This is a really personal blog about my own struggle with chronic pain. What’s it like being an herbalist who has chronic pain? Difficult!
On the one hand, I’m blessed to have the knowledge to find a solution for myself, and the ability to mix formulas that might be effective, and on the other hand, I feel like a failure as an herbalist because my pain doesn’t always respond to the plan. What’s causing my pain? I have a nerve that was entrapped in the abdominal wall during one of my many surgeries. It’s been resected once and ablated several times to no effect. I’m out of options so I’m working to manage it myself. Which is hard to do when any movement at all seems to make it worse.
I’m constantly tracking my pain spikes in order to remove potential triggers, but unfortunately, there don’t have to be any triggers to cause me pain – I’m in the middle of a horrible one right now. I use the pain-tracking journal I created through my husband and my company, Hilltop Arts. You can see it here on Amazon.
I’ve just started hemp seed oil, and I’ll let you know if I like it. This is the brand I’m trying out: Nature’s Truth and it’s in liquid form, 59ml per bottle. (Amazon doesn’t have it, I got mine from Pipingrock.com) I have to be extremely careful to only get pure hemp oil because I can’t eat/ingest nuts because they cause my vertigo to flare – which I definitely don’t need on top of a pain spike.
Today, I’m remaking my pain tincture, I have an Ongrok that helps me make a tincture in about four hours instead of having it macerate for 4-6 weeks so it’s easier to modify the formula. If you don’t know what an Ongrok is you can check it out here. It has changed my herbal life for the better and makes me feel much more productive. I’ve created a formula including wild lettuce, medowsweet, chamomile, California poppy, and a couple of other things, it’s a variation on a formula that worked somewhat so I’m finetuning it.
Pain is depressing and it really helps to have a great support system behind you and to stay productive. Even if your productivity involves ticking just one thing off your to-do list, it will help I promise. For me, I get up every morning, and go to work – I’m not always up in the office working, sometimes I’m on the couch or at the dining room table, but I’m busy. Keeping your mind active is a good distraction from pain. I write journals, write blogs, and novels (no, nothing’s ready yet), work with my herbs, work with the laser cutter and CNC/3d printer (although not as much as I should), do photography, try to make art, and read. In the growing season, I’m always checking what might be edible in my little forest, which gives me joy. I’m blessed with a great support system in my family and friends.
Since physical activity – any physical activity – increases my pain, I have to try and be a little active anyway. I need to really try hard to do the treadmill more this year, not calling it a resolution, it’s just something I need to do.
And one more thing… talk to a friend, an understanding doctor, your mom/sister/brother/father, and so on. Being chronically ill is isolating and it doesn’t have to be. Email me, and let’s start a conversation.
Thanks for listening.