Pain is one of the most common personal experiences that all humans face at some time in their lives. It is a subjective thing that you cannot quantify or compare because each individual sees his or her pain in their own way. An affected individual can describe their pain in terms of its source, its intensity, and how debilitating it is. The effect of pain on the person or their loved ones forces a person to find ways to resolve their pain whether it is through medicinal or non-medicinal approach. Even religion or spirituality can serve as interpretation and resolution towards pain, the response, and even acceptance.
I deal with three separate pain issues: rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and herniated discs in my neck and back. I have non-stop pain and while so far I have not let it stop me, I have gotten to a point where I have had enough of it. RA and fibro pain don’t exist for me anymore and not because I am remission either – I am not. The back and neck pain from that auto accident back in May surpass any pain that RA and fibro have brought to my life. I have tried medicinal approaches, such as anti-inflammatory medications (Mobic, Arthrotec) and corticosteroid injections and non-medicinal, such as physical therapy and massage, to no avail. My doctor has recommended Epidural Steroid Injections in the neck and back in hopes to avoid surgery. While the pain hasn’t stopped me, it is getting worse. I have horrible headaches and spasms in my face from the herniated discs in my neck and pain in my tailbone area from a whiplash injury that is yet to heal, and sharp pain that radiates into my right leg, my ankle and foot as a result of the herniated disc in my back. I expected the pain to at least get better but instead it got worse.
I met with the pain management doctor earlier in the week. After a lengthy explanation about how epidural steroid injections, I was as white as ghost. I never really expected to be in this much pain six months after the accident and I never expected things to get this far. The procedure involves anesthesia and while it is not surgery, I have the same feelings I would if I were going into surgery. A part of me understands that it is a safe procedure but another part of me has an issue with anesthesia and epidural injections.
I am tired of being in pain. I am tired of relief that only lasts a few hours or days. I need to be me again so that I can go back to my life. My responsibilities haven’t changed but my pain has. Tomorrow is the first epidural injection and there will be one or two after that. The first is for my lower back where there is one herniated disk, the second for my neck where there are two herniated discs, and the third, if the first doesn’t give me relief, will be in the tailbone area because I still have a whiplash injury there. After these three, they will wait three months and repeat the injections if I don’t get relief. They will wait another three months after that and repeat again if necessary. If I am still in pain in nine months, I will need surgery. I want this to work because I don’t plan on having surgery because I fear disability.
Pain is not an easy thing and it is definitely an individual thing. People in my life think just because I keep going (to work, taking care of my kids, other responsibilities, etc.) that I am doing just fine. The fact is, I do what I have to do. I am not really sure what other choice I have. Well, the other choice will be to wallow in my pain and stay in bed, and that’s not my style. People don’t realize that pain is an individual thing. You cannot compare your pain to someone else’s and I think that is where the misunderstanding lies. No one’s pain can possibly be the same.