The Invisible Enemy

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Davyc

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For many there is very little joy in getting older - age brings a whole host of issues and complications. When I was younger I never thought about the complications of getting old, far too busy enjoying myself to think about such things. It's something that you never really think about when you're young, fit, healthy and having fun, but there comes a time when the dreaded phrase that doctors love to use when they can't help you "it's an age related complaint". There's no doubt in our minds that age is at the root of many ailments and issues.

There are a whole host of issues that people can see; broken legs, arms, hips and the physical manifestations of liver spots, swollen arthritic joints, loss of balance and many, many more. When we 'see' these things we sympathise and console and offer help where it's needed and where we can. There is one age related issue that goes unnoticed by many; pain.

When someone is in pain it is possible to see it in their facial expressions when it strikes, when they cry out. Many people attempt to disguise it, hide it or simply acclimatise themselves to it and resolve to just accept it. But when people can't see this invisible enemy they believe there is nothing wrong with you, even when you tell them how horrid it can be they don't know how to respond, unless they suffer similar levels of pain.

Pain is the body's alarm system to alert you that there is a problem, but unlike a burglar or fire alarm it can't be turned off. Pain is draining and debilitating and can be caused by numerous issues, such as arthritis. But there are many other pain related complications.

I mention this because as I sit here typing this I am in pain - it's caused by an issue called Peripheral Neuropathy. This in layman's terms is nerve damage and there is a list of possible causes as long as your arm, so it's not particularly easy to pinpoint the actual cause. Nerves are one of the elements within the body that cannot heal themselves and, as yet, there is no manmade cure either. There are medications that can help to ease the sensitivity of damaged nerves, such as the medication I am on called Pregabalin (a class II drug here in the UK) and I'm close to the maximum daily dosage.

It starts in the extremities, mainly the feet, with a tingling sensation similar to that you would feel from a mild dose of electricity. As the nerve damage increases that tingling converts into sharp pain - there are times when walking it feels like my feet are being shredded by broken glass. It can spread to any part of the body such as fingers, wrists, joints, behind the ears and it can also eventually over time (as it is a progressive issue) affect your heart rate and blood pressure.

Quite often there is no warning as to when it will strike, unlike an ache that gradually gets worse over time. I liken it to someone sticking you unexpectedly with a cattle prod and it can happen any time, anywhere. No one can see it, but it's there and it can drag you down like fast quicksand - one moment you're not so bad, then next you're in agony and the harsh pain can be fleeting, lasting only a second or two, other times it drones on and on.

So the next time someone tells you they are in pain, don't ignore them because you can't see it - we are all familiar with pain, under normal circumstances it's rare and can fade quickly, but for some, they have to live with it daily and for many there is no respite from it. I can remember asking my mum one time "if you could have just one wish, what would you wish for?" a simple hypothetical question that we have probably asked and been asked many times. Her answer surprised me when she said "to just have one day where there was no pain". I knew my mum suffered from pain related issues due to her age, but because I couldn't see it I assumed it wasn't so bad; how wrong I was.
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
If you can't see and experience it ... thus it ghost! It is a collective or mob related conclusion!

Some people do not believe in integral or autonomous states of mind as it is said simply that the psyche is not accepted here for the joy of those that wish to do what they will without responsibility for knowing the cause and effect line ....

It is as easy as black and white to some folk without grey matter ... the twilight domain? Sol is like that verily transparent ... thus thought crystalizes! There's more?
 

Mendalla

Agnostic pan(en)theist gorilla
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As a diabetic, neuropathy is a risk for me in my extremities. Might have a bit in my toes already. I do have some osteoarthritis in my fingers (which has mercifully been fairly quiet of late but I had a couple really bad flare-ups in 2019 which led to the diagnosis), a bad back, and stiffness and pain in my neck that goes along with my migraines. Once you skate past 50, there's just so many things that can cause chronic pain. Some can be managed without drugs (my arthritis is mostly managed with exercise and ergonomics), some need medicinal help (during flareups, Advil is my friend). So, yeah, definitely know where you're coming from and it can be a struggle to keep people mindful of your pain and its impact. Good post, @Davyc. Felt weird liking it, but I'm liking the message, not your pain.
 

Davyc

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Once you skate past 50, there's just so many things that can cause chronic pain.
As we often say here "there's no fun in getting old" and another saying we use frequently is "it's the getting up that gets you down" lol.

