Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On Chronic Pain

This is a disheartening post to write, and even more disheartening to write at 2:27 in the morning when I am exhausted yet unable to sleep - but were I not exhausted yet unable to sleep at 2:27 in the morning, I likely wouldn't be reflecting on chronic pain. 

Nine years and one month ago to the day (you remember things like this, believe me), I tripped, while jogging, on an extra-wide crack in a sidewalk in North Oakland. My body went uuuuup into the air and, instinctively, to avoid breaking the MP3 player I was carrying, I twisted to the side and came down not on my hands/wrists, but on my left hip. 115 pounds off the ground, then down on that hip with a splat

The rest is history. Except it's not. B/c every day for the past 9 years and 1 month (that's 109 months for anyone doing the math) I have endured hip and/or back pain as a result of this fall. 

Some days it's not so bad. I can go entire weeks without thinking much about it, not b/c I don't hurt but b/c after years and years a person learns to tolerate quite a bit. 

But sometimes, like these days, it's tremendous pain; pain that keeps me from sleeping even though I am so far beyond tired I feel nauseated; pain that makes it difficult or impossible to work out, to ride in the car for long periods, to sit in the same position for more than 5 minutes at a time; pain that has me pacing the floors at 3:00 a.m., stretching 2, 3, 4 times a day to get a bit of relief; pain that has me waking Brad up in the wee hours so he can rub my hip again.  

Yeah, it ain't fun. And it's only gotten worse with the pressure of a little human who's getting bigger day by day and weighing me down in the most off-kilter sort of way. Not to mention the only thing that offers relief when things are really bad is sleeping on my belly . . . obviously not at option here at 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant. 

And b/c I did the medical whole circuit years ago - 3 orthopedists, a rheumatologist, physical therapists, chiropractors, two UPMC sports medicine specialists - I know that this pain isn't going away. Ever. Misdiagnosis, failed diagnosis, an almost major surgery - the list of what I've gone through with this hip just goes on and on. 

A beloved former professor of mine died recently, a man who suffered from a painful illness for years and years. I remember him telling me, as a sophomore in college, what it was like: how the meds he needed for the pain dulled his ability to work, to be sharp, put him in a fog, but how the pain he felt without the meds made life just as awful. 

It was a sh*t situation anyway you cut it, and I've never forgotten my conversation with this wonderful man and teacher outside of our class building on a sunny afternoon long ago. I was only, what, 19? and had no personal concept of the kind of pain that can plague a person for way too long, the kind that weighs not only on your body but on your mind. It wears you out, takes a big-time toll. Even when it's not 2:52 a.m. 

Unfortunately, it would only be another year or so until my blissful ignorance went splat on the sidewalk. I'm sorry, but Bob Seger's all too appropriate here: wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then. 

1 comment:

  1. Ouch! I'll bet that hurt. So sorry to hear this.