I know there are real people who have had the pain of losing loved ones to drug overdoses. I myself lost my best friend’s daughter, whom I loved as my own, so I see both sides of the coin. I also have been in a life-changing horrible car accident and live with constant, dreadful chronic pain as a result. So I ask you to try to have an open mind. Realize that there are real people, really sick, in bad shape, with little life they can enjoy due to chronic pain. We require pain medication in order to function, to accomplish things in daily life that others often take for granted. Getting dressed, showering, cooking, writing a little,
I am not going through every little detail and suffering in some sections, because I cannot go through it. I’m doing what I can without triggering my PTSD too much. I’m doing this in hopes my story, my fight, can become our stories and our fight, Together!
The Business woman
I was never one of those, “I have to be an overachiever in every single thing” kind of people, Yet the business world always fascinated me. This especially since back in the late ’90s and early
In 1998, I started in a 98% male industry. My 1st day the sales mgr I was assigned to told me, “You won’t be here 6 months from now, so don’t expect me to put any effort toward training you”. Yup, he really said that. That just got under my skin and pulled out the fight like Ronda Rousey in me. Ok, Ronda Rousey probably was just a baby then, but you get the point.
Always needing to prove that I was just as good or better than all the guys in the investment, finance and insurance field,
I would work three times as hard and didn’t mind. I loved it.
I was there 6 months from then and much longer:
promotions and success
I have to say one of my favorite parts of the job was being just 2 years in, I was promoted to sales manager the day that ex-sales mgr (the very one who had zero belief in me) was cleaning out his desk because he got fired. He was a man about it. He actually apologized to me before he left with his little box of stuff in hand. Gotta say I was professional and accepting, but inside I was high fiving all of my girlfriends and supporters!! Not because I’m anti-male in anyway-I’m just anti-asshole.
I was so proud of the ladder I was climbing. I caught a lot of flack from the guys (and my now ex-husband,) but as long as I worked my ass off and made really really good money, I didn’t mind at all. These were definitely my proudest moments: I was not only getting the promotions, but I was breaking records and winning divisional contests. in the years after, I was raised to District Sales Manager and other great promos and accolades over my 10 years with the fortune 500 company I was working with. I was doing well. Th
I was on top of the World Until “The Day” that changed my World. It changed my marriage, my relationship with my child, my normal life activities and my ability to work again.
On a quiet, normal work day, I got up, got ready and headed to the corporate home office to give a very large presentation to new reps, sales managers and DSM’s. They asked to record it, for future training purposes. I was scared they’d knit pick me apart, but also honored they felt so highly of me. I was a bit of nerves that day I suppose.
On the way to the big presentation, near the Hwy 70/75 interchange traffic was the usual heavy morning rush hour, 50 MPH bumper to bumper in a 70mph zone. There was definitely no room to speed. I was in the far left lane, the last lane going my direction. Everything seemed to be normal, it all but changed in an instant.
An 18 wheeler turned his signal on, didn’t look or couldn’t see my SUV, just came over on top of me. I think that has probably happened to all of us, but I had Nowhere to go. I saw it coming but could do nothing to stop it. I cried out in a literal real prayer, “Please help me Jesus”, as the semi clipped the front end of my SUV. I swerved to the only place I could: onto the median. This was one of those high gullies that sinks low in the middle. Problem was, my SUV didn’t take too kindly to this sudden roller coaster. It flipped 6 times and ejected me completely out of the vehicle onto the cold January concrete 4 lanes over. Witnesses said I shot out like a cannon.
I floated out of the car fully conscious. I felt I was laid down by an angel on a cloud. I felt no pain at all- at the time.
I was told later that is your body in shock. Suddenly I realized I Laying there on the cold concrete with people gathered around me, So I must have lost consciousness for a time when I hit the cement, there was a time lapse. Why couldn’t it have been during the actual accident or when I was flying out of the car? I don’t want to remember that! Never the less, I was now awakened and I was freezing, someone placed their jacket over me. Vaguely, I could hear the EMT and police sirens screaming my way. Once they arrived, it was organized chaos. I was quiet. Yes, my body was in great shock. But then they said those magic words that ended my very unusual calmness to the situation. “Life Flight is on the way”.
I knew it was bad, really bad, even
My daughter was still in the preteen stage. I kept thinking I couldn’t leave her, not now. I became hysterical.
When Life flight was arriving, I’ll never forget the sound of the roaring chopper. It still haunts me today. I can tell today the difference between a Life-Flight chopper sound and a news choppers sound. Don’t ask me
I was a hot mess of broken bones and internal bleeding, not to mention when your head meets concrete at 50+MPH, it’s only God himself’s wish that you’re still living. I had a serious closed head injury. A Trauma Care team was waiting for me as they pulled me
The Trauma Care
I barely remember much of the first few months I was in the hospital, but certain times were quite vivid. The kind of Things you wish you could forget FOREVER. I was in the Trauma emergency unit when they brought me in by Life Flight. A brilliant doctor was in charge. He was easy on these crippled eyes too. Hey, I was pretty down, but I wasn’t dead yet! He was certainly a no muss kind of guy. As soon as I was rolled in and 20 medical staff swarmed around me. I could only see heads and hands
, as they frantically started cutting my clothing off.
