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Jun 23, 2011 - 2 comments

Chronic Pain










My story



It is hard to sum up my life in the past 5 years with only few words. The pain, emotion, struggle, fear, sadness, happiness, joy, anger.....The emotional roller coaster known as "Chronic Pain". My struggle started when I was 12 years old. I grew up in southern Indiana, a girly girl who wasn't afraid to play in the dirt! I had dreams of modeling and acting and I was actively pursuing those dreams. In May of 1994, at the age of 12, I was in a 3 Wheel ATV accident. ***3 Wheel ATV's are extremely dangerous. They are actually illegal to sell/purchase and for good reason. Please do not ride one yourself or let your children/family/friends ride.*** The details of the accident are vague, but my friend S was driving and I was riding behind her. We were riding through tall grass and hit an obstructed, very large log. Sara flew over the front and was ok. My leg became stuck in between the foot rung and the ATV, brand named "BIG RED" because of its large size, trapping my right leg. The vehicle rolled on top of me and then released me and rolled back off of me. I had a ruptured spleen, several broken ribs, a chipped shoulder and multiple compound fractures to my right leg and ankle. I had exploratory abdominal surgery because the physician believed my liver was damaged. Thank God it was not and I had my spleen removed that night, and my leg was splinted and ignored due to the life threatening ruptured organ. After a few days in ICU I underwent multiple surgeries to repair my mangled right leg. During my 2 month recovery in the hospital, the area of skin where the largest bone had spiked through became infected. They had to cut a hole in my cast and clean/treat the wound 3 times a day. I was at risk of losing my leg and also was told I would never walk normally again. Once home, I was on crutches for almost 8 months. When my cast was removed my leg was so atrophied, it was half the size of my muscular left leg. It didn't look real! When I first started walking again, my foot angled to the right and to straighten it would cause so much pain. Over time, I pushed myself through the agonizing pain and made my foot face forward to keep from limping. I made myself walk normally. Over the next decade I had bouts of pain, but never pain that altered my quality of life. In my teens and early 20's I gained back the confidence I had lost due to deformities and scars on my right leg and the large scar on my abdomen. I lived life fully and I felt so blessed to have lived through such a tragic accident. I met Mike, now my husband, in 2003 when I was 22 years old. In August of 2005 we moved in together. Mike was in his 2nd year as an engineer at the automotive electronics company he works for. I was accepted into a competitive nursing program, and also worked as a bartender. I was on my feet for 16-18 hours every day. Many of those days I was wearing high heels in vain :) I started coming home and literally crying because my leg hurt so badly. In October 2006 I finally sought out pain management. It would take pages to list every detail of my pain management journey, but to sum it up, I started in Indiana at a pain management clinic. Mike was transferred to New York through his company in 2007, so after graduating with my LPN and 5 months away from my RN I left nursing school to support my then boyfriends career and we moved to New York. I struggled to find a doctor who would treat me. My primary care physician would not treat pain patients. I went to multiple orthopedic doctors who refused to touch my mangled leg. Some said it was too bad to fix, others said it was a 30% chance surgery would help and others said that there was nothing wrong with me. All of them declined to treat a pain patient. I finally was referred to a pain management doctor. This changed my life. I was treated with respect instead of like a drug seeker. I was actually sympathized with, not rushed out the door. I was treated with medication as well as nerve blocks and trigger point injections. I also went to a therapist for a few months but did not find satisfaction with her as she was not familiar with pain management. Over the years I have struggled with chronic pain, adequate medication control, depression, anxiety, insomnia, guilt, PTSD. I felt hopeless to have such pain and to be on strong narcotic medications at such a young age. I also felt guilt in my relationship....I felt unlovable. I felt that Mike was dating "damaged goods". The lowest point of my life was 2009. That year was so painful in so many ways. It is hard to speak about the things that happened that year and maybe I will share eventually, but for now just know that I still don't know how I made it through. It was really bad.  