised, physical therapy and injections and to try to make this work, because the reality is, there are no good options after this and shoulder surgery is brutal. His words. I got the injections and it hurt like hell. The ones on the right side much more than the left and driving home was near impossible, but I made it. I packed myself in ice but that did not ward off the migraine I got on top of everything. In fact, I was in so much pain and so worried, I did one of the things I tell everyone not to do and I start Googling adverse side effects from cortisone injections. There really are no adverse reactions, but they make inflammation flare for 24-48 hours after injection. No one thought to warn me at the doctors. This is something that they give so often as part of a non-invasive for of treatment that they didn’t think to warn someone who suffers from chronic inflammation that maybe- she might flare! I was angry as hell and as I lay in bed half shivering from ice with a brutal migraine I wondered to myself how much is too much, and when is enough, enough?
Today, I am much better. Still far sorer than I care to be, given my pain level is already high, but it’s doable and likely to feel even better tomorrow. However, I cannot help that nagging little thought in the back of my head that keeps saying, “When is it enough?” I can’t argue with it either, because I spent most of the night in a fitful sleep and getting out of bed to change ice packs. I’m flaring pretty badly today, though better than yesterday at the onset of the injection, but how much do we allow our bodies to endure in the name of a “temporary cure?” Because the reality is, that I can do the physical therapy and if it helps (which he really hopes it will) I could continue it at home to “manage” the symptoms. The key word there is “manage.” The injection is ultimately temporary relief so I can get physical therapy and then after, maintain exercises at home, but the pain could return and then the bigger question is “What then?” Do I endure surgery and the 100% likelihood of a flare, and monstrous pain, or do I simply tack on another chronic issue and more pain and try to manage symptoms at home? Though I integrate holistic remedies with whatever treatment/medicine my doctors have me on, I wonder about utilizing Eastern Medicine as well. The one problem with that is it is not covered on my health insurance and with me not working, trying to get on disability, I cannot afford it. But where this is a will, there is a way, right? I’ve learned enough on my own, taught myself enough that if I can find good sources of material I could teach myself some thing that might help. But it is exhausting work.
Here’s a little glimpse into my mind, so maybe you can understand why I am fretting over this. Right now, I am 44yrs old. I’ve had health issues almost my entire life with the last 5yrs or so being the culminating point of many health issues. I’m not getting any younger and while “normal” or “healthy” people are just experiencing some little hiccups in their health, I’m already in a full-blown, health crisis. To put it mildly, the forecast isn’t looking especially rosy. Do I want to be looking at a gallon size bag of medication like my grandparents had when I was a child? Is there any way to thwart the very real possibility I may be in a wheel chair? Do I actively continue to consult Western doctors and medicine to “manage” my pain and health, or do I branch out into the unknown of Functional Medicine and Eastern Medicine to perhaps, think outside the box enough that I might be able to live happier and, in less pain, when I’m older? These aren’t easy questions, but I bet they are questions we’ve all had. These aren’t questions that anyone can answer for us either. They’re personal and have to be answered from a place that looks at all our dreams and hopes for the future and what we can be happy with. What we can live with.