He was a genius. People came from all over the world for his surgeries and relief from the dictator named Chronic Pain, and I lived in the very city where he operated.
He advised the surgery was experimental, as my nerve injury was quite rare. He’d performed this surgery only six times, but was certain it would help immediately.
Two weeks later at my follow up appointment, I was in tears. The pain was the same. It consumed my body and controlled my life.
The doctor who had been so supportive and caring, became defensive and angry. He’d done the surgery, therefore I was fine. He said I was not realistic. Everybody has aches and pains, I needed to accept mine and get on with life. He saw my misty eyes and determined I was depressed. (It didn’t take a genius to figure that out.) I shook my head at his indignant manner, as he raised his voice and declared me cured.
Every fiber in my body ached. It hurt to hold up my head or move my right arm. My shoulders and back felt like raw meat, and taking a deep breath made me wince. And though I knew his surgery wouldn’t help the sciatica and constant back pain, it didn’t help that it hurt just to sit there.
I don’t recommend it but I admit, I raised my voice right back at him. I listed the parts of my body that had hurt every moment for the past 18 months. I reminded him of all I had lost as a result: my career, income, active lifestyle and friends. The parts he said he “fixed” still screamed with pain. Perhaps his surgery did not work.
His defense was to yell back and declare I had psychological problems. I was dismissed from his practice. He stood, left the room and slammed the door.
The nurse came in, appearing frazzled. “Nobody has ever talked to him like that.”
Then she smiled.
I didn’t know whether to be proud or ashamed. I hurt too much to care.
That encounter happened nine years ago. Thank God, I ignored the advice of that doctor. I refused to accept I would always be controlled by pain. I am grateful to say I have improved more than I dreamed possible. I still hurt, but it is nothing like it was.
Progress did not come in big solutions. Honest, if the surgery had worked, I would’ve been thrilled. But for me, progress has taken many long, slow, frustrating years.
Progress with pain has come like small pieces to a puzzle. Little by little a multi-faceted approach of physical therapy (both demanding and gentle), massage, counseling, medications, acupuncture, dry needling, diet changes, surgical injections, exercise, adaptive equipment, lifestyle changes and rest have given me back my life.
Pain cannot be seen, there is no X-ray or MRI that can show or measure it.
Pain is very complicated.
Sometimes it is overwhelming.
But there is a good chance, no matter how much you hurt, over time you can regain control of your life.
Piece by piece, you can put your life back together. Don’t give up.
Don’t ever give up.