At one time in my life, I was greatly plagued with severe anxiety and panic attacks - even to the point of not even being able to leave my own home for fear of having a panic attack in public! I'll never forget how it all started...
I had only been married to my first husband for a couple of years. We had made plans one Thanksgiving holiday to visit my parents for the holiday weekend - about a two hour drive away. However, he had to come back a day earlier due to his work obligations that weekend, so we decided to drive separate cars. On Thanksgiving morning, we took off down the busy highway - me following him in my car. As expected, traffic was heavy and we were in a time crunch to get to my parent's house in time for Thanksgiving lunch.
Now, I have always been a stickler for being on time - not necessarily a BAD habit to have, but one that could cause a great deal of stress if conditions slowed you down. In this case, we had left home a little later than I wanted, and with the holiday traffic being so heavy, I was already a little MORE than irritated - I was GREATLY STRESSED OUT! I had managed to stay right behind my husband almost all the way down the busy highway, but suddenly he abruptly pulled way ahead of me and was out of sight. Already nervous about driving alone in such horrendous traffic, I panicked when I realized he was no longer in front of me. On top of that, I glanced at the clock on the dash and realized we were "cutting it close" to arrive at my parent's house in time for lunch. Traffic continued to whiz by me at warp speed, and all I could think about was how late we were going to be. I knew how impatient my Daddy was - especially when it came time to eat - and I worried that our tardiness was going to hold up the whole holiday dining plans.(It is true what they say about anxiety magnifying little things!) The fact that I was "all alone" on a busy holiday highway, and the pressure of getting to my parents on time for Thanksgiving lunch, sent me head first into an anxious tailspin. And then suddenly, out of no where and without any warning - it hit me.....
Terrifying dizziness and disorientation overtook me and instantly I felt like I was losing control of my mind and body. My hands became wet and clammy as I clutched the steering wheel in a deadbolt grip in a desperate attempt to keep driving. My heart was beating so hard I thought it was thundering outside, and I started hyperventilating as I gasped for air. Somehow, in my dazed, confused and terrified state, I managed to pull over to the side of the road. For what seemed like hours, I just sat there in the median while the holiday traffic continued to zoom past me. I had NO idea what had just happened to me, but I was sure I was having a heart attack - or worse! I sat there frozen, helpless and panic-stricken, just waiting for my fate to catch up to me. Instead, within a few minutes, my mysterious symptoms amazingly started to subside and I was able to get back on the road and make it safely to my parent's house - right on time for our holiday meal. The rest of the visit went by uneventful and I just chalked the whole thing up to "holiday stress." Unfortunately, that was NOT to be the last time I would experience such an alien encounter with terror.
I'm skipping alot of history for the sake of this blog, but for the next two years, I would suffer with similar attacks - going from doctor to doctor to try and find out the cause. I was SURE I had some serious or rare disease that caused such horrible symptoms, but in the end, I was finally diagnosed with "severe generalized anxiety disorder" accompanied by subsequent panic attacks - a diagnosis that I neither expected nor wanted to accept. I was told I had a "disposition" to anxiety, and that it was something I most likely would just have to "live with." I was given anti-anxiety medication and sent to a therapist to probe my psyche,and try to understand where all my anxiety issues were coming from. My "normal life" as I knew it was gone, and I constantly felt like I was living in a fog - disoriented and confused - and unable to do the things I used to do on a daily basis, not to mention I was constantly living on the verge of another "phantom attack" at any time. To make matters worse, no one around me - especially my husband - could understand what was happening to me, or why I just couldn't "get over it."
My road to recovery from anxiety and panic attacks was neither short nor easy. Unable to leave my home- much less work - I spent alot of time in my bedroom - mostly crying out to God to heal me from the demons that now seem to possess every part of my being. It was in this broken state that I found comfort - and eventually my healing - through my daily conversations with God, as well as recording my experiences in a journal I kept by my bedside. Desperate for healing, I begin to read and study the Bible - meditating on God's words about how we are to "cast our cares on Him" and "not be anxious for anything". I would write down all the verses I could find on how God wanted us to be happy, healthy and blessed, and repeat them every day. For days, weeks and months, I would study God's Word, praying and leaning on His promises of healing. Encouraged by His promises and lifted up in hope, courage and strength, I finally began to break the cycle of anxiety, and regained my confidence and ability to do things I hadn't been able to do before - like drive a car down the road to the grocery store by myself without having a panic attack, or go a day longer without having to take my medication. Eventually, the anxiety and panic attacks subsided and I was able to stop going to therapy and go off my medication completely. Ultimately, my marriage ended and I went back to my hometown to continue my healing and recover from yet another painful episode in my life - a failed marriage. And although my life took a dramatic turn for the better after that, I was still fearful that my old demons would follow me into my bright, new future.
I wish I could say that since those days I've never had another anxious moment or stressful situation, but that would be untrue - and unrealistic. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. Even now, I still have moments of extreme anxiety and occasional bouts with shortness of breath, however, I CAN say that I've NEVER had another full blown panic attack, nor have I had to take ANY type of medication for anxiety. And for those times that I DO have anxiety-producing situations, I immediately turn to God and focus on Him and His amazing grace, strength and power to get me through those stressful times, and bring me peace, consolation and joy!
If you struggle with panic or anxiety attacks, I encourage you to do what I did - seek out medical help FIRST to get a correct diagnosis, then get into the Word of God and focus on His promises of hope and healing. If anxiety is great within you, His consolation will bring you peace and joy, and the strength to overcome every stressful situation in your life!
