Chronic Pain: You DON’T Have to Live With It!

Peripheral Neuropathy affects feet and hands
Peripheral Neuropathy affects feet and hands

The time has come, once again, to show thanks and appreciation for the little things in life we sometimes take for granted. This Thursday I am feeling grateful for not a little thing but something huge which we all take for granted until something happens and we become alarmingly aware that it is one of our most important skills: The ability to balance and walk.

A month ago I was quite disabled when it came to my balance and that meant walking was difficult and sometimes I couldn’t stand without holding on to something without the fear of falling. It had struck quickly in April and worsened at an alarming rate. I had to hold onto walls, furniture, railings, anything just to get across the room. It was at its worse when I woke in the mornings (or anytime I was sedentary for any length of time). When I would put my feet on the ground my right ankle felt like it was going to blow out, shattering in all directions — I could see the bone shards in my mind’s eye flying away from my body like a scene from The Matrix — my weight was too much and my ankle would give, just enough to make me begin to fall. I wouldn’t fall, but that’s because my bed was right there and I could grab ahold of it… that’s how it always happened. And if that weren’t enough, I would have shooting pains beginning on the backside of my feet that would shoot up my leg. One time the pain was so bad I actually took myself to the hospital. They said the shooting pain was caused by something called peripheral neuropathy and then they sent me home. I knew that “neuro” meant nerve, but I was not alarmed by their diagnosis. They did not say it was something I needed to have taken care of. They didn’t say it would get worse. They didn’t call it nerve damage and warn me that it could eventually leave me wheelchair bound if I did nothing about it.

Six months after visiting the hospital I thought it was time that I go buy myself a walking cane. Here I was, just 45 years old and I could barely walk without some type of assistance. It was very scary. And then, the next day I saw a full page ad in my newspaper and it was talking about peripheral neuropathy! They offered a free examination for diagnosis and to determine if their advanced diagnostic and treatment plan would benefit the examinee. I jumped right on it and gave them a call.

And every single day since I made that call I have thanked the Lord for putting that advertisement in my path. I can now stand and walk most days with a clip to my step. The prospect of being in a wheelchair ten, twenty years from now seems ridiculous and that cane I was going to buy, I don’t need anymore. I still have days when I have pain or balance issues, but all of my problems are definitely on the mend. I know that in my future awaits a beautiful hike with friends and a night of dancing. I am no longer physically disabled by the mechanics of my body. Please, if you have balance issues, walking issues, chronic pain in your feet, hands, legs, back or neck, investigate it. You don’t have to live with chronic pain. My neck has had chronic pain for 35 years and my back for 20 years. I thought it was something I had to live with. Every single day I would think to myself, “if I feel this much pain at ____ age, how am I going to feel in my 80s?!” Now too, with physical rehabilitation and retraining and treatments that are specific to my body I am beginning to move like a normal human being and my pain is dissipating to the point where I can imagine living a pain free life.

And so this shout out goes to my team of medical professionals that are treating me and encouraging me and making a huge difference in my day-to-day life: Dr. Shelley, Dr. Word, Dr. Ayman, Lauralynn, Vanessa, Leigh, and Kirsten at Olympic Spine and Sport Therapy as well as Kate, Tristan, and Siobhan for ensuring that every single time I come in I feel like I am among friends who care about me. I look forward to my 3x a week appointments because each and every one of you makes the hard work and effort I’m putting into myself and my treatment easier.

For more information about Olympic Spine and Sport Therapy you can visit their website at Olympic Spine and Sport Therapy

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