Last Saturday I went to a local day spa for a 50 minute deep tissue massage. The purpose of the massage was not for pampering. I did it because my arm/shoulder pain has been steadily increasing since The Torturer dumped me (he dumped Blue Cross insurance – but it felt like I was the one being dumped). I thought a massage would help loosen up my non-working muscles. They used to do massages for me at PT all of the time.
Although the masseuse was excellent and went easy on me, my injuries freaked-the-hell out afterwards. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, my pain levels went through the roof. I've been gritting my teeth and attempting to breathe as shallow as possible ever since.
Not breathing is my attempt to get through this quite (!) extraordinary (!) pain flare up.
Anyone who has ever lived with pain at astronomical levels knows exactly what I'm talking about. When you're holding your breath as long as possible – so you don't have to endure the pain of BREATHING – you know things are very, very, bad.
(Yes, I've been taking pain meds at night the last few days, but I refuse to take them during the day because I can't function and/or drive on them.)
Yesterday I met with a highly recommended pain management specialist in Newport Beach. It was my first visit. My car accident was nearly four years ago. I wonder if the last four years would have been any different if I had been to see him first?
I told him point blank, "You are my last hope."
He informed me that is usually the case with the patients he sees.
He listened to my story and asked questions.
"Six surgeries?" he asked gently.
He asked me to stand before him and he grimaced when he saw my shoulder.
"Your bad shoulder is raised two inches higher than your good one. Your muscles are in extreme spasm … blah, blah, blah."
"Yes," I said … weary and resigned.
"How much can you raise your arm?" he asked.
I attempted to raise it and noted to myself how much mobility I've lost since I stopped PT.
"That's it?" he asked kindly.
"Yes, that's the best I can do," I said, exhausted from the attempt.
I'm worn out by pain.
Worn out and done.
He knew exactly the state of my psyche with one sympathetic, and soul seaching, look into my eyes.
I never knew, before this hell began, what long term pain does to a person. It physically grinds on you and taps out every energy reserve. It siphons the joy and spirit from you even as you try hard to fight against that very thing happening. I've been managing my pain fairly well the last several months, but it's back with a vengeance now.
It's back, and it's crushing me with its iron fist.
I don't know if I'm strong enough for another battle with pain like this. I don't know if I have the inner strength to do this, at this extraordinary level, yet again.
It would be nice if I could say the people in my life were supportive of me through this, but – let's be honest – they're not. My pain is an inconvenience to many people in my life. They don't want to hear about it and they certainly don't want to be bothered with it.
Did I mention pain is very isolating?
It is so isolating.
It's as if I am floating on my own island that no one can reach. And no one wants to reach it. In fact, they don't even want to know it exists. They'd prefer, in fact, if my island was swallowed up in the ocean and, probably, me right along with it.
Pain is not a popular fellow.
There are those who think if I don't mention it, don't talk about it, don't write about it – it will cease to exist.
How many people have told me to "move on" with my life? As if I can just pretend the teeth-clenching jolts of pain traveling through my body aren't happening.
No one understands severe, chronic, pain unless they've lived through it. Very few people live with pain like this.
Thank God for that.
And at the same time?
Stop judging me unless you've been in my shoes.
You have no idea what it's like, or what you're talking about unless you've lived it, so stop judging me. It doesn't help, in the least, if you tell me to "get over it."
I'd like to say I feel hopeful after meeting with the pain management specialist, but I'm not sure what I feel at this point. He's putting me on two non-narcotic medications. I will be starting at low doses and increasing them each week. They do things to my body I don't fully understand … but the end result is supposed to be less pain. One does something to my over-reactive nerves – that's about all I got out of that conversation. Maybe when I see him again in three weeks I'll have him re-explain it all to me.
My head was so clouded by pain it was hard to really listen at this visit.
Oh yes, he gave me more of the (very strong!) narcotics I need at times like this too. I only plan to take them at night though because they kick my ass.
I will probably write some funny posts for you while under the influence of my strong drugs, however. It's always good to look at the positives of a bad situation, isn't it?
The other big development is, the pain doc wants me to do "in hospital" physical therapy. There was a reason for this too, but again – pain has made the details fade already. I won't be admitted to the hospital, but I will need to go there three to four times each week for someone to work with me. It had something to do with their expertise in handling extreme cases/injuries which require more than "normal" physical therapy.
In other words, I need abnormal physical therapy.
When I was leaving, my Pain Management Specialist assured me I would be in much better shape in a few months.
I hope that's the case. I really do.
And yet, I'm afraid to really believe ….
© Twenty Four At Heart