Fortunately my story has happiness......In April of 2010 Mike proposed to me and we were married on June 4, 2011. The happiest day of my life!!!!! I am lucky to have a husband that supports me and sees beauty in me. He does not see my illness. He does not let my illness define ME. And for that I am grateful. We just moved to Michigan in January 2011 again through Mike's company. I love it here, and I love being back in the mid-west!!! Another health issue I am dealing with is a brain tumor. I was diagnosed in January 2010 with a brain tumor in the right ventricle, slightly pushing into the frontal lobe. I am currently monitoring the growth rate of the tumor with MRI's every 3-6 months. Other options are biopsy or surgical removal. The latter may be inevitable someday, but for now I am hoping for the best. The doctors are unable to tell if the tumor is cancerous or not. But the last two MRI's there has been no growth. I am due this month for my first MRI check up in 6 months. Praying for good results. My Chronic Pain journey still continues. Once we moved to Michigan, I found a primary care physician who thankfully treated me for a few months, then went to a pain management clinic who changed my meds multiple times and stopped my nerve blocks/TPI's and then sent me on to a Psychiatrist who specializes in pain management. It was hard to go through the struggle of finding a good doctor but it was also expected with the move to a new state. I am still unsettled in my care but hopeful. I am still with the Psychiatrist Pain Management Specialist. I am still without nerve blocks, TPI's, PT, etc. My current meds are Oxycodone 30mg every 4 hours (6 a day max), Fentanyl duragesic patch 100mcg/hour (1 patch changed every 3 days) and ambien 10mg at bedtime. I have been on/off SO many meds over the years. I am happy to be on so few meds. I also despise being a slave to medication. I am still struggling to get relief at times, but we all know that there is no such thing as 100% pain free. My leg is complex, but a few of the issues going on are curvation of the bone, mal-union of the bone, floating bone fragments, osteoarthritis, nerve damage, muscle damage and atrophy, and a new symptom of about 10 indentations in various places on my foot/ankle/leg. These indentations are discolored and very painful. I have appointments in July at U of M to see an orthopedic doctor and a dermatologist. My biggest struggle right now is this : I want to have a baby more than anything in the world. My heart aches to get pregnant and give this love to my little one. I have been doing a lot of research and am so scared. I am afraid of what narcotics would do to my child, am afraid of what being in agonizing pain would in turn do to my child, am afraid of weening off of the medication, am afraid that if I don't get pregnant now I never will because my leg has gradually gotten worse over the past 5 years and most likely will continue to do so........My husband and I meet with my new OBGYN on July 21st for a preconception counseling appointment. I am hopeful. I have also started taking prenatal vitamins and am keeping alcohol at an even more minimum.....but I have not yet weened off of my medication. If I get pregnant now I would be elated but also afraid. I am no longer on birth control as of June and  because of my begging my husband and I are not taking any measures to prevent pregnancy. I want to be pregnant so very bad. I just pray that my body will be able to nourish and care for a baby and not harm he or she. So this is my story in a few words....a bit jumbled and rambling......and there is so much more to say. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and I would love any words of advice or encouragement or even corrective criticism. And as a pain patient of 5 years if I can answer any questions or be of help in any way please do not ever hesitate to private message me about anything at all. Thank you for your support and prayers xoxo
Much love and healthy wishes,
Angie xoxo

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535822 tn?1443980380
by margypops, Jun 23, 2011
Wow what a story and what a brave and strong woman you are rereading it I get a feeling of resilience ,I have a thought you will have a baby. Your story is written with humility and hope.Sounds like your husband appreciates you and that's wonderful he is also a special person .It wasn't jumbled and rambling it was really good to read ,in my opinion you are a winner .,to struggle this much and be so optimistic... others will be helped by your words ....

1716797 tn?1308959812
by pixie146, Jun 23, 2011
wow. that is an amazing story. I send you lots of prayers and love. I hope you will have a baby and live a very happy life. You deserve it. Have you thought of maybe having a surrogate mother? that could be another option. If you want to talk or anything don't hesitate to write back! Wish you best!

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