Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Time flies when creating a website!

Hello world! I feel as if I have been away from real life for the past five weeks, as I work on the things that will make my book successful. What "things" make a book successful?  I would love to have you guess, but who has time for that? You may think "getting the book published" is a success? Not necessarily. It turns out that it takes more than a well written, useful, non-fiction book to be successful as a writer. 

 Publishers now look for authors that have a strong social media presence and a large number of "followers" that are with you because of what you are writing about, as well as other offerings you have available on your website. Not just a catchy business name and a website that lists the services you offer and products you sell. OH NO! Your website is your own name, so even though I named my current business "Custom Solutions," to encompass all of the many things I offer to potential clients, that name is not even listed on my website. Only the state sales tax people and the IRS know my business name to be honest. My NEWLY LAUNCHED website is www.lesliefunk.com and when you go there you will notice it is focused on Chronic Pain, the topic of my book. Specifically, the book is "Relief From Chronic Pain: Learn how to reduce your pain and increase the joy in your life." You will also find information about my crochet art, my Etsy store for all the stuff I make, my recipes for healthy food that tastes good, lots of science and my blog too! I still have a ton of stuff to complete and post on my website, yet I decided to launch it anyway last week, because otherwise I might have continued to work on it for years and never actually get it up on the Internet! I am proud of myself, proud of the site that I created all on my own (I used Go Daddy, they ROCK!), and really proud of my upcoming book that will be submitted for publication review in September to Hay House Publishing, Inc. You know them, they publish this guy, Wayne Dyer?

You might wonder, why does an author need a website anyway? Turns out, it translates into a bigger concept called your "Platform." When I attended the Hay House Writer's Workshop in March of this year I learned a lot about how to develop a platform, and what it really means as an author writing her first nonfiction book. As I listened to the speakers at the workshop explain the concept of creating a "Platform" I also observed the other 399 writers in the room. I watched their faces, body language and listened to the questions they asked of the workshop presenters. One primary emotion permeated the room; fear. It was followed by skepticism, deep sighs of overwhelmed humans and the snorts of the non-believers. I was instantly aware of the fact that most authors and would-be-authors are not really all that into social media and self promotion. 

So the idea of building a website then using social media to direct traffic to the website to promote their expertise and ultimately their new book  is about as exciting to this room full of authors as finding out that they need to have a colonoscopy, a few fillings in their teeth and and file taxes in the same week. Those same would-be authors may still be soothing themselves with pints of Ben & Jerry's each night, as they contemplate how they will build a so-called "Platform" when they are still feeling like they don't know how to go about "twittering" (ah, that isn't the verb you want folks, you are "tweeting") much less finding their domain name and building a place to live on the web.

 Yeah, for many of us who went to college in the 80's the word "domain" recalls a episode of Seinfeld and "The Contest." Although at least if you build a website you can be named Webmaster and in effect you are mastering your own domain (name). I had to do it, I come from a family that adores this type of humor and yes, it was often painful to sit through a dinner at the home of my adolescent years. Thank God my brother can do Eddie Murphy skits, word-for-word, on demand! I will have to do a post or two on my family in the future, complete with content warnings and possibly an actual rating. Wait, scratch that, I might have to make it "fiction" and change the names, to protect those that have a professional career now and may not want to share the relatives with their boss or co-workers. Sorry for the teaser, you will be directed elsewhere for the above mentioned content in the future. 

So now is the time, please, pretty please, go to my website and sign up for my email list. If you prefer, just send me an email with any questions your may have, suggestions, referrals to your website or other sites you really love and of course you can just send me a "Hi, what's up?" email, I love those too! I promise to answer your email, so what more could you ask?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

It is now July 5th!

It is 1:09am. On Saturday. It is now Saturday, July 5th! Can someone please tell my downtown San Jose, California neighborhood? Perhaps then they will STOP firing off M-80's and bottle rockets? Sigh...somehow I doubt it. 

