By: Summer Hill
I am a 56-year-old woman who fully understands Chronic Pain. I was born with Migraine Headaches, although undiagnosed until my early teens. As a child, I would cry, telling my parents my head hurt so bad to please come help me. At one point. I believe I was about 7 or 8 years old… I was diagnosed with “Encephalitis,” … or swelling of the brain. For some unknown reason.
I was in the hospital where I grew up in NY for over two weeks. It turned out to be a good hospitalization because this is when they realized I had “Chiari Malformation”, a condition where the brain extends into the spinal cord. It is very painful at times, and the reason why my migraines can get so bad. It also causes problems with swallowing, sensitivity to light, reduced sensation to touch, nausea, ringing in the ears, vertigo, and changes to the voice.
Most of my childhood symptoms seemed to come on for a week or two and would go again as rapidly as they came on. As I began to reach puberty came a new set of problems. Every other month the pain would be so horrible I would be doubled over in pain. My parents finally took me to the Emergency Room, where I was admitted into the hospital for more testing.
Right away, they saw a very rare “Fetus in Fetu” or “Fetus within Fetus.” This type of “Teratoma” has the appearance of an undeveloped Fetus- located within the body. Mine was on the left ovary. Once it was removed, I was told that I “might” have a difficult time getting pregnant every other month.
My life moved along with bouts of the one to two-week illness that I had come to know until I was about the age of 34 when we lived in TN. I went to bed one night after work only to be struck with extreme pain in my legs. By morning the pain had subsided enough for me to get off to work. This routine continued for months with no relief. My husband could not help. I went from doctor to doctor with no answer. All that changed was my list of symptoms. And I could find no one who understood my situation.
That is until the Fall of 2004. When I was 37 years old. I was sent to see a rheumatologist when we were in TX. He listened, and I do mean he heard everything I had to say! He did a few tests on me, and we talked about a fairly new diagnosis, “Fibromyalgia. ” Which is compounded by my “Chiari Malformation. ” He explained that I would never get any better and probably get much worse over time.
He was right. He said that I may never have a successful pregnancy. And he was right. He also said before long, I would be taking more medication to deal with all that comes with “Fibromyalgia,” and again, he was right.
To name a few:
* Restless Leg Syndrome
* Acid Reflux
I take 20 different medications, all of which has had an effect on my dental health. No matter how much I brush. It just doesn’t seem to matter.
So… when you are on a chronic pain plan and disability, you must find ways that feed you. Ways that you can still feel like a normal person each day. Create your own power. Some ways you can create your own power are to…
* Help the homeless
* Donate your time with _____
* Children’s library
It doesn’t matter what you do or how much time you devote. Just give something of yourself, and before long, you will begin to feel very positive and powerful about yourself!
From the author: I am a 56-year-old woman who has been married to the military for almost 26 years.
I am a giver by nature, so donating my time comes naturally for me.