Monthly Archive: April 2013

I’m still in pain. And I still don’t know why.

I’m still in pain.

Like all the time.

I haven’t killed myself.

I figured I should a write a post saying that in case you’re the one reader here who’s not my friend in real life or on Facebook and you’re worried I ended it all based on my last post. 

I haven’t.

I’m still in near constant pain though.

My only symptom seems to be horrible stabbing pain on my lower right ribs all the time and then it hurts when you even slightly touch anywhere on my right rib, including my right boob. (I can say “boob” right? Even though I’m a youth leader? Or is there a more Christian term for that part of my body? I can’t think of one).

Anyway, so they laid a small tube across my right chest during the MRI I had of my spine and my throat Monday and the tube was connected to something I could squeeze if I needed help. Within minutes I was crying from pain because it was too much pressure on my chest and I had to have them move it. And I can’t wear a stretchy tank tops because it’s too much pressure on my chest and it hurts like hell. (“Hell” is in the Bible. I can say that).

The pain has been very hard to deal with.

My friend told me yesterday that his dad used to say that nothing deteriorates your mental health faster than constant physical pain. He’s right.

If you seriously knew how often I genuinely considered killing myself over the last couple months you would be shocked. I’m shocked.

I’m trying to sleep a lot and I keep waiting for the next doctor’s appointment hoping that I will finally get some help, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Prayers are appreciated.

Basically, the MRI’s of my spine and my throat came back clear, which means I don’t have a pinched nerve. They don’t think it’s costochondritis because it doesn’t seem to respond to anti-inflammatories. They’ve given up on the idea of shingles. They have no idea why the intercostal nerve block didn’t work.

The pain specialist basically told me on Monday that it’s nerve pain. They don’t know what caused it. They probably will never know what caused it. They don’t know how to make it stop so they’re just going to keep trying different medications to see what works. And they have no idea how long it will last, but they’re kind of just hoping it will go away on its own.

I cry a lot. But crying hurts.

I tried to Google some things. But my official diagnosis of  “intercostal neuralgia” is rare enough that not much comes up. It was like the first page of results that suggested marijuana might help.

I want it to stop. I want my life back. I want to be able to take a full shower without crying. I want to able to wear a regular bra again. I want to be able to drive into work without sobbing. I want to able to walk around a Wal-Mart without feeling like I’m going to die.

And I want to know why the heck I was fine on Feb. 2 and by Feb. 4 I was in the emergency room with stabbing pain in my right ribs and nobody can tell me what caused it.

 

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Confessions of being in near constant pain.

I feel like I’m going to die all the time.

Actually, really, I feel like I want to die. All the time.

It really hurts that bad right now. This horrible, horrible pain in my right ribs that I’ve been dealing with for more than two months now.

There’s a saying about food poisoning. “At first you’re afraid you’re going to die. Then you’re afraid you won’t.”

I don’t have food poisoning though.  I have nerve pain in my ribs. And I want to kill myself.

I think about it a lot.

The thoughts started during the long nights when I couldn’t sleep and even the blankets seemed to hurt my body and there was nobody to help me and breathing hurt. When breathing hurts you can’t help but go to dark places because literally every few seconds you have to think about the pain.

I have since found that two codeine helps with that though. It gives me the most crazy, vivid dreams, but it knocks me out. So I take it as early as I can. I sleep 11 hours a day because sleeping is the only time I don’t feel like someone is stabbing me.

Now though, I think about killing myself mostly while I’m driving.

That’s when it hurts the very most. It’s when I try not to take too many drugs because I’m operating heavy machinery. I haven’t worn the top of my seat belt since Feb. 3 because when it lays across my ribs it feels like it’s simultaneously suffocating me, and stabbing me. But even without the seatbelt, there’s something about sitting up right, and stopping abruptly multiple times, and dealing with traffic that makes me want to be dead.

I mentioned it to my boyfriend once in passing while I was in rush hour. “I want to kill myself,” I said. I just wanted to see how the words sounded in the air. But I could tell he did not want to hear them the second I said them. “You do not want to kill yourself,” he said matter of factly.

I don’t blame him. Nobody would want to hear those words from their love.

I promise you though, it hurts so much. I think it about it all the time. I’m ready to be dead. I really am. I’m at so much peace with it.

