The Chronic (Pain)

Pain. Unimaginable levels of pain.

It started with a broken toe. For all of you with Chronic conditions, bear with me … it was a everyday happenstance that lead me through an unexpected life change.

I stubbed my toe on the couch. THE COUCH. Of all the dumb things. I was in a bit of a state at the time, I’ll admit it. I was worked up and power cleaning my house and once again, I stubbed my toe. This has always been a very regular occurrence. I have bad depth perception and am constantly walking into things.

This annoying, but common affliction, certainly put an end to my everyday life in August but it was nothing a little time couldn’t heal so I bucked up and relaxed in the sun with magazines and edibles and enjoyed myself as best I could. At the time I would admit, worse things had happened.

It slowly became apparent it was not healing as fast as it should. If the weather turned bad I was bitch slapped right back to the day I busted it in an alarming torment of pain. Surely this wasn’t normal. Eventually the bone healed, and the pain started to decrease. Sweet, sweet salvation. Brief, but sweet.

Pins and needles. A pain in the bottom of my foot. Was there another small fracture that was missed? As the initial injury healed strange symptoms started to develop. Small changes to my footwear and massaging would help for a bit, but then I continued to worsen. By December a snowstorm would render me incapable of walking. After Christmas I took time off work to heal. I spent two weeks on the couch and I was feeling adventurous enough to run some errands. *Shakes head sadly*. I had to buy a cane to get home and I have been unable to walk without one since. It worsened. Snowstorms and cold conditions trapped me on the couch in a way I never could have imagined. Getting to the other side of the room was an impossible feat that only the bravest of mountain climbers would attempt – or those in desperate need of a toilet.

The flares worsened. The pain had slowly started creeping up my leg by October, now it shot all the way up to my ass. It swelled, turned red, then red with white dots. Socks or anything besides loose pyjamas were impossible and I kept my feet elevated in a little igloo of blankets that kept the offending foot warm with a hot water bottle but ensured that it was never even brushed by a blanket. I moved on crutches to avoid the ground. Any level of minor touch was unacceptable during a flare. “Pain killers” were a joke to be taken in the hopes that it would do something, anything, to reduce the chaos.

Specialists. “Its a form of nerve damage, that much is obvious.” Referred to another specialist. “I can’t help you. You need to be sent here.” Specialist: “We’re going to need to run some tests.” For the love of god and all that is holy can someone give me something for the pain? Lyrica to help dull it so I can sleep and get to the washroom without crying.

Eventually the Toronto Rehab Clinic. Four specialists at the hospital convened. Clinical diagnosis: Complex regional pain syndrome.

I was prescribed Prednisone with a promise that I’m in for a rough ride. That is accurate. The pills are small, which is good because for the first 5 days I need to take *12* of them in one dose. It then decreases to 11, 10 etc. They render me incapable to taking care of myself at the moment. I have a brief hour or two in the morning of clarity before I take it and turn into a pile of goo. If I am lucky, this could fix me. The doctors are optimistic. The hope is we caught it early enough to prevent permanent damage and disability. For now though I still don’t know. I sit on the cusp of my old life and whatever lay ahead. I dutifully take my medication and make sure I get in my vitamins and eat when I can – a selection of soft mushy foods my husband brings to me.

One great thing I can say about all of this is that I have been very open with all my doctors about my cannabis use and not once has anybody given me any grief about it. In general I have been using CBD oil or 1:1 strains. These have helped me significantly with the nausea and the severe anxiety that this medication brings on.

Why am I sharing all this now? Because I know I’m not alone. Someone else out there is going through this, or something relatable, and really needs to hear this. I am not a doctor and these opinions are my own. So for whomever you are, these are the things I like to help get me through this right now: Food, cannabis, relatable articles and music.

Starting that list with food seems laughable, but very very important. You’ve got the classics – Premium Plus Soda crackers, Lipton’s chicken noodle soup – original, full salt. Sometimes you’ve just gotta get SOMETHING in. Moving on from there to something mushy and digestible with actual vitamins we enter the baby food and toddler snack isle. Being advised to ensure you get all your vitamin C is one thing, but if you’re already choking back 20+ pills a day the last thing you’re interested in is taking one of those bad boys too. Mott’s Fruitsations my friends. These tasty little gummies pack a full dose of vitamin C for the day. You can slowly enjoy them a piece or two at a time without pissing off your stomach and enjoying something with a bit of flavour. Later in the evening when the nausea has let up a bit? Presidents choice organics Mango strained baby food. I love mangos. I’m so serious about this. If there is something you love, but know you can’t possibly get in right now, send someone to get it in pureed form meant for a 6 month old.

Nom nom nom.

Cannabis. No where have I found any articles that advise against cannabis for the particular drugs I’m taking, nor have any of my doctors forbidden it. The main issue here is that drug interactions simply have not been fully researched yet. For this reason I like to keep it minimal while I let the prednisone do its work. Here are two of my preferred products from the Ontario Cannabis Store at the moment:

I use this to help with the nausea and anxiety. I’m already off in la la land, I really don’t need to add THC to that mix.

I like this one later in the day once the harsh meds are wearing off. I also have a lovely 2:1 strain that I grew myself. Everyone is different. Just like traditional medication, things that work for one person do not necessarily work for someone else. Personally I really like Solei as a brand.

Never ordered from the Ontario Cannabis Store? If you’re in the city you can actually pay for same day delivery that will get delivered directly to your door that evening (as long as you order before noon ). If you’ve never tried out this feature or next day delivery it’s actually one of the most useful systems I have ever encountered. Delivery by these two options arrives in the evenings between 5PM and 10PM. You receive a message letting you know it is on its way, then another message an hour beforehand so you know exactly when to be home with your ID ready. A third 5 min notification message arrives before they’re at the door. This gives anyone with limited mobility time to actually be ready and near the door (everybody breathe a collective sigh of relief). The Ontario Cannabis store gets a lot of guff but I can’t express how much more relaxed I am knowing exactly when it will be arriving and not worrying about trying to answer a sudden buzzer.

Read a bit when you can. Relatable articles help me feel like I’m not alone. This article by Brianne Benness is everything you need to hear. I highly suggest following her on Twitter @bennessb.

MUSIC! Before your meds take you down the rabbit hole build yourself a little nest and make sure you’ve got some great tunes on. Happy songs that you know and love are so great. I can not emphasis enough how much this has helped my mental state.

When I first started all this work on my website I had no idea that I would find myself in a position to start talking about acute pain and chronic conditions. I mean, really, what did I know having never experienced anything of the sort. Now that I’m here I will be forever changed.

Lastly remember – You’re not alone. This is from all of your friends, loved ones and myself:

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