I am very blessed to live on a small farm in the country. Our home is down a long dirt road that turns into a private farm path leading to our driveway. From my living room, all I can see in any given direction is farmland or woodlands. For me, my husband, and our dog Bubba, it is our little piece of "heaven on earth", and a refuge from the rest of the chaotic world around us.
Almost every day, Bubba and I take a walk around the fields and woods that surround our property. It's a good one to three mile walk in which Bubba enjoys romping through the fields hunting moles, or chasing squirrels through the deep woods. While he plays,I am usually walking well ahead of him, enjoying the cheerful chirping of the birds, or the cool summer breeze that ushers me down and around the dusty paths that outline the woods behind me.
There's one particular spot I always like to stop at for a much needed break, and to give Bubba a chance to catch up to me if he's lagging behind. It's a shady little corner of the woods where the breeze seems to settle, cooling the air by as much as ten degrees, and a midway point no matter which way you're coming or going. It's the perfect spot to rest your legs - and your mind. For reasons I'm about to explain, my husband has thoughtfully dubbed this spot the "Amen Corner". (NOT to be confused with the famous golfing spot, also called "Amen Corner".)
The Amen Corner started as a resting place where I began to stop, pray and meditate while on my daily walks, as well as "visit" with family members or friends who have passed away. It's sort of like a graveyard or family cemetery, only there are no tombstones or grave markers - only pine trees and wild honeysuckle. It is the perfect spot to not only take a much needed break, but to pay my respects to those people who have had a significant presence in my life, but have since passed on from this world. Besides beloved family members, this includes dear friends, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone who I felt some sort of "connection" to.
In that quiet, shady corner, I "visit" with all those who have gone on before me - my "angels" - as I call them, sharing my thoughts in a memorable, reflective and unhurried manner. Although sometimes my visits are "short and sweet" - just long enough to say "Hello in Heaven, everybody", other days I stay and tarry, reminiscing with certain ones about cherished memories I have with them. I try to remember the things about them that were special to me, and thank them for the influence they had on my life. I share my own personal stories with them, usually starting with, "You remember the time.....". I may even ask them for advice about a troubling situation I'm facing, or ask them to watch over me and my family. And no, I don't necessarily "hear" them talking back to me, but on more than one occasion I have looked down and seen a white feather(or two!)which I take to be a "sign" from one of my "angels" that they have heard me, or are near. Or sometimes the breeze may blow just a little bit stronger or cooler - another way I think they are letting me know they "hear" me. But regardless of whether they acknowledge my presence or not, I get a great sense of peace just sharing my day to day thoughts with them, asking for their protection and guidance, and thanking them for being a part of my life, and for being my angels.
As the days, months, weeks and years go on, and more family members and friends pass away, I find myself lingering a little bit longer at the Amen Corner, visiting personally with each and everyone I've lost. It's a way I can keep those people dearest to me "alive" - at least in those few moments I'm there! More importantly, it has become a special place where I can get closer to God, as well. Sometimes I forego visiting with my angels and just close my eyes, turn my head towards the sky, and feel the warm sunshine on my face, bathing in the warmth and comfort of God's love. Or I tilt my ears nearer to the woods, taking time to listen to the many different bird sounds way up in the trees; their melodic chirping drowning out the noisy thoughts in my mind. I breathe in the thick sweetness of the nearby honeysuckle or the wholesome scent of the freshly plowed fields, and just thank God that He has given me such a beautiful little spot like the Amen Corner in which I can not only visit with long lost souls, but where I can take respite from the stress and troubles of my day to day life.
There are many beautiful spots in and around our farm,but the Amen Corner has become my favorite place to visit with my angels - and my God! Do YOU have a favorite spot like the Amen Corner that you feel nearer to your loved ones who have passed? Tell me about in the comments below!
Peace, blessings, and God's favor and grace to you always!
Now, one year later, despite the subtle physical reminders, I look at how FAR I've come, and can't help but feel incredibly BLESSED and GRATEFUL that God not only carried me THOUGH that season of change, but He chose to heal me, as well! When I look back to a year ago, I am reminded of the old saying,"there but for the grace of God", it could have been ME writing one of those horror stories of continued pain and anguish from sciatic nerve damage. Oh, I still have moments when my back starts aching if I bend over too long, and I still have leg weakness and numbness in my foot from time to time, but I can honestly say my life is a thousand times BETTER than it was just one year ago, thanks to God's NEVER CHANGING faithfulness, grace and mercy!
No one is promised life without change. God didn't say our lives would NEVER be without it. As a matter of fact, He says in His Word,
"outwardly we are wasting away,(CHANGING)yet inwardly we are being renewed (CHANGING) day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16) He also says, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal (CHANGE) that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." (1 Peter 4:12)
Change is not only a fact of life, it's clearly spoken from God's word!
Life changes for all of us. In fact, it's ever-changing! Sometimes it's a "blink of an eye" kind of change, and for others it's a more gradual change. Sometimes it's a change that hits us "out of the blue" - like the day that sciatic nerve pain hit me. And then sometimes its a change that happens over a period of time - like watching your hair turn gray! lol! But no matter HOW the change happens, OR what kind of change it is, I've learned that it's your FAITH and TRUST in God that determines HOW you deal with it at the time, and how you'll look back on it, "one year later".
