What do you do when your body fails you? When it becomes impossible to do even the minimum of things that have been keeping you sane for the last couple of years? I'm hoping that I'm never going to have to find out, but in the last couple of days I've gotten glimpses into how bad it can be.
I've talked in the past about suffering from chronic pain and how debilitating that can be. But with the right amount of drugs and some perseverance you can carve out some kind of life for yourself. As long as you are able to keep the pain within the parameters of what you are capable of coping with, you are fine.
Part of that is drugs, of course, and maintaining a proper dosage so that you are functional but pain resistant. It can be a fine line to walk at times, but usually as long as you keep to your dosage, things are manageable. There are always going to be bad days where you're not able to do much about it except try to keep yourself as comfortable as possible.
The other important part is to know your limits. Know what you are capable of doing and how much you can accomplish at any given time. If you try and do too much, you are going to have to pay a price in either an increase in pain or a decrease in what you are going to be able to accomplish in the days after. You learn to govern yourself accordingly.
For the last few years, that has been the pattern I've been able to follow with some success and accomplish a number of things that I've wanted to do for the longest time. I've been blessed or lucky enough to be given opportunities that I've never had before and I've been able to take advantage of them because of the gift of time that I'd been given. Sure, there have been limitations placed on my life, but they haven't involved things that I have suffered from missing out on.
But in the last few weeks there has been a change, and although I've been assured it is temporary and can be corrected with some minor surgery – I've developed a hernia in my lower left side – it has made life exceptionally more difficult. It's become harder to control the pain levels with medication and I'm able to do less and less of what I would normally take for granted.
It takes far less activity to aggravate things to the point where I have to return to bed in order to alleviate the pain. I have to take more and more "breakthrough" pain medication because it is peaking beyond levels that allow me to rest comfortably for any period of time. In short I'm losing the ability to control my body and have any say in what I can and can't do.
I'm sure a lot of you have experienced this temporarily during an illness when you've been too sick to get out of bed. I know I have on occasion in the past, but there has always been the assurance that it will get better soon. I've been given similar types of assurance on this occasion, that once I've recovered from the hernia surgery I'll be fine.
But it doesn't feel as reassuring as I'd hoped. The longer it takes before the surgery, the heavier the pain is becoming and the harder it is getting to cope. There is a huge gap between what the mind is told and what the body and the emotions believe on occasion, and this is one of those occasions.
Nobody knows what effect having this type of surgery will have on my existing condition. Perhaps it will improve things because they will be able to relieve pressure on the myofacial system that surrounds my pelvis by correcting the hernia. But on the other hand it could also do more damage, simply by having to cut into tissue in the area again, and to fiddle around with the myofacial at all.
I don't know and nobody's saying anything except that the hernia has to be dealt with. It's already advanced to the stage where surgery is no longer elective, but necessary for my body. Anyway as long as it's possibly affecting the existing condition it's become impossible for my pain doctor to do any treatments on me because we don't know what is being caused by the hernia now and what is normal (if you want to call that normal).
When it first became obvious what I'm suffering from was going to be of a permanent nature, I would always count my blessings; it's not fatal like cancer, it's possibly treatable, and I am able to have some semblance of a life. I was able to be as positive as possible in spite of the circumstances and look on it as an opportunity to do things that I'd always wanted to.
I'm still grateful that it's nothing fatal, but I'm far less assured about the later two sentiments anymore. Sitting, writing this, as it is taking more effort than it should to keep my mind clear enough to think through the pain and pushing past the fuzziness caused by the pain medication, I have to wonder: Is this be what it will be like from now on?
If so, will I be able to get used to it enough to go back to how I was only a month ago? Or will I have to learn new rules that my body wants obeyed? If it's the latter, how much different will things be than they are now? How much different will I be?