This is a post that is both very personal and is one that I feel others with many different types of pain syndromes can relate to. In order to get to the reasons why myself and others may need outside assistance from a therapist, I am going to go into detail about my own many reasons I am going to work with one. This blog is usually focused on living Well with Fibromyalgia and chronic pain, however, there are many other conditions and syndromes that also cause pain and change one’s life. Today, I am taking the liberty of addressing my conditions beyond Fibromyalgia, that prompted me to schedule time with a therapist. This is not something that we all need, at least not for long or for a long time.
There are numerous other pain conditions I have been experiencing for 22 months now. A predominant one is a my traumatized right knee. This has been yet another type of chronic pain since it began. When I was rear-ended on 12/10/12, my drivers knee was jolted off the brake, and with the force of being hit at 30 mph, it slammed into the steering column. I did not know how bad it was for over three months because my concussion was so intense, causing vertigo, headaches, sensitivity to sounds and light, balance problems and all-over body pain, that I could not get up, let alone out of the house until then. My first day out, with my daughter driving me, my knee immediately began buckling and I limped around. The pain was pretty bad. This continued for over 10 months, despite going to PT. I didn’t and couldn’t go out very often.
After 13 months, my orthopedic doctor decided that I could continue to use a cane indefinitely, and continue to need assistance with virtually every task I had previously performed quite well on my own, including not being able to drive, or we could try to remove the damaged meniscus and debride the Chondra under my femur that was now in tatters. I agreed that this should be done. Five months later I was still using a cane despite icing, elevating and PT exercises. Six months later and I could walk for about an hour in total without a can and occasionally drive for short distance. Two months after that my knee began making grinding and clicking noises. I was experiencing pain similar to the pain levels right after the accident and the first three months after surgery. My orthopedic doctor determined that I now have Chondramacilla Patella Syndrome; the patella doesn’t move in the groove as knee caps should when the leg bends or extends. This is causing bone on bone pain, additionally as the patella moved to the inside of my leg it to rubs against my muscles and tendons. I now am wearing a special knee brace that holds the patella in place. I will have three shots of a bovine synovial fluid injected into my knee cap to try to create more cushioning. Apparently, this fluid mimics and grows the necessary items to create human synovial fluid. Persons who experience damage to their meniscus develop arthritis earlier; I am already being diagnosed with some, early symptoms. My PT is done at home and later, after other procedures, I will begin doing water walking and exercises.
I also experienced a 40% increase in my Fibromyalgia pain from the rear-end. If you have been following my blog you know that I had a plan I created where I lived fairly Well. I had a few bad flares a month, had graduated at 51 with my Masters in Social Work; Mental Health/Therapist and was looking for work. Ever since I began living with chronic pain my dream was to become an advocate and assist those Peers who, like me, did not know where to stop and begin again. Getting such an advanced degree in mental health was a part of my carefully created plan. One that would allow me to do more than just advise on activities of daily life, I could also understand the mental pieces that persons experience.
I also needed to go through a battery of cognitive tests that determined several things. The most distressing to me is the condition know as Post Concussion Syndrome. This is generally thought of as ongoing headaches and vertigo, but it is much more than that. It effects your cognition, causes distressing short-term memory loss, long-term memory losses and the ability to say the correct word despite seeing the correct word in your mind at the same time as you say it. For instance, I may see “Latin” but out comes “Italian”. I had a helper in after my arthoscopic surgery and they found a nice, comfy blue throw. I told her to put it aside as I felt it belonged to my daughter; it turns out that I purchased it the December after my accident for myself. I had no memory of this at all. It has been almost two years now and while my memory was getting better, lately it has been getting worse. There is a rule of thumb that states that if you experience a mTBI and loss of consciousness less than 30 minutes, you should be back to normal with your cognition by the two-year mark. But, if you read research on accredited sites, like the nhi.gov, most persons have lingering issues for the rest of their lives.
It took me almost seven hours to complete the battery of tests, and I am a therapist, meaning I am familiar with the basics of using tests. This made no difference. I was shocked at my inability to focus and the outcome. In addition to being diagnosed with the above, I was also diagnosed with anxiety, depression and PTSD that was reignited from my youth. Being a therapist and not having lots of disposable income, I thought that maybe as my body got better, my mind would as well. The old saying, “build your dreams and God will laugh” has haunted me.
Last but not at all least, I have been suffering from severe epigastric attacks since the beginning of July. I just took my third trip to the ER for the pain two nights ago. I have an endoscope procedure scheduled for next week to determine what is wrong. It could be anything but stress seems to be a fairly obvious cause; stress at the level I have been experiencing for almost two years can create peptic ulcers. I have been seeing at least five doctors a month for the past two years and my medications have greatly increased, in dosage and in amounts to address different issues. This is exhausting in itself, not to mention the cost despite very good health insurance. I write this blog and shortly will be writing a book, but the amount of time I need to spend word smithing and editing due to my cognition condition, is incredible! I spend up to four hours to polish up a post of any of length longer than a few paragraphs. So, please forgive me when I don’t catch a word or two.
Needless to say, I don’t always recognize myself anymore. Everything I post in this blog I still use, but it is much more difficult. I will start seeing a therapist next week, and I am ready. There are just too many health changes, physical and mental, that I can’t change on my own this time. While this is a more personal look into my life, I believe it may assist others facing multiple issues who are trying to tough it out. I really believed this would all have calmed down by now and I would just create new tools to live Well; I can not.
My family and friends have been assisting me with my daily life since the accident that was not my fault. I bless and treasure them. I know that this will get better and no matter what the degree of “better” is, I will be able to use all my knowledge to continue living healthy and Well. Just not on my time schedule. Maybe this was all meant to occur in the grand scheme of things so that I would become an advocate and Life Coach? It definitely allows me a great deal of time to clean out the house of years of accumulated items. More important to me is this blog and the upcoming creation of my book that I hope will change how Peers with pain will be able to interact with their relationships, home life and work, even more important than that I hope it changes how the medical system addresses the issues that surround chronic pain.
If any of you feel trapped by your thoughts, behaviors or pain and can read forums or books but just can’t get yourself to begin applying them, you may wish to consider doing the same as I. While I am going through enough to depress anyone right now, you may only have one condition. That does not dismiss feeling overwhelmed enough that you to need to talk with someone who is real. Not a just yourself after picking up a book, blog or forum.
Have a happy weekend, as usual, any thoughts or feedback please comment here. If you use the search box, enter a keyword and you can find almost any topic on Fibromyalgia, chronic pain and learning how to live Well. If there is a topic you would like to have me blog about, please leave me a comment.
Lucinda Tart, Fibromyalgia Peer Advocate/Life Skills Coach