Pain that cannot be seen


When you think of pain. What do you think it is? Is it something that shows on the outside, or something else totally?

I was one of those who used to say. But you look fine! It was not until I had not one, but two surgeries last year that had changed my line of thinking.

My story started while I was at work. I had aches that would not go away, and over time, they got worse. This prompted me to go to the doctor. Low and behold, there was a reason.  I had a mass growing in my humorous bone. (That is the bone that runs from your elbow up to your shoulder) Like always, doctors never react, they study and watch, and yes, lots and lots of tests follow that.

One month later, I had another CT scan, and the mass had grown an inch. The doctor was astounded and worried at this point, believing it was bone cancer. From there a date was set for surgery.

So what does one do until the date comes?  You continue to work and live your life.  That is when my life took another change. While at work, I was on the phone during my lunch in the breakroom.  I told the person I was talking to that I suddenly did not feel well. I had a tingling sensation run down my spine, back up and into my head.  I immediately hung up and walk back to my desk to get off my feet. I never made it to my desk, my legs gave out, and when I came to, I was being helped to a chair by co-workers. I was transported to the hospital, where they scanned my spin.  The results were baffling. I had a broken neck. I had been walking around for over a year, or longer with a broken neck, and had no idea. Sure I had headaches, but I just assumed they were the regular tension pains we get from daily life.

It turned out that the mass in my arm was causing the tissue and nerves to swell, as a result, it put pressure on my neck. The pressure caused the fractured bones to move and they were putting pressure on my spine.

I was taken to surgery, where I had all the bones in my neck replaced with cadaver bones. (I can now say, I have dead people in me) This was just the beginning. Within two weeks I was in surgery for my arm. They drilled in several places in my bone, removed the mass, and filled it with a substance to prevent it from fracturing.

The pathology report came back two weeks later.  Thank goodness, it was not cancer. Just a very aggressive cell that was eating the inside of my bone.

So, whew, I am relieved, and it was time to heal and get better. I then started physical therapy a month later. However, my arm refuses to move, nothing they did could get it to raise. It turned out, the month I was in traction, I developed frozen shoulder.  Once they knew the cause, they were unable to unfreeze my arm. Whew, another relief.

Each day from there, I went to physical therapy. The goal  was to regain the strength in my arm.  During this time, I kept experiencing more pain. The assumption was, I was regaining muscle and the muscle they cut was healing. Nice thought, if that was the whole reason.  It turned out, that the more we did, the worse it got. Another test, and low and behold. I had nerve damage. My hands, arms and fingers stopped working, they went numb, but being numb does not mean there is no pain. It was 50 times worse.

So, you would think, it’s okay. Take a pain killer and get past the worst of it.  I am one in thousands if not more who cannot take pharmaceutical pain killers. They make me violently ill. So, through my pains, surgeries and healing. I have taken Advil and like products. (Over the counter)

It has been a year and a half since my surgery, and I am better as far as moving my arms, doing little things.  I will never be able to do the things I used to do. I can no longer work a desk job, I cannot open bottles, and when the weather changes, I find sleep to be my only comfort.

Why am I sharing my experience?  I like so many, did not see beyond a person’s outer shell. So when I was told. I am in pain all the time.  I would just think to self. “Oh come on, you look find.”  I learned something through this, and it has been a humbling experience. If someone tells you they hurt, yet on the outside, they look great. Don’t question them, don’t think they are attention seeking, and don’t belittle what they are going through.  Internal pain does not always show.


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