The Reality About Chronic Pain

Saving Dollarsand Sense

I don’t often talk about it because truthfully I hate seeing the look in peoples eyes when they are trying to decide if I am telling the truth.

By all appearances I am a healthy, strong 35 year old woman.

It began in my early twenties.  Some days I just couldn’t focus, which wouldn’t be so alarming except on most days I was a Type A with a crazy amount of ambition and a to-do list to match.

Most of the time I was perfectly fine.  And then one day I would find it almost impossible to sleep.  The dull, throbbing ache that just wouldn’t go away slowly wore me down day after day.

I figured I just needed to eat better, exercise more, and get more sleep.

I changed my diet.  Began to exercise regularly, although it only seemed to make my body hurt more.  And I was sleeping a LOT, yet I felt like a zombie most days.

Then one morning I woke up full of renewed energy, completely back to normal.  So, I spent the next several days playing catch up on everything I had let fall to the waist side during my time of being out of it.  I was thrilled that whatever had been going on seemed to have passed.  I continued to live life like normal and resumed my previous schedule.

I’m not sure how much time passed before I found myself once again barely able to get out of bed in the morning.  Try as I might, sleep just couldn’t find it’s way through the pain at night and I resorted this time to taking Tylenol PM in order to get some sort of rest which only made the zombie feeling worse the next day.

I went to the doctor and he told me I needed to exercise, so we joined a family gym and went almost every single day.  Some days were fine, but most were worse and I felt like I was trapped in an 80 year old body at just under 30 years old.

I’ve done my own research and know the possibilities (some of which can be quite grim).  I’ve also watched my body closely to see if there are any triggers.  Exercise does not help, but I did find something that did.  I began stretching and doing yoga often.  In fact you can catch me stretching all throughout the day whenever I begin to feel the tight, painful sensations.

The thing about this that bothers me the most is that although the pain is VERY real to me, it’s hard to explain to others without having a name for it.

I admit I hate feeling weak.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I hate feeling like I’m making excuses when I see others my age who have no trouble with regular daily activities.  And MOST DAYS I’m just fine, which makes the days that I am not fine even more difficult to explain.  So I have gone a long time not talking about it.  My husband and children know.  My mom and sister also know.

But the truth is that there is only ONE who really knows,

and I trust that He will carry me through this. 

After pretending to be fine for the last couple years, I found myself tired and short fused with everyone.  Living in pain almost all the time makes me a miserable person that even I don’t like.

I finally went to the doctor a while back when I had a breast cancel scare and we have begun down the road of finding out the culprit. I’ve actually gotten used to feeling like this and have learned to cope.  But the possibility of having more painless days would be a dream come true.

I never planned to share this story here, but after reading this post titled Chronic Pain on Keeping it Real I knew I needed to get this out.

It is so funny how God works because as I was writing this post I read a status from a friend of mine talking about how she was feeling achy all over after eating pizza the day before.  She said something about how much better her body has felt since being gluten free and my ears perked right up.

The idea that the good food I was eating could be the problem had never even occurred to me.  She sent me this article on how eating gluten free could help arthritis and other chronic pain disorders.  

So now I am attempting to figure out how to put together a realistic plan to help me determine if a gluten intolerance can be the problem.  If you are familiar with eating gluten free I would love to hear any tips or tricks you have for making the transition.

I am currently using this article as a guide and will share over the next several weeks how it goes for me.


About Kristie Sawicki

Kristie Sawicki is the author of Saving Dollars and Sense, where she blogs about Money Saving Ideas and Frugal Living Tips, as well the Best Coupons, Deals and Freebies around. You can connect with Kristie Sawicki on Google+ and on the Saving Dollars and Sense Facebook page.


  1. Wanda Glover says:

    My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with “amplified pain syndrome” which is a form of reflex sympathetic dystrophy which is a very debilitating disease. Your pain sounds much like what she has been through so you might want to do some research on that. Prayers going out to you.

