Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fight the Good Fight

If anyone is still following my blog they might have noticed a serious  lack of bear making here. There is a serious lack of anything at all in fact, because this is my first post for 2016! The reason for that is I am still battling ongoing health issues which seriously limit my working time. They started last year around this time--just when I had decided to leave my teaching job in hopes to be able to work MORE on my bears and dolls!

I have made a few pieces for Silly Bears this year (which were promised last year), but as the pain continues I am becoming increasingly concerned that trying to "power through" the pain may cause irreversable damage. I cancelled my place in the Teddies Worldwide online show in March, and I have decided I must cancel my trip to the Quinlan Artist Doll and Teddy Bear Weekend. This makes me incredibly sad. I am not saying that I'm not going to make any bears for now..I will when I can, but I don't think I can commit to any shows until I have some idea of what's going on and a treatment plan.

Here is a little more detail about my "health issues" if you want to read it. Skip the next paragraph if you find it to be too much information. I hate feeling like a complainer--I know there are folks who have a lot more challenging things to deal with, but this has been quite depressing for me, particularly since I don't know if or when it will get better. 

Basically, I have been experiencing a variety of pain symptoms in my pelvis, lower back, tailbone, and legs, which get worse with sitting, standing, and heavy activity. Currently, sitting is the worst. I can stand and work for a little  while on some days, but on others standing long enough to shower and dry my hair is about all I can do before I must lie down for a bit. Sitting is immediately uncomfortable, and it’s painful after about 15 minutes.  I've had ultrasounds, blood work, Doppler scans of my veins and arteries in my legs (checking for blood clots) CT scan of pelvis/abdomen with "normal" results. I came very close to canceling my trip to the UK last November. It was mostly a lovely trip, but the all day traveling days (there were four) were difficult, and I would really like to go again when I am well. Initially, I had noticed that the pain was worse with my periods, and as my cycle began to change those became much heavier and much, much longer (one was 10 weeks--landing me in the ER for a blood transfusion!) This, along with the pelvic pain, led my gynecologist to suggest a hysterectomy (I had a prolapsed uterus, which she suspected was the cause of my symptoms.) I had this in December and the recovery was longer than I thought--nearly two months, and while I guess I am recovered from the surgery now...I am still symptomatic. The general heaviness and lower back pain have decreased only very slightly, and of course no more bleeding, but most of the pain remains, new symptoms have occurred, and the sitting pain is worse than before.  I've been doing my own research online and I have run across a few things which fit with my symptoms, I just need to find the right doctors who will solve the puzzle, and help to set me on the right road to healing. Currently, I am trying an anti-inflammatory diet, walking as much as I can (with standing and sitting limited this is about all I can do) I'm in pelvic floor physical therapy (who knew there was such a thing?!), and I'm trying to find someone who will diagnose and treat--or at least definitively cross  off the list of suspects--- Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS), Pudendal Neuralsia (PN), Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD), or whatever is causing my CPP (chronic pelvic pain) . I am trying to stay positive and proactive about things. Some days I do better than others with this. 

Today was not one of my better days, but I want to end this post on a positive note so I'm reposting a video I posted on Facebook a little while back.Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" has obviously resonated with a lot of people, given its constant radio play. I am one of them. When I actually listened to the words, I mentally adopted it as my theme song for this year. Last year was an amazing year for me in so many ways, particularly with my bear business. But even as I chose to leave my teaching job and focus fully on my bears and dolls, even as I enjoyed being recognized as "Teddy Bear Artist of the Year" and traveled to England and Scotland for the first time to share my work, I was struggling quietly with daily pain. I still am. My health issues do not appear to be life threatening, but they are depressing and decidedly "quality of life" threatening. While my end of the year surgery helped with some issues, the pain continues--for now. However, I am hopeful and determined that 2016 will be my Year of Good Health!
Fight Song is a good theme for the year, but Amazing Grace is one for life! The combination is beautiful, and the wonderful images of Scotland remind me of one of the highest points of my year last year!

Note: This piece is instrumental. If you don't know the words to either song you can look them up on Google 


Brenda said...

I am sorry, Tami. I knew you had health issues but didn't know what they entailed until this post. Chronic pain is so difficult to cope with. I hope you can get some answers - I definitely think the worst is not knowing or understanding what is going on with your body.



Annelein said...

I hope you will find answers and the pain will go away!!!
May God bless you.

Debra Wallace said...

I hope someone reads this and has insight for you, Tami. You know I am here for you but I feel helpless as a friend. Blessings.

Unknown said...

Stay strong, Tami. I'm sorry you are still dealing with this. If you feel like getting out some time, let me know and we can do coffee or lunch! Connie

All Bear by Paula said...

So sorry to hear of your troubles Tami. I hope you will gather strength in time to resume your bear making - the world is brighter place because of your beautiful work! Wishing you strength and happinness. Lots of love, Paula xxx

Pat Klein said...

I sympathize completely...as I suffer from similar issues...have you ruled out endometriosis?

Susan Douma said...

I hope you feel better soon. I will keep you in my prayers.

Sue Ann said...

Hi, Tami. Wow, I'm really very sorry to hear of your pain issues. While I can't physically feel your agony, I know a lot about severe, chronic pain. I will be having my 4th surgery in 4 years on May 7th. I see you've had a myriad of tests done to solve the problem, which seems to be related to your pelvic area, but have you had an MRI of your lumbar spine? Severe spinal stenosis can cause excruciating pain in the areas you describe, and because of the intense impingement of the nerves in the spinal canal, the pain moves up and down the legs. Sitting is very uncomfortable, also. If you haven't already explored that possibility, you might ask your docs if it might be worth investigating. Just another thought. You have my sincere empathy.
Warm hugs to you. Sue Ann

Joanne@ Desertmountainbear said...

Oh Tami, I am sorry to read this. It is good you keep searching for answers. I hope that they will find one soon. I will miss you this year at the show. It is always nice to visit with you and to see you beautiful bears. I will be keeping you in my thoughts.

Lori Fox said...

I am so sorry to hear that you are having health issues. I hope that they will be able to be resolved.