How much pain…is too much pain?

My right leg; calf, knee and thigh are just killing me right now. I’ve graduated to 800 MG Ibuprophen for the day, hoping that it will alleviate more of the pain than the 1000 MG of Extra Strength Tylenol (3 times a day, eek!), that I’ve been taking. Since we got back, I’ve had 3 whole days (combined) without pain. Enough so that I could actually do something withOUT thinking about THE PAIN. The problem with eliminating the pain, is, I’m so far behind in doing anything around the house, that when I do feel any better, I OVERdo it. Of course.

Most everyone knows by now that I drove across country to take my Mother in Law to see her daughter (Linda), who’d been hospitalized a month earlier and wasn’t doing well at all. When I talked to Linda’s boyfriend Joe, he said, “Yes, you should bring her, I think that’s a really good idea.”

After Leona’s 2 week checkup with the eye doctor from her cataract surgery, we were set to go. Headed out June 4th, at 6 AM, we were headed to Highland Kansas. 1700+ miles one way. Taken in stages, I figured I could do it in three days, approximately 575 miles each segment. One of the problems with that was Leona doesn’t drive at all, so the entire trip was on me. We did it from Klamath Falls in 2013, and it was just as long, but somehow I don’t recall it being nearly so stressful for me.

My cruise control did something funny 30 miles from our first hotel. I’m not sure if it actually broke, but I was afraid to use it after that in case it caused more problems, so the remaining 3,000 miles (there and back) was without cruise.

I also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Acute Fatigue Syndrome and Epstein-Barr Virus. I also worked almost the entirety of my working years either on swing shift or graveyard shift or a combination of both. That’s 40 years, give or take, so my body liked to sleep in the daytime. Period.

Energy shots? Yeah okay. Tried ’em, used ’em, after awhile, it appears they don’t really have an effect on you. Best way to deal with it, was random phone calls to friends and family (I’m pretty sure my youngest, Skyler, was getting more than a little frustrated with me, but what can I say, she loves her Mama!), but those only worked in populated areas where there were cell towers. Out on the straight stretches of Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas—not so much.

Talk radio, love it! Forensics Files, Strange Inheritances, CNN News…anything that kept my mind engaged did a pretty good job of keeping me awake.

Then there was the pain. That was the biggie. The more I drove (obviously, using my right leg the most), the more pain there was. Throbbing, aching, pulsing, shooting, numbing–you name it and I was trying to deal with it. We stopped at just about every rest area from Portland to Kansas. Small towns, big cities, gas stations, oftentimes I would just pull off the highway, in the shade of the underpass and lay my seat back, close my eyes and rest for 10-20 minutes. This dealt with some of the pain, as I could relax the leg, and it also dealt with the fatigue.

Our first motel was in Burley, Idaho. They had a pool, so I got Leona out in it and the two of us really got to relax and let go for a few hours. There was A/C but no fridge or microwave, so in addition to our luggage, I had to lug in the electric cooler that Greg and I got YEARS ago when he played ball and we’d need cold foods for the girls. The upside to hauling all that luggage, etc in and out–it was an outside entrance, I parked right in front of the door–15 steps, max. Not bad.

Our second motel was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. No pool, and the A/C didn’t work well at all, but it did have a fridge and micro, so only needed to bring in Leona’s meds and our cheese and meats and such to stay cold. It was an inside entrance,  we had to park at one end for the outer door, then walk all the way down for our room. Still not too bad, as I didn’t have to haul the heavy cooler.

Our third motel, where we stayed for four days, was in Hiawatha, Kansas. A quaint, older motel that had seen better days, but the owners had been upgrading bit by bit over the last 8 years, so it had A/C, a fridge, microwave and big, comfy beds. 10 cement steps up to our room, but again, no cooler to haul.

We spent the majority of our time in Hiawatha, as the drive to Highland to see Linda was approximately 30 miles east. We ate at several local restaurants; they actually have a WalMart off the main highway (Hiawatha’s population is around 3,000, but there are a lot of smaller towns nearby), so we also did the majority of shopping there. Replenishing food and drinks, a couple of clothes shopping trips; as we all know, WalMart is NOT a small store!

After our final visit with Linda and Joe, we packed everything up and headed west again. I decided to take an extra day, simply because I continued to have almost continual pain in my leg and I figured 4 days would be better on me and my leg, as well as Leona. Despite not driving, she IS 86 years old and that much traveling took it’s toll on her as well. Medication, insulin shots, lunch breaks, potty breaks and the extreme heat all added up to a most stressful time for us both.

Most days she did okay, but there were a few times at a few rest areas, where things got dicey. Suffice to say, as a direct result of the sum total of this trip, I won’t be driving her any distance anytime in the near or not so near, future.

