Jul 23, 2011
I have been living a long time with pain. Life really ***** sometimes. I know this is a long entry, but it’s me and what I have been living with. I hope someone out there will read this and I hope even more that I can find some support and friends from people who understand.
I am a 25 year old female living in Orlando, FL. I am a paramedic and nurse, but currently unemployed. I guess we’ll start with my orthopedic extremity injuries. When I was 11/12, I was having a lot of left ankle pain and discovered that a piece of my bone had died. My ortho surgeon, who I love to death, proposed surgical intervention. He went in arthroscopically, scraped the dead tissue away, and drilled small holes in the live bone to help stimulate new growth. I was in a wheel chair for about 6 months and home schooled. My Mom was also attending a university at the time so I would go with her to her classes and take notes and pretend I belonged there. Of course, during my recovery time, Mother Nature decided to welcome herself into my life and I experienced my very first period. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful so I live with the pain on a daily basis.
I was 14 or so, maybe just turning 15 when I got a part in the musical “School House Rock” for a community theater. I was one of the better dancers and so I was in most of the numbers that were primarily dancing. While practicing one of those dance numbers, I leaped across the floor, rolled onto my left foot during the landing, and broke a few bones in my left foot. I still did the performance; walking cast and all.
When I was 16, I injured my left knee in gymnastics. I was warming up and went to do a back hand spring, back tuck. Well, I “cow boyed” out and landed so crazy I can’t explain it in words. I was taken by ambulance to the ER and later found out that I tore my meniscus and my ACL. Since then, I have had 2 ACL reconstructions. The first used my own quadriceps tendon but the graft did not take. The second used an allograph which, thank God, did take. I’ve also had 2 arthroscopic 'clean-up/meniscus repair' operations on my left knee. During one of my knee surgeries, the doc also went into my left ankle to remove some cysts and clean out scar tissue. I still have pain every day in my knee and ankle. Pain has been such a part of my life for so long and it really takes a toll on my emotionally and physically. I can’t do every activity I want, at least not yet. It’s hard for me to bend down. Stairs are a challenge. What kills me is that it is so hard for me to help my Mom do chores and such around the house because her health is not great either. Braces, ibuprophen, Aleve, ice, elevation, and rest can only do so much that pain killers are my last resort. We’ll touch base on that in a later post.
And one to my next story……..
Several years ago, I think in 2007, I began having this incredibly horrific pain in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen. This pain was so severe I would curl up into a fetal position and not be able to move. The pain was always in the same spot. It felt like my inside was tearing and burning all at the same time. If I touched the specific place, I could reproduce the pain. I went to so many ERs, had so many CT scans, ultrasounds, pelvics, x-rays, colonoscopies, blood work, etc. After my first colonoscopy, because I was in so much pain after the procedure, I was admitted to the hospital for observation. The suggested a laparoscopic look into my tummy to visually see what was going on in there. I was sure they would find something like endometriosis or something, but all they found were a few cysts on my ovaries and told me that those cysts could not be producing the type and intensity of the pain I was experiencing. I began getting depressed because no one could ever find anything wrong, some doctors thought I was a pain seeker, and I was just getting so tired of the daily pain. There were moments of relief here and there and boy did I love it when those times came around. I saw so many doctors and each had their own diagnosis: torn ligament, PID, ovarian cysts, pain seeker… During all of this, I found an amazing family physician that has been helping me through this and truly cares about my health and wellbeing. He referred me to a pain specialist, a kind of last ditch effort. Well, he ordered MRIs of my thoracic and lumbar spine, ‘just to check it out’. I never went back to see him because he gave me a trigger point injection right into the spot in my abdomen and it was the worst experience in the world. However, the results of the MRIs were not what I expected.
The results, from 2009, showed I have 3 herniated discs in my thoracic spine and 2 herniated discs right next to each other in my lumbar spine. My back pain all of those years was not just my weight, boobs, and extracurricular activities; I truly had injuries to my back. I had never thought about my back being an issue but perhaps I should have thought a little something about it. In March 2006, I got into a car accident, totaling my car. Luckily everyone 'walked' away. Little did I know I messed my back up really bad. Since I found out about those injuries, I've been working with a pain doctor for epidural steroid injections into my lumbar spine. I have had 2 lumbar epidural steroid injection series and I just began my 3rd series a few days ago. With the first series, the abdominal pain and back pain were relieved; I would give it an 80% reduction in symptoms. A month later the abdominal pain returned and I was back to square 1 with that, but my back was still doing fine. I had another series of epidural injections last December but injured my back lifting during the series so my relief was only about 10%. I am trying these injections 1 more time and we’ll see where I go from there. One place I am going to go is a new doctor. Mine seems so spaced out. He never remembers what we spoke about last visit, it will take me at least 2 visits to get things done, like schedule injections or get braces, and he won’t pay attention to my complaints about my thoracic spine. I don’t even want to bring up my cervical spine with him (I have a feeling I have a problem there as well). I also need some attention to my thoracic spine, since I do have 3 injuries in there, but my doc keeps ignoring it, saying the pain should clear up once my lumbar is fixed and other things. I have decided to get a new doc because I do not have time to waste in getting ‘healthy.’ I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day but I have been trying to get healthy for a LONG time and enough is enough.
Interestingly enough, back in May, I went to the ER for my abdominal pain again. My WBCs were up a little but my scans, pelvic, and the rest of my blood work were all normal. The doc decided to admit me anyways. The surgeon proposed that he perform a laparoscopy to look around and see what’s going on inside. He also decided that since he was opening me up anyway, he was going to remove my appendix. I was a little uneasy because I had already found a doc at a different hospital who wanted to do an exploratory laparoscopy; but I went ahead with lap and appendectomy. The recover kind of sucked and I still get incisional pains. What is incredible is that the abdominal pain I have been living with for so long is hardly there anymore. I have no idea how that happened. I still have the pain here and there but it is absolutely nothing like it used to be. I just hope that when I start working again, it won’t creep back up on me.
Every day I live in constant pain. Does everyone have pain every day? My back kills me if I stand to long and if I lay in bed all day, which kills my back as well. I try to stay a bit active so I don’t get stiff. I do take pain killers and while I absolutely love them, they are not good for me. Addiction runs all over my family. I do have some goals in place, but those will take time. I really need some solutions that are for right now. I have some goals (lose weight, acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy, water therapy, etc.).
It would be nice to have some people to talk to who understand my situation and can empathize with me. The people I have around that are close to me do not really understand how I feel every day and it is very hard to communicate with them as far as my situation goes. I’m not looking for a pity party, just for some people who can relate or something like that.