Hello, Dear Bloggites. Have you ever had or known a friend or family member who struggles with Chronic Pain? Have you ever questioned if their pain is truly as severe as they claim it is? I am going to let you know the answer to this question in this blog.
I live with chronic pain. My pain was forced on me when a man decided to drive his company truck pulling a 20-foot trailer carrying an excavator on back high on Ecstasy back in 2005. I was heading to work early on the morning of September 1st. I only remember seeing the headlights heading toward me on a curve. I did not think anything of that because it is not unusual for it to seem like a car is heading toward you on a curve in the dark.
Unfortunately, those headlights were heading toward me. There were two other vehicles that were affected by this man. The first one was a truck whose sides were damaged some. The second was a young fireman in a truck who was decapitated when the driver of the truck over corrected his driving. The last was me.
When the driver that was high on Ecstasy corrected his driving again, he peeled away the left side of my entire car. The EMTs were expecting two fatalities from that accident, however, by the grace of God, I was alive and pinned in my car. The accident caused me to get Compartment Syndrome in my left leg which caused pressure and bleeding to damage my nerves and muscles and prevent oxygen to circulate in my leg.
In order for the EMTs to relieve the pressure, they had to slice my leg open on each side to prevent me from losing my lower left leg. I remember waking up in the ambulance pissed off because I was being strapped in and could not get up to go to work. My next memory was three days later and three or four surgeries later.
I don’t remember most of the time in the hospital except the pain. This pain made me want to rip my skin off my body just to get relief. I had to stay severely drugged up just to be able to speak to anyone. I had conversations with friends and family that I don’t even remember when they state we had long talks about certain subjects.
Can you believe the fear and confusion I lived with in the first year of my recovery and even now? My doctors told me that I may never walk again because of the damage to my pelvic bone and lower spinal area. I was in a wheelchair! I could not understand that my life as I knew it was over. I was the ultimate outdoor chick. I rock climbed, dreamt of climbing K2 one day. I hiked with my kids and friends. I camped out with the Boy Scouts for many years with my kids and dog. And now I was wheelchair bound, possibly for life!
On top of the damaged pelvic bone, the suffering of Compartment Syndrome that caused doctors to have to do a skin graft on my upper left leg to fully seal my lower left leg because they were unable to close the swollen damaged leg; my left Tibia and Fibula were broken. The final issue was a shattered left hip. I had to have a metal hip put in me to replace the shattered hip which has now caused me to have Osteoarthritis at 35 years of age.
Because of the wheelchair, my broken leg was never set properly and when I overcame the damaged pelvic bone and began to walk, my left leg was 3 inches shorter than my right leg. I had to have another surgery to rebreak the left leg, cut off two sections of it, and have a titanium rod put inside my leg to match the length of my right leg.
I was one of the fortunate ones from that fateful day. However, that accident has forever affected my life. I live with chronic pain and although I was able to start walking again, I still suffer with pain in my pelvic bone, my leg, and my hip. This chronic pain rules my life no matter how much I fight to regain the control.
I am unable to go to many activities with my friends or family because I am paralyzed with the pain throughout my body from the damage to my left leg and nerves. My nerves will forever misfire throughout my body causing the inability to use my hands to do simple tasks and even walk or talk at times due to the pain. My friends try to understand, so does my family, but I am sure many of them ask the same question you ask of your friend or family, “Are they really in pain or are they exaggerating it?”.
I promise you, if your family or friend says they are in pain, it is not fake. No one wants to live with chronic pain, and no one wants to have their life out of control due to the pain. Chronic pain sufferers cannot fully express the feelings of what they are experiencing to help anyone truly understand what they are going through. That is the constant fight we suffer with chronic pain. We cannot control it and we cannot fully express the feeling to help the people we know, and love, understand the suffering we have.
So next time you question the true feelings of pain your friend or family member is feeling, you need to first ask yourself if you are willing to accept and love them even if you cannot understand their suffering. We will never be able to express the chronic pain in words for you to understand, but I hope those we love and who loves us, will accept it and still support the sufferer because that, in itself, is what gets us through the pain day by day.