Change is an inevitable part of our lives, no matter whether its a GOOD change, or BAD. And when we're faced with ANY kind of change in our lives, it's easy to lose our focus and concentrate on the change (like I did with my sciatic nerve pain), instead of on the One who can help us deal with that change - God. Thankfully, our God DOESN'T change, and is always FAITHFUL, MERCIFUL and TRUSTWORTHY!
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
"I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed."
If you're dealing with ANY kind of change in your life, try to focus on God's faithfulness and promises to carry you THROUGH that change, knowing that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28), and I believe one year from now, you'll be giving Him the glory and praise for being faithful to you just like He was to me!
Peace, blessings and God's favor and grace to you always,
It's January 1, 2019, and the weather outside today feels more like June than January. But I don't mind. It reminds me that Spring/Summer is on the way! If you know anything about me at all, you know that I LOVE summer! Like I love dark chocolate, sunflowers, peace signs, and owls. Summer is just ME, and I am summer. In fact, I wish my NAME was "Summer". Ha Ha. Actually, the very first book I wrote (which you can get here!) I named the main character, "Summer".
But this blog post is NOT about Summer. I'll save that post for another time. No, this post belongs to WINTER. And to all those, like me, who find winter their LEAST favorite time of the year.
I give you now, an original prose that best expresses my feelings about this most dismal season....
A Reproach to Winter
Your cold, dead stillness
suspends time in a frigid grip,
While unwary victims befall
into your ruthless solstice asylum.
The tall, willowy white limbs
of the mighty birch stretch upward,
reaching for the warm rays
of sunlight above.
Gray skies hover over barren fields
like the scavenger deathbird,
searching for victims of
winter's icy chill.
Snow comes and wraps the earth
in it's cold, wet blanket;
Then cries muddy tears with the
melting of the first sun.
As daylight ends and the moon
steals the sun from the sky,
Cold winter winds thrusts icy daggers;
The naked night air shivers.
Make haste, winter;
Your gray beauty has fallen from grace;
Spring will soon burst forth from its cocoon,
And rebirth the life you stole.
-Lisa A. Tippette
It's the middle of December and most everyone's thoughts are upon the upcoming Christmas holiday. Nothing so strange about that - after all, its "the MOST wonderful time of the year". But for some reason, I've had a hard time "getting into the spirit" of Christmas this year. It's not that I don't like the holiday - what's NOT to like? Festive decorations, cheery holiday music and seasonal goodies all make it almost everyone's favorite holiday. And I DO like Christmas - really, I do. But as I get older, I notice that around the Christmas holiday season, I get less impressed with "holiday festivities", and lean more toward reflecting on the past months leading UP to this time of the year.
I know, you're supposed to do your "reflecting" AFTER Christmas and right before New Year's. That's the time you really start to look back over the past year and reflect on events and memories that have happened. And I do that, too. Only not as much. I prefer to look FORWARD come New Year's, rather than backwards.
Looking back over 2018, I can't say its been a bad year for me at all, although it did start out sort of "painful". Everything was going along fine until March, when my sciatic nerve put me flat down for about three months. In fact, I don't think I've updated this blog since I wrote about my "Twinge With Terror". Thankfully, I recovered from that with only a few lingering side effects, which I've spent the better part of the summer and fall trying to recover from. Then, I was thrown into that hormonal "hell-on-earth" female condition that all women go through at my age - menopause. I'm not EVEN going to try and explain what it's been like trying to deal with that! Women, you ALL know what I'm talking about, right? In fact, I blame menopause for a good part of the reason I haven't been writing lately. It's hard enough just trying to remember why I walked into a room, much less try to string two sentences together that actually make sense! Not to mention the overwhelming fatigue, weight gain, hot flashes, brain fog and achy joints that come with this "personal summer of hell"!
But the months rolled on and despite my physical and emotional roller-coaster ride, I was able to roll on with them. Spending time at the beach at our summer place was the PERFECT antidote for almost ANYTHING that I came against, and I took advantage of every opportunity I had to go. Walking for miles down the shell-littered shore and breathing in the clean, salt-scented air made me almost oblivious to the distractions of life around me, and I relished in each timeless moment spent in my "happy place". I'm almost always at my best during the summer, but alas, it passed by much too quickly - as it usually does - and I found myself trying to hold onto as much of it as possible, only to have it pried from my cold, dead grip by the chilly autumn winds.
So once again, I shifted my seasonal and emotional gears and readied myself for the upcoming pumpkin-spiced season. I'm not really much into fall, although I do enjoy watching the leaves morph into crayon-box shades of red, yellow and orange. Mostly fall is a sad time for me as it reminds me that my favorite time of the year is gone and won't be back for at least nine months. This year, it was also particularly extra sad as my 48 year old cousin passed away from pancreatic cancer in early November. She had been diagnosed several months earlier and we knew her prognosis wasn't good. Still, her untimely death left her parents, a grieving husband and three sons, and a host of family and friends to carry on the upcoming holidays without her. My heart couldn't help but break for the hard days ahead of them.
With Thanksgiving looming closely on the autumn horizon, the hubby and I had already decided to break tradition again this year as we had done the year before, by spending Thanksgiving at the "Salty Owl" - our little "home away from home", a place at the beach we had purchased just a year ago.
