I had an epidural: anaesthetic and cortisone. For a few hours I was absolutely pain free. A feeling like pure whiteness; there was no background buzz of pain. It must be like this when tinnitus stops. Then a bone wearying ache, followed by two weeks of gruelling pain. I constantly rated an 8 out of10.
Then suddenly, the pain grew less, I halved my painkillers. I was busy, happy, engrossed. Doors opened. I was not pain-free, but I wasn't planning my day round pain. I could see my path widening, dancing ahead. We planned to go to England to see the grandchildren.
Then the pain came back – and it came back angry. First, the feeling of a red hot poker boring into my sacrum, then the feeling of bones locked and rough, then the exhaustion and the ache. We went out for dinner with friends. I took extra pain killer and ran my TENS throughout the meal. I managed just over an hour. We cut it short, brought dessert back in a box. I felt as if I had been beaten.
One month of hope, planning, expectation – and back into prison. “I don't want to go back,” my spirit wailed – and the cat moved closer in consolation, her eyes intent and questioning.
I don't want the pain, but even more I don't want the burden, the effort of coping, being determinedly cheerful, not minding. There has to be a better way! But what? How can I handle it differently? Somehow, if I could just get to a spot where it doesn't matter, lose the effort, accept, stop trying in case people lose patience with me, stop including me. Most of all, what it costs my husband to support me, see his life corralled by my pain. But how?
I wrote this two years ago and put it away. Life was at a particularly low ebb as, in addition, Bill had just been diagnosed with heart failure. Now on rereading, I can see how far I have come. My back is still bad and I have to work round it and accept limitations. I just looked through a flyer for art classes – no way could I sit through one. But I seem to have reached a place where I am stronger than the pain. It still isn't easy, and I have to be tough with myself, but I feel confident – and happy. So am posting this so that perhaps someone else at that point with pain may take heart. In my next post I will try to trace the steps that led me from there to here.