Thursday, December 29, 2011

Living With Pain

It is somewhat early on the Thursday between Christmas and New Years and I have been awake for a long time.  My wakefulness has been caused by extreme physical pain.  So I sit here at the kitchen table watching the sun come up with a cheery fire burning in the fire place.

The physical pain that I am experiencing is all due to the herniated disc in my back.  The pain starts in the small of my back, runs into my left hip and then the whole way down my leg to the surgical site where I had the plate implanted to fix my fractured fibula.  The worst pain comes at night when I am sleeping.  Just the act of lying down to sleep is quite painful.  If I flip over and move it gets even worse.  The pain is mind numbing.  It is a constant throbbing on my left side from the small of my back to my foot.  When I move in specific directions I experience shooting pains that on the scale of 1 to 10 are at the level of an 8 or 9.  I think I have proven that I have a high pain tolerance level by the fact that when my fibula fractured I was able to run for two miles before I had to stop.

Relief to this pain comes in 3 ways.  The first way seems to be the best but it is now almost impossible to act upon that way.  This way is taking powerful opiate drugs like oxycodone.  When I had my surgery back in October my surgeon prescribe to me what I thought was a ton of these drugs to me.  I have almost run out of them and my pain management doctor is not in the office until Friday so it seems unlikely I will get more of these until sometime next week.  The second way is the surgical option when I have several grams of steroids injected into my back.  This works to keep the pain at bay for about 7 days.  Unfortunately I can only have this done 3 times a year and I will be having my second injection on Tuesday January 4th.  There is also a big down side to this option.  The side effects of having several grams of steroids injected into your body can be severe.  For me they cause to feel hyperactive and then to have massive night sweats that are very horrible.  The last method is the least preferred in my book but it is what I am left with for now.  This method involves taking a massive dose of Advil in combination with a very large dose of the nerve blocker Gabapentin and then following the pills with several drinks of alcohol.  This is definitely not the best way to relieve the pain but the fact is it gives me 3 - 4 hours of pain free existence.  I reserve this pain killer for after 5PM, so I spend a good part of the day in some pretty significant pain.  But if I time this third method of killing the pain right, I can actually get some good sleep from about 11PM to 4AM, when the pain in my back wakes me.

The really bad thing about this persistent pain is that it really wears on my mental and emotional state.  I typically feel that I am an upbeat person, but the constant pain is making me look at the world through a different set of lens.  It is making me downbeat, cranky and in general not very happy.  Normally I would be looking at some of the things in the near future with a lot of anticipation and happiness but I am unfortunately looking at them with trepidation and distaste.  My mood and the way I fight the pain in the evening, has made it so that I want to spend my time in lethargic, sedentary activities.  I hate this!!!  The things that I love to do are just impossible dreams at this point.  I haven't managed to go for hike in almost 10 months.  I can't stand this.  I haven't been to the gym in 4 months!  Argh!  It is so frustrating!

 (A picture from back before the fractured fibula and the back pain.  Z and I on top of Mount Spauling - circa June of 2009.)

The only good thing I can say is that despite my lack of activity I have lost a lot of weight.  The day I had my surgery in October I weighed 174 pounds.  When I stepped on the scale yesterday morning my weight was down to 162.  My weight loss is occurring because I haven't been eating much.  My dream is that after I finally have my back surgery in late January, I will continue the weight loss.  My end run goal is to reach a maintainable weight of 145 pounds.  At that weight I will look a little gaunt but if I follow up the weight loss with a lot of cardio conditioning and weight lifting, I will achieve a physical look that I greatly desire.  Also if I reach this weight I believe I will rid myself of my high blood pressure - but that is probably a dream as the high blood pressure seems to be genetically acquired.  The weight of 145 is where I should be for my height according to the BMI scale.  Don't worry that I would be making myself unhealthy by reaching this weight.  I would instead be reaching the weight that according to the experts I should be.

Besides the physical pain I am still dealing with a lot of emotional and mental pain.  The emotional and mental pain comes from the end of my relationship with Shelly.  (Yes - I am going back to that subject again!)  The relationship ended on November 7th under some pretty severe terms.  I don't want to go into what those terms were as it was very bad and traumatic.

Regardless of this I still love Shelly deeply and find myself still desiring and needing her very much.  Due to these feelings I really find it difficult to move on.  Since the relationship with Shelly ended, I have done some dating.  Actually I have gone on 3 dates with the same woman.  This woman is the picture of everything that you would want in a relationship.  She is attractive, she is wildly successful in her field, she is extremely well known in her community and is a civic leader, she has a positive outlook on life and when we are together our conversations are great - we talk about everything from what is happening in our lives to world politics, to travel, to just about everything.  Despite all that, there is something missing.  After 3 dates I haven't kissed her (perhaps that is TMI) and the spark just doesn't seem to ignite.  In the end I don't think the spark is igniting because my mind is filled with Shelly.

On the other hand there are 2 other people who though not exactly in my life in major ways there could be a significant spark with them.  Both of these other people are people who I have dated before.  One of them has never really left my life since we dated.  It is hard to explain but though we don't communicate much she knows my thoughts.  I can't really explain this one well so I am not going to even try.  All I can say is she is a great woman, who is extremely smart, extremely generous and just an overall wonderful person with a warm and loving heart.

