I haven’t purposely been keeping this whole pain thing a secret, it’s just not easy to talk about. Not an easy thing to quickly gloss over, not something that seems to EVER go away… but what was me telling my sister how much pain medicine it takes to make it through the day, went to my mother calling me in her “you’re in big trouble” voice…I haven’t heard that voice since I was 18. She was worried. My sisters are worried. The family is concerned. So here I am, finding the need to make public something that sucks very much in private.
I don’t have a problem with pain medicine. I have a problem with pain.
I did not know before all of this happened that there even was such a thing as “chronic pain.” I thought pain was something you had, a way for your body to tell you something is wrong, you fixed whatever was wrong and the pain went away. I thought that the only people to have long term pain were cancer patients and people who were in car accidents. But I always thought that it eventually went away. Like the nerves that were firing firing firing would wear out and pain would go away. It doesn’t work that way.
In September of 2006 I started having pain in my lower right abdomen. I thought it was just another ovarian cyst so I went to my OB/GYN. He sent me to have an ultrasound and they found a tumor on my ovary. I had surgery to remove it along with a small cyst and one week later was on a plane with my family to move to Washington D.C. for three months. After arriving, the pain didn’t go away. So I saw another OB/GYN. He wanted to put me on Lupron, which is pretty much a chemically induced menopause- and I’ve been on it before. It made me crazy. Not ha ha crazy. Crazy crazy. Needless to say, I didn’t go on it. The time goes on, and the pain doesn’t go away. We move back to Washington State and I see my OB again, this time he decides to remove the entire ovary. Pain was still there. After another couple of months, and more tests (they checked my colon, my kidneys, my gallbladder, my bladder etc …not fun tests) they decide that the problem is scar tissue and I have my third surgery. The surgeon cleaned out a bunch of scar tissue, but the pain remained. Shortly after that surgery, we moved to San Diego for another three month internship for my husbands work. Down there I see my first pain specialist. He thought it could be a slipped disk in my spine and I have an MRI. My spine was fine. He’s at a loss so he has me see a different family physician. She thinks it might be complications from diabetes (I don’t have diabetes) and orders that test. Nothing. So we keep plugging away. We get home from San Diego and I visit a new pain specialist who, by the way, is a total brat. If I’ve learned anything from this mess, it’s to ALWAYS request to see a doctor, it doesn’t matter what the deal is, don’t get stuck with a craphead nurse-practitioner. The brat likes my money and doesn’t really care about treating the problem, so I go through my family physician again for more tests. They ruled out multiple sclerosis- which was a relief because there’s a higher incidence of MS in the Northwest and in mothers of children with autism. But it would have explained the pain and the extreme fatigue I’ve had since Casey was born (okay, that looks easy…the fatigue is because of casey…I wish it were that easy). The also did another CT, the third, and don’t find any problems on it. I saw another OB/GYN and he wanted to (I keep changing tenses, for you English people out there, I’m sorry) do a complete hystorectomy. I said he was crazy because we removed the ovary and the pain got worse. So I see another pain specialist who deals strictly in procedural care. After 5 gigantic needles poked directly into my spine, we figured that it wasn’t nerve damage. So I got myself on a waiting list to see a gynecological specialist- two months I wait for a 15 minute appointment with the best just gyno guy in the state. He (we think) finally figures it out- it’s a muscle problem. Somehow I injured a muscle- probably picking up my kids- and I keep re-injuring it. It’s never been able to heal, so that’s why the continued pain. It also explained a lot of other things (why Sunday’s were the worst pain days, even though I had my husband with me (casey makes me carry him while we at Church, there were a couple of weeks there where his feet didn’t touch the ground the entire time we were there (parenthesis inside parenthesis inside parenthesis…this is madness!)), and other such nonsense) So the treatment is me not picking up my kids. Sounds easy. But not with three boys under five with one being special needs. I’ve really tried these last couple of months, but it’s not working. I’ve been working with a chiropractor (Western medicine has not worked, we’re trying this..) and we’re really praying that through massage and whatever, that band of muscle (iliopsosaposososapasaas?) will loosen up and I won’t be in as much pain. That’s the hope. But as you can see, there’s been a lot of other hopeful answers to this which haven’t panned out.
So there it is. It’s a pain problem. Unfortunately, the body develops a tolerance to pain medicine. What would have knocked me out completely a year and a half ago, is now what I take to simply take the edge off of the pain and make life a little bit more manageable. I’m so sick of the medicine. It makes me stupid and it makes me a total flake. I forget things. Little things, important things.
Pain is a beast that you never ever get used to – the longer you have it, the more you fear it. I live every day in fear that whatever I’m doing, be it cleaning or playing with the kids (that’s all I ever do) that I’m going to pay for it later. Afraid that this is going to be the thing that makes it so bad that I’m back on the couch again for three days.
My husband has been so patient through this whole thing. A whole lot more than I have. He’s trusted that it will get better eventually, and that I just need to keep praying for strength. He’s been so good to me. He’s had to totally take up the slack this last past 19 months, and he’s never ever complained. He gets home from work everyday and goes straight to helping with the kids, the house or dinner. I absolutely love him. I don’t know what I would have done through all of this if I didn’t have him.
So there it is. My pain story. I’m hoping to end it here soon. We’ll keep you posted.