Chronic Pain

Unless you are experiencing chronic pain, you have no idea how absolutely all-consuming and debilitating (both mind and body) it actually is.

I have always prided myself with being very physically active and fit; I was not going to be one of “those” people who walk with canes, limp, and generally have trouble getting around. I would be forever “young” regardless of my age. I think God has a great sense of humor and he/she loves to give us lessons in humility when we are too damn cocky. I have been a runner for about 26 years and regularly accepted the chronic pain in my knees, but it was basically achiness due to some arthritis. I have had numerous knee arthroscopies throughout the years, but apparently it was not enough to take up another sport. I just kept on, ignoring my poor, deteriorating knees due to my obsessive nature. Then about 8 months ago, I bought a new mattress and suddenly it was my back and hips that began to ache. It started out with just some stiffness but after a while, it was constant when I worked out. I noticed that when I ran it was worse. Then my right knee began to give out and when it rains it pours, because then everything went wrong. I went for Supartz injections into my knee with the hope that I could return to running, but there was no improvement. But, it became painfully (no pun intended) obvious that I was dealing with more than just a torn meniscus. Gradually, my right foot and toes, my low back and hips, my thighs and belly have become numb. The pain in my back has been non-stop and I was living on ibuprofen. I saw my primary doctor and he blew me off, in addition to my orthopedic doctor, who was only concerned with my knee. Since the injections in my knee joint did not work, we did an MRI, which showed a torn meniscus, which has now been repaired with arthroscopic surgery (5 weeks ago). But the back issue remained and what most concerned me was the numbness. Finally, due to any lack of caring or just procrastination on the part of the aforementioned doctors, I took the bull by the horn and self-referred to Augusta Back. After telling my tale of woe, the osteopath ordered and MRI, which shows bulging disks, as well as some spinal stenosis. I just went through the first round of epidural steroid injections and will have more for the next level of the spine that is affected. But, I have run the gamut of emotions due to severely limiting my physical activities, although I am still working as a massage therapist. Yesterday I woke up in such bad pain (both knee—which is taking forever to heal—and back) forcing me to literally hobble to the bathroom, that I had a total emotional meltdown. Some days the pain is not that bad, and other days it is more than I can take (probably emotionally more than physically). It does not help that I am still limping on my bum leg, which throws my back and gait off. It also does not help that I am on my feet constantly at work and went back to work only 4 days after surgery. I always thought of myself as “superwoman” when it came to my body and overcoming aches and pains but God has other intentions, apparently. They say that things happen for reasons, and I am still waiting to discover what the reason is. Perhaps it is just to slow down and smell the roses and realize that I am human. Or, perhaps it is a way for me to be more compassionate with other peoples’ suffering from chronic pain or debilitations. I have to say that when I see people walking slowly I can now relate. I would appreciate if anyone going through something similar would please add a comment and let me know your story.

The State of Mental Health Care

When I go upstairs, and I open up the closet, I see pieces of my son’s life in his clothes, his shoes, his slippers. I venture into the small bathroom, and open the drawers, I see remnants of a dream and hope—-his shaving supplies, his toothbrush, soap. All these were left hastily when he ran from my home back in December 2011. When I go back into his room, I see pictures of happier times—-a framed picture of him with his son, Aaron, a bible. I still see snippets of a life that could have been but is now in shambles, thanks to mental illness. It is so easy to play the wishing, and “if only” game. “If only” this had happened or that had not happened, then all would be right with the world again. But, I quickly realize that I cannot turn the clock back to a particular time and preserve what sanity there was. I live in a treadmill world, where I am walking and walking, getting nowhere fast. It is a roller coaster where one minute things look promising and people are congratulating me (to which I say that I am cautiously optimistic) and next I have been catapulted back to the starting gate. It is hard to accept that this seems to be his life, and is now my life. I must separate myself from this nightmare and not think about this 24 hours a day. I read an article on line yesterday how the mental health system has improved in NJ. I beg to differ. It is a shame that a “civilized” country like the US can have such a deplorable mental health care system. Their idea of helping is to keep a patient for about a week or two, adjust their medications, and then dump (yes that is what it is) them out into the streets. They say they don’t want to release someone without a place to go but a homeless shelter does not, at least in my eyes, qualify as a suitable place. It seems that you cannot get your loved one into a group home without greasing someone’s palm. So, here I wait yet again, for some word from my son who was released (dumped) out with others two days ago. I have no idea where the hell he is. I called the two friends he has left, his father (who did hear from him, thankfully), but no contact via text or phone. I have repeatedly texted him to no avail. He has pulled this on me before and no matter how much I ask him to please not go missing on me and to please keep in touch, he still doesn’t seem to understand the torture he puts me through when he disappears. At this point, the most I can do is wait and pray and go about my business. I do believe in the power of prayers and hopefully they will pull him through. I must have a positive attitude and hope but sometimes I am hopeless. Hope is everything and when that is lost, everything is lost.

Remembering 9/11 Eleven Years Later

I would be remiss if I did not make mention of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Last year was very traumatic for me as I watched the commemorations and footage of that horrible day. I sat in front of the T.V. crying and saying I was going to turn it off, yet I was unable to move. It was somehow reminiscent of that day 10 years earlier when my friend Janet and I sat glued to the T.V. all day long, in a fog, and in total disbelief. I cannot believe it has been 11 years since the death of my friend Angela. She was beautiful inside and out. On this day I want to salute every one of the heroes who came out to help and all the people who lost loved ones that day. For months I had “survivors guilt” because I was not in my office that morning. I kept saying that I should have been there and questioned God why I wasn’t. That will never be known but I know there are a lot of angels in heaven. I am just grateful that the mastermind of this atrocity was brought to justice and will serve a life-sentence in hell.