pain management

Pain is pain is pain…

…and it’s never going away? What?

I’m facing a dilemma of sorts right now – I have hit what my new pain doctor has not-so-affectionately termed “the black hole of pain”. Nothing hurts more than anything else, so I can’t just point and say “it hurts HERE” (unless I’m pointing, well, everywhere), but everything hurts pretty freaking badly. It was easy when I first started seeing him because I’m right-handed, and the brunt of my pain was on my right side, so I had a goal. But, after four cortisone shots to the areas surrounding my “drain hole” scar, my range of motion has increased and the sharp pains have lessened, putting them on the same pain level with the rest of me, so, now I’m just experiencing a sort of general malaise, and it’s driving me all but mad…


Until two weeks ago, I WAS chewing sodium naproxen and ibuprofen like they were candy, but had stopped taking them in an attempt to get my bearings and find out what my *actual*, un-medicated pain level was. In fact, I was officially off all the meds I was taking (except an over-the-counter antihistamine for my allergies), until about 30 minutes ago, when I had to face facts. Really tough, hard-to-hear facts, and ones that I’m pretty sure Dr. D didn’t like sharing.

You see, the reason I’ve really bonded with Dr. D is because he’s empathized with my desire not to be on medication, and he’s been super patient in letting me try alternative treatments so that I can avoid it (plus, I’ve pretty much run the pharmaceutical gamut). So, today, when he examined me and found my muscles to be tight and spasm-y (again), he looked sad when he said “there isn’t much more we can do, aside from medications”. He knows I hate the pillz. He knows they don’t work well for me. He even knows that I can’t lose weight when I take them… but he was definitely right when he said “you can’t live like this”.

Before the appointment, he had gone through my charts from all the other doctors of doom and noticed that I never tried Celebrex (an NSAID, and fairly benign compared to all the other drugs I’ve tried, honestly), so he handed me a box full of free samples. I explained that the reason I didn’t try it during my “I’ll try anything if it will give me my life back” phase was because my insurance had denied coverage of a previous prescription by the first pain doctor, but he reassured me that if I felt even *remotely* better that he would fight with them and make them cover it… so… drugs. Again. Sigh.

I gave in easily: I’m so tired all the time, and if I don’t have a migraine, I have nerve pain or unbearable itching. Sure, my nerves might still be regenerating (I actually think that’s likely, given my increase in symptoms of late), but I can barely stand lying down some nights, and other times I can’t bear to stand up. There’s no winning with this ghost diagnosis, because you can’t treat something that you can’t see… so, I medicate.

My only other option is surgery, and I just can’t imagine how much I would have to work to amass the kind of leave needed to have it again. The leave I’ve saved since the last surgery is going towards a week’s vacation in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin to see Jason’s family… even if I did need surgery I’d never cancel this trip, because after all the sacrifices he’s made for me, the LEAST I can do is endure some mosquito bites so that he can see his brothers and parents and go fishing a few times. Still, I do find myself longing for more of a “recovery time”, and I daydream about having surgery to allow Dr. B to fix the implant on the left (which has an abominably long recovery period standard) – or even surgery to have the implants removed altogether. I just want my life back.

But, since my “real talk” with Dr. D this morning, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed. When he leveled with me, saying that it would be extremely hard to lose weight right now, and that exercise is just aggravating the inflammation, I wanted to bang my head on the wall. No winning will be had today … unless the Celebrex works. Then we might be having a different conversation in my next visit…