Generally a quiet time weather-wise, that was NOT to be the case this year. As fate would have it, a year after we had bought our little beach place, a five hundred year hurricane hit our coast and left moderate damage to our little piece of heaven on earth. Thankfully, we sustained MUCH less damage that many others in that area, and NOTHING compared to the destruction and loss of life suffered by many, many more others. All in all, we were VERY blessed and came out quite unscathed. And while we have just completed the minor repairs needed fixing on our little place, it will be many more months - possibly years - before others are as fortunate. Still, we did spend Thanksgiving at the beach, although it was quite nontraditional, with steak and salad replacing the traditional turkey and dressing. I think the best part was being there in the off-season when its mostly barren and secluded. Truly a great time and place to DE-flect instead of RE-flect.
After Thanksgiving, I once again turned my attention to the next upcoming holiday - Christmas. Only early December was to be the bearer of another heartbreaking event. This one a little closer to home. My husband's second cousin, who lived right across the path from us, was found dead in his home by my father-in-law on a cold and snowy Sunday morning.
We had just put up our first artificial Christmas tree in 24 years and I was feverishly trying to get it decorated, when my husband got the call from his father to step next door. The heavy, wet snow that blanketed our little farm lie peaceful and still as I watched the EMT workers roll my neighbor's lifeless body from his single wide trailer to the rescue vehicle. Cause of death was end stage liver disease. He, too, was only 48 years old. Another family devastated by a holiday tragedy. I tried my best to carry on with our usual holiday traditions, but each one was tinged with the sadness of the these heartbreaking losses.
In keeping with our annual family tradition, we had our annual family Christmas party a week later - an event I look forward to all year. You'd have to know our family to appreciate the "holiday humor" of our get-togethers, but they are always a lot of fun, nevertheless. Lots of delicious holiday treats, a rather subdued game of "Dirty Santa", and catching up with relatives we don't see nearly often enough, filled the damp, winter day with a festive and joyous holiday feeling. But that day, too, passed by much too quickly and I was left with only the precious holiday memories of a few fleeting hours with my friends and loved ones.
So now, it's Christmas Day and all the holiday festivities are coming to an end. The gifts have been opened, the obligatory family visits have been made, and I'm at home resting easy in my favorite chair. As I stare out the glass patio door beside me, there's a noticeable sadness that seems to hang from the barren limbs that reach up into the muddled-colored clouds above. A poignant sadness that punctuates the holiday season in a most depressing way. It's not MY sadness I see so much, but the sadness of all those around me who have lost their joy for whatever reason, in a season that is supposed to be the MOST joyful time of the year. A sadness that leeches on, and clings to you like the cold sweat of a chilling nightmare. A sadness that makes you question as to whether or not you even have a right to your own happiness. A selfish sadness that only exists to steal the last breadcrumb of joy from the "most wonderful time of the year". A sadness that knows not from where it comes.
But ironically, it's from this peculiar sadness that I'm reminded of what this day, and the season - as well as EVERY day - is all about. JESUS. Not only is He the "reason for the season", but He's the reason for LIFE.
I think the overwhelming sadness some people get with the holiday season comes NOT because they can't get into the feeling of the holidays, but because they can't feel Jesus. They are looking for old traditions or lost loved ones to bring back the nostalgic feelings of joyous holidays long ago, all the while knowing those days are lost to us; never to be relived again. They pine for the way things "used to be", and hopelessly reach back to a time and a feeling that is long gone, not wanting to accept that people, feelings and memories will all leave us one day. But as someone pointed out to me in a text I received earlier today, Jesus is ALWAYS with us. Not just every day, but in EVERY season. He's no longer that little baby that was born in a manger - He's the HOPE that was born FROM the manger! And because of that hope, we can find happiness and joy in EVERY season of the year - not just at Christmastime.
I know this Christmas is hard for a lot of people, for different reasons. And my heart goes out to them, as well as my prayers. I feel their sadness as if it were laying heavy in my own heart. You may even be one of those who are feeling sad and hopeless this holiday season. If you are, I want to remind you that there is still ONE present left for you to open - the precious gift that Jesus left in that manger over 2000 years ago; the gift of HOPE. For from His miraculous birth came the HOPE that saves people not only from their sins, but from the sadness and despair that the world can bring. A gift that He gave to ALL, but who so few have opened. But this gift can't be found under your Christmas tree, or at a holiday get together, or even from the memories of Christmases long ago. It can only be found in your HEART. And you know what - its been there ALL the time! All you have to do is OPEN it, and say THANK YOU JESUS for the gift of YOU! I promise you it will be the BEST gift you'll open this year! And it's a gift that will KEEP ON GIVING every day of your life!
As I continue to reflect on the past year, I thank God that despite all the bad times and difficult situations, His precious gift of hope has carried me through it all. I can truly say that I have been more blessed than stressed, and that my heart has been more joyful that sorrowful. For these gifts, I am truly grateful! Likewise, it is my Christmas wish for you that the sadness in your heart be replaced with the joyous gift of love of Jesus this holiday season- and EVERY day of the coming New Year!
Merry Christmas everyone, and blessings for a happy, prosperous and joyous New Year!
I passed the eight week mark and currently entering the ninth. Honestly, I’ve been so busy LIVING that I haven’t had time to update this blog! But I wanted to finish it and get it published so others who may be dealing with this horrendous condition may find some hope in my experience. I guess I was a “typical statistic”, as my sciatic nerve pain finally (but slowly) left me around week eight. Coincidence or was it a combination of all I had been doing? Who really knows? I just give all the credit to God, as HE is the one who works through ANY and ALL means to bring us to TOTAL healing.