I am awake and quite productive right now! I have spent the last three hours working on my website, www.lesliefunk.com, which will soon be up! The website is a way for me to put all of the things I do for work, pleasure and to cope with chronic pain in one spot. I am very excited for this site to finally come together! The last time I built and launched a website was way back in 2001, for my company, "Wellness by Design." I was opening the new location, which was so much larger I was able to offer many more classes, workshops and services than before. This meant creating a new web presence, so that my current clients and new clients could find out everything from hours of operation to the latest class offerings at Wellness by Design. I remember that it was relatively simple to set up my website, import pictures, information and a map to my new location. Did I mention the key term "simple"? Well that is no longer the case!

My hosting company is Go Daddy, and their Website Builder product is amazing, there are so many choices and options as I design pages and link up my existing information from Blogger, Facebook, and Etsy. I can even put in my Twitter info, when I have some to add...very soon! (I big thank you to my personal Twitter coach, Kami Funk). The problem for me is that I see the potential of just how fabulous my new website can be, which is very different than what it needs to be to launch it. I find myself happily planning for the future as I create pages and forgetting that I need to launch it! I started in April, now it is July 5th!!!! So I will set my goal and tell it to you and everyone out there in cyberspace; I will launch this site BEFORE the end of next week! My deadline is July 11th at midnight! 

Why the hurry you ask? Because I am writing a non-fiction book and I want to reach as many people as I can. The book is "Relief From Chronic Pain: Learn new ways to decrease the pain and increase the joy in your life!" I realize that is a long title, however I have been told repeatedly that the title of the book is guaranteed to be changed by the publisher, so just pick something! I am submitting the book proposal to Hay House, Inc. and I believe they will select it to publish because so many people need help coping with chronic pain and chronic illness. My journey has been difficult and intense, yet I have learned so much about myself, pain and healing. Pain killers and drugs are not an option for me (they don't work on me, go figure). I have been blessed with doctors who found a pain management program for me and worked hard to get me enrolled. So last year, towards the end of February I began the program that would ultimately teach me multiple tools, skills and practices to relieve the pain I suffered with for so many years, as well as pain that had developed more recently. On a more technical level, the program helped me to develop new neural pathways to relieve pain, capitalizing on the plasticity of the brain. With a new paths to follow, my brain no longer had limited options, so it decreased the use of those old, worn pain loops. I hope that over time my brain has begun the process of pruning off the old neural pathways that I am no longer using on a regular basis and continuing to build new neural paths that allow me flexibility in how I approach the presence of chronic pain in my body.

Wow! It is 1:44am and it is silent outside! Goodnight now...more to come soon!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chronic Pain and Goals

I was born on Christmas Day, which makes me a Capricorn. Honestly, I don't know much about horoscopes or astrology, particularly in regards to the signs other than Capricorn. I know a little about my sign, and when reading the description of Capricorns, it would be appropriate to show my picture next to it. Since Capricorn is "The Goat" it would be good to add some horns to my photo, since the not-so-lovable traits include needing control of everything, wanting to do things their way (since it is the right way 99% of the time) and being overly competitive and stubborn. Yes, I can wear a headband with horns on it if will make someone happy...God knows I have had plenty of laughs at the expense of others, it's their turn! Whether you see it as good, bad or neutral; us Caps are all about goals. I am a goal setter in all areas of my life, even when doing things to relax, there must be a goal to reach. For example, I am doing a mindfulness guided meditation, my goal is to do it for a certain amount of time. Another goal may be to have my blood pressure reading after I meditate by below 120 over 80. Yes, this is how my brain works, even if I never say it out loud or write it down in my journal (my goal is to journal a minimum of 3 days a week, preferably everyday). I have goals with housework, cooking, listening to others, asking good questions, exercising, training for events, amount of time with my feet elevated per day and even goals that relate to my dreams at night. I honestly expect to have a least one dream a night that I am aware of and it should be positive. If I am going to have bad dreams, my goal is at least one good one to balance things out.

