We were privileged this past weekend to travel to Vermont for the wedding of my wonderful mother-in-law. The ceremony was lovely and the reception was a hoot. There was dancing. Lots of silly dancing: the chicken dance, the Mexican hat dance, the cha-cha and the hokey pokey to name a few. I danced with the boys. I took part in the formed dances while holding Antonio or Thomas in my arms. I swing danced with Paul in dizzy circles. Every time I took to the dance floor I knew it was a bad idea. I knew that I would end up paying for it later with worse than usual back pain. However, every moment of it was worth it. I always hurt. I have since about half way through Thomas’ pregnancy. That was 4 years ago. I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to let my pain define me. I don’t want all of my children’s memories to be that mommy hurt; so, she couldn’t do this or that with them. Paul and Thomas are already well aware of my pain issues; especially Paul. I don’t want my pain to rob them of an active involved mother.
A little over a year ago I had a spinal fusion surgery done to correct severe scoliosis. My surgeon and I were hopefully that a benefit from the surgery would be that my pain would go away or at least greatly decrease. At the time of the surgery my baseline pain level was at least an eight at all-time and most of the time I hovered around a ten. The pain was chronic and nothing made it better. I had lived with that pain since Thomas’ pregnancy; minus the nine months I was pregnant with Antonio. Antonio’s pregnancy was extremely easy and from about fifteen weeks onward the pain disappeared. After, he was born it came rushing back with a ferocious vengeance.
However, the surgery didn’t work out how we had hoped. It helped immensely with the all over back pain It also uncovered an issue with my right si-joint. In June the si-joint put me in chronic pain that I hadn’t experienced since I hit the 5 month mark post-surgery; much to my dismay. The si-joint pain just kept getting worse until my base pain level was back at an eight. I was starting to have trouble walking without a limp and all of this happened while Mark was deployed. At the end of July I saw a surgeon, who was filling in for my actual surgeon. He had less than good news. He told me that it would always be an issue and that having any more children was highly ill-advised. That news was devastating and made all that much worse when he said my only treatment option was a si-joint injection. If it didn’t work I was screwed to a life of immense pain. The injection helped but only for about 2 weeks.
However, when I saw my primary care doctor he had a more positive outlook on things and wanted to try some more conservative approaches. (After speaking to my actual surgeon he said the reason the other surgeon took such drastic measures was because my back is complex. The injection was the only way to official rule if the si-joint was the cause of pain.) This approach of an anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxer has helped bring my baseline pain level to a four. By the end of the day I am in much more pain then a level four but at least it starts off manageable. I can function and walk without issue most days. Best of all my primary care doctor and my actual surgeon see no reason why we can’t expand our family if we so desire. As my surgeon said, “The horse is already out of the barn.” There is the chance a pregnancy could aggravate my si-joint worse. It could leave me in immense pain like I was in during Thomas’ pregnancy. There is also the chance that it could alleviate the pain like what happened during Antonio’s pregnancy. I figure I have a 50/50 shot. However, even if it does leave me in immense pain how is that really any different than what I already have? The down side would be that there would be no si-joint injections while pregnant nor would there be any medication at least during the 1st trimester; since all the meds are class c drugs. I would be completely on my own to manage the pain. However, in the end all the pain in the world would be worth it if it meant a new baby to hold and love.
However, I have strayed off point. My point was original about how I live with the pain. I have had several people of late tell me they don’t know how I do it and that they admire me for dealing with the pain. They admire the fact that I would be willing to chance another extremely painful pregnancy in order to have another child. There is nothing special about me that enable me to deal with the pain. I simply have no choice in the matter. This is the cross God has given me and all I can do is my best. Some days are better than others. Some days it takes every ounce of my being to get out of bed and face the day. Some days I cry into Mark’s arms. Other times I curse God and ask him why me.
I hope to have more good days than bad. I hope and try to not allow the pain to drag me down into despair but instead move forward and ignore the pain. I pray my way through things that have to be done in spite of the pain. I do things like dance with my boys even though I know I will pay for it later. All I can hope is that in the end I have lived life to the fullest that I can; that I have not allowed my pain to define me. I pray that when my children look back at their childhood they don’t remember a mom; who spent her time cross and wallowing in her pain. I hope that they look back and remember a mom; who did what she could to make them happy and be active in their childhood.
I don’t always reach this goal. I fall short for more often than I would like. I whine to Mark about how much I hurt. However, I keep trying. I try my best to be a good wife and a good mother despite the pain because their happiness is worth it. The last few months have been extremely hard mentally for me. I had hoped that after the surgery I was going to be pain free. I had a small glimpse for a few months of what it would be like to live pain free. I have stumbled more in the last three months and wallowed in despair over the pain then I should have. However, this weekend at the wedding reminded me of what was at stake. I don’t want my children to remember me as a person always sad and grouchy because she hurt. I want them to remember me laughing and playing with them; despite the fact that I hurt. With that reminder I will strive to more cheerfully and complain less as I carry this cross that God has given me.