If you have researched sciatic nerve pain as much as I have, you’ll agree that the treatment for it is as different as the sufferer who is to dealing with it, and that there is no “one treatment cures all”. Like me, you may travel down many different treatment roads, trying one remedy after another, until you find the one or a combination of several treatments that work for YOU. Everyone handles pain differently, therefore everyone will respond differently to various methods of pain control. For me, I just knew I had to keep trying to find a way to get through another day, in hopes of waking up one day and finding that I finally had MY pain under control WITHOUT having to rely on dangerous drugs or invasive surgery. Don’t get me wrong - I DO believe those treatments have a place in some cases, and would advise you to seek out those treatment options you feel are best suited for YOUR particular situation. I am NOT 100% cured myself, so it may be that even I have to relent to more aggressive treatment in the event I don’t get better soon! But for now, as long as I see improvement in my condition on a daily basis, no matter how small, I’m going to fight this condition head on with my arsenal of all natural and holistic treatments, along with the strength and power of Almighty God, and wage a full on frontal attack against this formidable foe!
I still have some weakness in my right leg and numb patches in my foot, knee and thigh, but nothing that has kept me from living a “normal life” again. In fact. I just got back from an extended trip to beach where I was able to walk along the seashore and enjoy doing all the things I loved to do - only slower and with more care! And frankly, I NEEDED to slow down, as I was ALWAYS in a hurry, rushing around, stressing about getting places on time, and just worrying about EVERYTHING. They say God has “ways” of getting your attention and I think this was His way of telling me to SLOW DOWN and ENJOY LIFE! Despite all the unbearable pain and frustration this condition brings, I’m sure glad it happened! For now, I have a NEW appreciation of life. I live each day at a slower, but more meaningful pace and don’t worry about being “left behind”. No, I DON’T want to go through this again, but I can honestly say it left me a happier, more carefree person. I hope it does the same for you!
Thank you for staying with me through this extended blog journey. If you've been helped by anything you read, or learned something about sciatic nerve pain, please share your comments with me below. Let's "pay it forward" and help others who may be suffering with this painful condition and let them know there is ALWAYS hope for total healing and a normal life again!
I’m one day shy of my 7 week “sciatica anniversary”. Not exactly an occasion I’d like to celebrate, but it helps to be able to look back and see how far I’ve come. And while I can definitely say I’ve come a long way, I regret to say that I am STILL having some degree of pain from this condition. I’m also two weeks post cortisone injection and feel pretty confident in saying its effects were minimal at the most. So, here’s what I’ve been doing to deal with the on-going pain:
I try to walk on my treadmill at least five minutes or more, do my sciatic nerve stretches, and stay active as much as possible. Yes it hurts to walk, but I do it anyway. Fortunately, my mind is finally clear from all the drugs I was taking and I’m able to focus more on doing things that will further my recovery. I still take Advil or Aleve 2-3 times a day, or as needed. I’ve also started taking the alpha lipoic acid again, as well as the turmeric, both of which I had stopped when I got the cortisone shot. I also just recently read about benfotiamine - a Vitamin B1 derivative that shows great promise in helping relieve nerve pain. I’m going to my local health food store tomorrow and get some, and will report on the results in a week or so. I’m also going to inquire about any other holistic treatments available that I could possibly gain some benefit from. It is STILL my goal to attack and treat this condition on as much a holistic level as possible until it is resolved to my satisfaction. With that said, I need to get up and get MOVING!
So, my trip to the health food store proved to be discouraging - and SCARY! I was hoping to get the benfotiamine, but unfortunately, they didn’t have any. However, my friend who runs the store suggested two alternatives - one was Tei Fu - a relaxing massage gel (which I really LOVE), and the other was a homeopathic blend of several different herbs simply called “Backache”. After a late lunch that afternoon, I eagerly opened the little bottle of tiny little white pills that I hoped would relieve the nagging pain in my leg. The directions said to take four pills every 4-6 hours, and dissolve them under your tongue. Knowing how “sensitive” I am to most EVERYTHING, I only took two. Four hours later, I took another dose - two more. Now we get to the SCARY part! Immediately after taking the second dose, I became dizzy and had severe shortness of breath. I quickly started researching the ingredients in the little pills and was disturbed to find they contained ACONITE - a deadly POISONOUS herb! However, in a “homeopathic” state, it was supposed to be quite safe and its poisonous effects very “minimal”. Ha! Safe or not, there was NO WAY I was dissolving another one of those little pills under my tongue! I decided the leg pain wasn’t so bad after all! lol! Fortunately, the shortness of breath wore off in a few hours and I had no further effects.
Ironically, it was shortly after this my friend messaged me on Facebook to see how I was doing. When I told him what had happened to me, he assured me that it only went to prove the “energy and frequency was very powerful” - whatever that means. All I know is that poisoning myself to get rid of my sciatic nerve pain seem to be going to the extreme. Lesson learned - herbal remedies can have dangerous side effects just like prescription meds, and you need to research ANYTHING and EVERYTHING before you take it! Fortunately, the Tei Fu massage gel works great to soothe and relax the cramped muscles in my leg, and helps me to sleep without that “restless leg” feeling at night.