For me, it felt like a new trauma, but one all too dreadfully familiar. I felt as though I was being raped as well as dealing with a horrible trauma. It really felt that way to a young girl, married at 19, who’d only ever been with her husband.
I remember they asked me if there was a minister or family member I wanted them to contact. I thought omg I need a minister: It’s that bad?!!
By then I was crying hysterical, and suddenly that amazing doctor barking orders to everyone called one of the nurses and yelled, “Give her blah blah blah NOW!”
The next thing I knew, I woke up in ICU with my trauma doctor trying to explain what all my body went through.
The Long Hospital Stay
The Trauma Doctor tried to make me understand all my injuries, especially my closed head injury that they were very concerned about. He went through everything that was broken, shattered or fractured as well. He let me know right off I would not be awake long. I needed to be placed in an induced coma to let my brain heal better. I had a serious brain injury and that I quite possibly might have to have surgery to drain the bleeding inside my brain. He told me I broke my left hip, the last 4 discs in my back, my collar bone, my left wrist, both feet, worst of all, my pelvis was in 3 complete pieces and my tailbone was shattered. Many nerves run through the pelvis. Nearly all your nerves to the mid-lower part of your body run through your tailbone. These nerves were caught in or entangled in the breaks of my pelvis and tailbone. These are important nerves that tell your legs to move or walk, as well as letting you know you have Great pain. It felt like low back, feet and legs are all on hot coals.
My Mother was there. She said my head looked as big as a basketball and that I had 2 black eyes etc. Doc gave my family strict orders “No mirrors!”, if she wakes up at any point after we induced a coma to heal. I guess maybe he thought I would freak out. He was probably right.
I tried to explain “Doc I need to get back to work”. He said, “Are you crazy? you’re not going anywhere for a very long time”. I attempted to argue with him in my state. Finally, to prove his point, Doc says ” ok if you can get up, you can go back to work”. Ha-ha-ha , He won big time.
So out I went in the induced coma, unsure if I was going to have brain surgery or would it retract on its own. Lucky for me a few days later they tell me it started to heal itself and the beeding was receding .
I was in a coma approx 3 months. I was in the hospital for 9 months. I had to learn everything all over again. My life was going to be different forever and ever. Doctor appointments and terrible pain would become my job and my life.
A Different Life and Not a Good One
After 9 months in the hospital, medical still continued to consume my life for 2 years daily. When I was finally allowed to go home, I was in a wheelchair for starters. I felt helpless. A hospital bed was placed in my living room. a potty chair right by the hospital bed (talk about embarrassing, when people came to visit). I know some would say I “should just be ‘happy’ just to be alive”. I am most days. I’m grateful God gave me another chance to maybe help others. Yet my life is NOT My Life anymore, nor is it anywhere near the active life I once had.
in that wheelchair for 3 years. They didn’t know if I would ever get out of it.
I would ask and they simply said, “we just don’t know”. Anyone that
knows me, knows I hate “grey” areas. It’s ” is you is or is you
ain’t my baby,” period for me. Even though we look to our doctors as our
godlike fixers, sometimes, they just don’t know what the full outcome will be.
That would be hard for me to except.
The journey starts that is to be my new life and not a fun one.
Starting with rehabilitation for my body every single day, 5 days per week. Every kind of rehabilitation possible. Physical, pool, occupational, speech, psychological, etc etc etc.
They had to use a hoist to get me out of the wheelchair and into the pool for the physical therapy.
We had bills and I clearly could not go back to work. My Husband HAD to get back to work, so we didn’t lose out home. What’s worse is my Mom had to move back from her freshly new retirement Florida dream home. She took a loss on selling it, to hurry back to take care of me. She had to take me back and forth to the hospital daily for treatment and therapies. My Mom literally helped me with EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING. I couldn’t take regular baths, b/c I couldn’t go up my stairs to the full bathrooms, or even see my bedroom for 2 yrs. Worse yet, I suffered in great pain daily.
The pain was so bad I cried nightly. I c
I was in that wheelchair to go anywhere. The hospital bed in my living room for at least 2 years. At this point, I was angry, that I was still here on this Earth another day. See pain, the Devil it is, can wear on you and wear and wear until you’re worn down. You feel you cannot take any more. I’d wake and think I don’t want to be here another day Like This!
They had to keep moving my pain medication up in order to just allow me to do all the therapeutic needs and to get me to my best point. At that point, I was on a ray of meds including Oxycontin, Neurontin, Tizanidine for terrible spasms, Vioxx (at the time-great med for inflammation, but they removed it from the market yrs back), and a few others for breakthrough pain. It was a serious ordeal, that’s why serious medication. I don’t like taking medications If I don’t need them, believe me, they were needed. I believe they were the reason I was able to work so hard in therapy to improve my situation.
