5 Things You Should Know About Living With Chronic Pain

Recently I asked on Twitter if people would be interested in some posts about living with pain. I get asked all the time how it feels, what I do, how I still do so much so here are a few posts about it starting with things you should know.

Chronic pain (although apparently it’s now being relabeled as persistent pain) is classed as being in pain for more than 3 months. It can happen for a variety of reasons and impacts everyone differently. For me, mine was triggered by a horse riding accident when I was 20, in which, I broke part of my spine and damaged the surrounding area. I’ve been living and dealing with this for three years and there are some things I’d love people to know.

We can still do a lot, so ask us! 

Things change and it’s hard to know how what and how your friend or family member can do but you should still ask! Even if we can’t go, being asked is still important. There might even be a way around it!

It’s a case of good and day days 

As with most things, there are good pain days and bad pain days. It’s all about taking it one day at a time and seeing how things pan out. Sometimes we might be a bit quieter or sharper, it might not happen very often but it’s worthwhile keeping this in mind.

We’re still the people we were! 

Chronic pain might change a few things but not the person themselves. They’re still the person you know and love. Their humour wasn’t taken away, nor was their personality! No one wants to be treated differently for something they can’t control.

Being in pain is exhausting so don’t feel like your friends don’t want to see you. 

Honestly, on a bad pain day, it can completely wear you out. I work full time so if I am aching the last thing I want to do is have to go out after work. All I really need is a bath, some comfy PJs and an early night, it’s nothing personal!

There’s a lot of guilt and loss 

For some chronic pain is permanent there can be feelings of loss, for the things you may have had to give up (for me it was riding) and guilt for the things you might not be able to do or things you might not be able to go to! I can’t go out dancing all night like I used to, for example, not a life or death situation but it sucks all the same.

 

Is there anything you wish people knew about chronic pain or do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

My Love-Hate Relationship With Exercise

Yesterday I went to the gym. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking ok, so what? A lot of people go to the gym. It was my first time going this year and it hurt. A lot. I talk a fair bit about my accident a few years ago, the impact that has on my life and being able to exercise regularly can often cause me a lot of pain.

My relationship with exercise goes way back. When I was a kid I had much more fun with my nose in a book than running around. P.E was the lesson I hated most and I was the most clumsy person I knew. For that to change when I started riding was a minor miracle, there was exercise that I loved!

In the past 3 years, my weight has gone up and down. I lose the weight, I’m happy and then six months later I’ve put it back on and it goes on, again and again. This isn’t a vanity project. This isn’t me wanting to shimmy into some size 6 jeans and get revenge. It’s literally just wanting to be healthy, to get back to the size I was at university.

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Now, I know that my body has and will continue to change throughout my life, but that natural change can be controlled. I haven’t been looking after my body the way I should be in the past few months, I haven’t eaten right, I’ve done minimal exercise so this is on me.

I feel good after a workout, I feel accomplished. Sometimes I feel better, a bit sore and I can get on with my day. Other times the old pains come back and I can’t move the next day, so it’s kind of a bargaining thing. I’m determined that, when I can, I want to exercise in one way or another on a bad day swimming is better, if I’m up to it I can go to the gym. I’ll get there slowly, I might even learn to like it again.

I guess I wrote this because it’s easy to look in Instagram and see amazing people with amazing bodies talking about how much they love fitness and healthy shakes. If that’s not you, that’s ok. A lot of people aren’t athletic but you have to do it your way, I certainly am!

 

How do you feel about exercise? Let me know in the comments below!

February Favourites!

It’s come around again it’s time for my monthly favourites!

Books: 

This month I’ve read a fair amount (although maybe not as much as I’d like) and three books have stood out to me. The first was sent to me by Diamond Press, it’s called March and is a graphic novel written by John Lewis, a key figure in the Civil Rights movement, this is the first in a three-part series and I can’t wait to read the rest. Secondly is Here We Are, I reviewed this (catch it here) and raved about it because it is an incredible book, full of inclusion, intelligence as well as being fun! And finally, although I haven’t finished reading it, I am in love with Giovanna Fletchers newest book about being a mother. It’s not something I personally know anything about, being a mother, but I love the way Gi writes (I found her on her Youtube channel)  and it makes me feel better about the prospect of being a mother in the future.