Our fourth motel was in North Platte, Nebraska. They had A/C, a pool, but no microwave or fridge, so–back to lugging in the cooler. Inside entrance, room was about halfway down the hallway; we got an AARP discount and free Wi-Fi. I spent about 30 minutes in the pool, but Leona didn’t want to, so I got out pretty quick.

Our fifth motel was in Rock Springs, Wyoming. They had awful A/C, barely worked, so in addtion to leg pain, it was just so-o hot. Got a little breeze by opening the front window, but not enough to really alleviate any heat. They did have a micro and fridge in the room, the room entrance was outside, so was able to park right in front, 15 steps, minimal walking.

The pool was filthy, they had no signs out front saying why, or that it was closed. I just turned right around and told the gal at the front desk. Again, we got our AARP discount and free Wi-Fi, but the heat was so overwhelming that we were constantly running cold water over our necks and arms or just jumping in the shower (me) to cool off.

Our sixth and final motel before reaching home was in Boise, Idaho. A/C was very good, but no micro or fridge, so the last time lugging in the cooler. Room entrance was an outer door, then our room was halfway down the hall. The pool had a sign that said “Closed for the winter” (June 12th??) and was also filthy. I’m thinking they just didn’t want to clean it, so stuck the sign on there. I should give Tom Bodett a call.

Once home, I backed the car in, unloaded everything and just left things laying around wherever they ended. The only exception being the cold food which needed to go in the fridge right away. I managed to start two loads of clothes, but basically, except for feeding and caring for Leona for the rest of the day–I just collapsed!

The real reason for this missive, of course, is about the pain. When you’re doing something and keeping active–you’re able to keep our mind pretty much off of any pain you might be going through. The long drive (a total of EXACTLY 3700.1 miles) exacerbated whatever was going on with my leg. In some motels, I was able to ice it, relax it and, on one of our shopping trips, I bought a knee brace, which I wore as much as I could, to help alleviate the swelling.

When you’re doing something mundane, tiring and seemingly endless–then the mind constantly goes to the pain. I remember many times when it just never stopped. I would rub it as I drove; I learned that when I stretched out my leg, it didn’t seem to hurt as much, so I figured out how to straighten my leg and hold the very top of the gas pedal with the arch of my foot to maintain speed. It helped quite a bit.

When our rooms were cool and comfy, obviously we both felt better and I didn’t concentrate on the pain as much. When the rooms were uncomfortable, then nothing really seemed to help and I’d spend a restless night, trying to find the least painful way to sleep.

Tylenol, ibuprophen, wine–whatever seemed to help in the least little bit, I was on it!! We’ve been home since the 13th, so it’s been 11 days. I could not deal with the pain and went off to the Dr right away. As I posted on FB, I then had x-rays and an ultrasound which showed absolutely nothing untoward. Can’t do an MRI after all, as insurance doesn’t cover it and I don’t have a spare $2-4K lying around.

Support hose, knee brace, more Tylenol, ice, much more wine and today, the 800 MG ibuprophen. While it sounds like nonstop whining (even to me, now that I’ve reread this), it’s not meant to be. I’ve never been very athletic or physically active, but that’s not to say that I haven’t kept busy. 3 jobs at one time, taking care of family, vacations, work, my kids activities over the years, helping many people (and myself and the girls) move into newer places–these are not lazy activities. They do, however, tend to take their toll on a body.

My body is now 61 years old, (in two weeks, it will be 62) and at this particular time in my life, I feel about 80. The pain is the impetus for that feeling. I have to stop getting up and moving all over, trying to catch up to all the work that needs doing, or that I think needs doing, when I just barely start to feel better. Because in doing so, I’m making it 200% harder for my leg to heal.

My house is messy, but it’s clean. I take care of Leona and do all that she needs on a day to day basis–food, potty, meds, insulin, shower, naps. We nap together now. When she lays down, I do as well. Bitsy goes outside and does her business, comes back in and snuggles up with me on the bed. I’ve got stacks of papers and miscellaneous stuff that needs going through, but it’ll wait. As long as the bills are paid on time and there’s enough left over for a few groceries (more wine!!!), then I can let the rest go.

A little bit at a time, I’m getting things done. If I want my leg to heal from whatever I’ve done to it, I need to keep it that way. Slow and steady wins the race. Oh, and ibuprophen too! And wine, lotsa wine (you get the picture)!!

I’m learning how to deal with whatever pain I’m having at the moment, and how to turn it off for a short time, but not ignore it altogether, as the increase of pain tells me it’s time to stop and rest again.

I don’t know how much pain is too much pain, but I do know, that we deal with it the best we know how. We tolerate it as much as we can, then we learn to sit back and heal when it’s necessary.

I’m trying to heal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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