So what happens now that I have three chronic pain syndromes? At first, nothing changed. I set my goals and powered through my pain, feeling strong and accomplished. Sometimes this worked, eventually the pain would be too much to power through. Note, I am not saying that the relationship between pushing for my goals and pain is a cause and effect relationship. No, it is not predictable by any means. Chronic pain is random. I repeat, NOT predictable. This means that I am not in control of why I have pain. Yes, I could have lifted weights and swam 2 miles in under an hour, then gotten very little sleep and sure enough I woke up in pain. I cannot then say that weight lifting and swimming cause my pain. Or lack of sleep was the cause of my pain flare. It is possible that "overdoing it" caused a pain flare, but that description includes more than just the exercise, it could be many things that are not even physical. For example, I may have agreed to join the PTA at school, go to lunch with a friend tomorrow and drive my son to his friends house after school and pick him up in 2 hours. None of that in it's own right is tiring, yet making that many commitments can have me lying flat on the floor, unable to move. So how do I balance life so that I can cope with my chronic pain in the best way? One word, AWARENESS.

Awareness can be of our bodies, it can be of our heart rate, it can be awareness of our emotions. The key to what we do and how are chronic pain conditions respond is to be maximally tuned into what is the best thing, at this moment, for ourselves. For me, this is where I am learning daily to follow my intuition, the voice in me that can select what is best for me. I let go of the over analyzing, of searching for the "why" and making sure my choices align with those ever-present goals. For my body, I choose to do a "Body Scan" by sitting or lying still, taking a few deep breathes and scanning from head to toe with my awareness. What I need to choose for my body will be apparent in just a few short moments. For my emotions, I do a similar scan, allowing my mind to become quiet an tuning into how I am feeling, what emotions pop to the surface. With emotions it is important to recognize they can be fleeting and you experience them briefly. While sometimes you may feel stuck in the emotion. When stuck, continue to breathe deeply and feel the emotion completely. By acknowledging and feeling your emotions you become free to let them come and go. As humans are emotions are flowing, never really stagnant. We get stuck when we try to avoid feeling the emotion and stuffing it away. I am fully aware you may read this and feel it is a simplified way to help your chronic pain, and you are right. Simple is all that is needed, combined with a constant flow. When we are blocked or stuck, our pain will feel stronger, more dominating. When we allow a flow through us, of emotions and sensations we learn that there is constant change in us,  even in our pain.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"You don't look like you're in pain" and other clueless statements

We are our own group, humans that live with chronic pain. Some of us have a disease, with an official diagnosis and others have a "syndrome" or a "condition" that can be diagnosed or at least defined by our medical history and symptoms. Another group of us have symptoms and medical history, yet no diagnosis at all. Then there are those of us who have multiple diseases, syndromes and conditions that have overlapping symptoms that cause us chronic pain.The unifying issue is that chronic pain is not something that is being "cured" at this time in medicine. Since it isn't "curable" it can be extremely difficult for friends, family, co-workers and the general public to understand. This leads me to the statements often made by others in response to those of us living with chronic pain when we respond to "How are you?" with anything other than "Fine"

         -or any response from us that is easy to just move on from  in continued conversation. 

So we answer truthfully, even just a little bit with "Not great"
                                                                                               "My ______ is really hurting"

      -or any other response that lets them know that we are not at our best and we still have a disease, syndrome or condition that causes us pain.

HERE IT COMES! Wait for it.........

"But you don't look sick?!"
                                           "You don't look like you're in pain...." 

              "You always ________" (fill in the blank with your "favorite" negative statement)

                                           "How come you don't get better?"

"You are always complaining"

                                           "You are sick all the time!"


- "________________________" insert the last CLUELESS thing someone said in response to you!

YES, this is extremely frustrating, and can often cause me to cry on the spot! Crying doesn't help the situation and often makes it worse because some people actually think I can "cry on command" to generate more sympathy! I don't know where people get the idea that ANYONE would be that manipulative and spend so much energy to make everyone only "think" they are in pain all the time. Perhaps the individuals who think that people who  have chronic pain are "faking it" have known someone in the past who was very manipulative? Maybe one of their parents or a friend of the family? I can see that if one had experience with an alcoholic parent or an aunt with an drug addiction then attention seeking, manipulative behaviors may have influenced how they view others that have a chronic condition. Can that really account for all of the clueless statements we hear from the people in our lives? I don't think so.

