My Curse

I blogged about my aching back a few days ago and am sad to say the situation has not improved. At all.

In fact it got worse. Way worse.

pain got intense, ranking right up there with the intensity of
childbirth and kidney stones. Not only did the pain get worse but the
numbness got worse as well. You know the shocking, jarring feeling when
you whack your funny bone and it sends that stunned arc of pain through
your entire arm? Ya, that began happening all of the time. I lost the
ability to use the last two fingers in my right hand and had severe
weakness in my arm. It was pretty scary to say the least. After
speaking to the urgent care center, Jeff took me to the ER since this
met the definition of an emergency and was outside the scope of an
office visit.

Now, this is where I should fill in some
back-story so you'll see what I mean when I say "my curse". See, I have
a high pain tolerance. One doctor, my urologist, called it "freakishly
high". And what always happens when I am in severe pain one
believes me. Ever. I don't writhe. I don't cry. I don't lose it or show
it outwardly. I sit there dealing with it by going inside my own head.
I cannot show it for some reason. I don't know why but I just can't.
And it never fails, because I don't show pain, even the most severe,
medical personnel do not believe me. It's frustrating.

When I
had appendicitis during my pregnancy with my oldest my OB sent me to
the hospital for a surgeon to evaluate me. Both the nurse who admitted
me and the surgeon felt nothing was wrong because when I said my pain
was a level 10 (on their little pain scale 1=fine 10=worst pain of your
life) they said, "It doesn't look like it." Long story short, I went in
to have the appendectomy and they found it inflamed and ready to burst
and both nurse and doctor stepped all over themselves apologizing to me
for not believing me. "You didn't look like it hurt that bad." No shit.

Another example, after my second was born I went to the doctor
with severe pain in the lower right side of my back. My doctor sent me
to the emergency room where I was, of course, asked what my pain level
was. I answered "10". After a bit I was admitted and the next day an
IVP showed three kidney stones. Long story short (it was a very long
stay filled with lots of horrible events) my urologist had to do
surgery to remove one last stone. I was in serious pain but they didn't
believe me because I wasn't showing it outwardly. After the surgery was
finished, he came to me and apologized for not really understanding how
uncomfortable I was as he just pulled a 9mm stone out of me and that
had to be excruciating.

I have a lot of those stories. It
never fails. Medical professionals have an idea of what they think
severe pain looks like then I come along, in severe pain, and am
discounted as someone who isn't really in any pain at all. So back to

Yesterday in the ER, I was asked the question about
my pain level. I said, "Eight." I have felt worse but it was pretty
bad. They gave me a shot of morphine (lovely stuff!) The doctor
examined me...well, not so much examined but moved my head from
side-to-side and said it's a compressed nerve and he wanted to take
x-rays of my neck. I came back, the morphine had worn off...rather it
only barely took the edge off of the pain and Jeff went out and told
the nurse I was in bad shape again. And we waited...

The doctor
came in and explained the results of the films. The x-rays come back
showing extra bone growth that is compressing my spinal column. And
told me that he thought the acute pain was controlled so I could go. I
asked if the damage to my hand was permanent and that I was still in
severe pain but he said, "I don't know." and walked out of the room. A
minute later a nurse came in to check me out. I signed my name...well,
what I was passing as my name because I could not control my hand. He
handed me a list of prescriptions then said, "the pharmacy will put the
instructions on the bottle" and walked out. That was it.

spent all last night trying to will the Lortab to work better than it
does. It's not. But I got enough of my hand movement back to type! I am
very grateful for backspace though, my fingers are not quite going
where I ask them's still a bit unsettling!

So the moral of this post:

you are in severe pain, medical emergency pain, whine and cry and carry
on about it because having a high pain tolerance does nothing for you.
I am tired of doctors and nurses coming back to me after tests confirm
that ya, I'm pretty miserable and apologizing. And if I am lucky enough
to influence a medical professional--if you use the pain scale then USE
it and believe your patients when they tell you it is severe. People
don't display pain the same way and some people don't show it at all!
Especially if your patient has zero history of abusing pain medicine or
ER frequent fliers!

I'm going back to sleep now.

From Kids in the Suburbs

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