So now I was feeling like I was back to “square one”, and didn’t know what to do next. God knew what I was thinking (doesn’t He always!) and whispered one word in my ear: “turmeric”. What? “Try taking the turmeric again”. I heard the words just as clear as day. Okay, why not? After all, it IS one of the most highly recommended and talked about all- natural treatments for sciatic. Maybe I just didn’t give it enough time to work! What did I have to lose at this point? I immediately went and got two capsules and swallowed them with a long chug of bottled water. Four hours later, I took two more. I did this for two days and amazingly, the stabbing pain in my leg started to retreat in a very noticeable way! I couldn’t believe it! I kept taking my other supplements - the Super Magnesium, Triple Flex and ALA, along with the turmeric, and over the next three or four days, the pain in my leg diminished to just a nagging dull ache, which was actually a refreshing change from the sharp, stabbing pain that kept me from standing or walking for very long.
Now here’s the REALLY exciting part: after about the fourth day, with my husband by my side, I walked around the field with him and our dog with NO PAIN!! Yes, my leg was a little “achy”, and I was walking very SLOW from weakness, but I was NOT in any pain! Praise the Lord!!! I was SO happy, I could have just as easy been walking on CLOUDS! And the next day, I did it again, and just yesterday, I walked around TWICE! Of course, I was quite sore that evening, but after a long epsom salt bath and rubbing my leg down with the Tei Fu, I slept like a baby that night! I can’t tell you how that one little feat brought great healing to me - both physically AND mentally! I finally feel like I’m living a NORMAL life again, and am looking forward to the day when I can finally put this nightmare behind me! As I near the eight week of this traumatic journey in my life, I hope to end this journal and make it public in hopes of helping someone else who may be going through the same thing.
"A Twinge Turned Terror" - FINAL CHAPTER coming soon!!
Once we were at the clinic, I was admitted back fairly quickly where a nurse took my vitals. My blood pressure, as well as my pulse had skyrocketed well above my normal readings. Finally, the Dr. came in and started to question me about my symptoms, and the reason for my visit. I explained to her what had happened, and that my major concern was that in stretching, I had caused a blood clot to dislodge and travel to my brain. She listened quietly and patiently, did a quick exam of my legs (checking for DVT) and listened to my heart and lungs. With a reassuring smile, she confidently assured me I did NOT have a blood clot and that my “mystery symptom” was nothing more than a strain on my already aggravated sciatic nerve. And because she worked out and lifted weights frequently, and had experienced the SAME thing, she knew EXACTLY what I was feeling! To say I was relieved was an understatement!
We discussed my sciatic pain condition in further detail, and she suggested I should consider further testing with xrays and an MRI, neither of which I could afford.(No insurance, remember?) However, I wasn’t about to get out of there without SOME kind of pain relief, so I quickly asked if she could give me a cortisone shot, to which she replied, “of course.” Finally! I could get some relief from this painful gorilla that had been literally “on my back” for the past five weeks! .(I know what you’re thinking: “But I thought you were going to get through this conditions WITHOUT any drugs!” Well, yes, but if a simple cortisone shot can “help me along the way”, what’s the harm? Besides, with a 50/50 chance of the shot resolving my pain issue once and for all, what did I have to lose?) The injection was 80mg of DepoMedrol, and was delivered quickly and painlessly in my “gluteus maximus”. But pain relief was not as quick....
The first few hours after the injection, I felt a false sense of pain relief as the numbing agent took the edge off my pain. But when that wore off, my sciatic nerve pain came back - with a VENGEANCE! That night, I felt like my whole body had been run over by a tractor and it was all I could do to catch forty winks in between tossing and turning from side to side, trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. I finally gave up, got up out of bed and went and slept in my chair in the living room. My husband awakened my when he got up for work the next morning. Feeling groggy, nauseous and painfully stiff, I managed to drag myself up, fix some coffee and pull myself together enough to make it to a scheduled client meeting. I shoved an Advil down my throat as I walked out the door, hoping to allay some of the pain long enough to get through the morning. Strangely enough, my pain was numbed again somewhat for several hours, even enough so I could make a quick trip to the grocery store without very much pain - something I hadn’t been able to do in over a month! I was encouraged that the shot was finally kicking in and expected my condition to improve soon.
Unfortunately, as the day wore on, my old familiar pains kicked in instead. Again, I had a rough night and felt just as bad the next morning. And again, I forced myself to get up, dressed and on to another client’s office where I spent several hours that day. However, I kept having “moments” where I felt LESS pain and was encouraged again that the shot was doing its job. Still, it was now going on 36 hours post-injection, and I still couldn’t understand why I wasn’t having MORE pain relief. Naturally, I had researched the matter thoroughly and everything I read told me that I SHOULD be feeling greater pain relief by now, and the more time that passed, I feared the shot wasn’t going to work AT ALL for me.
That night, I took another Advil and slept pretty well, waking up only once hurting. I again took an Advil I had left on my nightstand and promptly went back to sleep. The next morning when I woke, I noticed I wasn’t hurting as much, although I still felt tired and a little queasy on my stomach. Not having any appointments, I looked forward to a quiet, restful and hopefully pain-free day. As I went about my morning routine, I still felt a nagging pain in my leg, but it was “different” - and not as noticeable. Wanting to know more about what to expect from the shot, and more importantly how SOON to expect RELIEF, I phoned the clinic and talked to a nurse about my injection. She explained that it was a SLOW RELEASE injection, and that I SHOULD expect to start seeing some significant pain relief over the next few days, but that if I didn’t, I could come back to discuss other options. Encouraged by her call, I decided to give it a few more days before giving up. As the day progressed on, I actually DID notice a slight decrease in pain and I could walk further and longer without my leg hurting as much. At this point, I’m feeling VERY encouraged that the cortisone shot IS working and that I’ll soon be PAIN FREE!! I’ll post another update in a few days....
