Thursday, May 1, 2014

Living With Chronic Pain Part 1: Does Surgery Always Have To Be Scary?

As some of you may or may not know, depending on if you follow me, I have had chronic low back pain for many years.  I recently found out that the supposed cause of all or most of my pain is a synovial or fluid filled cyst about 6 mm by 8 mm pressing and wrapped around my right sciatic nerve root in my lower lumbar spine.  This is supposed to be the cause of all of my low back aching, throbbing and stabbing and also the cause of the numbness, tingling, weakness and burning I have going on in my right leg.

I have also been informed that I have a pars defect. In laments terms this means I have a birth defect in one of my lumbar vertebra causing it to never fully fuse together.  It's a hereditary thing and both my mother and sister have it, as well.  I honestly never thought I would have it, too. 

Knowing what I know now, my life has changed forever.  I have to go in for surgery to have this cyst removed and hopefully reduce if not completely remove this pain that I have every day, regardless of weather or physical condition of the day, I am always in pain.  That's what chronic pain is.

Chronic pain is endless.  It never goes away.  It's always there.  You have your good days, where pain isn't so bad and you can function better than your bad days where you can barely move (today is one of the bad days, I woke up unable to sit forward) but no day is a day without pain.  I'm not even joking about that.

I have no days where I am feeling no pain. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being little to no pain and 10 being the pain of birth which is the greatest pain I've ever felt before in my life, I live, on average, with a pain level of 5-7.  Every. Single. Day.

That's chronic pain.  That's why some days I have no issues getting up and moving and other days it takes me hours, literally HOURS to go and do something that would take an average person only an hour or so.

What takes me so long, you wonder?  I have to motivate myself to want to move.  I am that uncomfortable some days.  So under the knife I go, to find out if getting this cyst removed will decrease my pain at all. 

I have to remember that I have other issues besides just this cyst causing me daily pain but the root of most of my pain is in my back and leg on the right hand side at the base of my spine.  I can't even press on that spot because of increased pain.  I can barely wear tight pants because if they press on that part of my spine in any way I am beyond uncomfortable.

Surgery is a scary thought, for me anyway.  I don't like the idea of being cut open and having someone dig around inside to fix a problem my body created due to extreme stress on that area no matter how skilled or qualified said person is.

I don't like the idea of being completely and totally out of it and having no control over a situation.  That's where the anxiety about surgery comes from.  I don't like not having control of my own life, my own body.

And the panic starts to set in.

Why does surgery always have to be scary?  Because it is.  It's a scary thing.  Your life and all things in it and about it are the hands of another human being.  And it matters to me that he's qualified, Dr. Max Lee, the neurosurgeon who is doing my surgery (whom I will shameless plug because he's the most qualified in his field in my area of the country) but at the same time, it doesn't.

I know this blog is all over the place.  And I'm sorry for that. I try to keep things organized but on bad pain days like today, I just can't.

The reason it matters to me is because I'm not going to let just anyone dig around near my spine with needles and sharp instruments.  I'm also not going to just let anyone with a qualification to do it dig around in their, either though.  I want to think and feel that the person doing this surgery actually cares about me and my well being.  I want to think that they have a heart and are actually worried about how I will fare during and after surgery.  I don't want them thinking I'm just another statistic, another body, another number, another surgery, another dollar sign, etc.

This means a lot to me and worries me at the same time.  I don't like it.  I don't like being scared.  I don't like thinking I may not make it through this with good results.  So I have to stay positive.

Try as I might, that is one of the hardest things for me to do because surgery is scary.  And it always will be.  

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