I don’t know if this means the pain is at a point that I should be taking myself to the emergency room, or if I should just take another codeine. I try to only take one at a time during the day.

I’m writing this post because I feel very alone. I feel like I’m in a dark place. And it hurts when I breathe.

When I’m at work, I can’t sit at my desk the whole day, so depending how many drugs I’m on and how good I’m feeling and how much I did the day before, I take breaks throughout the day to literally lay on the floor by my chair on my stomach.

I push my chair aside, and lie face down on the thin carpet by my desk. Usually, I use my coat as a sort of pillow.

I try not to cry at work though because it freaks people out.

Standing used to be more comfortable than sitting, but now, really, the only comfortable thing is taking a gabapentin, two codeine and going to sleep.

I know that everyone wants me to be back to my old self. But all I can say is that I promise, they can’t possibly want it more than I do.

I’m not going to kill myself. Not today.

I heard this story on NPR on after-death experiences. And it was about this doctor or something who studied all these people who had died and then come back to life.

He said every single one of them had felt a warm light or something after they died. That all of them basically went to Heaven. All of them except the ones who had attempted suicide. The things those people saw were too awful for words.

And that’s not to say people who kill themselves can’t go to Heaven. That’s not really for me to judge.

But just to be safe, I’m not going kill myself. Not today.

I’m just reaching out. Trying to tell you something. Trying to say that it hurts really bad. And that if you’re in pain too, and you’re in a really dark place. You’re not alone.

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That time I had an intercostal nerve block

I think that I might, finally, kind of, sort, maybe, cautiously optimistically, might be, feeling, a little bit better.

Like not completely healed go out and do jumping jacks and then yoga and then run a marathon or anything. But maybe make it through a whole day without codeine. Or  maybe just one codeine.

I’m very scared to write those words.

To put them out into the ether. To make them real. To jinx things.

The pain has just lasted so. so. long.

Since Feb. 4 it has felt like someone has been stabbing in my lower right rib. Or, well, sometimes it has felt like someone has just hit me in the ribs with a baseball bat. And other times it felt like someone dropped a cinder block on top of my chest. It really just depended on what time of day you asked me.

My latest, and hopefully final, diagnosis is “nerve pain related to scar tissue from my gall bladder surgery from five years ago.”

Which I didn’t even know what a thing until Monday. And truthfully I’m kind of really mad it wasn’t listed as a possible side effect when I had the stupid thing taken out in ’08. Not that I would have not had it taken it out, but it would have been nice to know that  someday, should I feel like someone was stabbing me with an imaginary knife, it could have been related. You know?

Who am I kidding? It was five freaking years ago. It probably was listed as a side effect and I just have no memory of it whatsoever.

Anyway, on Thursday, afternoon I had a small procedure called an intercostal nerve block, which is what I’m hoping has finally made so that maybe I only need one codeine to get through the day.

Well the doctors call it a “small procedure.” I call it, “‘That crazy thing they did to me that I am so, so glad I had my mom and my grandma come all the out from an hour away to be with me because it was scary as crap’ procedure.”

First of all, they told me in advance that I would get to be put to sleep for the thing, but then when I got there, they were all, “Well we need to be able to converse with you in case someone goes wrong, so we’re only going to give you something to help you relax and some local anesthesia.”

And I have it on good authority from my good friend John Rowley, who had the same procedure multiple times, that they were lying to me, because he got to be put to sleep every time. But whatever. Now I can tell you nice people all about it.

Step one, the IV:

They gave me an IV. I almost fainted because I was so nervous and I was watching the nurse (whose name was Sandy, which made me feel more comfortable because I really, really love my Aunt Sandy) do the whole thing and she couldn’t get it to work and she was talking to me and the blood was going in and out and in and out and in and out of my arm and then all of a sudden the blood drained from my face. And then the nurse,  was all, “Umm, are you going to pass out?” And I was like, “I don’t think so.” But she’s a professional and she could see that I was wobbling. So after she got the IV situated, she got a wheelchair to take me down to the procedure room, instead of having me walk, just to be safe.

Step two, going to the procedure room:

They had me lay on the bed stomach down in the procedure room. They wrapped the hospital gown up around my head but left my personal yoga pants on. Considering the fact that I’ve been in near constant pain for more than two months and haven’t washed those things in at least a week, that probably wasn’t the hospital’s most sanitary decision of the year, but it was their most comfortable.

