Pain, sleep and getting old

On a pain scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is severe pain, I have been experiencing pain at a level 14.  Au contraire you say – that would not be on the scale of 1 to 10 and I would have to agree with you.  But this pain in my shoulder is like none I’ve ever had before, and I’m thankful for that!  So lately, I’ve been going to doctors, doctors and more doctors.  I’m turning into a bellyaching antiquated soul that just can’t get comfortable! Yesterday I went to physical therapy and was gratified to be taken seriously.  The shoulder pain is a radial nerve pain which also is causing tingling up and down my arm.  Now I have some stretches to try and I feel like I am finally getting control of the shoulder. I also have RLS (restless leg syndrome) which is a really understated name for a syndrome.  Because what is so bad about a little restless legs, right?  Well imagine your legs filled with little spiders that are always moving.  And you can absolutely, positively not be still.  Hmm – it still might not sound that bad but trust me, it is beastly.  Although there are different levels of RLS.  Over the years mine has developed into something that I experience everyday unless I take medication.  Luckily, I have found a great sleep specialist lately and I feel that he totally understood what I was describing.

So, this year I turned 50 and I feel like an old car whose belts are starting to fray.  Lower and upper back pain I’ve had for years – it is only recently that I’ve understood that other people don’t necessarily experience some level of pain everyday.  Now add the severe pain in my shoulder that is accompanied by an almost painful tingling, aka radial nerve disorder.  I’m hoping this is just an acute pain rather than a chronic pain.  It might take awhile to get things back to normal but I’m optimistic that it will happen.

Then I got a bonus diagnosis.  I’ve always been a night type person and I cannot get up in the mornings.  The kids have had so many tardies and it is ultimately my fault.  I have been constantly frustrated that I cannot seem to get started in the morning.  But I didn’t think to talk to the doctor about it – I had pretty much accepted the fact that I will be in trouble with everyone that has morning expectations of me.  But I always optimistically felt like tomorrow will be better.  Tomorrow, I’ll be on time.

So as I think I’m finishing, the doctor agrees that my RLS is under control with medication, the accompanying PLMD (periodic limb movement disorder) seems to go away when the RLS is under control.  Then he says that I have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.  As he described what it is and the problems it causes, I felt like I had finally been heard; like I was in a library in France and came across a book in English.  Everything finally made sense.  It is a circadian rhythm disorder and it opened my mind a bit.  It might take me a little while to quit thinking I’m lazy and undependable but understanding what is going on is half the battle.  School starts on Monday and we WILL be on time……and I’ll be trying to shift my cycle back to be within the scope of a normal work day.  Wish me luck……….

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