Eight and a half years ago, my best friend stepped back on my foot in a stiletto. Because I was 20 and stubborn, I didn't immediately go to the doctor. I finally went approximately three months later and there were no broken or healing bones. The doctor gave me some anti-inflammatory meds and sent me on my merry way. These didn't do much to stop the pain and swelling. Little did I know this was just the beginning of my journey with my foot.
Over the years, my foot and leg would swell and ache for days, especially after heavy amounts of walking or activity. I just thought it had become a way of life. No matter how much it hurt I didn't let it stop me from doing things. It just took longer times for me to do it. I worked out and lost weight. I bought compression socks because the pain in the my legs after working out was pretty unbearable. I went on long walks, I did yoga, I just kept pushing through.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015, pain had become a way of life and I didn't even realize it. I didn't realize how many accommodations my body had made to just move. That unbearable pain that I had pushed through for years had finally hit me directly in my face. I had signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon and had begun training in August. This meant my running had been increased to just about daily. After a week of this new schedule, I had to stop and I literally haven't run since then. Don't get my wrong I've tried or had to run after preschoolers but it simply hurts. This time my foot started hurting and pretty much never stopped. Before it had always stopped, always returned to normal. This time it didn't. After this, I began searching for a way to help my foot. I tried various energy practitioners, massage therapists, a chiropractor, essential oils, acupuncture and homeopathy. It all helped for a little while and then I would be back to the same pain.
In January of this year, I threw my back out and had to go to a new chiropractor. I was very honest and upfront with him about my foot and basically said I've been living with this for so long we don't need to focus on it, just make my back better. After a month, my back had improved but one day I went in in some of the worst pain I had had in a while in the foot. He looked at it and was absolutely shocked. Over the years, my muscles had atrophied, the joints of the foot and ankle had become so locked, the tendons and muscles of the foot and my calf were so tight that my foot no longer functioned like a normal foot. In fact he called it dysfunctional and explained this is why my back had been so out of whack. This is what I had been searching for, an explanation for my pain. It all clicked my knowledge of alignment explained why my whole left side functioned as it did. In my head I thought knowing this would heal the problem right away that we would be able to fix it completely.
The pain got worse for the first couple of weeks, then after a session with the massage therapist, I went 24 hours without pain. There was that glimmer of hope then the pain returned and that glimmer quickly faded. 24 hours pain free was amazing, how did I get more of that? Things continued to get better and I would be pain free more often then wham I would do something like turn my body the wrong way, walk for too long or do too much yoga and I would be right back in pain.
This is the cycle with chronic pain. There is steady pain, it goes away and then comes back with vengeance. It is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. It is why I just shared my very long story about my foot. I understand. You feel like a total failure when it starts to hurt. For me, it is always the worst when someone asks how my foot or back is doing and I pretty much have to say "I"m okay" even though you know you're not. I feel like people see me as weak because I am always in pain when in reality dealing with chronic pain and health issues makes you way stronger than anyone could possibly know.
You are strong because you push through, you know your limits and have to learn to honor yourself where you are. Pain has become one of my greatest teachers and I didn't even know it! If you're reading this and have pain know that there is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It may be dim but there is light. You will make it to the end of the tunnel and that light even if it's brief. Remember to enjoy those moments of being pain free, talk to your body and tell it how much you like living in the light and be grateful for those moments of being pain free even if it's short. One day, I hope you will begin to go longer periods of being pain free!