Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Single Motherhood At My Age: My Reality

I love, love, love being a mom. I become more enchanted with my little girl every day. But, man, this is hard! I’ve been putting off writing this for a long time. Mostly due to time and energy constraints, but also for emotional reasons. I don’t want to complain when I truly feel lucky in so many ways. I’m dealing with a lot of pain issues that I’ve been reluctant to blog about. Even though I know many younger people deal with chronic pain, it makes me feel old. And I am old. I’m 49 years old with a spirited toddler! I put in a 40 hour week, plus 10 hours a week commuting, and daycare is almost half my take home pay. It’s frustrating at this point in my life to feel like each month I’m slipping a little further behind financially. It adds greatly to my stress level, which adds to my pain levels.

I’m stressed and don’t feel like I’m handling it well, yet I’m not depressed. My anxiety level is through the roof right now, but I think I manage to be in the moment with Sunshine most of the time. Work is miserable. I mostly like the work I do, but my workplace is a very unhappy place right now. I don’t think I’ve ever posted about my job. I’m a graphic designer for a sales division of a big media company. I mostly design ads for tv and the web. There was an executive shake up at the end of last year and things are incredibly tense. Like coworkers in tears tense. Everyone is on edge, and the higher ups are demanding more productivity with less support. But in this economy, we know we’re lucky to have these jobs. Sucks, but just the idea of trying to find something else terrifies me.

Regarding the chronic pain, I’ve had some back problems for years, but it wasn’t too bad until my pregnancy. You may remember that I needed foot surgery while I was pregnant. It added to the lower back problems during and after the pregnancy. I have arthritis and bulging discs in my lower back. Also in my neck, although that hasn’t been causing consistent pain like the lower back. And my feet, even after surgery, are not so good. I also have some bursitis in my hips, likely also an aftereffect of the pregnancy. I was seeing a doctor for it last year who did some injections (facet blocks) with varying success, but decided not to go back to her, as I was not happy with how her practice was run. Last time I had an appointment with her I waited in the waiting room and exam room for an incredibly long time. I was at her office for over FOUR HOURS. The resident examined me and spoke with me some, then the doctor breezed in and out in about five minutes. I was furious! All these pain issues are connected, and without discussing pain other than my lower back, she was not getting a full picture. I recently went to someone new who gave me a tentative diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Apparently there are eighteen points on the body that are checked for tenderness if fibromyalgia is suspected. If there is pain or tenderness in at least eleven of those points, fibro is likely. I have pain in all eighteen points.

There are systemic treatments, but I’m not willing to experiment with the side effects while dealing with full time work and a toddler. So I’m trying to deal with areas that I can have treated, while hoping that if some areas feel better, my overall pain levels with go down. I had some cortisone injected in my hips last month and got some relief, but I think I’ll need another round in a few months to bring those levels down further. Next week I’m trying an epidural injection to try to get relief from the lower back pain. For the last few weeks my entire back has been tight with muscle spasms, but I suspect the mid and upper back pain is a muscular reaction to the lower back issues.

Oh, and let’s add in a little extra stress with an emergency visit to the ophthalmologist yesterday for what turned out to be a scratch on my cornea.

UGH! Can you see why I’ve been reluctant to post this? I feel like a whiner. I feel ancient. IT HURTS! It means I’m not always as patient with Sunshine as I’d like to be. It means I try to curb messy playing at home because I don’t have the energy to do the extra cleaning. It means I’m probably not performing as well as I should on my job, which scares me.

I have absolutely no regrets about becoming a single mother by choice, but when does it get easier?


AnotherDreamer said...

Sorry you've been having issues. I don't think you're being whiny, just real. Hope that something works soon!

Mo and Will said...

ugh, dora, i'm so sorry you're suffering so much. I think caring for a toddler on your own and working full time are herculean tasks WITHOUT all this pain. i hope they can help you get some relief quickly. and i hope that maybe your mom or teen helpers or anyone can give you some much needed breaks to let you try to get some rest!


battynurse said...

