Thoughts About Chronic Pain

Chronic pain shatters productive lives. Chronic pain almost always is accompanied by depression, anxiety, frustration, fatigue, isolation, and lowered self-esteem. Jed Diamond

I have lived with chronic pain on and off again. As a kid, I played outside as much as possible. I would climb trees, ride a bike, fly a kite. or many other activities. My parents left myself and my siblings with my aunt and uncle while they went to look for a place to live in London, Ontario. They gave us instructions about what we could or couldn’t do while they were away, one was not to climb a tree.

Well, my sister and myself decided to climb it anyway, typical kid stuff. I climbed up ahead of her and on the way up I told her not to step and the same branch that I was on. She did the complete opposite, the branch cracked and down I went unto a pile of stones that surrounded the tree. My left arm hung in an almost ninety degrees. So, my uncle comes out and he tries to set my arm. Off to the emergency room and sure enough I broke both major bones in my arm in two spots.

The cast was removed just before returning to school. The new school year started and for gym we were outside playing baseball. I am not sure exactly where I was standing, the next thing I knew there was a bat flying towards my face. My instinct motion was to put my right arm up to protect my face. I went through the day without thinking much about it. The next morning I woke to find my hand and wrist completely swollen. Once again, this kid breaks another arm. I had snapped my wrist backwards and it caused the break.

Moving on towards my mid to late twenties, I was the passenger on a motor bike. A beautiful clear sunny day and the driver plows into the back end of the car in front of us. It sent me sailing through the air finally landing on my butt. To make a long story short the result was that I had torn everything away from my spine. Somehow, I was able to walk out of the hospital without the aid of a wheelchair.

It was near the turn of the twenty first century when I saw a doctor for severe pain in my back. This was my introduction into pain opioids. It started with a very mild dose of Oxycodone, which gave me some relief for a period of time. My back pain was growing worse and every time I saw the doctor the medications doses were increased.

Eventually I was taking the maximum amount of Oxycodone that was allowed. Next, came Fentanyl transdermal patches. One patch was good for seventy two hours and after that you replace it with a new patch. Finally, a new doctor suggested cortisone injections. I had two treatments and for at this time they have worked. Thus, the long term affect of long use of opioids created an addiction. I voluntarily admitted myself to the mental health ward to break the addiction.

Chronic pain demands your attention, it affects how you do anything. You do anything possible to have some relief, to have even just a couple of hours without the pain. When one part of your body aches it sends ripples out throughout your entire body.

Everyone deals with chronic pain differently. There is no one thing that if it is done will bring total relief. Also, tolerance with pain is different. Some of a hi tolerance level with pain. For me, I do not handle the chronic pain very well.

This hip pain is probably the worse that I have ever experienced in my life. I do have some relief during the day with a high dose of a pain killer. The only relief I get is when I sleep. I take an opioid, a sleeping pill, and two Tylenol 4’s.

I have become very limited in what I can accomplish on my own. The effort of just getting out of bed has me screaming while trying to maneuverer my legs to the side of the bed. I no longer cook for myself because I am afraid that I may not be able to respond if something went wrong. The task of getting a cup of coffee requires taking very careful movements using my walker.

I went on a search about managing chronic pain and found very little information that I didn’t already knew. For some I could tell by their writing that they have not encountered chronic pain.

When I read other’s blogs about having pain I can empathize with them. Even when watching tv if they have someone who has fallen and broken an arm, my response is, “ouch”. I know how that pain feels and would not wish it upon any other person.

So dear reader, I thought I would share my experiences with dealing with chronic pain. When someone describes pain, whether physical or mental, they have my sympathy.

My Journey to Hip Surgery – Pain and the Mind

“I will be living with chronic pain for the rest of my life. I don’t have the mobility, energy or life options I used to have. I work hard to manage the pain, and I want the medical system to be a respectful and effective partner, not a jailer. The opioid crisis is not my doing.” ― Sonya Huber

Last Friday started me on a very painful several days. I needed refills on my pain and sleep medications. I thought my doctor and I understood to have them refilled on last Thursday. My doctor closes his office on Fridays at 11 a.m.. So, I ran out of medication and suffered greatly until mid Monday.

Friday night was bearable, but, as Saturday became mid day my pain increased to the point I could barely move around. I found myself not being able to sleep for over forty eight hours.

What I found within myself was how the mind takes you for a roller coaster ride. I started thinking about moving into a nursing home. There were hours where I laid in bed crying just thinking what it would feel like just to quit living, (no suicidal thoughts thought). Also, my thought was to have my wheelchair brought in and move furniture so that I could maneuver throughout my home.

My thoughts also turned to imagining what it must be like to have your mind intact, but, laying in a bed somewhere unable to interact with your environment around you. I pictured myself laying in a bed and the only way to communicate would be by blinking my eyes in a pattern to represent a yes or a no answer.

Finally, Monday morning arrived and I was on the phone with my doctor. Being myself and telling him the very thought about moving to a long term care home. I believe he heard the frustration in my voice because I was almost in tears. So, finally last night with my pain killers and sleeping pills I found the relief I needed.

So, dear reader, pain almost brought hallucinations to my mind! Pain is a powerful influencer on the mind!

Pain and Mental Health

“Those of us with chronic pain have something unique to offer, not in spite of our pain, but because of it. It’s okay to grieve the losses of chronic illness. It’s okay to be broken; everyone is in some way. Just because we’re unfixable doesn’t mean we’re worthless.”
― Allison Alexander, Super Sick: Making Peace with Chronic Illness

In the past several weeks I have not been writing with any consistency. It has been hit and miss. It is not because I have nothing to write about, my desktop is full of shortcuts linking to writing ideas. Series that I have started, like the “Myths” about mental illness and also suicide.

For example, last night I wasn’t able to get an unbroken sleep. Each time I moved I would wake up because of pain. This pain also keeps me from sitting for any amount of time that would allow me to write.

Depression on it’s own can rob a person of sleep, it is the same with pain. Put the two together and you have a walking disaster.

When in treatment the advice for when you couldn’t sleep, was to get up and do something that was calming. That advice works well when only you are dealing with depression. It doesn’t work that way because just getting your feet on the floor can be an ordeal.

So dear reader if you are experiencing chronic pain that is affecting your mental health my sympathies are with you!

***sorry if this seems disjointed, my brain has gone blank***

Oh What Relief!

 “Since chronic pain frequently cannot be seen or measured, unlike acute pain, doctors, colleagues, friends, or family may question or doubt your pain. In effect, it doesn’t matter if anyone believes you, but it is extremely important for you to acknowledge that all pain is real.”—Pain Recovery: How to Find Balance and Reduce Suffering from Chronic Pain 

Over time I have mentioned the pain in my hip. On October 19,20 I went to have an MRI exam. Today the doctor told me the results. My hip is totally wrecked, thinking that the hip at some time stopped receiving blood to it.

Oh What A Relief It is!

Yes, I did say, “what a relief it is”. I have been living with all types of fear of what might be wrong. Lately I thought it could be cancer due to the fact that this year I had two relatives die because of that wicked disease.

There was the other thought, people may think I am faking it to draw attention to myself. I heard that when it came to dealing with mental illness, so it would not have surprised me if they were saying that.

Next came the guilt. The guilt of not being able to walk my dog, make my own meals, do some housework chores, and not able to go shopping. These thoughts of guilt plagued me day and night. I was becoming my own worse enemy with beating myself up.

Now comes the referral to an orthopedic surgeon. I have seen him before because of a fracture in my knee, so, there is no problem of dealing with him. It will be the waiting that will frustrate me. This province has a severe problem with waiting lists and times. I now look forward to the plan he will present to solve this hip problem. More than likely it will be replaced. Whatever it has to be I am at peace with it.

So dear reader, for most people hearing a report about a damaged hip would think that is bad news. For this guy hearing what the problem is, finally knowing what is causing the extreme pain. Yes, for me, oh what a relief it is!

Pain + Depression = ?


“I started feeling afraid of my own body, like it was a torture chamber I’d been trapped inside.”
― Talia HibbertGet a Life, Chloe Brown

I have had severe problems with my back since I was in my teens.  It would come and go, so I didn’t really feel to curb my activities.

Then in 1987 I was a passenger on a motor bike.  The driver on an August day ran into the back of a car.  The impact sent me hurling through the air to land on my butt.  The results were I tore all the ligaments away from my spine.

So, with that I have had prescribed at one time or another some strong painkillers, such as, morphine, Oxycontin, and fentanyl patch.  

Now mix in being bi-polar, this was before diagnosis, and I was a total sorry person.  There were nights where I didn’t sleep at all, days where I was totally buzzed on painkillers, so bad, that I couldn’t remember what I ate the night before.  Conversations took place where I didn’t remember them either.

Eventually I land in the Mental Health Ward for severe depression. I learned on that visit that I was bi-polar. That was step one.

It became a red alert with the painkillers.  I spoke with my family doctor and my Psychiatrist about coming off all the narcotics.  They told me I could do it from home or go through it while admitted.  I chose the latter.  That was step two.

I am in constant pain, this is something I have seldom wrote about on this blog.  I feel it could be helpful maybe for someone who is experiencing chronic pain.

So, I am not sure what to call it when you mix pain and depression.  Whatever the term would be, I just try to survive one day at a time!