July 2, 2012 by Melissa
In previous posts I’ve alluded to being in some pretty serious pain these last few months. I repeat: serious pain. I don’t like talking about it a lot because I feel like a broken record and not many people really want to hear about this but I do feel that I can’t be the only one. The statistics say that between 10 and 15% of the US population struggles with chronic pain at any time. That’s 30-50 million people. If you include the loved ones of these people, you’ve got a sizable chunk of the country hurting. So I’ve decided to open up.
I have some severely inflamed tendons in my left arm/thumb that make doing just about anything with my arms something that I now have to brace for and grit my teeth through. It’s awful. It makes me sick to my stomach. The pain has brought me close to passing out or throwing up. I’ve shed tears and I’m not a tear shedding from physical issues kind of girl. I only cried a little during the labor for my second child. It makes me crabby and uneasy and I have two kids underfoot all day that need me to be physically strong and mentally with it so I’ve refused any pain medication other than Tylenol or Advil, and, because I can’t “take it easy”, the pain has intensified. It hurts to hold my girls, carry my purse, button a button, wipe down a counter. Isn’t that ridiculous?
I finally had an MRI done last week and it shows that I have some serious damage that will need the attention of a hand surgeon, thank goodness. I was really afraid that nothing would be apparent and I’d have to live with this until who knows when. Many people who suffer from pain have doctors that can’t find a “reason” for the pain so they have to deal with it. Many become depressed or in an endless circle of pain meds to help them “manage.” I’ve recently realized how it’s affecting my own mental health and well being. I think I’m on the verge of being in a state of depression because of this issue if not in it already. There. I’ve said it.
What are people supposed to do? When you’re not the one in pain, you can think of logically talking to a doctor or several doctors, doing whatever was prescribed you, but sometimes real life is different. I’m a stay at home mom so I can’t not pick up my kids or rock them to sleep or even hold their hand. Yes, sometimes it hurts so badly that holding my 3 year old by the hand causes searing pain.
At first my doctor prescribed a regiment of anti-inflammatories, a hand/wrist brace, and hand therapy. I couldn’t do the therapy. My husband travels for work often enough that I couldn’t make those appointments with any regularity. I found some hand exercises on the internet for people with my condition but it didn’t help and it all seemed to get worse, not better.
I now have a sliver of hope that this will ease and that’s huge. I’ve been feeling guilty for weeks because I don’t feel I’m able or capable of giving much of myself to my girls or my husband and I’ve also felt guilty for not putting more effort into helping myself. My patience is worn thin, I’m exhausted, and I hurt. I now have an incredible sense of empathy for those of you in chronic pain or who’ve gone through issues with pain management. It’s not so straightforward as it appears to be. But then again, is anything? Do you have experience with this? How do you manage it?