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The Emotional Effect of a Life Plagued by Chronic Pain and Injuries

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Yesterday I had to take half a day off from work to go to the doctors. Exactly a week prior, I spent a night at the emergency room hoping for an explanation to the extreme pain in my left foot. I couldn’t stand to put any weight on it. They did x-rays, saw no major breaks, gave me a small boot to wear, and told me it was “most likely” a stress fracture or two and to follow up with my doctor. Yesterday at the doctor he confirmed it was almost positively a stress fracture and ordered an MRI. I cried in my car for 10 minutes before the tears subsided enough that I could drive. Then the numbness set in.

Exhausted from the emotional toll the doctor’s office and news of another injury, I accidentally fell asleep as soon as I made it home. Waking up two hours later, disoriented and more exhausted than ever, I tried reminding myself of what I was grateful for. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to make a dent in the mess that was my brain scrambling to accept another injury and more pain on top of what I already deal with daily.

Nights like this I don’t stand a chance. I found myself reeling. Desperately clinging to the negative comfort that I accept as truth on the bad days; this is just my lot in life, I am bound to a life of pain and injuries. Inevitable. Frustrating. Devastating.

Nights like this I go into my medical history drawer and pull out everything associated with my hip surgeries. A handy dandy folder from my surgeon’s office containing anything and everything from my three surgeries. Pictures and videos from all three surgeries, pre-op instructions, post-op instructions, visit summaries from post-op visits, and rehab training programs. The folder below is my inch-thick folder of any print-out I have ever been given by a physical therapist, and I’ve had my fair share. There are at least seven years of printouts in there.

I spend an hour or so uploading all the pictures and videos from all three surgeries onto an online file sharing site so I can have them on my phone at all times. I spend minutes analyzing each image trying to make sure they didn’t miss anything. It doesn’t matter that I have no idea what to look for, I still spend copious amounts of time staring at those images.

I look at pictures saved on my phone from me on bed rest, especially the first surgery when I spent Christmas on bed rest. I don’t remember much besides drinking Ensure out of a sippy cup because I couldn’t sit up to avoid spilling on myself and couldn’t stomach anything else.

Before I know it, I’ve stayed up far later than normal. I struggle with insomnia but I try to begin my bedtime routine at the same time each night in hopes of some sense of normalcy. I lie in bed for hours trying to sleep, but my brain just won’t quiet down. I toss and turn until somehow sleep finally comes.

I wake up with my left hip and foot throbbing in excruciating pain. Days like these will be tough; I’ve had many of them before. I will survive whether my body cooperates fully or not.

The injuries and injustices of my body are frustrating, but they are not condemning.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 30, 2016
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