Print Story Pain Management.
By blixco (Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 04:21:17 AM EST) pain, hope (all tags)
Step One: Know Yourself.

There is a lot of room for esoteric nonsense when you're awake at 4am.  The world spins slower in parts, faster in others.  Four in the morning turns into 5am in less than an hour.  It's proven.  I counted the ticks of the clock.  Less of them, and faster, too.

I don't pray.  I do ask stupid questions.  Everyone asks "why me?" and I'm not above it.  That deep cold hour of morning, of course I do.  Pain makes you selfish.  It makes you inconsiderate.  Makes you aware only of your own plight, and fuck the world around you.  They all have no idea.

But some do.  In conversation via email with one, she asks (and I paraphrase): the pain defines what you do, who you are, so what happens when it is gone?

I can hear that wind-in-an-empty-stadium thing, for one.  What if this pain, which has so thoroughly ruled my life, what if it were just....gone?  What has it brought me?  What guidance do I receive from it?  How much easier is my life with this excuse?  This reminder of my mortality?  How much easier is it to just...give...up?

It's a slippery slope filled with narcotic rages.  My wife tells me, "sometimes you're fine and happy and other times you're just so angry."  Yes.  Those times when I am fine and happy, I'm drugged out of my head.  Even a small amount of vicodin (I'm taking 2 a day instead of the prescribed 10) changes everything.  It permeates every breath, colors the pain in bright and beauty.  My leg (it's my back, remember, but you may want to look into radiculopathy) dulls to a dim roar, and the opiates connect to their sockets and I get chemically fucked, sweet and slow and beautiful.  My eyes tear up a lot when I'm looped, everything just feels so beautiful.

And when they wear off, or in the morning when they haven't kicked in?  I am pitiful.  My leg drags behind me, I cannot bend.  Today I bent over to turn the shower on, had a spasm which kicked my legs from underneath me and I fell face-first into the tub.  And normally I'd have laughed it off, but there I was, shower raining cold water on my  still-clothed torso, face planted in the soap scum, and all I could do was cry.

Because it's easier to give up.

I pulled myself up, sure.  And in getting up I taught myself new lessons in threshold.  Internally, we speak a lot about threshold pain, that point at which you black out, where the pain becomes "unbearable."  What can you take?

I can take a lot.  I don't say that to brag, I don't say that because I am tough or because I am compensating for my weakness.  I say that because I know, for a fact, to the Nth detail, exactly how much I can take and you know what?  It's a lot.  My baseline walking pain is about a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, but that is a sliding scale.  I've had whole weeks of today's 10, and it felt more like an 8 at the time, I knew I had more in me with each wave.  I had one night of pain so profound that I started to hear things, my brain overwhelmed after so much signal and so little noise, and right before I passed out, I hallucinated.  Mylar shiny bright things, like oil on water, this wash of transluscent color.  I saw that and knew I was fucked, and I came to about ten minutes later, my leg throbbing.  Everything else that night was easy.

I can take a lot.  It takes a whole lot to break me.  But I think we found it, you and I.  I think we've discovered that fractal edge.  It's not an instantaneous thing, how much I can bear for ten or fifteen hours.  It's how much I can deal with over time, that baseline walking pain.  Turns out I'm not so tough. I'm done past that edge.

I need to manage this.  I can't let it just grab me by the nerve roots and throw me around the room.  Certainly can't rely on these opiates anymore, and withdrawal is going to be a huge pain.  Can't rely on anyone but me to make this work.  And I need for it to work.  I can't be the guy who is crippled by surgery or fear of it.  I need to work with and through this pain the same way I do any other problem.

In two hours I go to see my neurosurgeon and my spine doctor.  I'm on 15mg of vicodin, which makes me brave and loosens my tounge.  I will tell them that I know that look they've been giving me, the "this can't be fixed" look.  I will tell them that there's a program at a hospital in Boston, teaches people to work through it, to bear down and just fucking cope, and they do it through movement and exercise and psychology.  I will tell them that I want to have all the options, mot just the big dollar fuck you money western ones.  And I will start to manage my pain.  And yes, it will hurt.

That's what pain does.

And it's what I do.  But with enough work, and the right kind of support, and hopefully the right sort of approach to physical therapy and mental therapy, hopefully I will be able to get up one morning and look past the bright ball of pain that sits in my right hip.

I'll be able to get over it.


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Pain Management. | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden)
#hugs# by toxicfur (4.00 / 2) #1 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 04:31:40 AM EST
I don't know what to say except that I ache for you. Pain is such a  solitary thing, something that no one else can share or understand. Really understand, I mean. Empathy has its limits, and you bear your own burden alone. Nothing's harder than that, I think. And I pray that you find a solution, that the pain won't continue to rule.
damn it, lif eis actually really *far4 too good at tghe momnent, shboyukbnt;t whilen. --Dr Thrustgood
Thanks. by blixco (4.00 / 2) #2 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 04:36:44 AM EST
And yes, it's un-knowable.  But it's not completely alien; we've all been in pain.

My least favorite thing, though, is when people ask me how I'm doing.  How my back is.  Because I never have good news, it's never a good answer.  So I either lie or I change the subject.

Because after a while, that sympathy becomes unnerving.  It's part of that slippery slope.  I don't want sympathy, it doesn't help any of us.  What I want is voiced only internally, where it belongs.

All that being said, I very much appreciate your words, and the thoughts and words of my friends here and elsewhere.  They help me maintain my strength, which at this point is fueled only by hope.
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco

[ Parent ]
Pain... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 05:39:01 AM EST
You'll get there.

If you're close to the edge, but are trying to slip off the drugs I would vote for:

physical + mental + yoga.