Another possibility I have considered is a basic emotion, FEAR. Do most humans believe that if you get sick you can be cured by modern medicine? The cure will not be too complicated, take a pill to get better is popular.  At the worst, undergo chemotherapy or radiation or surgery or all three to be cured. So what happens when your loved ones and your coworkers find out that you cannot be cured? You may take pills, but they don't cure you. You may have surgery (I have had 2 surgeries so far) and still not be cured. I have friends that have had over 30 surgeries and still have multiple chronic pain conditions they cope with daily. I believe it is too scary for others to find out that you can get "sick" and not be curable. They know we are not "contagious" but somehow knowing that chronic pain can happen and it's cause may not be curable. The human brain loves to categorize and build connections between information, it is a basic way our memory works. Imagine the "list" of illnesses in your brain, and connected to that list are the  "cures" or "treatments" to solve the problem of having an illness. 
Chicken Pox-  Avoid completely with vaccine
Bacterial Infection- Go to doctor, get prescribed antibiotics
Flu Virus- Get the vaccine, hopefully avoid the flu. If you still get the flu, go to the doctor 
                for an anti-viral medication, rest and drink fluids, recover it 10-14 days.
Rotator Cuff Tear- Rest, anti-inflammatory prescription, physical therapy.
                              If not healed, schedule surgery to "fix" the problem.

Then one day, you wake up and KNOW you have a Flu Virus again! You do the same thing you did last time, and after 3 weeks you are still achy, exhausted and nauseous. The doctor examines you, does blood work, gives you another anti-viral medication and nothing helps. Your symptoms wax and wane, yet never get better. After seeing several other doctors and specialists, you are "diagnosed" with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) based on being exhausted for more than 6 months and having a minimum of 4 out of 8 primary symptoms of CFS. You ask your doctor, how do you treat CFS so I can get better and be "myself" again? The doctor explains that you can try antidepressants, sleep aids, therapy, exercise, and a handful of alternative treatments that can help you feel better. However there isn't a cure for CFS that will make it go away for good. BOOM, your life is forever changed! 

WAIT A SECOND! This doesn't fit with the LIST example! A person's mind wants to reject that this syndrome can't exist! If you can't list it as an illness, then list it's cure next to it, we don't want it to be real. Humans would rather assume that anyone with CFS must be faking it or that they "just want attention" when they are still exhausted after having been diagnosed for months, maybe even years. If a person has never had a chronic illness it is very challenging for them to be open to understanding what it is like physically and particularly emotionally to live.There isn't a magic pill to take it away. If there is no cure, the person realizes that they have to CHANGE and do things DIFFERENTLY from that point on in their life, THAT IS THE SCARIEST PART for humans. Change is scary, and when it is your only option, it is the scariest! I think that fear is what makes people not listen when we say we "are not that great today" after they have asked us the predictable "How are you?" They just move on to the next question, change the subject or say something clueless,
"You don't look sick?" or "You don't look like your in pain!" 

Next post....What would we rather hear in response from our family an our friends? (I don't think we can expect much from the general public, but let us help our dearest humans learn how to respond with acceptance, love and kindness to our condition(s).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Basic Comfort Via Butter, Sugar and Flour (even if you are Gluten-Free)

Last Sunday was traditional, a Father's Day Barbeque to be exact. Although my husband and brother-in-law handled the main meal, I was in charge of dessert and chose to make Peach Cobbler.

My recipe has been in my family basically forever, and since almost all of the generations before me were farmers, only fresh picked peaches will work!

The picture is my Grandpa Huth,  my younger brother Jason and me on the tail end. We are heading out to irrigate the cotton on the ranch in Visalia, California. We were visiting from Hawaii, where we lived at this time, probably around 1970.

 Since we don't have a farm here in San Jose for me to grow fruit, my husband braved the farmers market Sunday morning, bringing home the freshest, most perfect white peaches to fill the role. This recipe is simple and easy to adapt to meet specific dietary requirements. However it is dessert, so it is indulgent. If you do not have "room" in your daily caloric intake for desserts with added sugar, I recommend you have your peaches in their amazing natural state and savor the miracle of naked summer fruit.

Peach Cobbler Recipe- for a crowd!