Music: 

This month was very Busted orientated, earlier this month Abbie and I went to see Busted live (again) on their Midnight Driver tour. I’ve listened to the album a lot this month it’s got an 80s vibe to it and a lot of great and upbeat tracks. Ed Sheeran also dropped a few songs this month which I’ve been obsessively listening to (while getting ready to go see him on tour later in the year). Last but not least two bands I’ve been listening to are Lower Than Atlantis and their new album Safe in Sound, I’ve also been listening to a band called Broadside thanks to my lovely boyfriend Ali.

Shop: 

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After the move it’s been a quite quiet month in terms of any spending. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of window shopping, particularly in Oasis’s where I’ve fallen in love with their latest pieces!

Watching:

Yep, my viewing has been a little dark and very Netflix orientated this month. I wanted to start a new series and had heard great things about How To Get Away With Murder, so I started to watch. I also noticed that The People vs O J Simpson had been added, which I loved when it aired last year. Hopefully next months viewing will be little lighter!

General: 

I’ve really embraced Lush baths to ease the pain of my back which has produced some beautiful colours! I also received some lovely gifts after coming home including a swear word colouring book and flowers! On the subject of food I’ve been loving Tetley Boost teas and getting into my own baking! I’m also loving the new Powerpuff Girls range that Primark are embracing at the moment, I LOVED the Powerpuff Girls growing up so my Mum treated me to these. And finally my first gym session post injection, I was so proud of myself- read about it here.

What have your favourite things been this month? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!

Recovery: Back To The Gym

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As my regular readers know, a few weeks ago I underwent injections in my spine in the hopes of relieving some of the pain I’ve had since my initial break back in 2015. It’s been a long, and quite painful, two weeks while I waited to see if they were going to work at all. I’m not sure if they have, it’s currently too early to tell BUT I managed to do a 30-minute workout today. It definitely doesn’t sound like much, maybe it isn’t too much, but I’m not in agonising pain afterwards. It gives me hope, that even if the pain never completely goes away, it might be able to be managed. I could have cried once I’d done the 30 minutes, because I wasn’t counting down the seconds so I could stop, I was enjoying it and it means everything right now.

Spine Update! November 2016

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Depending on how long you’ve been reading my blog/following me on Twitter you may or may not know that back in 2015 I fell off a horse and broke part of my spine (vertebrae T12 to be exact) and damaged other parts of it. It’s been a long 18 months with a lot of pain, scans, x-rays, physiotherapy, wheelchairs, crutches and walking very, very slowly. There wasn’t any part of my life that wasn’t impacted by the accident, I spent a lot of time (longer than I should have been) on maximum strength painkillers and spent almost 2 months in this wonderful contraption…

 

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I documented on here and on Twitter whenever I could what it was like living with my spinal injury. I learnt a lot from it and it gave me a bigger appreciation for not only being able to walk but life in general. That said, it is frustrating and the pain was indescribable and is still a huge part of my life today. BUT! I finally have some good news to share.

Last week I attended a clinic called Hampshire Backs to see a back specialist. I’d waited since September for this appointment and had an MRI (I was stuck in the machine for an hour!) determined that something would happen this time after seeing endless doctors, consultants and surgeons only for them to shrug their shoulders. My new consultant is brilliant, I’ve seen the scans and my break is fully healed, as is the damage to other parts of my spine, my nerves are clear of disruption and my spinal chord is good. All the majors were ok! We then went to on a physical examination, one that’s almost routine to me now, it took him a small amount of time to work out what was going on.

Due to the fact I’ve tried almost all the options that I have been able to at this point, including a year of physiotherapy, we were going to the next step. At some point next year I’m going into hospital to have a procedure, during which I’ll be asleep while a mix of steroids and anaesthetic will be placed in to the joints in the base of my spine. The hope is that this will give me relief, meaning I can build up muscle before it wears off and hopefully that will help the pain. IF this works then there will be talk of further procedures, if not…well we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I won’t lie to you, I’m terrified of going to sleep and having people stick things into my spine but I also have a new found hope. This could be the start of me not living in constant pain and worry. I’m going forward and trying to be positive about this.

Fit Not Thin

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I know that in the past few months I’ve slipped a little on my fitness. I’ve still got a strong appreciation that I can use my body after the accident, but there were a bunch of reasons I just lost motivation. You could say they’re excuses, maybe they are, but they’ve impacted not only my motivation but the way I felt about myself. I started reverting back to old ways, attempting to cut out food and give myself tiny portions, which made me absolutely miserable. I hated having to log everything and feeling guilty if I went out for dinner.