Lots of hard work
Finally, after a lot of hard work, 3 yrs later, I got to the point of a walker. The chronic pain was still there though. With the help of the meds, I tried and tried to push through. I certainly did not like going anywhere on a walker or wheelchair at my age. Yes, people really do come up and ask crazy questions. “What’s wrong, your so young to be in a wheelchair (or walker)? What happened to you”? I found that I hated going out in the daytime at all, b/c I was repeating the accident story and reliving it over and over and over.
PTSD is an ugly thing to deal with as well.
I have to admit I attempted suicide twice during the worst of times and thought of it often throughout the future years of pain day after day. I would have my Mom take me to the 24-hour grocery store after 10 pm and ride the cart, in hopes no one would hardly be there, to ask Again.
I will spare you the long boring story of the hard work the therapist, the doctors’ and I did.. We all had a strong will to move forward. After much work, 2 more yrs had rolled by, with me on that walker, finally, I could walk on a cane for short periods of time. I still didn’t want to go anywhere, riding those handicapped carts. I did not want anyone to see that I was in my 30’s and on a handicapped cart. I was basically a recluse in my bad medical world. I stayed home if I didn’t have a medical appointment which took up the majority of my time.
After a 2-3Yr Period
Most trauma and pain doctors will tell you what you are left with brain injury and pain wise, about the best it’s going to get around the 2 yr-3 yr mark. Everyone is being a little different of course.
Things were not good. My insurance company decided if I wanted to still use the Oxycontin for the pain it would be $300 for the Oxycontin alone, not to mention all my other medications. I couldn’t afford all of the medications while not working. At my request, I asked for adequate medication that would be less expensive. They took me down to Morphine, Neurontin and a heap of other combo drugs. It did not work anywhere near the way the Oxycontin worked on my pain. I tried every type of therapy, injections, major surgery and experimental trial, the doctors or therapist would offer to help my pain or mobility
I still couldn’t work, which was very hard on me. I was taught you work for a living. Finally, after the 3rd year and my doctors prodding me, I agreed to get on Social Security. Most people that have had some catastrophic event in their lives that’s left them unable to work, usually must submit 2 or 3 times before they get Social Security, if AT ALL! I was the only fool crying in the local SS office b/c I have to rely on the Gov’t for income. I got it the very first time I applied. This made me know, if I didn’t already, this is serious and my life will never be the same.
For a while, I would get my meds, try to do small things, yet more physical therapies… but even worse was yet to come.
As I got older
As I got older things in my body were getting worse. I have bad scar tissue around all the breaks and nerves. Another fun fact, I found out way late in the game: my bone marrow wasn’t producing all the red blood cells needed to survive. They provide vitamins throughout your body to stay healthy. This affected me in many ways. The main way was that I get sick very easily, I have no energy, yet plenty of pain. The hematologist figured out I have an autoimmune disorder caused by the accident, most likely Lupus or RA. My back situation was far worse every year and it showed progressively worse on the MRI’s, The CAT scans and the Xrays. The proof was there.
Even worse, joints I didn’t even injure started to swell and hurt badly. I was regressing in my health. My Dr. sent me to an RA specialist. She ran all the tests, said I have RA and Lupus. There it was on the table and it’s only going to get worse. She said I’ve been in so much pain for so long my pain receptors have gone crazy. It has caused these additional issues that would never heal- only get worse. We must try to keep them at bay somewhat.
Yet every time I would go back to my pain mgmt doctors
I tried to explain. Look at my MRI’s, CT’s, blood work, Xrays. Call my RA doctor, my Psychiatrist, my Neurologist. Hell, I have so many doctor appointments in one month it’s crazy. It is literally my life! Now they want to reduce my pain meds?
The Physicians Assistant and the Pain
I said, ” I didn’t just stub my toe at work. I was ejected out of my SUV across 4 lanes of
I won’t lie. There were times, in the beginning, I didn’t want to be here any more. At least not in that condition and that amount of pain. If my pain meds are reduced I’m going to be sitting with my legs up just surviving. Just breathing.
My life will become one long effort to ease my pain.
They understood and agreed with me that “the government should not be telling doctors how to treat their patients, but we have no choice”.
With that, I left with reductions to my pain meds this month. Also a word that they will be forced to reduce them further next month. But that’s not all I left there with.
I left there with a fire burning in my heart and soul to start a place where we the chronic pain patients, medical personnel, doctors, nurses, PA’s etc can safely go to vent, to sign petitions, gear up, to let the gov’t know to stay in DC and out of our medical lives. Let the doctors do their jobs to weed out who is in need and who does not need pain medications for serious chronic pain. To put a voice to those of us in true chronic pain that changed our lives forever.
Eventually, I want to go speak to Congress for us all, about living with real chronic pain. We would love for those of you with chronic pain to join us. I may be in non-stop pain, but I have a fire in my soul. This is just wrong. I have not come this far in my own treatment to just be back where I was years ago in my wheelchair. This is my story, tell us yours…