I'm so sorry about all the stuff you've had going on. I know what some of its like, especially the chronic pain part. I've had fibro at least since my late 20s and likely since my teens. I've tried a lot of different things, some work, some not so much but I hope you find what works for you. Hugs to you.

Melissia said...

There is no need to apologize! I have an inherited condited that causes chronic pain so I thought I could offer some suggestions. Try getting your Vitamin D levels checked, a low Vitamin D level will lead to increased muscle and bone pain that is debilitating, and is often undiagnosed in women and can be easily treated. Getting my levels up made a huge difference for me. Also see about taking a daily medicine like Mobic for your joint paint to prevent inflammationt. It will make a difference.
Make an appointment with a pain control specialist, you deserve to live as pain free as possible. And keep looking for a cause of your pain, fibro is a disease of exclusion. Is should be used when all other causes have been ruled out, not as the first choice for the reason you have pain.

Melissia said...

So sorry for the typos, I am on my phone. Please see a rheumatologist for a work up, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is often a misdiagnosis for a catch all of other ills that need to be treated. If you have a systemic illness or an auto immune illness or if you do hurt all over, you will hurt at all the trigger points. This can lead to a misdiagnosis and can delay you from getting the testing that you need.

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

I was just thinking about you yesterday -- it is so tough for me to get through a few days of single parenting when my husband is out of town, and I was thinking that I don't know how you do it all the time day after day.

One thing that will change in 2 or 3 years is that she'll be in school instead of day care, so at least the money will get better.

And long before that, hopefully you'll have a real solution for your pain.

St Elsewhere said...

You know what? Somedays I wonder how would I survive, if not for the constant presence of hubby when I am with Figlia. And you have been doing it all ALONE. I can imagine your stress. My work profile is different, but I have difficulty in adapting to it after the break and the baby, and I quite understand your constant on-the-edge feeling with it.

Fibromyalgia is not an easy diagnosis to make, and is often misdiagnosed. There are people here in the blogosphere, who are dealing with it. Maybe you can get in touch with them, to see if there is some medication that you can discuss with your doctor (Lindsay at Life Pared Down has been dealing with Fibro too.)

Please take care. You are not whining, and even if you are, it is all very reasonable to me.


Sam said...

I've had fibromyalgia since 1999. A good rheumatologist is really helpful. My two cents: if you have any pain due to inflammation a drug like Mobic (above) is awesome. I have several spots like that. But, if your stomach hates those drugs get thee a Flector patch! It's my favorite drug. Anxiety will increase pain-if you can fix that part it will help. Gluten intolerance is common with FMS and can make pain worse.

It's ok to admit you're hurting and overwhelmed by your pain. Ask for help if you can!

Tiara said...

Well that doesn't sound fun...I'm so sorry you've got so much going on & having to deal with so much pain on top of it all. I wish I could tell you when it gets easier but I don't know that it does. At least Sunshine will be old enough soon to help clean her own messes?

PS you do not sound whiney at all!

niobe said...

This sounds pretty much like a nightmare. Not the Sunshine part, of course. But still.

Sending good thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Toddlers are hard enough even when they're not spirited. Chronic pain is a suckfest. And to deal with it all, all by yourself? You must have superpowers.

Are you tied to the city? It doesn't sound like you have a great job or support network keeping you there. And I bet some of your anxiety could be helped if you weren't financially strained and putting in a long commute on top of working full time. South Dakota has many downsides, but my commute is 3 minutes each way and most daycares are under $20 a day.

A Shadow of My Former Self said...

I'm glad you were comfortable enough to post this part of your life. You've got a lot on your plate without the chronic pain. That wears on both the mind and body. I'm sorry you're going through such difficulties.

The Steadfast Warrior said...

Chronic pain is awful! And even more difficult when you have a little run running around. I get it, truly. I am amazed by single moms, because I feel wasted after a few days of it on my own.

You are amazing and you do the best you can. These early years are super difficult. Not that later years are easier, just different. It will get better.

For now, you need to take care of yourself. I know if feels overwhelming and impossible some days. You're not alone.

Billy said...

So sorry to hear you are in so much pain.