We Need to Talk

Let’s talk about chronic pain. I mean, big whoop… Man up, right?

NO!

Let’s go for some empathy here… Ladies – imagine having bad period cramps all month long. Guys – imagine being kicked in the balls and being told that lingering pain is going to stick with you every day for the rest of your life. Ever broken a bone? That pain is here to stay! Got a bikini wax? Yep, you guessed it, that pain becomes chronic.

Now, that’s not reality (praise Jesus!) But let’s just think about a pain that we get, and then imagine it never going away… Ever.

Enter stage left – chronic pain! Enter stage right – medication overuse syndrome, causing even more chronic pain. A vicious cycle of pain.

Pain, pain, pain.

… Did I mention pain? 😉

It’s something so easy to overlook. I even did it myself for many many years, before the universe kicked me in the ass and said “Dear Laura, we think you could use some daily pain. Please see attached. Kind regards, The Universe.”

Slowly, but surely, I started to understand. And regretted every single day that I lived in ignorance, that I scoffed at people ‘complaining’ about their pain. Well, I got my comeuppance for that, let me tell you!

But in all seriousness, the affect that chronic pain has on all aspect of a person’s quality of life, as well as mental health, is a really freaking huge issue. It SUCKS! 

I’m a happy, positive, and bubbly human. But when that pain hits… BAM! I’m irritable, down in the dumps, and straight up pissed off. Not to mention the anxiety and panic attacks! Because being able to do everything I used to do on a daily basis would be pretty darn sweet, but apparently too much to ask.  *Face palm*

The frustration is real, it’s constant, it’s debilitating and confusing. Do I stay in bed and rest? Do I try walk it off? Do some stretches? Heat therapy? Magnesium oil? Pain killers…? All of the above (most likely?)

Let’s talk about loss. Every little thing that you stop being able to do, or stop being able to do as often. Loss of jobs, ability to exercise, ability to socialise, ability to drink a bottle of wine and not pay for it for a whole week… Let’s talk about relationships – the ones who have stayed and the ones who have left. The friends and family that patiently sit on the sidelines, trying to be supportive, while also incredibly frustrated.
And I feel for them – because we all want so desperately to have someone to blame, but lacking that element. Wanting to point a finger and scream at someone until all that frustration is out and you feel SO much better. They wish they could blame me, but know very well that it’s not my fault. I often wonder if I’d feel better if they did blame me – if that would ease the inexplicable and unrelenting guilt I feel.

What about all the times that I wish to God that I could work off my frustration and anger during a flare up by going for a jog or bashing the crap out of my boxing bag, but my pain prevents me… LOL – universe kicking us in the balls again, am I right?!

So, you lie there, resting, using any type of therapy possible to get through the pain, while suffocating in a plastic bubble of frustration and anxiety. You literally can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t focus, can’t even verbalise how you’re feeling to your loved ones – because you’re being thrown around in a huge dumping wave, thrashing, trapped in a reality that not only isn’t fair, but should never have been yours to begin with.

I’m in pain almost every single night when I’m trying to sleep – did you know that? My hips, my knees, my legs in general… Occasionally my elbows and/or my head. My medications make the day time pain less of an issue, but it’s always there. Simply being repressed by medicine.

Does that sound restful? Let me answer that for you… It’s not.

Guys, how are your balls feeling? Ladies, picturing that bikini wax? I hope you’ve kept that in mind while reading this. I hope it’s given you even a small amount of understanding for what chronic pain sufferers deal with almost every single day of their lives – all while attempting to act normal, for fear that everyone will abandon you if they knew the truth.

Because those people? They’re what keeps them going. Don’t forget that.

Thirty-one Needles

Are you afraid of needles? Well, so am I. Not so much afraid of the needles themselves, but more of the pain they inflict when they’re stabbed into your skin.

Yes, I am a wuss when it comes to anything sharp and prickly. Especially when what’s being injected happens to have it’s own painful effect.

So, it may surprise all of you, including myself, to hear that I had 31 needles of Botox injected into my forehead, head, neck and shoulders today. I’m still in a state of ‘WTF just happened?!’

When I left the house today to go to my second appointment with my neurologist, I knew we would discuss the possibility of Botox, since she had mentioned in my first appointment that I was eligible early due to the severity and consistency of my migraines. So, I had planned to tell her that yes, I would very much be interested and discussing Botox further, as I would sick of using so many medications to stabilise my condition.

I walked into her office and told her how my migraines and headaches have both improved on the medications, but that I was still somewhat afflicted. She told me that I was sweet, and she could see that I’m smiling through it, but that my answers were pointing towards too much of a problem, that it was her job to do better.

Let’s all just take a second to thank whatever god we all believe in that there are doctors with as much compassion and empathy as her in this world. She restored my hope, that’s for sure. She had no intention to give up on me or my unexplained pain.

But, what she said next had my palms sweating instantly. “Well, you came on a good day, I can do the Botox right now if you like.”

The look on my face told her exactly what I was feeling. “You’re not good with needles are you?” No Doctor, I most certainly am not. That being said, I’ve had enough blood tests in the past 2 years to not even blink when I get them done… But 31 needles into my head is a whole other kettle of fish.

My response surprised both of us. “I have this gut feeling that I should just man up and do it right now before I change my mind.”

So, she didn’t waste any time in getting the injections ready while I laid down on the table, holding a little purple stress ball in the shape of a brain, to help me relax (and prevent me from passing the fuck out!)

Then began the torture. One needle at a time, each a different degree of pain, each making me stress more than the last – all while my doctor tried to make jokes to calm me down. She didn’t do too bad either I must say. She had me giggling through the pain, and told me I’d done the best she’s seen so far, not one swear word left my mouth!

I left the office with my head feeling like it was on fire. ‘Stingy’, which is how she described it, is an understatement. Knowing that in 12 weeks I will have to do it all over again, and again, and again, and may not notice a difference until the second of third treatment (lord help me.)

I also happen to have a very delayed response when it comes to the whole ‘passing out’ thing. So I felt like I was in another world and like I would fall down any second as I started the very long and torturous one and a half hour train ride home. On a 40 degree day I might add.

I felt very sore and sorry for myself by the end of that day. I felt emotionally exhausted. Another painful treatment, another $300, another doctors visit that I went through alone with no one to hold my hand other than a purple brain for a stress ball and the stranger that is my doctor (no matter how lovely she is.)

I feel like a test subject on any given day, still waiting for answers and having no idea what is causing these painful and debilitating symptoms. Enduring judgement and unsolicited advice left, right, and center. Everyone telling me what’s best for my health and trying to make important life decisions for me. Losing friends because I simply can’t do what I used to, and some people can’t understand that. Looking healthy, but feeling broken.

Thirty-one needles – a treatment for chronic migraines but a symbol for the ongoing painful treatments for a condition that can’t be explained, and the isolation that comes with that.