Monday, November 8, 2010

Chronic Pain and Other Fun Stuff

I've spent the last 48 hours or so feeling extremely sorry for myself while once again spiraling into Dante's hell of chronic pain.  I'm certain that one of the levels of The Inferno was saved for people who have to live with the daily burden of wondering if there isn't something, anything, that won't make the pain go away.

For those of you who don't know, I suffer from the incredibly stupid disease of fibromyalgia, along with various autoimmune problems that apparently to go with it, like osteopenia and arthritis.  I've been lucky enough to find doctors who are willing to work with me and have pretty much figured out how to combine better living through chemistry with old fashioned remedies like heating pads, hot baths, and the incredibly inventive Icy Hot roller to make it through most of my days.

What I can't cope with mentally is when something new and additionally painful hits.  About six months ago, I had a total hysterectomy to try to obliterate the perpetual chronic abdominal pain that had sent me to the emergency room on multiple occasions.  After three kids, multiple ruptured ovarian cysts, and uterine fibroids, I had finally had enough.  It wasn't like I was planning on having any more kids at the age of forty-six.  God knows, three is certainly enough for both me and Justin.  So, I figured that fibromyalgia was plenty to deal with and it was time to take out the equipment for good.  I had heard nothing but good things about the surgery and they are doing wonderful things with laparoscopy now.  The surgeon was fairly confident that I wouldn't need the old fashioned C-section type of surgery that my mother was subjected to back in 1983 and I went into the operation feeling hopeful that my recovery time would be minimal and I would be back on my feet in no time.

What I forgot, in my excitement over the prospect of losing the monthly insanity that goes hand in hand with being female and the removal of the offending organs that were adding to my daily fibro hell, was that sometimes surgery comes with complications.

Before the surgery, I had complained for months about my pants being too tight.  In fact, nothing would fasten or fit.  I wasn't gaining weight.  I simply couldn't zip my pants.  It was not only annoying, it was painful.  I assumed that once they got the problematic organs out, I would return to my normally slender self and the abdominal pain would at least appreciably diminish.  Not so.

I joined an online group which gave support to women undergoing this type of surgery.  There was even a special section for women who were coping with not only female issues, but also fibromyalgia.  I got through the surgery with no complications, was lucky enough to get the laparoscopy as opposed to the surgeon having to open me from stem to stern, and was sent home to recover.

I knew from past experience that having fibromyalgia means that you will take longer to heal from surgery than a person who doesn't have it.  From what I was reading online, it looked like most (normal) women were pretty much back on their feet after this type of surgery within a couple of weeks and almost all back to work within a month.  My mind was certainly ready for activity within a few days and I was definitely bored.  My body just wasn't cooperating.

Over the past six months, I figured I was going to be back into my trusty size 8's and at least the chronic abdominal pain would cease.  Oh well.  I'm definitely not back into my 8's (which most people looking at me just don't believe) and the chronic abdominal pain continues.  There's one thing they don't warn you about when they propose removal of your reproductive organs - adhesions.  Scar tissue which forms in about 90% of people who have abdominal surgery.  And the worst part about it isn't just the fact that the adhesions are painful.  The worst part is that if they go in to do more surgery to break up the adhesions, it will simply cause more adhesions.  Read guess what - if you have a hysterectomy, you are probably still going to have chronic abdominal pain and now there's nothing they can do about it.

I spent about three and a half weeks on my couch recovering after the surgery, causing intense pain in my right leg and hip from lying around too much.  My already protesting muscles, aggravated by the fibromyalgia, were screaming at me to get up and do something.  So, after three and a half weeks, I got up, went back to work, and wore a lot of stretchy pants and dresses, waiting for my waistline to shrink.  Which it has persistently refused to do.  I keep shopping for pants and wondering why I still look like I'm five months pregnant.

This past weekend, I was hit with yet another insult - probably a virus I picked up from my youngest son.  Once again, I found myself lying in bed wondering why the universe hates me so much.  Fibromyalgia isn't fatal, but sometimes it can drive you to assume the fetal position while crying uncontrollably.  Because I've been in bed from whatever it was that has laid me out again, the muscles in my neck, shoulders, back, and hip are again screaming at me.  I am finally coherent enough and physically able enough to be getting up and around a little bit (and hopefully what I am writing is making some sense), but I find myself limping back to the couch after putting one or two dishes in the dishwasher and glaring at the television set, wondering what the hell I did to deserve this.  It's not enough to saddle me with the fibro, universe?  Really?  You have to add on a few viruses on every now and then to add to the fun?  It hurts to stand up from the pelvic adhesions, my mind isn't processing information due to whatever germ I picked up, and I can't lie down comfortably because of the fibro pain.  Maybe I need those anti-gravity boots they used to advertise so I can hang upside down for awhile?

I went back to the surgeon recently to ask him why my waist continues to bloat and my insides continue to hurt.  He said it's possible I have adhesions, but if I do, there's really nothing he can do about it.  I thought I was solving a problem with this surgery, but it turns out that I may have added a problem.  As I lie here on the couch, heating pad on my right leg, wondering what the hell the mechanic told me about my son's car because I can't remember the conversation (probably fibro fog, another lovely side effect of the disease, but more likely fever induced delerium), I have to ask if it isn't somehow possible to go back to being 21 and feeling good again.  Maybe someone can finally invent that time machine you hear about so much and send me back to when normal activity didn't hurt and I didn't spend most of my day wondering when the next dose of pain medication is due.  I want my mommy.

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