We have just had two hospitalisations (broken hips from falls) and one death (yesterday) in our complex - the guy that died was 99 years old and a really lovely, warm and generous fellow. The two broken hips are lady friends of mine, one in her 80's (not sure of her exact age, I think she's keeping quiet on that one lol) and the other is 95 years old, both are doing OK thankfully.

As a diabetic, neuropathy is a risk for me in my extremities. Might have a bit in my toes already.
Diabetes is on that long list of complications, if your toes are tingling it may be a first sign, so I would check with your doctor if you haven't already. I had to look up Advil as we have different names for same medicines here, we have it down as Ibuprofen, which I am allergic to. I was prescribed Naproxen, but that screws with your kidneys if taken over a long period, plus it was not doing anything positive.

I was asked to try a different drug to Pregabalin (Class II here means it has addictive qualities) called Duloxetine, but that sent me into cloud cuckoo land so I asked to go back on Pregabalin. The doctor was reluctant at first because of the addictive qualities, but when I ask how long I'd be on the medication she said the rest of your life - so my answer was 'who cares about the addictive qualities?' to which she agreed, so I'm back on it.

Medicines can only go so far in helping and I believe that quite often we expect too much from them. I guess we just have to suck it up and deal with the pain we suffer as best we can. I often try to make a joke of it, even though it's no joke, to keep the mood light. These things are sent to try us ;)
 

Mendalla

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I was prescribed Naproxen
I have not tried that yet. It is used for arthritis too but mine has so far been manageable with ibuprofen and analgesic creams like Volataren. Ibuprofen, much like Aspirin, is rough on the tummy and my Dad ended up on a combination of it and ranitidine (stomach medication) when he had arthritis around the age I am now.

Medicines can only go so far in helping and I believe that quite often we expect too much from them. I guess we just have to suck it up and deal with the pain we suffer as best we can. I often try to make a joke of it, even though it's no joke, to keep the mood light. These things are sent to try us
They are, indeed, trying. Not sure they are sent so much as just are, though. I do crack wise about my diabetes a lot. Less so about the arthritis, which is the more painful of my chronic conditions. I guess pain determines how funny something is.

The doctor was reluctant at first because of the addictive qualities, but when I ask how long I'd be on the medication she said the rest of your life - so my answer was 'who cares about the addictive qualities?' to which she agreed, so I'm back on it.
That's always been the debate about opioids for the terminally ill or quite elderly, too. Is addiction that big an issue in someone who will likely kick off long before the addiction becomes a problem. A local doctor and newspaper columnist in my birth city in the eighties was actually advocating for heroin to be legalized for terminal cancer patients in severe pain and that was his basic argument.
 

Northwind

Still knitting. Walking the path to health.
there are times when walking it feels like my feet are being shredded by broken glass

I have had a chemo drug that can cause neuropathy. I think the med I'm on now can cause it. I've been fortunate to have avoided bad symptoms so far. I've had very mild effects on the balls of my feet.

Your quote above caught my attention. Is that sensation across your entire foot or just spots? I've had intermittent heel pain that is sort of like plantar fasciitis but not. I have a doctor's appointment later this month and will ask her.

Pain is tiring isn't it
 

Mendalla

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I've had intermittent heel pain that is sort of like plantar fasciitis but not.
Ugh. I had plantar fasciitis years ago. Right when my primary indoor exercise was a treadmill, too. Probably probably part of the reason we replaced it with a bike and a rowing machine.

Pain is tiring isn't it
It can be. I actually prefer something intense and acute that I can hit with some drugs or stretches or whatever to chronic low-burn aches that just never go away. That's the kind of pain that actually wears me out the most.
 

Northwind

Still knitting. Walking the path to health.
Ugh. I had plantar fasciitis years ago. Right when my primary indoor exercise was a treadmill, too. Probably probably part of the reason we replaced it with a bike and a rowing machine.

I've had plantar fasciitis too. I thought that was what this is so I replaced my well loved old sandals with Birkenstocks. That didn't help. It is different from PF but just as annoying
 

Waterfall

Well-Known Member
My Nana used to say, " enjoy your youth because you will spend more time being old than young". She was a feisty nana always joking....so it's good to keep a sense of humour.
I remember her always coming on to the orderlies when she had to finally go to a nursing home in her 90's....probably would have been charged with sexual harassment these days, lol.
I've had some health scares now that I'm older but so far chronic pain isn't one of them....still just use a heating pad that I heat up in the microwave for any aches and pains that happen to come along and soothing forest or thunderstorm sounds for relaxation.
 