Then, they gave me whatever drug they give you that makes you relax without exactly putting you to sleep. It’s an odd phenomenon to be awake in a procedure room. And this was the first time I ever experienced it.

The doctors and nurses are busy getting everything ready around you, and they almost act as if you’re an inanimate object. Like the doctor would tell the nurse, “Yes, move her up on the table because I’ll need her back to be flat.” And then the nurse would go to move me, but she wouldn’t really talk to me about it, but would just go to move me. And, at another point, someone in the room took a purple marker and freely drew on the right side of my back to mark where they needed to do stuff. Like I was a windshield they were replacing.

Step three, the local anaesthesia:

Just as I had finally relaxed enough to kind of fall asleep, someone woke me up to tell me they were about to inject the local anaesthesia.  Which I would say was a stupid time to wake me up, except that it would have worse if the injection had woken me up instead.

When they injected it, the shots burned really bad and I didn’t realized there would be three of them. Except in my drugged up stated I couldn’t quite articulate that, so I just let out a long moan. Like, “uggugugugugugugugaaaa.” And then, in my head, I realized I needed to ask if there were going to be three intercostal nerve block injections, because I had been under the impression that there was going to be one, but I couldn’t figure out how to articulate it. So I think I said something along the lines of, “Three shot of other one?” And the doctor said, “What?” And I was like “Will I get three shots of the other one?” And they said, “Yes, but it won’t hurt, you’ll just feel pressure.” Which I suppose was technically true.

 Step four, the actual intercostal nerve block injection:

I have no idea what the heck they did when they injected the stuff for the nerve block because I was stomach down, so all I can tell you is what I felt and what I heard.

They did the whole thing under X-Ray, which going in I had assumed meant they would be under a live X-Ray machine. But actually, it meant that they had to keep taking pictures with the X-Ray machine and then posting them on the wall in front of the doctors. This lead to the doctor and the resident saying, “Picture” over and over and over and over and over to the technician during the procedure. It’s probably my most vivid memory. I think if I really wanted to I could have tilted my head up and seen the pictures, but I didn’t want to risk moving at the wrong time and then having the doctor miss and puncture my lung.

When they injected whatever they were injecting I did indeed feel the aforementioned pressure. Although it wasn’t so much “pressure” as it was a feeling of someone jabbing a rusty spoon into my back and moving it around for a really long time and then yanking out.

Obviously, I responded, very clearly, in my drugged up state, with, “uggugugugugugugugaaaa.” And the doctor said, “Does that hurt?” And I said, “No. Just pressure.” And he said. “Good.”

And then, what seemed like 12 rusty spoons later, they were finally done.

Step five, waiting for the drugs to wear off:

After that, the doctors got the heck out of there because it was like 4 p.m. or whatever, but Nurse Sandy waited with me for about a half hour for the drugs to wear off.

I remember that my feet were really cold and I basically feel in and out of a light sleep. The local anaesthesia made it so the injection site and my ribs felt pretty great.

Then, after I was at a point where I could stand up, she walked me over to another room where I met up with my mom, my grandma and my boyfriend. She took the IV out, gave me some orange juice, and some crackers, which was very exciting because I hadn’t been allowed to eat since the day before. Then, they told me that the injection might make my nerve pain worse for a couple days before it got better, had my mom sign me out, told me not to make any legal decisions today and sent me on my way.

Step six, the day after sucked:

Holy cow, when they said my pain was going to suck they day after, they meant by 9 p.m that night. My boyfriend called to say good-night and accidentally woke me up, and by that point everything had worn off and I woke up feeling like I was going to either die or kill myself. I couldn’t even talk because I was crying too much. So I just hung with him without even really talking and then I went back to sleep.

Friday was pretty much more of that. The injection site hurt. My ribs hurt. I thought I was going to die. I talked to John Rowley who told me this is all very normal. He also told me that the fact that they already did an intercostal nerve block means they’re taking my pain very seriously and that it took him six months to get to the point I’m at. And that I should wake up feeling better Saturday and that by Sunday I should be feeling pretty awesome.

Step seven, it’s Saturday morning:

I haven’t actually done too much today, but I’m hopeful. I think, I might, finally, kind of, sort, maybe, cautiously optimistically, might be, feeling, a little bit better. Fingers crossed.

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