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In my quest for alternative pain relief, I’ve recently had a couple massages. The first one was quite gentle and while it was enjoyable, the effects weren’t lasting beyond about an hour. So for the next one, I told the massage therapist to dig a little deeper, work on the muscles. The muscles in my back and neck are very, very tight, she admitted, but after working on them pretty hard, she said she felt they’d softened a little bit.

I felt okay during the day, but by early evening, the muscles in my back, neck and head were just screaming at me. Moving hurt. Breathing hurt. I was wishing for some bigtime pain meds, which don’t really exist. I have no idea if further massages are a good idea – if they can actually cause a more permenant softening of my hard and stubborn muscles, or if those muscles will just hurt more at the intrusion. Must do some research on that before the next scheduled appointment.

I was a bit nervous about my assessment for the pain clinic this morning, imagining this making my early-morning stiffness even more extreme. While you have to be in chronic pain to get into the program, you also have to have the stamina to hang out in their program all day.

I made it to my appointment on time, and it didn’t even feel hideously early. They asked me all kinds of questions about my pain and functioning, including one I hate. They asked me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, ten being the most unbearable pain you’ve experienced. This was a question I got in the hospital a lot, whenever I told them anything hurt.

The thing is, the ruptured colon totally reset the definition of number 10 for me. Compared to that, nothing else gets higher than maybe a 5 or 6. I figure the rupture probably occured around 9 pm, given that I suddenly felt a great deal more pain than before and ended up collapsing on the bathroom floor. But I didn’t get into surgery until 11 am. Add to that the dehydration caused profuse sweating from the pain and the fact that they wouldn’t allow me any liquids, and I felt really, really bad. I felt so bad that when the surgeon told me one possible outcome of the sugery was death, I didn’t care. I really didn’t. This is basically what I thought: “Okay, whatever. Just knock me out now.” During what could have been my last conscious moments on this earth, strapped down to the operating table, all I could do was complain that the mask put over my face to sedate me didn’t have a good enough seal and I wasn’t reaching unconscious fast enough. “Why am I still here?”

They say you can’t remember pain, and I’ve always found that to be crap. I remember my legs hurting when I was a child, remember how the pain felt. I can easily remember how badly my body aches when the FMS really flares, how migraines feel, how labour and delivery felt. But I cannot remember the pain of the rupture. I cannot bring it to mind at all. I only remember feeling miserable and moaning over and over, like a mantra, “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.” I felt badly about that, worrying that I was upsetting my mother, who was standing beside my bed helpless to do anything at all to make it better, but I could not stop the moaning. I remember begging for sedation, not understanding why they couldn’t just knock me out that moment, even if they weren’t ready to operate.

Needless to say, that experience really messes up the bell curve when it comes to rating my pain. Assigning a number to a feeling is difficult enough as it is. So when they asked me the question this morning, I decided to remove the rupture from the curve, since it was pulling everything out of wack. I decided that when the nurse says that number 10 is the worst pain ever, she really didn’t mean pain that makes you uncaring of your own death, perhaps even welcoming of it. I decided that unmedicated childbirth could be the worst pain, or maybe the vicious migraines I’ve had, which make me want to hide in a dark room and not move, but have never had me contemplating death – those could be the 10.

After the assessment, which included many questions about my life and how I handle my FMS, the doctor told me that she wasn’t sure how much their program could really do for me. A lot of what they do, she said, was help people come to terms with their conditions and then learn how to appropriately pace themselves, something the doctor thinks I have done long ago. (J disagreed when I told him, saying I don’t know how to pace myself at all). Despite that, she did think that maybe they could still help. She said knowing something (how to hande one’s illness, for example) and doing it are not the same thing, and perhaps having everything in one place and working thought it intensively would be of benefit to me. That was pretty much the conclusion I had come to as well (although I was secretly hoping they knew some stuff I don’t already, and this meeting kind of popped that bubble).

All that being said, they rejected me. Thanks to my Nap, I’m not at the point where I could handle the intensity of their course. That was what I feared would happen. However, she suggested re-evaluating me in September. She did say that it was just a matter of time. I just need to recover from, as she put it ‘this insult to your body’ and eventually they will accept me.

I consoled myself when I left by popping over to a large and marvelous garden centre near there and getting a couple little plants for the few gaps still in my front garden. Green things make everything better in spring. 

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