On living in constant pain
I see the last time I wrote on this was 2011. I don't write on this much, because, frankly, it bores even me. But I read Mortality by Chris Hitchens this past week, and I thought I'd write a bit more on this.
To recap: in August 2010, I went to the ER three times in one week. The first time, I about passed out. The second time, I was in GCT and went to the cops (as I was known as crazy hat lady in GCT, people there were asking me about the episode for weeks after). The third time, we were at Kumon with the girls on a Saturday.
An entire month flat on the chaise longue, 6 months of MRIs and attempted, failed drugs later, I find myself with the diagnosis of degenerate disc disease in my cervical spinal discs (C5/6 to be precise). I did a course of 6 weeks of physical therapy, got out of my hellish job (I had hoped it was mainly stress-induced from the job, but nope. The job hadn't helped, but leaving it didn't make the physical situation better)
Since taking my current job in Hartford, I've been getting massages about 1-2 times per month (I can give a good Hartford referral, should one need it). I do various exercises I learned from physical therapy (as well as Esther Gokhale, which I've found helps -- got the idea of yanking my skull up via my hair. Great way to crack the neck.)
Thing is, the pain never really goes away. It's always there. The various prescription drugs I've tried are either ineffective or make me loopy, and that's a no-go. My drug of choice here is alcohol, though it doesn't make it hurt less. It just makes me care less about it.
The pain moves around. Right now, it's mainly in the right half of my face, feeling like a stabbing in my right eye and a pain that runs down from the right ear down my jaw to the chin. Sometimes the pain radiates over my shoulder down my arm. My hands, thankfully, have been free from the pain, but other that that it generally can take my entire arm.
Sometimes it causes hallucinations. Not the interesting kind, those that look like something. Just little points of light or fuzziness.
Today has been bad, but obviously not so bad that I can't get on the computer or type (that doesn't happen too often, but it does happen). But I've basically been on the couch or in bed all day. Sundays tend to be my worst day. I spend all week at work, which is kind of a respite, and then on Saturday I have the kids (usually just the morning, though) so Stu can get other stuff done. And I tend to try to do things, and it just hits me by Sunday morning. So I'm prone most of the day.
I'm not asking for sympathy or advice. I'm just doing this in a spirit of sharing information, which is how I found Hitchens' Mortality useful. Ultimately, the pain he suffered from radiation treatments may have prolonged his life some months. The detail of his pain was informative, though -- few will go through and say exactly what it feels like to go through such agonies. I've written to Dan Ariely before about his research into pain perception, but chronic pain not associated with real particular harm is not his focus.
This pain will not kill me -- it's just an almost pure distillation of pain not associated with anything but screwed-up nerves. It would be awesome if it fixed itself, but I don't have much of an expectation of that happening. I know of people who have had surgery for this type of trouble... only to end up with a life of pain medications and being out of their skull most of the time. I will consider surgery only if I can't function at all. Similar to my thought on eye surgery - I'll do that if I will go blind without it. I figure, in both instances, what have I got to lose?
So we shall see. There hasn't been any change since 2011. There's a low level of pain most of the time, and the best I achieve is inattention to it. But it's always there, reminding me I'm alive, I suppose. I definitely don't have to worry about feeling nothing.
PS: Yeahh... I shouldn't have typed something this long. Ugh. It's all over my upper right side now. Back to cute cat videos for me.