So, its been 8 days post injection and what a roller-coaster ride its been! I had a slight emotional melt down around day 5 as it seemed like the cortisone shot “stopped working” and the sciatic pain once again reared its ugly head. After my meltdown, I was determined NOT to let this intrusive ailment get the best of me. It was at that point I got MAD. Mad at my body. Mad at the damn cortisone shot. Mad at the dr. who gave it to me. Mad at myself. Just plain MAD. But it was that anger that drove me to do something MORE. From that moment on, I decided to live my life IN SPITE of the pain. With my newfound determination, I cleaned my house for the first time in over a month, even squatting down on my knees to clean under furniture. No, I didn’t “overdo it”, and had to stop several times to rest, but I managed to get it done. The feeling of accomplishment was potent medicine, and I was further encouraged to tackle other things I had been putting off for so long - like walking around the yard with my dog and helping my husband out in the kitchen at meal times. I was finally LIVING again, despite the relentless pain in my leg. I vacillated back and forth over whether or not the cortisone shot was working, whether to go back for further treatment, and what to do if the pain didn’t soon let up. It was at that point that I discovered two books online by Dr. John Sarno: Mind Over Back Pain and Healing Back Pain.
Dr. Sarno is the father of TMS - Tension Mytosis Syndrome, and offers a revolutionary approach to back pain that is based on his discovery that tension is the underlying cause of most back problems. Reading these two radical, yet common-sense books helped me to realize and understand the source AND treatment to my sciatic condition, based on his documented research and experience with hundreds of “cured” patients who had suffered from the same condition, as well as many other similar ailments. If you have an open mind and are willing to “consider” Dr. Sarno’s “theories”, you, too may glean a powerful benefit from reading these two little books. All I can say is that after reading BOTH of them within a 24 hour period, I have been able to walk with LESS pain and have a new “euphoric attitude” about finally being rid of this horrid condition ONCE AND FOR ALL! Suffice it to say that I am a FIRM believer in “mind over matter”. As I enter into my 6th week, I feel enormously blessed and hopeful that God has finally brought me to MY “promised land” - a full recovery and total healing of the curse of sciatic nerve pain. Further updates forthcoming!
"A Twinge Turned Terror" - Part 6 coming next!....
It’s now going into my 5th week of dealing with this “mystery pain”. I call it that because I still have not seen a doctor to properly diagnose my condition. Not because I didn’t WANT to, but with NO medical insurance or extra money set aside, I know I would not be able to get the expensive MRI, which is the ONLY proven method to correctly diagnose a true spinal issue that could be causing my pain. If I would have had good insurance, I would have not hesitated to see a doctor, if only to get an accurate diagnosis, although I may not have chosen to rely on strong drugs or surgery as treatment options. However, due to my diligent research, I am 90% confident that I have assessed and diagnosed my condition to my best satisfaction, and the little improvements I see week by week confirm that self-diagnosis. As long as I don’t get WORSE, I feel like I can monitor AND treat my condition with the methods I am currently using.
Among my NEWEST (and most helpful) holistic treatments are the addition of mega-doses of Vitamin C. I read about its powerful ability to successfully treat acute sciatic conditions during one of my website researches, and was so impressed with one woman’s testimony, (read her story here), that I drove myself to the local dollar store about two miles down the road and picked up a big bottle of it. Over the next few days, I took 8000-10,000 gms of Vitamin C a day. By the third day, I could tell a BIG difference in not only my pain level, but my overall mental and physical state. Everyone knows how Vitamin C can knock out a cold, but not many know what a potent inflammation fighter it is when it comes to sciatica! Well,it made ME a believer, and I am still mega-dosing going on almost a week now. Even though I’m still not pain-free, I can attest to the remarkable difference just adding this Vitamin C protocol to my treatment regimen has made to my healing and recovery process. One word of caution if you try this: although it is non-toxic, high doses of Vitamin C can cause bowel issues, so make sure you don’t exceed YOUR bowel tolerance levels! You’ll know when you do, in which case you just need to back off to a lower intake.
Another helpful treatment I’ve recently added is specific stretches to treat the muscle spams, tightness and pain in my leg that comes from the sciatic nerve inflammation. I learned that some of the stretching I was doing earlier (like most hamstring stretches) were actually making my condition WORSE, and counterproductive to my healing. Instead, I started doing some light yoga stretching, piraformis stretches and neural flossing. You can research these yourself and find the ones that you like the best. They are really helpful in keeping your muscles and joints limber, and help decrease the pain, even if its only temporary. However, the long-term benefits are eventual LESS pain and a less likelihood of having another sciatic attack! I make sure to do these 3 or 4 times a day, as well as try to incorporate short walks into my day, whether I’m at home or away. Yes, its painful to walk around in the grocery store or go shopping, but I’ve found if I lean on a cart, it makes the trip much easier to bear. My goal is to eventually be able to walk pain-free, but in the meantime, most all the information about this condition I’ve read suggests to stay active as much as possible. That’s pretty hard to do when you’re hurting, but “no pain, no gain”, right? I just try to balance it out and not overdo it, and make sure if I do, to use ice/heat to help relieve some of the added inflammation.