Davyc

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It is used for arthritis too but mine has so far been manageable with ibuprofen and analgesic creams like Volataren.
Volataren is probably the equivalent of our Voltarol - Diclofenac based cream; I use that for the arthritis in my knees and it does help, a little.
I guess pain determines how funny something is.
I know a few of my friends are tickled by some of my outcries, half way through a sentence and my voice goes up an octave as the cattle prod engages lol.
Your quote above caught my attention. Is that sensation across your entire foot or just spots?
It goes the entire length of the soles of my feet. Indoors is less painful as I have thick carpet and underlay which is very soft, I also have cushioned insoles in my slippers, so walking about in the home is less painful than when I go outdoors. I have had special insoles made but they don't help at all so I took them out of my shoes as they made them a tight, rather than snug fit. I have to use a 4 wheeled walker when I'm out as I can only manage about 50 metres and then I have to stop and lift each foot until the pain subsides enough for me to walk on - takes me ages to go seek my newspaper. Some have told me to get it delivered, but I want to get out and not be housebound, so I suffer the agony and take my time. I also suffer from Vertigo, which is nasty, and I've had a few falls in the house because of it, nothing serious as I managed to bounce off the sofa; I've had extra handrails installed so I have something to grab onto.
That's the kind of pain that actually wears me out the most.
Pain is a real burden to carry - and it does wear you out and make you tired, the meds don't help with the tiredness either and some add to it, but as my mum used to say "needs must as the Devil drives" - I think that is an old Victorian saying.
I've had some health scares now that I'm older but so far chronic pain isn't one of them
If you can dodge it, good on you - I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy (if I had any lol). I love what your Gran used to say about enjoying your youth, its something I often say to young people whenever I encounter any. I made my doctor laugh one day when I said "if I knew I was going to be like this when I was younger, I wouldn't have joined" - "joined what?" she enquired, my response "the over sixties club". It is what it is though, no one said life was safe and we have to accept the rough with the smooth. I believe that everything happens for a reason, even if we're not privy to knowing why :)
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
A good in depth study of RA Syndromes can enlighten a person on much of these topics!

However study is dangerously close to intelligence, etc. and we can't have that ... it would interfere with great expectations (desires)!

Did you know in many medical studies that RA Syndrome is listed as a mystery disease? Imagine getting more enigmatic that that ... and stil we'd rather not know and the pain increases ... laughter decreases pain ... thus the gods hate normal folk to laugh! With a bit of pain they have your grief in hand ... and cause you to hate ... making one ask; "is life a pain for most?"

In depth stuff ...
 

ChemGal

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I've dealt with plantar fasciitis for a long time, it's changed as I got older though. I never used to get the heel pain that typically is used to describe it, I had a lot of inflammation and likely angioedema in my arch and that's what hurt. The heel pain started about 5 years ago and is much more so just an annoyance, it's no where as severe. The paraesthesia I get is very different from the foot pain, definitely isn't connected. No idea if it's neuropathy but if so, not progressive. Whatever causes it also causes fatigue as the 2 flare together and it's worse after sleeping a while, but it's definitely not just a pressing on a nerve thing, feels too different from that.

Not really sure what of if anything I deal with would be considered 'aging' issues, other than over time more can occur.
 

jimkenney12

Well-Known Member
My wife had radiation treatment of lymphoma in an eye muscle. A few months later she started experiencing pain on one side of her face including sinuses and jaw. After at least six months of being tentatively diagnosed with different issues with treatments that were not working, she had a ER doctor that read her whole file and carefully considered her symptoms and tentatively diagnosed it as trigeminal neuralgia, and prescribed medication that gave her her first night's sleep without pain. She had peripheral neuralgia in her legs.

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis over twenty years ago and found glucosamine used regularly can help most of the time, but it takes a few days before it works. I have frequent or chronic pain from a few different issues, but it is usually too low to get my attention. Some is influenced by doing or not doing certain exercises. Pain is a great motivator for taking time for self care.

Thank-you davycc for starting this thread.
 

ChemGal

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My wife had radiation treatment of lymphoma in an eye muscle. A few months later she started experiencing pain on one side of her face including sinuses and jaw. After at least six months of being tentatively diagnosed with different issues with treatments that were not working, she had a ER doctor that read her whole file and carefully considered her symptoms and tentatively diagnosed it as trigeminal neuralgia, and prescribed medication that gave her her first night's sleep without pain. She had peripheral neuralgia in her legs.

