Living in Hell

In the last three years, I have developed such severe back pain that radiates down my legs that it is beginning to control my life and severely limit my activities.

I had polio when I was four years old, and as a result I have always had trouble with balance and grew up with a skinned knee during my entire childhood. At the time I didn't experience pain, but about ten years ago everything started to fall apart. I first had surgery on my right foot, and the next day woke up with temperature and a staph infection in the foot. Bad went to worse, and within three days gangrene had begun in three of my toes. As a result, I lost those toes and was out of work for seven months trying to get rid of the infection in the rest of my foot.

Two days after I had returned to work, I was standing and my right leg just gave way and I fell. When I tried to get up the pain in the right leg was excruciating, and when I was taken to the hospital they told me I had a broken hip. That was another 8 weeks out of work, and when I returned to work I was in mild pain that I thought would go away in time. If anyone has ever heard the saying "it happens in threes," I am living proof of it.

Six months later, I was cooking in the kitchen and was standing in front of the stove when I started feeling warmth on my back. I looked over my shoulder, and the entire back of my dress was on fire. To make a long story short, I spent the next two months in a burn center with third and fourth degree burns over more than 30% if my body. I could not get out of bed for six of those weeks, and when I finally did it was like having to learn to walk all over again. That is when the pain in my back really started.

I continued to work for another two years, but I commuted about 90 miles a day and eventually reached the point that it was so painful to make the trip that I had to go on disability. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, stenosis of the spine, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis that affected my spine as well, and questionable Post Polio Syndrome. My doctor started me on Oxycontin which was like living in a nightmare, and as soon as I could find a way to get off of it I did. That drug should be reserved for terminal patients only.

Over the last three years I have developed sciatica in my left leg, and the pain is unrelenting. For a while I was taking injections in my left hip that alleviated the pain in that leg altogether, but the last one I had didn't work. The doctor told me I couldn't take anymore and sent me back to the orthopaedist.

The pain is chronic and never goes away, but the mornings are especially bad. Pain is what wakes me up every morning, and I can barely make it to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and my pain medication. After I sit for about 30 minutes, the pain subsides enough that I can get up and try to start the day. However, if I am on my feet for longer than 30 minutes, the pain in my left leg gets so severe that I have to sit down until it subsides and then get up and try again.

I dread going to bed at night because I know the pain is going to be so severe the next morning after laying in one position all night. Sometimes I just sit in my recliner all night and doze on and off, which isn't rest at all, but at least I don't have to face that severe, excruciating pain that comes from laying down. As a result I have become reclusive, and it's difficult not to be irritable with people. I have twin grandsons who are three years old, and it kills me that I can't take them places or babysit. There would be no way that I could pick them up without excruciating pain, and my greatest fear is dropping one of them.

For anyone who experiences this kind of pain, my heart goes out to you. I don't think anyone who has never experienced this kind of chronic pain can even relate to the way we live, much less understand it. I will not give up hope, though, and I will keep looking for a way to beat this thing if it's the last thing I do.

I have found that my sense of humor is what sustains me,and not complaining about it to other people helps make it seem not so real. It must work because few people realize that I have a problem unless they know me really well, so I will just continue with my mind over matter attitude until something better comes along. Life is just too important to give in to it, and I keep telling myself "this too shall pass."

Good luck to all of you. - Elizabeth

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