  2. As someone else who struggles with chronic fatigue and gluten intolerance I can relate to your article so much. I’m just finding the words to write them on my own blog. My first suggestion is to go get a blood test to see if you are allergic to gluten. I suffered from migraines for many years and finally found a holistic doctor who did a bunch of blood tests to find out that I was very allergic to gluten, dairy and coffee and my body was acting out. Now that I’ve stopped eating those over the last year and half, my migraines are gone but still struggle with lots of fatigue (which is due to chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue). Eating gluten-free isn’t as hard once you figure out what you can and can’t eat. Read ALL the labels. Gluten is very sneaky and can show up in things you least expect. Vinegar, salad dressings, seasonings, etc can all have gluten in them but you won’t know what until you read the label. My husband, who does the majority of our grocery shopping, has gotten very good at reading labels. :-) A few good blogs for cooking gluten free are: and .. Please feel free to email me if you have more questions. I could go on and on but don’t want to take up more space! :-)

  3. My husband has celiac, so I have been cooking gluten free for about the past 4 years or so. Now, we find out, he also is intolerant to casein, so that has been a hard adjustment in the last couple months. There are substitutions and alternatives for most recipies! E-mail me if you have any questions.

  4. Fibromyalgia is another possibility. I have had that since the mid 90’s, I hurt really bad every day, take some hefty prescription pain meds, etc. It’s not fun. I had to eventually give up a job I really loved & go on disability. I do volunteer a couple of times a week for a few hours, however, which makes a big difference in my life……..Makes me feel “needed”. (I don’t have kids). You might look into that with your doc……There are different “levels” of it, kind of.

  5. I’m glad you decided to share. I have had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia for the past nineteen years. I am now 44. Some days are better than others. I hope they find out soon what you have and how to help. It took me a year and seven doctors to find out what I had.

    I have another blog where I write once in a while about living with a chronic illness. It can be found at I will be writing about an event called called the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness week. It can be found at Lisa Copen is amazing. She also has a site called I hope this helps. Thanks for being honest.

  6. Do some researchon Candida overgrowth if you think you might have a gluten intolerance. It can cause fatigue, rashes, allergies, headaches, heavy muscles, and the list goes on.

  7. pamela jablonski says:

    You may like to read my article on invisible illnesses, I am thinking of trying gluetin free also, I will read all your links, thanks!

  8. Kristie,

    I am so sorry that you are living with this pain right now.

    I was at a blogging conference here in Dallas last weekend and one of the ladies who was there was sharing almost the exact same story as yours. She radically changed her diet to be gluten, dairy, and soy free and now lives pain-free! She and a couple of her friends wrote an ebook about it and I can’t wait to read it –

    They also were just on the local news here in Dallas and their segment is here –

    • Thanks so much Rachel for the recommendation. I am definitely going to give it a try and see how it goes! I would much rather it be a food intolerance which I can control than a lifelong illness.

  9. Melissa Mulvaney says:

    Thank you for being so transparent and sharing your struggles. You should check out Leanne Ely (the Dinner Diva;) has been on quite a journey with an autoimmune disease, and has been sharing awesome information about how food affects us.
    Based on what I’ve learned from her, my experience with food sensitivities in one of my sons, and other peoples experience, I’d be willing to bet you definitely have food allergies or sensitivities (which are different things) and probably are gluten intolerant. I have a friend that has similar issues…and a few years ago I told her I felt it was gluten related. She finally got tested, and gluten, along with many other foods, are a problem for her.
    Saving Dinner has great resources, including a plan where it can help you eliminate/reintroduce foods that may be triggers for sensitivities. Please check out Leanne’s site. She has such a heart for helping and educating people!!
    You are on quite a journey….but health and wellness wll be worth it. And after all, you’re not alone, you have your Heavenly Father right beside you…and your online community lifting you up!!

    • I am familiar with the Saving Dinner site and have a couple of her cookbooks already. But I haven’t followed her in a while and had no idea she was going through a similar journey. Thanks for reminding me of her site!

  10. The Lord does know your pain. I will pray that he leads you to the answers you need to be restored to the healthy 35 year old woman you “look” to be!

  11. I’m right where you are. Chronic pain and no answers. So far I’ve had an ultrasound, xrays, CAT scan, 2 MRI’s and 3 rounds of blood work and still no answers. It is beyond frustrating. I’m just praying for answers, any answer. I do think that I need to look at food to see if that is the culprit. Michelle’s book (Be Free Challenge) is on my list, but I have this nagging suspision that it’s something more, and not knowing is so hard. Because of the pain I’ve noticed my attitude changing, depression slipping in and I’m easily angered. I’m so ready to have answers. I’d really rather not be stuck on pain meds forever!

