A New Chapter?

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.

Totally drained.

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.

Just stop.

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.

Go figure.

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

36 Responses to “A New Chapter?”

  1. Jack

    Isn’t part of the appeal of blogging the chance to interact and engage with people who don’t judge you.

  2. Momma Sunshine

    Chronic pain really sucks. I was in a car accident many years ago and suffered pretty severe whiplash. While I’m no longer in chronic pain any more, I still do have flare-ups every now and again, and they really stink…and people really don’t understand it.
    So I get what you’re saying.
    Hang in there. I really hope that this new person is able to help you.

  3. Michelle

    You sometimes don’t realise how much pain affects you until it stops, or lessens.
    Hoping the drugs and the therapy help.
    Please don’t lose hope, even if we have to hang on to it for you. XXX

  4. Karen

    New to your blog, sorry to hear of your struggle with this injury. I had a horse pull me across a ring and rip the muscles in my shoulder. I’ve struggled with pain and spasms for years, but my pain is not as great as yours. I do know the frustrationg and the PT rituals and how they DO work if you stick with them. AND… if you can believe it, and I didn’t.. Yoga actually helped. I am NOT a yoga person.. but the stretching has relieved some of the horrible spasms. I have a prescription for when they get bad, but I haven’t had to use it since stretching with yoga. I get by with Advil. I hope you find a solution to gives you relief, love your writing… keep the sense of humor, it’s vital.

  5. Cristie

    Even though I have never laid eyes on you, I can totally tell that you are indeed strong enough to get through this. I’m not sure how much what I say is worth to you as a stranger but I hope my admiration for your spirit and my belief that you’ll be back give you just a bit of comfort against all the “get over its”.
    Pulling for you on the other coast,

  6. di

    Chronic pain or discomfort really eats at a person. I don’t go out of the house nearly as often as I used to because my feet hurt most of the time. Just no fun when you know you will have to cut the trip short due to being worn out. Pain really sucks.
    Hoping this new specialist can give you some relief, Suzanne.

  7. Joanne

    Honey, I am so sorry you are having to go through this, again, still… Living with chronic pain is something no one can possibly understand, until they do it. I’ve done it, I do it. Sometimes I try to lighten you a little, but don’t think I ever am making light of YOU, or what you have to go through. Your “meds posts” are funny, but They lets me know you are hanging at the end of your rope, and then I worry for you.
    Prayers for you ,honey. and love from Florida.

  8. tonya cinnamon

    girl i think it will get better.the pain will lessen. and this new therapist will do wonders for you!
    my mom always said take the bad with the good. i always said i never liked the taste LOL
    sends lots of hugs to you!

  9. Jan

    All I can say is thank goodness you’re getting some PT again, “normal” or not. BELIEVE the pain specialist, Suzanne – what will happen if you don’t?
    You know where to find me if you need to talk.

  10. Jenn in Tenn

    Just wanted to send some ((gentle)) hugs from the East coast. Sometimes that’s the only thing that will help when words just aren’t enough. So sorry you are going through this…again. Head up…you can do it.

  11. Kelly

    I’ve been reading you for a long time now and one thing I do know – you are strong. Stronger than me and stronger than most people. you CAN do this and we will be here for you as you do. You’ve had more than most people to deal with in your life but your a daily inspiration to everyone who reads you. sending big hugs and lots of love!

  12. yvonne nc

    Unfortunately I also live with chronic pain and know somewhat of what you’re going through. Yes you do feel like an inconvenience to those in you life. And yes my attitude can be crappy. Let me see that look ~ you know the “here we go again” look ~ and I’m liable to say if you lived just one week with my pain maybe you’d understand.
    Trust the pain specialist. They can work wonders.
    Hoping you find some releif ~

  13. Laura

    I really hope that this new management system the pain Dr put you on will help you. I know it will take time but you so deserve a break from all this pain.
    As for the people that don’t support you, tell you to get over it, or just don’t seem to care, I am so sorry you have to deal with people like that. Even if they are probobly family or friends. I can honestly say I know the feeling. (not with chronic pain, but with chronic illness). People like that tend to be either simple minded or self centered (and don’t realize it). Just know that there are many of us out there that do support you and understand what you are going through.
    Hugs to you!!!

  14. Judi

    People who think telling you to “move on” will help anything deserve a very special place in the inner rings of hell. I lived with pain levels near yours for only 4.5 weeks and it was the hardest time of my life. I can’t imagine four years. You are incredibly strong and you will get through this. I believe this new doctor will help. Let us all hope for you if you can’t handle it at this point. Please let me know if there is anything I can do – you know I’m close by. And if you’re going to the hospital I think you are, they are the best.

  15. Redneck Mommy

    Last year, when I crushed three vertebraes, I couldn’t function. Couldn’t move, sit or lay down. I couldn’t breathe. I was losing my mind from the pain and the only thing I could concentrate on was finding way to end it. Was (next to losing my son) the worst time in my life. Since my back surgery this year, things are regressing back to that original debilitating pain and once again, I’m starting to lose my mind. I see a pain specialist next week. So I hear you. Our pain may be different but in the end, it’s all kinda the same.

  16. Tami

    You can do this. I know you can. It may seem overwhelming right now because – seriously, how can anyone cope with that much pain? But pain mgmt specialist know their stuff and he will get your pain more manageable. Take a deep breath and know this is the beginning of much better things for you. Also why is it that its always the people we need most to be supportive who aren’t? I know how that feels! Hugs!!!