 You will need:
  • Large glass baking dish (9 x 13)
  • 12 fresh peaches, peeled (any kind, I used white peaches in the picture)
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. flour (for gluten-free I recommend Almond Flour)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (egg substitute can be used, 1/2 c.)
  • 1 cube of butter (or 1/2 cup of any butter substitute you prefer

 Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees 

Slice the peaches, about 1/2 - 1 inch thick, spread out in the baking dish

In a medium bowl, mix sugar and flour, then add beaten eggs
Use a pastry cutter or a plain old fork to mix it up till crumbly

Sprinkle over the peaches, distribute all of the crumbs "kinda" evenly

Melt the butter, then drizzle it over the crumbly topping

Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, until bubbly and turning golden brown on top
Allow the cobbler to cool down to a comfortable warmness, then eat!

This cobbler served all 14 of us at the BBQ, with no leftovers. However, 10 out of 14 BBQ participants ask if I had "any more of the peach cobbler" hidden somewhere? So next time, I will make two! 

Part of living with chronic pain is focusing on doing things that make you feel good, no matter how simple. For me, baking is one of those feel good things. For this recipe, I was able to do all of the steps myself. However, remember to apply the 3 P's; Prioritizing, Planning and Pacing. For example, my priority was to do the baking, so I delegated shopping for the peaches and my husband picked them up in the morning on his way home from the gym. I planned in advance, so I would have the other ingredients on hand and I wouldn't have to run to the store to get something. I paced myself and was able to peel all 12 peaches. Some days my hands are too sore (Fibromyalgia symptom) to do this type of prep work. If that is was the case I would have delegated it to my teenage sons, who will do anything to get to eat cobbler! I did pace myself, by allowing enough time in the morning to get going slowly, then once I started on the cobbler I could go at a leisurely pace since the BBQ was later in the afternoon. It also would have worked fine to make the cobbler the day before, however that is risky at my house with two teenage boys!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"This One Time, at Band Camp....." oops, I mean on June 11th, less than 72 hours ago!

 Just a few days ago, Tuesday the 11th, to be exact, I had "one of those days" that those of us with chronic pain experiences every once in a while, or maybe more frequently, as in my case. Being a Phase 3 member of Kaiser Permanente's PMRP (Pain Management Rehabilitation Program) in Sunnyvale, California since April of this year, I am hard at work using the skills and tools I have learned. At the top of my skills list is the concept of "The 3 P's" which stands for Planning, Prioritizing and Pacing. This is a technique that we practice to break down each day and organize what we want and need to do in a way that considers what is the most important and how we will make each activity, task or event work around our challenges by breaking it down into doable pieces and at a pace that works for us in the given sequence of moments we call the "next hour" or the "the work day" or even the "whole day." So I had figured out Tuesday, with excellent planning and was looking forward to getting a few things taken care of... (previously posted on Pain Management Program Silicon Valley)
"Sigh...left my home before 9am, felt good that I got it together before noon! Had 3 tasks planned; take my son to the gym, take my 13.5 year old standard poodle to a new groomer, then head to the high school I would like teach at next year to drop off a book I borrowed from the teacher that coached me in 2011 after I got my credential. The good news is I did all three things. The bad news? I let my son out of the car in front of the gym but started to drive away as he was getting his gym bag out of the back of my car. Had trouble finding the new doggie hair salon but got her there close to on time. Then got to the school and my coach had stepped
out of the office, so I introduced myself to the Assistant Principal of Instruction, letting her know I would really like to teach there if she had any part-time openings for next year. I was excited, things seemed to be going well... as I waited I was straightening my shirt, when I felt a tag on my right hip..strange. Oh shit, my pants are on wrong side out! Now granted they are "Yoga pants", thank you God these didn't have a white cotton crotch! I thought I looked fine, My hair was brushed, my outfit was casual, however school is out for the Summer, so all of the administrators were in sweats or jeans with flip flops...l am now heading straight home! My "I have it all together feeling" felt shattered, yet I had to laugh at myself! I taught fitness classes from 1984 when I started teaching "Aerobics" until I retired from teaching Yoga, Pilates, Zumba and any other types of fitness in 2009. Never in my career had I had this type of "fitness attire wardrobe malfunction," despite the fact that it actually happens quite often to the poor group exercise instructors that get dressed in the dark to teach in the wee hours of the morning! 
Not exactly the lore of "Band Camp" but amongst the fitness teachers of the world this is a common topic filled with many experiences that are probably high on TMI.

