As you may know, I’ve been experiencing an ongoing battle with a chronic pain condition that started about eight or nine years ago, shortly after I arrived in Canada. As a sixteen year old child, healthcare practitioners didn’t take my complaints of being unable to sit for extended periods without constant pain along the entire right side of my back seriously, but encouraged me to come back and get cracked, adjusted, or whatever it may be. I stopped going for treatment several years ago because nothing was working; I became discouraged, poor from not having healthcare benefits, and resigned myself to having to live with it. A couple of years ago I had an accident resulting in a compression injury to my upper back and being couch-bound with the latest in conical fashions stylishly wrapping my neck. The injury exacerbated the ongoing pain, and for the last year and a half since, I’ve been in constant pain extending from my right shoulder to my right hip, along the entire stretch of the right hand side of my spine. It doesn’t stop. I have a heating pad strapped to my office chair and often take breaks to stretch because it gets too bad to be able to sit for the whole day. I get home and find I can’t even sit upright on the sofa, watching TV with Sweet, because it hurts too much. The only time I’m without pain is when I’m
lying on my back, face up. I can’t exercise, go dancing, or go bowling. The temperature’s dropping and I’m finding it increasingly more painful to walk home at night.
Six months ago, I finally qualified for some benefits through work. At last! Horribly overpriced benefits, but mandatory benefits, so I intended to take full advantage and try and get this thing sorted out. I went to physiotherapists, massage therapists, a chiropractor several times a week, an acupuncturist, my family doctor, an ergonomist and today a doctor in sports medicine. I was even a “case study” for ten weeks for a student at the massage therapy college. A common conclusion from several of these people: myofascitis, or myofascial pain syndrome. Huh? The symptoms fit the definition of fibromyalgia, but a determining factor in that is that the symptoms are in all four quadrants of the body. Mine’s all packed into one. So the condition was explained.
The “fascia” encases all the muscles in the body, allowing them to move together, maintaining structure and acting as a shock absorber. It’s a dense connective tissue that interpenetrates all muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels from head to toe, and in my case, has become so tight around all the muscles on the right side of my back that they are held continuously in spasm, unable to relax. This accounts for the pain being there ALL the time.
Every treatment I’ve had has done nothing. I’m 24 years old – “young people don’t HAVE these sorts of back problems”, I’m told. I’ve been sent for X-rays, blood tests, you name it, but each practitioner starts from scratch and none of them communicate with each other. Apparently “every trigger point is active”, making it difficult to withstand any pressure – massages are excruciating. Today I went to a sports medicine clinic armed with the advice of an ergonomist, who’d told me if anyone would understand it, it would be a doctor in sports medicine. Long story short, I came back from the appointment, arrived at work, and promptly burst into tears. It was the same thing I’d experienced everywhere else. Unnecessary x-rays, stretches, and a referral somewhere else.
What do you do when everything you’ve tried has failed? When you’re experiencing something so apparently uncommon that nobody knows what to do, and passes you off to somebody else?
I talked to a coworker I’m close with, who had some encouraging advice. I don’t make a habit of writing about my spiritual/religious experiences as it is something that is relatively new to me, but a lot has happened to me in the last few months that has no other explanation. A year ago I was a wreck; nervous, self-conscious, no self esteem and forever plagued by the thought of what other people must be thinking about me. Sweet came into my life, I got a wonderful job, and everything started me on a journey that’s led me to where I am today. I’ve read books, prayed with coworkers, had highly spiritual experiences and been part of what can only be described as miracles. I’ve learned that I wasn’t put here to doubt myself, worry about what other people think, or be anything less than the good person I want to be. I’ve learned to unload my anxieties and keep praying, and I’m sitting here having done presentations to other reps in the field, developing a curriculum and my very own class scheduled to start at the end of the month. I never would’ve thought it possible before I learned all I have. I kept trying to solve my issues myself, and failing. When I put my trust and faith in God, I grew. My coworker instantly posed the question to me: what if that’s what I need to be free from this pain? I’ve spent years trying to solve it myself, seeing different therapists and doctors and healers with absolutely no results. What if I need to do with my pain what I did with my anxiety? She said her church had a “Healing Prayer” every so often, and had personal experience with debilitating pain being instantly cured as a result. She said she’d go with me if I was willing to give it a try. “No more tears, Grasshopper” she told me. And it just so happens there’s one this weekend.
So, this Saturday night I’ll be experiencing something very new to me. I’m putting my faith in what she’s told me and hoping for healing. I never thought I’d overcome my fear of public speaking, and I’m amazed every day at what’s happened. Maybe this is what I need to do. How incredible would it be, to be able to tell that story, and be free to live life properly again?