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September Is Pain Awareness Month

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Graphic that says "sharing your story is the first step to creating change. #letstalkaboutpain Pain Awareness Month 2019
Pain Awareness Month Graphic

Chronic pain is a reality for millions of people. Heck pain is a natural, normal part of life and existence. But what happens when after a few weeks the pain is still there? You transition from acute pain to chronic pain. Chronic pain can happen after an injury, illness or medical procedure.

Sometimes these things can lead to long term disabilities and affect your lifestyle. That's exactly what chronic pain has done to me. So how you ask...well here is my story...

When I was 18 years old...I am now 40 years old...I was delivering pizzas for Little Caesars at night and I worked as a courier by day. One night I was out on a delivery and I got to the house I was supposed to be at. They had cars in the driveway and stuff blocking the walking path. So I walked across the grass. It was a night and pretty dark. I could feel it was slippery like they had just watered it. So I was trying to be careful. I made it to the door and did my delivery. On my way back to my car...I hit an especially slick patch of grass and my legs flew up from under me!! Down I went onto my coccyx or tailbone.

It didn't really hurt at first. I was just covered in mud. I went back to the store and told my manager "hey, I fell, I am ok but I need to change clothes". Or so I thought...

I went home and as I was driving I started feeling some pain and stiffness in my back. By the time I got to my house I was barely able to walk. I told my mom what happened because I was still living at home. She said "you are going to the hospital". So I called work and got the worker's comp info and told them I needed to go to the ER.

By the time I got to the ER I was in so much pain I couldn't stand, sit or lay down without excruciating pain!!

They did x-rays and no damage to the bones but my muscles were extremely traumatized by it. They gave me some muscle relaxers and pain pills and told me to go see my primary care. I did the following day. My primary care sent me to physical therapy.

I was out of work and doing physical therapy 3 times a week for 3 months. I was on muscle relaxers and pain pills. At the end of 3 months the physical therapist said "that's all the better we can get will have pain the rest of your life."

Can you imagine how I felt at 18?! Being told I will just have pain the rest of my life. My primary care said he would give me pain pills but I opted for ibuprofen and started taking 800 mg of it 4 times per day.

Fast forward until I am 25. I started truck driving because my husband was one and we were going to try and earn some money. I started having really bad left knee pain and I couldn't push the clutch in on the truck. So I went to my primary care.

This is a different doctor then the one I had when I was 18. Just to clarify. This one told me he suspected I had arthritis but didn't want to diagnose me because of my age. Because of my age!!! All it would have taken was a simple x-ray to diagnose. So needless to say I got a new primary care.

Fast forward to years later and a different town and a different primary care. I was in my early 30's and I was working full time as a certified nursing assistant or CNA. I was also going to college part time. I was volunteering for the American Red Cross and I was my daughter's Girl Scout Troop Leader. So I was a busy girl.

3 women, 2 men and 1 child standing in front of a white car with red and white balloons
Disabled Disney and 3 other Red Cross Volunteers at a Christmas Parade

I was walking from my bedroom to my living room one night and BAM!!! my left knee that was so bad I couldn't put any weight on it. I hobbled into my room and got it elevated and ice on it. I taught first aid and was a CNA so I knew what to do. The next morning I got up for work and it was swollen...and still hurt too much to bear I went to Urgent Care.

They did an x-ray but thought it was just muscle strain. Gave me some muscle relaxers and pain meds and a note off of work, oh... and crutches and to go see an orthopedic if it wasn't better in 7 days.

Do you know what?

It wasn't better in 7 days!!

So I got into an orthopedic doctor and he ordered an MRI. He said I think it's a torn ligament. The MRI didn't really show anything so he suggested surgery. I hate surgery so I asked for another option. He said physical therapy so off to them I went. They got me off the crutches but I still couldn't really bear weight let alone do my job as a CNA. So I finally gave in to surgery.

The result of that was...I had a torn meniscus and arthritis and...I'll probably have pain the rest of my life....Again that sentence.....PAIN THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!!

At the same time I was having horrible cramps and my gynecologist diagnosed me with endometriosis. About 2 years after my knee surgery I had to have a complete hysterectomy. I was 33.

I'm sure I was experiencing the fibromyalgia pain. But all the other pain was so bad...I didn't realize it. Life happened and we had a big move so another change in primary care. By this time I had taken so much ibuprofen it had messed up my stomach and it was causing my blood pressure to sky rocket.

So a doctor told me no more ibuprofen. My new primary care said I am going to send you to pain management. And I think you have fibromyalgia. And the pain management doctor agreed.

So now....I have my back injury and pain from that...arthritis and pain from that....endometriosis and surgery and probably scar tissue from that and fibromyalgia. Oh and I can't take ibuprofen anymore and it was the one thing that helped me.

I was going to pain management for several years and taking a light narcotic. Then about 5 years ago I started having some cognitive problems. And they keep getting worse. So they don't want me on narcotics. For the last 4 years, I have had no pain meds. Zero, nothing, nada for my pain.

I recently went to a rheumatologist and he diagnosed me with severe fibromyalgia. He told me I need to be on pain meds. So I am currently trying Lyrica.

So that's my pain story. I use a cane, wheelchair or mobility scooter. I can't stand very long or walk very far anymore. And I have constant muscle cramping.

If you need medical supplies or equipment make sure you check out The Wright Stuff. They have adaptive equipment, arthritis products, things to help caregivers and so much more!

So whats your pain story? Tell me in the comments! Use #letstalkaboutpain on social media. Check out how you can be apart of the solution with U.S.Pain Foundation and Pain Awareness Month.

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