"You look great, how can you be sick or in pain?"

Perhaps the most challenging aspects of having a disease (or more than one, as in my case) that causes chronic pain is that often we appear to be fine because our symptoms and pain are not on the outside. This presents a opportunity to educate others, assuming you are in the mood and have the energy to explain your disease or syndrome to someone. I have tried this approach quite a bit, trying to seize the opportunity to advocate for those of us who have Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD). I have found that many people I interact with at work or socially may be quite comfortable saying "you don't look sick" or asking "if you have a disease why don't you look like it?" yet they are not too excited to learn about IC, the details of a damaged bladder and what a bladder flare entails. Nor are they thrilled to listen to a description of how PFD is like a "migraine in the pelvis" and can effect not just the pelvic floor but also the vagina, vulva and perineum! With coworkers it can really be too much to explain that we IC and PFD patients also are subject to "accidents" of both bladder and/or bowel function and often there is no warning period before such problems occur spontaneously.

For me, as a high school teacher, you can imagine how horrid it is to have such an accident while teaching a room of 32 teenagers, yet not be able to run out to the restroom because it is actually illegal to leave a room of under-18-year-olds unattended! There isn't anyone to take over for a teacher that needs to go to the restroom under normal circumstances, much less in an emergency. Teaching these days is very much like prison, where you are only allowed to go to the bathroom, eat, drink or contact other adults at VERY SPECIFIC, predetermined times during your workday. Like Pavalov's dogs, secondary teachers will hear the bell ring and have to pee, or become hungry at the exact time each day, 20 minutes before "lunch" starts! God help you if you have a craving, need caffeine or just wanna use the bathroom leisurely for once; the schedule for teaching will not permit such luxuries!

I have fantasized about how much easier living with chronic pain would be if people at work, at social events and hell, even in the grocery store could tell when I am disabled or impaired by pain. I used to wish I could "demonstrate" the intensity of my pain...like a level 5 (about the level where I can't really get through the whole day, teaching 160 teenagers.....) I would have my eyes fill half way up with blood, so I could see above it, yet everyone else would be kinda shocked. Then at level 6, I would keep the eyes, then add a "visual expression of ache" which could be my face and neck beginning to show major strain, like when someone is sprinting to finish a race, the last few yards. At a level 7 my eyes would be 3/4 filled with blood, and it would leak out a little in tears tinged red, my face and neck would strain slightly more and the tips of my fingers and toes would begin to leak blood, as well as the capillaries in my ears (I usually wear my hair up so this "blood sweating" effect would show.... You get the idea. Nothing deadly, just kinda gruesome or scary like being in pain really is... I don't think I want to describe the visuals for showing pain levels of 8-10, however this picture might do it:

 Note: I would like to give credit to whomever created this, however I got it on Pinterest, so I don't have the name of the person who owns this! If you see it, please let me know your name and website link!

My other idea was to actively express my pain when I am experiencing it, however this would most likely lead to a 911 call by someone at Trader Joe's or any store I may be visiting, to report a "lady that is exhibiting signs of extreme mental illness, possibly under the influence of illegal substances and/or may be possessed by a demon or demon-like force" that needs immediate intervention by E.M.T.'s, the S.W.A.T. team and if possible an experienced exorcist-type professional.

The last thing I would like to address is this "Pain Scale" concept. When those of us with a chronic pain condition go to the doctor, which is typically a specialist in our particular type of disease, they use a scale of 0-10 for us to "rate" our current level of pain. The same scale is also used if we call the hospital emergency call center or actually go to the emergency room. Why you ask? Because in the world of science, which includes the medical world, professionals want to measure the degree to which the symptom is happening. With pain, the scale allows the patient to quantify their pain, with 0 equal to the "complete absence of pain" and 10 equal to "the worst pain you have ever experienced or worse than that pain level." Is this accurate or precise? Not necessarily. Everyone experiences pain differently and since pain cannot be directly measured it must be inferred by comparing it to a previous painful incident.