Finally, at this stage of my treatment, I’ve decided to STOP taking Aleve, an OTC pain med, that I’ve been using for the past five weeks to deal with the pain, and rely solely on the all- natural and holistic treatments I’m currently doing. Besides the irritating gastric side effects, I realize the long term damage of taking NSAIDS on a daily basis is not WORTH the minimal pain relief it gives, and may in fact be HINDERING my recovery. Again, in my own research, I have found more than one study suggesting the long-term use of many OTC pain meds can actually cause tissue damage and impede your body’s ability to heal inflammation on its own. That just reinforces my determination I to deal with this condition as holistically as possible, and weaning my body off ANY kind of unnatural or man-made pain meds. Instead, I will rely on the Vitamin C, magnesium and other natural supplements that are proven to be effective pain relief options. As with the decision to stop taking the opoids I was consuming earlier, I fully expect a positive outcome from dropping the Aleve from my treatment plan.
UPDATE: “Never say never.” Something happened a couple of days ago that not only sent up a red flag, but sent me to the nearest walk-in emergency clinic! I was on the floor doing my usual stretches lying on my stomach, face down. This one particular stretch I was doing was a torso press up. Basically, you just lie on your stomach, prop your upper body on your elbows and try to lift up and back as far as you can. I’d done this stretch several times before and could finally get to the place where it didn’t hurt as much. However, this particular morning as I lifted up and back, I felt a strange sensation quickly travel from my spine to my head, causing extreme dizziness. I quickly jumped up (probably not the smartest thing to do) and felt like I was going to pass out. My hands got sweaty and my pulse jumped sky high. I was SURE I was having a heart attack, stroke or a blood clot had burst. Panicking, I called my husband at work and told him what had happened. He was out of town working and couldn’t get home fast, so he called his mother who lives nearby, to come get me and take me to the walk-in emergency clinic. I paced nervously until she arrived, praying to God to let me make it to the clinic “in time”.
"A Twinge Turned Terror" - Part 5 Coming Soon....
It’s going on three weeks now, and while I’m MUCH better, I still have lingering pain, numbness and weakness in my right leg and foot, and still walk “crooked”, and can only walk for short periods at the time. I’ve lost about ten pounds due to a loss of appetite from the constant nauseating pain, and have only ventured out of my home with my husband on two occasions. I sleep with a pillow between my legs at night, and alternate between cold packs and a heating pad to temporarily relieve the pain. Up until a couple of days ago, I had to give up doing any kind of housework or sitting at a computer for long periods of time. And I am STILL not able to drive due to the partial numbness in my right foot. According to the information I’ve researched about sciatica, my situation is somewhat “normal”. In fact, most articles indicated recovery time on average is between 4-8 weeks, unless it gets worse which indicates another underlying problem that could require more aggressive treatment. Sometimes even surgery. I can only hope and pray I’m one of the “average” statistics.
Besides the overwhelming pain that comes with sciatica, I feel like I’ve been robbed of a life that was active, happy and full. I can no longer talk my dog on long walks around our farm, or even for a short jaunt to the mailbox down the path. I’ve fallen woefully behind in my housework and laundry duties, not to mention just being able to do “general cleaning” on an as-needed basis. And without getting too “personal”, let’s just say that my husband is a VERY patient man! ;) Thank God I married a man who is not only a wonderful and loving husband, but who can cook and clean just as well! In fact, he has been a Godsend these past few weeks, and I don’t know where I would have been if he hadn’t been here to take care of me! This is definitely ONE health issue you can’t bear all by yourself, and if you do, you’re a better woman than me!
It’s nearing almost four weeks now and I’m starting to see a tiny glimmer of light shining at the end of that long, dark wall of misery I’ve been painfully traveling through. I finally got out and drove for the first time, and while it wasn’t painful at the time, I paid for it dearly later that evening when the pain in my leg flared up like fireworks on New Years Eve! Fortunately, before I returned home, I managed to drag myself to a local drugstore to pick up a few items for my “sciatica self-help arsenal” that I had been reading about on the internet. Those items included valerian root, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), a TENS unit, (TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation),and a large bag of epsom salt. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the valerian root helped to quell the rebellious nerves in my leg and helped give me a restful night’s sleep, but I was unable to find any real satisfaction or pain relied with the TENS unit. In fact, it was more a nuisance than help, and the constant “pulsing” of the electrodes was MORE irritating than the pain itself! Even after trying the unit on different areas of my body, and different pulse patterns, I quickly tired of this intrusive treatment, and finally just gave up on it altogether.
This morning, I added some ALA to my yogurt, and will continue taking this supplement three times a day to see if it gives any added relief. There have been numerous studies done about the positive efficacy of ALA to treat sciatic nerve pain,so I am very anxious to see if it gives me the same results. I also take the following supplements on a daily basis: multi-vitamin especially for women over 50, MSM, magnesium, ginger, Triple Flex (a glucosomine chondroitin MSM supplement), Aleve gel caps, and enteric coated aspirin. I also take a warm epsom salt bath either nightly or every other night to soothe and ease the nerve pain before bedtime. I try to eat yogurt 3-4 times a week and drink lots of bottled water throughout the day. My goal is to slowly but surely transition from taking ANY kind of RX/OTC pain medication to taking nothing but all natural supplements to ease and control my sciatica condition, AND help prevent future occurrences of this intrusive monster! In fact, I read an interesting article that said when taken, certain opiod pain meds (i.e., oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.) actually stimulated pain cells in the spinal column and created MORE pain, creating the need for MORE pain medication! This vicious cycle explains why so many people find themselves addicted to these type pain relievers. Even I was finding myself in this same vicious cycle after taking oxycodone for only two weeks, and knew I had to find an alternative method of pain relief.
"A Twinge Turned Terror" - Part 4 Coming Next!