Last year, I went from having chronic neck pain, to having neck pain and a numb hand – being told all different manner of things were wrong, then I went to those things PLUS shoulder pain, ending with removal of a herniated disc between C5 and C6, and all the things that go along with that healing.
Looking back, almost a year later, I have a “top ten” of what I WISH I had known about chronic pain and healing from surgery.
10. Pain is not always located in the source (i.e. numb hand caused by neck issue)
Try not to resist when the doctors look in other places for causes.
9. MRI’s are terrifying. Your fat may jiggle, it’s freaking noisy, claustrophobia-inducing
– it’s all good, and over quickly enough to let you relax…
8. It’s important to get rest.
But don’t rest too much – get up and move, even if you’re achy – you’ll kick yourself for not moving enough later.
6. Ask for further clarification.
I heard things that were so often corrected later that would have saved me a lot of trouble…
5. Pain meds are delightful – but doctors are not careful about how much they give you.
You may have an addictive chemistry.
Quitting these drugs may make you nuts. (Shaky, sweaty, paranoid.)
Doctors may or may not understand/be able to support.
Try not to take any more than you need – ask for help if this is a concern.
DO NOT feel too embarrassed to get help.
4. You will take longer to heal than you’d like.
I’m sorry – I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t wish they could be done healing just a little bit sooner.
Even once you are “healed” there will be latent pain – achey-ness that is normal – it will get better, keep moving!
3. If your procedure requires you to wear some sort of equipment to support the injured area, i.e. a neck brace, you will have to worry about explaining it. To everyone. Strangers in the McDonald’s drive thru, people in the store, everyone where you work – you will be completely unable to escape your surgery if you are out in public.
I think they mean well, but I must say it was infuriating at points…
2. Find a doctor you can trust. This person will be responsible for how your healing goes!
(I happened to have one fall into my lap and found out after surgery he was THE BEST I could have possibly had…should probably have done research before, I lucked out!)
1. Some people will fall out of the woodwork to help.
Others might need to be asked – they don’t want to bother you.
Remember that no matter how people act, they care.
Some people worry about being in your hair, some can’t seem to leave you alone – nobody’s perfect.
It’s hard to find forgiveness when YOU are the patient, but do your best.
All this to say, you will heal. There may always be a hint of your surgery – a scar, other treatment, other equipment – but in the end, this is a step towards fixing something that wasn’t working in your body – and I’m grateful there was that help!
And in my case, I’ll treasure the scar, and the awesome hardware in my neck – I feel tough, and will set off old fashioned metal detectors EVERYWHERE I go, like a really tough person…because without them, I’d not be able to use my dominant hand, and be in pain on a regular basis – not a great way to feel.