 For women with children, the "worst pain ever experienced" is typically considered to be the pain of childbirth. When I was pregnant with my first child and the contractions were between 90 seconds and 2 minutes apart I headed straight to the hospital. The nurse checked me, determining that I was dilated to "less than 1 centimeter" and sent me home, telling me to return to the labor and delivery floor in 2 DAYS! I am a very literal and analytical person, so I took her at her word. I left the hospital and went to dinner, consuming the largest vegetarian taco salad I could find, complete with mass amounts of cruciferous vegetables, beans, cheese, jalapenos and salsa. I was soon very full (I hadn't eaten all day to avoid any issues with my bowels during delivery of my baby) and waddled home to rest. Within a few hours, I was feeling very yucky, most likely due to what I had chosen as my first meal of the day at around 7pm in the evening. I was in bed, hoping to fall asleep and feel better in the morning. Instead, at around 11pm I started to feel very hot and began sweating profusely. Then I was running to the toilet, feeling like I was about to lose my guts...oh no, I think this may be...FOOD POISONING! Yes, it was almost exactly 4 hours after eating and it was quite possible that a lazy food prep worker had chopped my diverse vegetable selection on the same cutting board as raw chicken. So I sat on my toilet and cried while all food I had eaten left my body, not by throwing up but from the "other end" of the human. By this time, I am afraid that if it is not food poisoning that I must have the flu! My body is achy, particularly my lower back, so I jump in the shower and let the hot water pound my lower back muscles for relief. I could have stayed in their forever, except I am so HOT I have to get out and lie naked on the tile floor to cool down! After a many rounds of shower, then tile floor, then back in the shower my husband realizes that something is definitely not right and calls the hospital, it is now almost 2am. The on-duty doctor tells him to "bring me back to labor and delivery" so they can check my vital signs and the baby's heart beat. I am loaded into the back of the SUV, soaking wet, naked, wrapped up in my bathrobe with no slippers and rushed back to the hospital. The security guard lets us in the front doors (the hospital is closed of course), sits me in a wheel chair and rolls me into the elevator while my husband parks the car. The elevator doors open on the labor and delivery floor, and I tell the nurse that I seem to "have the flu, complete with severe aches and a very high temperature." She transitions me to the bed and proceeds to check me again, announcing that I am now dilated to 10! I argue, since it has not been "2 DAYS" like she told me and inform her that I need to have the epidural right now! She laughs, explaining that it is "way too late for that" and that as soon as the doctor gets there it is "time to push."  From the moment I got in the elevator it was exactly 19 minutes and my first baby was born! Yes, one set of pushing and that was it! 

Why share this story from over 18 years ago? Because I had no idea I was in labor, no idea I was experiencing "back labor" when I was at home, and would have never gone to the hospital at all if my husband hadn't decided to take me back to be evaluated. During labor and delivery, I discovered that  I was not experiencing the "worst pain in my life." I was 30 years old and my monthly menstrual cramping was the worst pain I had ever felt and labor was paling in comparison! I would find out much later that I suffered from severe cramping and pelvic pain  before and during each period for years, due to Endometriosis. Doctors were shocked that I got pregnant that first time, not to mention 3.5 years later with my second child. My pelvic pain condition became more severe in the years to come, resulting in several different treatments, surgery in 2007 to remove the Endo and again in 2010 to remove the Endo as well as my uterus and cervix. During the 2010 surgery my specialist, Dr. Lashay of Kaiser, Redwood City, CA confirmed her belief that I also suffered from IC and PFD, officially diagnosing me with both. My medical history indicates I have had IC since I was a teenager, and that PFD is most likely a result of enduring severe pelvic pain for so many years. Even without a uterus, I still have pelvic pain due to the neural pathways created from having severe pelvic pain over such a long period of time. I picture those neural pathways like deep ruts in a dirt road after the raining season is over. It was Dr. Lashay, whom I literally see in my mind as an angel that saved me and changed my life, who referred me to the Pain Management and Rehabilitation Program at Kaiser Permanente in Sunnyvale, Ca. I will write more about this program in future posts, it has changed my pain and my entire life in the months since I began in February 2013.