    I’ve been talking a little about this online and it seems to be a pretty wide-spread issue right now I have several blogging friends who are struggling with the same issues. I’ll be praying for you, Kristie! Hoping we all get answers soon, or healing (which would be just wonderful!)

    • I went ahead and downloaded the Be Free Challenge and can’t wait to get started! Thanks for sharing your story with me too.

  12. I was diagnosed with lupus when I was 21 and have had pain ever since! After seeing specialists all over the country, I was still unable to find meds that helped enough to make life more bearable. I would go through weeks where I could function fairly normally even though I was in lots of pain and then I would have days where I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom because my feet were so sore.

    After reading about the effects of gluten on inflammation, I decided that although I was a carbaholic, I’d give it a try. I was absolutely amazed at what a difference it makes. While the pain doesn’t completely go away, I am amazed at the difference being gluten free makes. It took me about 2 weeks before I started noticing a difference, but after 4 weeks the difference was obvious!

  13. Cheryl Phillips says:

    I have fibromyalgia and have had it for many years. My pain scale is never at 0, but rather how much or how much more pain I’m in on a daily basis. I have problems sleeping at times. I have tingling and numbness in my feet and hands and sometimes my lips and face. I have balance issues. I get tired very quickly and if I overdo at all, I pay the price for the next several days. God is faithful. I’m thankful for the better days and thankful for a loving husband and family on the worse ones.

  14. I have fibromyalgia and a back injury as well. Living in an 80 year old body is a good way to put it. My doctor says that excercise hurts but not excercisng hurts worse. I take a lot of medication, have a lot of bad days. On good days I overdo everything. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Jennifer C says:

    I can’t say I know exactly what you are going through, but I do understand the toll a chronic illness can take on you. I was sick for several years (stomach problems, thyroid issues, pain, fatigue and more) before I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease.

    I don’t know if you have been tested for celiac disease (screening is a blood test), but I would encourage you to take a look at information on this website – You can certainly have problems caused by gluten that are an intolerance and not celiac disease, but if you have any thoughts about being tested for celiac disease you need to do it before going gluten-free.

    I believe it is helpful to know whether it is a gluten intolerance or celiac for two main reasons – it can help you understand whether you need to just limit gluten or be strictly gluten-free, and it will let you know whether you need to be pursuing addtional follow up medical care for celiac.

    If you do decide to go gluten-free, our support grop has a free guide that may be helpful. Some info is specific to our city, but the majority is not –

    Best of luck on your journey to better health!

  16. Oh my goodness I so feel your pain. I suffer from chronic pain and fatigue due to Gulf War Syndrome from serving in Desert Storm. For years I have also felt like an 80 year old woman getting out of bed in the morning. My prayers go out to you and I hope you find some answers.

  17. I have never been diagnosed as celiac, but I sincerely believe I have it. My cousin was diagnosed with it in 2007 and sent an email to all his blood relatives. ALL his symptoms matched what I was suffering with. I stopped eating gluten that day, and I have felt so much more alive since then.

    Like you, I had suffered with pain daily so bad that I had to take pain releivers every night just to be able to sleep. My feet and legs hurt all the time. When I started eating gluten free, I was hoping for relief from chronic diahhrea, but soon the pain in my feet and legs disappeared. I was amazed! My daughter also stopped eating wheat, and told me a month or so later that her hands didn’t hurt anymore. So, yes, I do believe that eating gluten free can help you.

    My advice, get The Gluten Connection by Shari Lieberman. That book helped me a lot. Learn the ways that gluten can be named on labels, and read every label on every item you buy until you are certain you can rely on just picking it off the shelf. Ask at the service desk of every grocery store you shop if they have a list of gluten free products in their store. Lots of items are naturally gluten free so you don’t have to worry about buying them. Also get a copy of The Essential Gluten Free Grocery Guide by Triumph Dining. That book lists everyday grocery items that can be found in any store by brand name, and was a wonderful help to me in the beginning. And, read my blog. Every recipe on it is gluten free.

  18. Like many of the other post I too have Fibromyalgia, and the pain and fatigue can be unbearable. I blog about my journey, living with it and being able to have a live with a chronic disease at

    After 5 years and over 100 blood tests, finally a doctor said I have all the trigger points so it has to be Fibro. I can’t work full time, BUT I do teach water aerobics which is my therapy. I love my students and the water is such a help to my aches and pains. Yoga worked for a while, but eventually even that was a no no.

    Love to you all. Jenn

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