Monday, September 20, 2010

Drugs and Bitterness


It's been a bit of a summer. Not weatherwise - it was gorgeous - but in terms of my pain and injury levels. The right shoulder has been bitchy for months and when it finally started simmering down just a little bit after the steroid shot about a month ago, the left one took up the cause, apparently thinking that I’d feel lonely without a hefty dose of pain somewhere in my body (note to shoulders: no, I would not). And then the right shoulder felt left out and just around the shift from August to September freaked out completely, making it really difficult to get anything at all done. About a week ago, when both shoulders appear to have someone healed again, something happened to my back causing it to seize up.

Throughout all these various escapades, I threw drugs at the problem and did my best to learn to modify my activities (admittedly, this learning has improved more lately than in the beginning this summer) and because of my new focus on healing my body first, completing the to-do list second, by Friday morning, I felt pretty good. My back was just muttering, my shoulders were simmering in the background and I more or less took the days to quietly putter. Bought groceries for the weekend, talked to friends on the phone, did a teensy amount of work, but stuck to the plan of coddling my body throughout the day and it went so well that a little before midnight, I realized that other than taking my usual dose of painkillers around dinnertime, I hadn’t needed any meds all evening.

And that's when the windowsill jumped out and attacked me.

No? Okay, what really happened was this: I’d finished watching my movie and went to the bedroom to pick up my iPod, located as always on the small tray table I use as a bedside table. It's on wheels and had been put out of the way a little bit closer to the window than normal, which I found out when the windowsill hit the toes on my left foot (the leg that doesn’t bend) and pushed back.

The pain is overwhelming, all-encompassing, there is nothing but the pain and the urge to make it stop. Luckily my instincts are functioning well enough that they know this means I must reverse my wheelchair - which probably took 2-3 seconds, but it feels like hours - but there’s nothing else, because everything shuts down and I become very, very quiet, curling in upon myself as a reaction to the assault. And for a while, I sit there inside a pain so clear and sharp and pure as a sunny morning in Antarctica and then, as I start to reclaim my breath - the nausea doesn't until hit about half an hour later - I assess the damage. How bad is it? It hurts. A lot. Was there a crack? Did I feel a crack? No. Okay, good. Nothing broken, then. Can I curl my toes? Yes, cool. And bend my toes upwards? Sonofabitch! No, I guess that's not a good idea. And for the next little while, I feel very alert as I become very aware of the straps of my sandal as my foot swells and naturally, share the experience with a friendly voice on the phone, talking very fast, because that's what shock does to me. I also try to somehow wiggle an icepack down towards my foot, but it's hopelessly slippery and ends up on the floor where Lucy sniffs it and backs away, almost bouncing off the cold.

As I simmer down again somewhat and my foot simmers up, I start to worry about my transfer, because naturally this happened to my strong leg that does most of the work when I move from chair to other places. And then it hits me that apparently, I am not allowed to have even 24 hours with entirely manageable pain, because someone, somewhere is convinced that…. Well, what? It'll be bad for me? For heaven's sake, it's not even Mercury retrograde! And I'll admit that I'm more than a little put out about this, getting just a tad cranky about the prospect of having to heal yet another injury for several weeks, making the remark that my plans for the weekend are now scuttled, leaving only "drugs and bitterness." And the only thing that saves this from being more melodramatic than a 14-year-old girl with PMS is that it is said with a dollop of humour. The deepest, darkest humour, but at least it's there.

And then I decide to go to bed with a lot of drugs and remember that there is at least the possibility that this might not be as bad as I think it will be. That perhaps Humira and the strength it has allowed me to regain will make it possible for me to bounce back without weeks of healing.

I wake up Saturday morning and the swelling is down. And although the base joints of my toes are aching, more so when I stand to transfer, it doesn't really interfere with the transfer and it appears that I won't have to spend the next several weeks healing this one (universe? Please don't get any ideas. I'll be okay without further injuries for a long while. Go pick on someone else. Better yet, stop picking on anyone!).

And that's when it occurs to me.  Is this what happens to regular people when they hurt themselves?


14 comments:

Sharon said...

Define normal.  

I use a wheelchair 90% of the time, but the bathroom door is too narrow, and I have to use my cane and walk.  Late at night, almost two years ago, I managed to kick the cane, xrays showed I broke a bone in my foot.  The doctor tells me it isn't broken any more, but it still hurts.  And with no health insurance, I can't afford more xrays.  

Since I stopped working, I can't get vicoden any more.  It's not the cost of the drug itself, but the free clinic just won't prescribe it and I can't afford a regular doctor visit each time I need a refill.  Without the pain meds, often I can't sleep.  Pain in my hands and arms that prevent me from doing much is just "normal" now.

Wren said...

Your story was just heartbreaking, Lene. I do so wish that "distance healing" actually worked, because if it did I'd be sending you instant relief from those jammed toes and achy shoulders. And I do understand your frustration. While I'm not plagued with a lot of intense, prolonged pain right now, I certainly have been in the past, and one of my great fears, as one foot flared unbearably, was how I'd manage if the OTHER one flared too. Likewise hands, knees, hips, shoulders... you know the drill.

That you can approach and write about this with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor speaks clearly of your continued courage and incredible strength. You inspire me. I hope that the outraged joints in your foot continue to heal quickly and that the rheuma will give you a nice long break. You deserve it. (((hugs))) 

Squirrel said...

I'm so glad you added that last paragraph where you said you felt a bit better the next day!  Sorry to hear about your accident.  I think when we're trying to be careful sometimes is when we become the most accident prone.  I certainly know that when my fingers are sore and swollen I somehow always manage to jam them in doors, or cut myself on sharp knives, etc.. murphy's law!  Hope you continue to recover.

colleen said...

When my "underlying" health is good, I don't injure myself very often, but if I do, it just heals, usually quickly.   If my underlying health is a problem, then if I get one injury, I get another and another, and none heal very well, then I get sick, and stay sick for a month....

My health is affected a lot from my diet and stress levels and exercise, and PTSD flare ups.   Technically, I can control all but the latter, but since they *all* feed on each other, it can be very hard to break out of a downward spiral.   Breaking out requires doing several, very difficult things (biking, despite pain, yoga, despite all sorts of issue, water aerobics, ditto, stopping worrying, succeeding at mediation, etc...all of them) and then keeping it up for a long time, despite worry that it won't help, while being patient, and believing that it will.

LynnM said...

I'm glad that scene I sent from Lost in Translation  provided a little light relief during this crappy spell. 

AlisonH said...

Wishing I could come wrap the ice pack for you.

I hit the stop button a week ago and turned to step off my new get-me-healthier-again treadmill without remembering to wait for it to actually, y'know, stop.  I have now attained the master rank of black butt in treadmill-kan-do.

Anonymous said...

Yep, that's pretty much what we "normal" folk do.  Swear a bit, take inventory, swear some more, maybe take some OTC painkiller (or a stiff drink) and sleep on it.  That seems to put most boo-boos in perspective and on the road to getting better.

AdrienneS said...

Ha! Sound pretty "regular people" to me... I stub my toe or catch my finger in the drawer or whatever, and go "OW OW OMG OWWEEE OUCH I'M DAMAGED!" and by the next day, it's a bit sore or bruised, but really not damaged.  I'm glad your leg is mostly okay!

Trevor said...

You should get rid of all the windows in your place.  That'll teach 'em.

:)

Diane said...

Hmm, had to "purge" my browser the other day, so now nobody nows it's me (I was guest the other day).  I forgot one thing...try to get sympathy from your family...will only work with the dog, but you can try anyway.<span> </span>

Earin said...

Yeah, that's what happens. I am constantly running into things. I will notice bruises and not remember where I got them. Today I fell over. I was walking and starting to bend to the side to pick up a bag of doggie do when said doggie tugged. (I leave the bag at the start of the trail, pick up as we head out.) I slid on the loose rocks and dirt and down I went. I have some gouges along my ankle but I'm fine.  Sometimes I realize that I'm not being present which is why I didn't notice the rock I clobbered with my foot.  Then again, things just leap out at you. I often swear and say things like, "NOT AGAIN!!! Blast it!!!". Cuts are the worst. I have such a collection of scars.

Earin said...

Yeah, that's what happens. I am constantly running into things. I will notice bruises and not remember where I got them. Today I fell over. I was walking and starting to bend to the side to pick up a bag of doggie do when said doggie tugged. (I leave the bag at the start of the trail, pick up as we head out.) I slid on the loose rocks and dirt and down I went. I have some gouges along my ankle but I'm fine.  Sometimes I realize that I'm not being present which is why I didn't notice the rock I clobbered with my foot.  Then again, things just leap out at you. I often swear and say things like, "NOT AGAIN!!! Blast it!!!". Cuts are the worst. I have such a collection of scars.

Earin said...

Yeah, that's what happens. I am constantly running into things. I will notice bruises and not remember where I got them. Today I fell over. I was walking and starting to bend to the side to pick up a bag of doggie do when said doggie tugged. (I leave the bag at the start of the trail, pick up as we head out.) I slid on the loose rocks and dirt and down I went. I have some gouges along my ankle but I'm fine.  Sometimes I realize that I'm not being present which is why I didn't notice the rock I clobbered with my foot.  Then again, things just leap out at you. I often swear and say things like, "NOT AGAIN!!! Blast it!!!". Cuts are the worst. I have such a collection of scars.

Gaina said...

Ouch! I hope it's at least starting to feel a bit better now.

With regard to your general pain: How long have you had that wheelchair?  Could it be time to re-asses your seating needs?  The change in my pain levels after I got my current chair were quite remarkable so if you even suspect that may be contributing to the frequency of your injuries you need to think about investigating it.