Pain Management

This morning, I woke up in pain. I have a pinched radial nerve due to arthritic bones and a couple of herniated discs. I had intended to write about this from a health system perspective because it was a journey through our healthcare system to get a diagnosis. However, my thoughts this morning, as I lay in pain, is to describe an acute attack of pain. Consequently, I will reveal how my faith helps me in my day to day life.

This morning I woke up in pain. My husband, Matt, woke me because I was snoring. He mentioned that I was contorted in a weird position due to my neck pain. As I attempted to move, I realized I had slept through my midnight medicine and was 12 hours away from my last dose of any type of medicine.

I say any type of medicine because this type e of pain requires a lot of medicine. I have a routine of Tylenol, Advill, a muscle relaxant, a narcotic, benadryl, a topical anesthetic, massage, heat, meditation and physical therapy.

This morning, when I woke up in pain, Matt brought me the narcotic first. As he went to my basket of medicines to get my arsenal, I went to the bathroom. He said, thirty minutes to help because he knew how long it would take for the medicine to get to the pain. I began a spread sheet of medicines and pain ratings to determine which medicines were working for me. So, he knew the narcotic was the fastest acting.

Going to the bathroom is hard. My arm is weak from pain. I cannot use my arm well and the pain affects my ability to wipe my bottom. I realize what, I’m guessing, every person with a disability thinks, i am a burden on my family. My husband and children are scared. They all want to help me. They can’t. No one can. My children are scared. They see me cry in pain. They know I cannot move to do my normal chores for them. I wipe my bottom, and I cry in pain. Matt returns with my medicine.

I take a handful of pills. I try to go back to bed. Matt peels a lidocaine patch to put on my back. I am still in level 9 pain, I am not crying. Crying is level 10, unbearable. At this point, I begin my mantras. My faith filled mantras that I use everyday. I pray. Thank you God for Matt. When we first spoke, I interviewed hime to learn what kind of man he was. I was not going to date anyone who wasn’t catholic. He is. Again he says, you will have relief in about 20 minutes. Then he says, that’s a rosary.

I ask him to please pray a rosary with me. We pray the rosary regularly. But, we used it when I was in labor to mark time and help with pain. It didn’t really help with labor pain, but it was a time marker for contractions and labor progress. We walked the hospital halls praying and I would stop for contractions. He hands me the rosary his mother brought him from Ireland. I can’t even pinch the beads. My hands have become weak.

We begin to pray. At first, I could barely speak. Thankfully, I could hear Matt leading and I put in words where I could. I try to change position to alleviate pain. It doesn’t work. We walk in the living room where the massager is plugged in and he begins to massage my back. I say, that’s why there are beads and we begin where we left off. Hail Mary full of grace . . .

This time, the prayer helps. Somewhere in the middle of the prayer, I can talk, the pain is going away. This time, the rosary is not a time keeper for contractions. This time, it is a meditation. The meditation takes away the pain. I am grateful. I continue to think with gratitude.

The sun rises and the kids begin to trickle into the living room. We finish the rosary and my pain is now bearable as long as I do not move in nerve offending ways. I am grateful there is a surgery to open the gap for my nerve to work again. I am grateful for may family. I am grateful for the rosary. Because of it, I can meditate on the suffering of Christ and join him in pain. I can pray for friends and family as I ask Jesus to take my pain, take His pain away and ask the my pain be an offering for others.

I blog to help others. I had not intended to discuss religion. I cannot say I will not discuss my faith again, but it is not the intention of my blogging. If you are not religious, you might substitute meditation for prayer. There is a connection between meditation and pain. I was deeply affected when I realized that even when I could not talk, I could hear Matt and deep down there was a way to disassociate from pain and go to a holy place. I could cling to the repetition and know exactly where the pain would go away. Each decade was a time keeper for the medicine to work and a way to meditate the pain away through gratitude.

I write this three hours after waking and I can move my neck, sit up and walk without excruciating pain. Thank God. I am grateful for medicine. I will write about our system of healthcare in a future blog. For now, I wish for my friends to never feel this pain. If you do, I hope you know I understand your pain and hope you find something in this blog post to help you.

This type of pain, requires many pathways to relief. I use a spreadsheet to monitor exactly which combination of medicine gives me the best relief. Consequently, I know what will help. Matt knew what to do. He gave me a handful of medicine that attacks the pain in every way we have available. I have one week and six days to an injection that will help. And, I have submitted a request to my insurance for a surgery that has a 90% success rate and permanent fix. I do not understand the connection of pain, trauma and death that makes me grateful. But, I am grateful.