The other person is someone I dated during one of the times Shelly and I broke up.  I never expected to hear from her again, but in the last 2 weeks we have had several nice exchanges of text messages and voice mails to each other.  We have a deep connection because of a shared experience that few people have.  There is also a smoldering physical intensity between us.  When we are in the same room together it is like there is electricity flowing between the two of us - and everyone can see it.  On top of that she lives a life that is so similar to mine.  She shares all the values I have and she is warm, caring, loving and extremely compassionate.

So why don't I pursue either of these two women?  Because my heart still is in Shelly hands.  Why does it seem I can't take it back?  I don't really know.  The unfortunate thing is that there are two very different Shelly's.  There is the Shelly I fell in love with.  That Shelly is the warmest, sweetest, most loving, most giving, wonderful person that there is.  She is everything that I want in a partner.  Every little aspect of her I love.  She can be quirky at some times but that makes her even more attractive to me.  She is the best!  But unfortunately there is another Shelly that exists.  I don't know why this Shelly exists.  But this Shelly is the opposite of what I described above.  This Shelly doesn't come around very often but comes around when Shelly is under stress or feels hurt.  This second Shelly is the reason that we aren't together.  This second Shelly and I clash like there is no tomorrow and it becomes impossible for us to be in the same room together.  What is so very difficult is that this Shelly doesn't come around very often and only a few of the people in Shelly's life have ever seen this side of her.  So it makes it impossible for me to talk to her family or friends about this side of Shelly as they won't believe me when I tell them about this.  I would love to help Shelly solve the problem of why this side of her exists.  I know we all have different sides to ourselves that can come out under different situations, but I think this side of Shelly is extreme and has done some great damage to her through out her life.

All of this results in my mood being in a very bad place right now.  Between the intense physical pain and the emotional pain, my mood is frequently not good.  I do my best to cover it up when I am around people and I think I do a good job at that.  When I was in Charlotte for Christmas no one called me out on it so I think I have done a good job covering things up.  What keeps me moving to any small degree is the fact that I have people depending upon me.  I can't afford to let Zack down.  I can't afford to let Nancy down.  I can't afford to let my puppies down.  I can't afford to let the rest of my family down.  I am sure if I didn't have Zack, Nancy and the puppies, my life would be very different and I would probably spend most of it in a drug or alcohol induce haze.  But I will not let that happen.  Some how I will continue to push through things.  It will get a little bit better.  If I can at least get my physical pain resolved, I will be able to exist much better.

I don't know where my emotional pain will take me.  I love very deeply.  Back in April of 2010 I made a commitment to Shelly by asking her to marry me.  Even despite all the water under the bridge and the fact that our relationship is ended, I still believe in that commitment I made to her.  I don't see us getting back together now or any time in the near future.  I will never intrude upon Shelly's life, just as she never intrudes upon my life, but in the small ways I can I will try and watch out for her and make sure that she is OK.  If she is ever in need I will try my best to help her out.  Oh my - Shell if you ever read this, just know as I told you so long I will always be there to help you, look out for you and take care of you.  All you ever have to do is reach out to me.  I am not going anywhere and I will be here for you.

Ok - I got that off my chest for the day and my physical pain is diminishing for a little bit as I took the last 2 oxycodone pills I had.  While I am feeling better I am going to get up and get things done.  I want to keep things moving on the projects that I have going on around the house.  On top of that I do have stuff to do for work.  I need to get my travel arrangements made for the trip to India.

One other thing of note that has lifted my spirits this morning.  A few minutes ago the alarm on my phone went off.  My phone was upstairs in my bedroom on the night stand.  Finnegan was upstairs at the time and started to howl.  Oh my gosh it is the funniest thing to hear him howl.  He is such a calm, sedate pup and to hear him howl and to see him howl is just amazing.  You would never expect this puppy to make those kinds of primeval sounds.  His howling has definitely brightened my day!

I am off to get busy on the day-to-day tasks of the day.  I hope everyone has a great day!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


tcsTenor said...

So sorry to hear you are in such physical pain, Jerry!! I hope you get some relief soon!

NanaRose said...

so sorry that you and Shelly cannot come to some happy terms with each other. Don't block what can be a different kind of happiness and love while waiting for this one to perfect itself. Don't know either one of you personally but it sounds as if your life might always depend on someone elses mood and their frame of mind. Perhaps Shelly does not love as kindly and deeply as you do and you deserve the kind of love you give in return. Just a thought. Hope you get some relief from that pain. Happy New Year.

Elasti-Girl said...

The amount of physical pain you are experiencing is enough to send anyone into a serious funk; add all of the other changes & heart-loss going on in your life and I can imagine the valley you are sitting in seems very deep indeed. It sounds like, despite it all, you are open to the emotional nourishment that life has to offer you, even with it's bitter taste. I'm praying for you Jerry, I hope that you find peace & comfort in this blog, and feel the support coming from those who read it.