I disdained the mental for too long, once I found it I wished I'd started it earlier and my pain tolerance is nowhere near yours, I reckon.

[ Parent ]
can you elaborate by 606 (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 10:38:33 AM EST
on the mental aspect? I'm curious.

imagine dancing banana here
[ Parent ]
hmm.. by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 10:48:35 AM EST
not sure where to begin really. I'm not a great proselytiser.

Basically, there's two prosaic parts to it.

  1. Some kind of meditation (for example) can help take the mind off the pain a bit. It's not magic (usually) but hey, every bit helps.
  2. The real problem with constant pain is that it starts to drive your mental state around the bend. Meditation and other therapies can take the edge off that too.

[ Parent ]
Wow. In synch cheerful diarys. by Alice Pulley (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 05:05:46 AM EST
Seriously though, good luck. And thanks - puts my stuff in perspective because at least mine is in my own hands. Makes me feel a bit more determined.


'But they're adults and perfectly capable of working it out themselves. And if not, well, fuck em.' - Nebbish '06.

It's a tough day on HuSi. by blixco (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 05:11:23 AM EST
We're all OK.  We just need a moment.
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco
[ Parent ]
Yeah. by Alice Pulley (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 05:15:03 AM EST
I nearly didn't post 'cos it was a bit depressing. I think admitting it in writing helps me though. The more people I admit to, the harder it is to deny it.


'But they're adults and perfectly capable of working it out themselves. And if not, well, fuck em.' - Nebbish '06.

[ Parent ]
Tried TENS? by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 05:49:29 AM EST
If not, it might be worth a try, even if it only gets the level down a notch.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
Yep. by blixco (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 05:52:35 AM EST
I have a tens unit at home, and I get treatments when I go to my chiro.  It helps a bit.  I'm looking at getting one of the belts that has the pads built-in, so I can wear it at work.

A guy here with a permanently fucked up back (he broke it falling off the deck of a ship onto a gunning deck) has one implanted in his body.  I will hopefully never need that much bionic work.
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco

[ Parent ]
Then I guess you're pretty much boned by Rogerborg (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 06:02:43 AM EST
All that's left is prayer, or if you're really desperate, homeopathy or acupuncture.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
[ Parent ]
Or by blixco (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 06:04:31 AM EST
just dealing with the pain.

Which is what I'm shooting for.  If there's no solution, then there's at least a way to turn the volume down on it.  And it apparently involves hard work and exercise.  So I'm fucked!
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco

[ Parent ]
A stabbing pain in your hip, and you buy Macs? by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 06:54:33 AM EST
Which pocket do you keep your wallet in?

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
[ Parent ]
Hah! by blixco (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 07:22:36 AM EST
You're on to something.  I have a distinct list to the left, too....
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco
[ Parent ]
that blows. by clock (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 06:03:55 AM EST
and when it's not blowing, it sucks.  and not in that good way.

get some peace.  just a little.  that's all we can do.

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

tough by clover kicker (4.00 / 2) #14 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 08:01:41 AM EST
I think most people are tougher than they think.
You're only ever as tough as you need to be. In our pampered age, that isn't very tough. But when the time comes...

I'm no expert, but I think you need to hit the drugs hard enough to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is cumulative. Pain is very tiring at the best of times.

My pain stories are a little different, I might write something up later.

My pain was rehab. I was doing it to myself, I could stop any time I wanted.

Pain was the price of getting better. How much pain will a man tolerate to regain flexibility, to rebuild muscles?

I remember laying in bed doing arm curls with a 10oz can of soup. It took days before I could completely lift that can, and I remember lying there, exhausted, tears running down my face with a fucking soup can in my fist. One fucking rep with a fucking 10oz weight, and oh yes, it was a fucking accomplishment.

I can tell muscle pain from joint pain, I can show you which tendon needs a bit more stretching. I know what it feels like to over-work a muscle and set myself back a week. But I can't describe it, there are no words.

In water, there is 75% less weight on your back by debacle (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 11:01:50 AM EST
Just something to think about.


I can see blixco now. by calla (4.00 / 1) #21 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 11:34:34 AM EST

[ Parent ]
What are you without pain? by calla (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 11:09:12 AM EST
WTF? a robot? Life is pain. 'nuff said.

Of course, your pain is insane. A little less pain for blixy, plz.

Not that I want to be a bitch about this, but would you still have all the creative energy for your stories if you didn't have all the pain?

If I could, I'd take your pain. But I won't, not just because I can't, but because I don't want to interfere with your desires. You picked this pain. Because you are strong. Because you thought you deserved it. Because... why?

I didn't pick it. by blixco (4.00 / 1) #19 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 11:13:04 AM EST
And life ain't pain.  It's a whole range of other stuff.
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco
[ Parent ]
I should probably know this by calla (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 11:25:52 AM EST
but how did it happen? Something brought on this pain - right?

Life is the whole rainbow of emotions. Unfortunately most of us choose pain.

[ Parent ]
Thirteen years of computer work. by blixco (4.00 / 1) #22 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 11:55:58 AM EST
Disks degenerate / get all fucked up over time like that.

I'm not about choice wrt pain.  I can choose to not let it bug me, I can do a hell of a lot of physical therapy, but I can't turn off the electrical signals that cause the pain.
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco

[ Parent ]
If yu come to Boston by molasses (4.00 / 1) #23 Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 01:04:44 PM EST
we'll visit.  :)

Rizzo might have something for you to try.  Give us a few weeks and we'll let you know. Nothing harmful (or illegal) but it could help.

Until then my friend, rock on as best you can and know we're all out her thinkin' about ya. (not that it helps much, but maybe in the darkest of hours, it's good ot know you've got friends).


Pain Management. | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden)