“I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”
– Audrey Hepburn
I cannot recall a time when the happiness of others did not supersede that of my own. My happiness has been so intertwined with others that the only moments of pleasure I could grasp were those generated from the satisfaction of colleagues and family. I survived by feeding off the delight of those around me. Looking back, I saw it coming…
Maybe in your terrible you cried for hours. Maybe your pain endured without break longer than you could tolerate. Maybe you were angry. Maybe you set too high of expectations for yourself. Maybe your anxiety led to severe gastrointestinal issues. Maybe something as simple as a long car ride became unbearable. Maybe a minute incident set off a series of events that would lead to hospitalization.
Maybe all of the above apply to you…
…I know they do me.
It is okay to need help. And it is okay to scream for that help – if you need to – because you can’t take this journey alone. Screaming should be your last option; trust me, I learned this in an incredibly hard way. It is also okay to demand more from your team of doctors. If you know me well, you know that my agreeable demeanor can work against me. I have learned that you cannot merely agree with your doctor. You should question and research. You are your strongest advocate in the healthcare circus.
After spending a week in a hospital, I was able to find a medication that has brought me significant pain reduction – a medication that was never offered by my neurologist or pain management clinic (narcotics, nerve blocks, and surgery). Additionally, I have been given the time I need to develop and practice pain and stress management techniques. I have never felt more like myself since the complications than I have the past couple of days.
Time. I am incredibly thankful for the arrangements that I have been able to make with my employer to take advantage of their short-term disability. My doctor has advised me to take several weeks of time away from the office to focus on stress and pain management. As anyone with CRPS can attest to, stress and anxiety is very closely related to this medical condition; one is strongly affected by the other. Before my hospitalization, I had allowed my anxiety and medical condition to begin snowballing into a cycle so large that I could no longer pull myself out.
Hope. I must admit I’ve clung onto little hope over the last three years following the surgical complications, but today I come to you with real, honest hope – more hope than I’ve felt in many years. In the terribleness of the past few weeks, I have discovered a new drug combination that is reducing my pain to quite low levels. And I would like to think that I’m acting more like myself than I have in just as many years. I am goofier and more loving. I am more understanding and somewhat less stubborn (but only somewhat).
It can be difficult to find a provider for the medication that worked for my pain management. It requires a special license to prescribe. It was labeled for treatment of cessation of opiates (i.e. this is not an opiate), but doctors have found that it has significant pain and anxiety reduction characteristics. Suboxone reduced my pain to a 4-5 (has not been below a 6). One lucky day topped off at about a 2. Yes, I was shocked. Side effects of suboxone: general fogginess (pretty severe at first), muscle spasms (affects typing), loss of words, and tiredness. I’m finding that some of these side effects are improving, except the muscle spasms – they seem to be worsening. Suboxone is not an opiate and, therefore, works differently with the receptors in your brain, creating a lot of positive differences from opiates. In combination with my other medications, I have been impressed with its promise.
And So I Shall
And so I shall use this time to learn the difference between selfishness and survival/thriving (thrivival ?). I will not waste the blessing I was so fortuitously given. I will learn to meditate and begin exercising every week. And I will learn what brings me happiness outside of my career. Because I cannot help others without first helping myself.
“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”
– Robert H. Schuller