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis over twenty years ago and found glucosamine used regularly can help most of the time, but it takes a few days before it works. I have frequent or chronic pain from a few different issues, but it is usually too low to get my attention. Some is influenced by doing or not doing certain exercises. Pain is a great motivator for taking time for self care.

Thank-you davycc for starting this thread.
Ouch, Chemguy's mom had trigeminal neuralgia and she had a few surgeries to try to manage the pain better, one worked for a few years.
When I had the abscessed tooth & the HAE attacks in my face from it Chemguy was scared I was developing the same thing, it wasn't just the pain level, it was the entire way I reacted to it that was similar. I suspect it was the same type of pain, just different causes. The dentist was nice on the phone and suggested it was a TMJ issue and I said I really didn't think so, and the pain was quite bad. She was like oh TMJ pain can be quite bad. Then when she saw me she apologized because yes, TMJ issues definitely are less painful than what I had going on. Dealing with that for a few days was really awful, can't imagine it being chronic (although I had less issues for a while leading up to that, I think the infection was actually introduced a year earlier when my wisdom teether were removed and took a long time to build up to be that bad).
 

JayneWonders

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Trigeminal neuralgia is called the suicide disease for a reason.
See article: Why Trigeminal Neuralgia Is Considered The "Suicide Disease" | Arizona Pain or other articles on the subject
My mother had it and she was choosing to die by not eating or going to doctor, etc, due to no longer being able to live with the pain. Life was not able to be lived.
She had tried many medications and solutions.
I was able to get engaged due to a crisis, and was able to work with her and her doctor to adjust the way she took her two prescription meds, which made the side effects livable.
She adjusted the meds per the new rules, and was able to live her remaining life relatively pain free.

@jimkenney12 , I am thankful that your wife was able to get meds early on. These have really developed in the last 10 years or so.
I remember a past member of wondercafe whose parent was livign with the pain, and when i shared my mom's story as she was "miraculously healed", he was thrilled, as it meant there was hope for his parent.

For me, aging is a function of past treatments and illnesses catching up with me, as well as a sedentary lifestyle
 

ChemGal

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While we tend to think other people's pain is less than it is, people at least do empathize with it. I find it's the other symptoms that get brushed off. Fatigue, malaise, nausea, lightheadedness, paraesthesia, itching. Some I don't even really have names to even label them.
I wonder if my tumours would have been found sooner if doctors paid as much attention to these as they do pain.
My Grandma was tld about my tumours abmnd despite the dementia she was worried kept asking my mom if I was in pain and couldn't comprehend they didn't cause pain. Even my hepatologist said the only symptom they could cause was pain and all my other symptoms were do to something else until I sent him papers on a connected syndrome.
 

BetteTheRed

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I think itching is an underestimated malady. It causes all kinds of other troubles. If you scratch and pick, you're always a step away from infection. Leaves unsightly scars. Who wants to sleep with someone who scratches themselves bloody every night, unless so medicated that they're basically unconscious? And there's so many disfigured patches that I'm covered up wrist to ankle most of year, no matter what the temperature.

I have several church friends who are alert, active, competent, well into their 90s. Combination of good genes and good habits, I suspect.
 

Mendalla

Agnostic pan(en)theist gorilla
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My legs suffer badly from itching these days, especially late in the day. Aveeno is my friend. I have dandruff too but that itching is not as intense.
 

jimkenney12

Well-Known Member
I am glad there are good treatments for itching caused by eczema and poison ivy, strong cortisones especially. I am also glad the itching caused by fly bites and jellyfish only lasts a couple of days. Until I got the cortisone meds, the itching can see by eczema made many of my days for a few months very unpleasant. The first two days with the poison ivy itching were terribly miserable. I am not sure I would have been able to endure even a month of what I experienced at the time.
 

BetteTheRed

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Ah, yes, but a lifetime of topical steroids presents its own problems. Check out "topical steroid withdrawal" syndrome. When I'm having a flare (which is almost always, at present), I will use cortisone, but only for two days out of seven; the other five days, I use topical immune suppressants. And aveeno, and eucerin, and lubriderm (any of these are fine as long as they have no fragrance, which is a bit more uneven/unpredictable than you'd think).
 
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