  17. Overflowing Brain

    Chronic pain is a hope stealer. It’s hard to keep hoping when the hope is perpetually and repeatedly dashed. It gets harder to put on a brave face after a while. I find my brave face is streaked with tears a lot lately. It’s so difficult.
    I hope that this doctor, these medications, this therapy will help. And if you can’t find any more hope, I’ll hope for you.

  18. The Mayor

    I have no doubt your pain is very debilitating and I hope you will find the answers you need.
    All I can say is I know of many folks who struggle with injuries and neuro problems long term and have demonstrated that what feels like impossible can improve, get better but it really is a battle.

  19. Linda

    I truely hope that this pain management helps. What you’re going through, what you’ve been going through, SUCKS! I wish there was a magic wand, I’m sure you do too. Take care my friend. Be careful while under the influence;-)

  20. Kristan

    “In other words, I need abnormal physical therapy.
    Go figure.”
    There it is! 🙂 There is your sense of humor, carrying you through as usual.
    I know you’re feeling doubts right now, but I also know that you DO have it in you to make it through this. Four more weeks, four more months, four more years. However long, whatever it takes, you can do it. And you will. And when you come out the other side, you will smile and laugh and cry in disbelief and joy.
    I want you to “get over it,” but in a different way. I wish there was some other way to help, but I hope that knowing you have people like me cheering you on — you have our faith and hope and positive healing energy — I hope that helps.

  21. Cute~Ella

    I don’t have words of encouragement, platitudes or anything like that…just my mental hugs and warm thoughts to send your way as you take this next step.
    I’m hopeful that this doctor will be able to help you and while I don’t pray, I am sending many positive thoughts your way.

  22. Karen

    I am so sorry you are in so much pain, I wish I could take it away for you. I am also sorry you have people like that in your life that think you can just get over it and get on with your life like nothing happened. I hope you have others who are supportive and comforting to you, you always have us all here.
    Sending out good thought for the new treatment to work.

  23. mel

    That really sucks that some of the people you need support from, are not there for you in the way you need. I can’t imagine what you are going through. I hope this “abnormal” PT helps. I really do. Will be thinking of you…

  24. Sandi

    Name the time and the place for a salad this week. I am free any day.

  25. Sandra

    Sending “stop the pain” vibes to you. I wish there was more I could do. How about chocolate? I can send you chocolate….

  26. Liz Tee

    Nothing wrong with letting yourself have hope, but you’ve been here before and know your inner skeptic is sitting there with her arms crossed and foot tapping, waiting for the proof. I hae every cross-able digit crossed for you.
    You know we’re here whenever you need to vent and/or get some (gentle) cyberhugs.

  27. Pam

    I’m thinking of you and hoping that the new treatments work!! 🙂

  28. Rick Olderman

    I’m sorry to hear about your shoulder pain. As a physical therapist who frequently treats chronic shoulder pain, I find the primary issue is poor positioning of the shoulder blades at rest which sets up poor movement of them when the arms are working away from the body. I’ve found this also feeds down to the elbows contributing to tennis and golfers elbow. I’ve just written a self-help book about this if you’re interested. I wish you the best and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
    Rick Olderman

  29. Nancy P

    I’m sending you a big big hug and tons of positive thoughts.

  30. Maureen@IslandRoar

    Oh I hope so badly this helps! Pain is terribly isolating. Before Imitrex was used for migraine in this country I was in bed with towels over the windows for 5 days at a time, every 4-8 weeks. I couldn’t talk because it hurt too much. I know pain. I know I wouldn’t want to live every day like that, so I cannot begin to imagine what you go through. I only know it helped end my marriage. I look back at photos of celebrations when the kids were little and we’re all around me in my bed, cuz I’m recovering from a migraine. I hate even seeing these photos and knowing that was “normal” for my kids. People do get impatient; they want you to “snap out of it,” not give in to it. God I feel for you, going through this. Keeping everything crossed that this new specialist can help.

  31. Ellen

    This is the first time i am reading your blog. i am sorry to hear you are in so much pain. i hope the specialist helps. Perhaps you can try some alternative treatments like accupuncture and meditation IN addition to the meds to help you a bit more, if you have not already done so. My mom has always been in cronic pain so I hope this new Dr can help you. I wish you much luck. It sounds like you are doing all the right things so try to keep your spirits up,

  32. Kathy

    I wish you the best. My daughter is living with pain and she finds it isolating as well. Boyfriend got tired of it (it “depressed him) and she just can’t do the social things others do…people don’t understand and grow impatient.

  33. Kim @ Beautiful Wreck

    I had the source of my chronic pain removed. I am glad that I had that option. You will not hear me say or write to get over it. I know that the pain changes you and impacts the people around you. I have lived it. I am different now that it is gone.
    I hope that this path you are taking will improve your life, and lessen your pain.

  34. Lynda M Otvos

    Words are inadequate at a time like this, I am so damn sorry.

  35. Kari-Mel

    Hi Suzanne,
    I’ve missed you bunches as I have been horribly sick myself as of late but today I am feeling better and wanted to know that you have never been far from my thoughts or prayers. This pain you’re in has to be miserable and I know there are so many of us who would take it away for you in a New York minute. You are an amazing woman and deserve all the best we could offer to help you feel better.
    I’m glad you found another PT therapist and a Pain Mgt. Specialist. Hopefully they will get you where you need to be and quickly.
    You can always e-mail me if you want to talk more privately. I’m on new meds these days because they found a 2nd brain tumor and there is now something wrong in my gallbladder. I won’t go into that here though – this is your forum and I want nothing more for YOU to feel the love and devotion of your readers.
    Take care and talk to you soon I hope!
    Karin (Karimel)


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