I like food, a big part of hanging out in my office revolves around the local burger place and I don’t have to tell you that sitting and eating some rice and possibly chicken if my calories will allow it is no fun when the guys are tucking into some beautiful burgers. I have the willpower, I’ve done it before but back then I didn’t mind, it was the only way I could control my body and the way I looked, now I have a little more scope for fitness and less time to faff around with calorie numbers.

I came to the conclusion that I need to separate being thin and being fit. I’ve been self conscious about weight since I was bullied at school. I was not fat, not at all, but I had a little puppy fat and most of the popular girls in my year were naturally very thin, I had curves and was frequently told to go to weight watchers. I used to get stressed about food, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t now sometimes. I don’t like salad and fruit on its own makes me really nauseous (no idea why, it just does), so eating lunch at school was a nightmare. Now it’s better I can eat vegetable soup or something where the veg is in a sauce (I know, I’m like a baby) but then I could eat the mush from the canteen or my packed lunch, that was it. I fretted and stressed because I didn’t have a ‘perfect body’ and hid under baggy clothes and jumpers whenever I could. Part of this was teenage insecurity, honestly though the picture below from my 15th birthday I hated and thought I was ‘fat’, I very clearly wasn’t.

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Anyway, back to the focus of this post. I realised I had some of these thoughts again, panicking and stressing about food all the time, it’s not fun and it’s not how I want to spend my life. I’m going to focus on being as fit as I can whilst recovering from my spine still. I don’t want numbers to dominate my life, because I’ve been there and it doesn’t always create the right results. I refuse to let myself have scales in my house because I know I’ll just get obsessed with some numbers and a BMI chart, where’s the fun in that? So there it is I’m going back to the gym, the workouts and just wanting to be as fit as I can.

Looking back at University -I’m a Graduate!

On Thursday 21st of July my journey as a student came to an end. Yes after 3 long years I am now officially a graduate of Kingston University, Chloe Metzger BA Hons. I’m going to try and keep this blog short, because I feel like I could write a book on this chapter of my life alone. I went from a girl who was terrified of leaving home, to a young independent woman. I’ve gone through more than I thought I could enjoy and have had experiences that I never thought I would but I’m so pleased I went to university, I found out who I was.

The past 3 years have been overwhelming such amazing highs and very tough lows. I’m nothing like the girl who started, who was so anxious the thought of getting on a bus nearly sent her into a panic attack, now I’ll travel around London for work. I’ve met the Chancellor and had a good few chats with her. I started this blog, interviewed by various people, made friends, started a band, played all over London and the South East and released 4 singles. I’ve watched countless bands and artists and met some of my absolute heroes. I’ve also met authors, celebrities and inspiring people. I’ve won awards, became a society president, got firsts and two ones, become a Student Ambassador and in charge of social media. I’ve given talks on mental health and found my voice as well as a way to use my past to create a better future.

Of course there were tough times too the homesickness, the really tough times with my depression when I wouldn’t leave my flat or be around people for days on end, friendship breakdowns, breaking my spine and not getting some of the grades I wanted. Originally I didn’t post that I got a 2:1 for my degree because I wasn embarrassed. My goal from the first year was to get a first class degree and I missed it by 3.5%. I cried, a lot, I was full of self loathing, how could I not get that extra 3.5%? Then I spoke to a friend, someone who chose to love me rather than being Ali or my family who were proud whatever, who told me not many people can recover from a broken spine and be in hospital for IBS and still come out so close to a first. It made me feel a lot better. I put this pressure on myself and it’s one of my flaws. I wanted to tell you all that because university comes with the good and the bad.

My future has completely changed from that I thought it would be before I went to uni, hell it’s different from what I thought it would be a year ago, but I’m happy. I’m happier sitting writing this than I have been in months, because third year was hard. It wasn’t just the workload, but my personal life. If I’m honest I’m surprised I made it through. I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting but I want  to be truthful to let others know that even when life gets so tough that you don’t know how you’re going to keep going, you can.  I haven’t you the space to write everything I loved about studying at university, but I did. I’ve got some incredible friends and memories from my time at KU and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I ever made.

So thank’s Kingston, you were great!

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