I’ve been listening to a podcast called “The Cure for Chronic Pain,” even though I do not suffer from chronic pain. But, it was recommended on another podcast I enjoy, so I gave it a listen. I have become increasingly interested in the concept of trauma manifesting as physical pain.
When I was pregnant with my son, I experienced crippling joint pain. It was very strange, and none of my doctors could explain it. My shoulders hurt so badly that I could barely raise my arms, and I could not sleep more than maybe an hour at night before I was in agony. I felt my whole world unraveling due to the pain, but nothing could be done about it. They could not take x-rays or do other imaging while I was pregnant, and I could not be prescribed anything more potent than Tylenol. The pain did not really resolve even after I gave birth, and so I got Cortizone shots in both shoulders, which helped. From time to time, I still experience that pain in the week leading up to my period.
All of this has led by doctors (and me) to assume it is somehow hormonal, but they can’t quite figure out what happened. It seems as though perhaps pregnancy and the hormones that cause loosening of ligaments led me to actually injure my joints in some way. It affected my shoulders the worst, but my left knee, right ankle, and both elbows were also affected. Later, a physical therapist suggested that these were all prior sports injuries, which for some reason flared during pregnancy. (I’m intense, and I love sports. So, yes, I have acutely injured basically every joint in my body at some point.)
I don’t really know what was happening. But, as I continue to listen to this podcast, I wonder if it was—to some extent—trauma finding purchase in my joints. Maybe, unbeknownst even to me, I was reliving some of my own childhood as I prepared to have my first child. Maybe I was afraid of making the same mistakes my mother made, or maybe I was not feeling familial support or ties that I longed for during pregnancy (I wasn’t). I will probably never know, but it intrigues me.
This all brings up more questions than answers for me, especially as I have the beginnings of a migraine today. (Surely some physical pain can be explained by things other than trauma, right? I mean, our pollen count is off the charts, and my sinuses are clogged, so I’m pretty sure this is an allergy migraine coming on, but regardless.)
Lots of questions, not so many answers. Day 107.