Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today, I am a Monster

The merry month of May five years ago is when my life changed.  I was run over by a crazy bitch improperly operating a piece of machinery suffered a workplace injury.  In the beginning, I tried to work with Workman's Comp and my employer's insurance company by following their instructions, seeing their doctors and trusting their diagnoses even when it didn't make sense, doing everything everyone told me to do and within a year I became that person who hates corporations and doctors, who hears the word "Workman's Comp" and begins telling everyone who will listen how completely and utterly fucked I feel.

"Fucked" an understatement.  Being on the losing end of a Workman's Comp related injury is like being viciously violated and then presented with a bill for services rendered. You lose your faith in your employer, in doctors, and in basic human decency because try as you might you can't figure out how permanently injuring someone like this could be ok and yet there are so many people - doctors, nurses, lawyers, people from the insurance company - who work for them and enforce what happens.

I experience pain every day, the difference is that what I used to consider mild/moderate pain is now my normal; I function at what normal people - or what I used to - consider a "4" on the pain scale.  A bad day can be pain so severe that at times I swear I can't see straight.  A bad day can range anywhere from hurting with every move to sitting in a chair, ice on my back and tears streaming down my face because no position, no pill, no alleged "remedy" will help.  Normal people might leave work or see a doctor,  I already know doctors can't or wont help me because if they could they would have sometime in the last 5 years (right?).  I can't afford to leave work every time my back hurts.  Truth be told, all I can do is clench my teeth, push through my day and hate myself because right now I am The Monster

The Monster is this guilty, hurtful, hateful, mean thing that I hate being, and the truth is that other people hate the monster too.  They can feel the negativity radiating off of me.  There is no doubt in my mind that my constant complaints about everything that bothers me, everything but my back, drives people away.  No one will say it, some people don't even realize that this is what pain makes me and not who I actually am as a person, they just back away slowly.  I try to mask it, stop it, hide it, medicate it, but somehow it just is never enough to keep the monster at bay. 

I currently work in Customer Service.  Sometimes I have days where it hurts just sitting in my chair and every person with a minor complaint seems to want to read me a Greek tragedy.  As I sit here trying to do my job, it is hard to resist the urge to tell people to tone down the theatrics, spare me the explanation and just tell me the frickin' problem so I can fix it and be done with it.  The thing is...when I'm in pain like this, I feel this way about every phone call and every email no matter how legitimate the complaint.  

I am riddled with guilt.  There are things I can't do and won't be doing for a few days, plans that will need to be cancelled, household chores that will need to wait (and grow increasingly nastier) until I can physically bring myself to do them.  I feel terrible because feeling this bad and knowing that I am able to have days more normal than today make me feel guilty for being so ungrateful for the days that aren't so bad - not everyone is so lucky.

I want to be thankful for the fact that I don't have a family who would have to shoulder things like the household responsibilities I can't handle right now, but then the bitterness sets in.  I don't have family who helps me with this on a day to day basis or comes to my house to help me with things I need done.  When I'm hurting at my worst I honestly start mentally tallying all the things I've done for them, and then I hate them for never helping me - though they have offered, I could never ask them to actually do what needs doing or rely on them for consistent help.  It is just too much for people who have their own homes to clean and their own families. 

Speaking of family, I honestly don't know that I'd ever be able to have a baby if I decided I wanted one because I'm too afraid of the extra weight and strain on my back.  My nephew was almost 3 when I got injured, and it broke my heart not to be able to pick him up, carry him and hold him the way he was used to before my injury.  How could I ever have a baby I can't pick up?  While I'm glad I don't have a family of my own to shoulder the burden of my injury, the thought that this impacts my ability to do so is heartbreaking in it's own way.

I'm ugly, and I don't mean in a metaphorical way.  I'm actually ugly because I don't give a shit about my makeup or my hair.  I want to go to work, do my job and come home.  When I get home, I have to make a choice about what I'm going to do that night: try and deal with the pain and make it better; try to power through what needs to be done that didn't because I was hurting; or have some kind of a life.

I strive so hard not to be one of those people who says, "Welcome to my world" to someone who is experiencing temporary discomfort in the same area because I know how much it hurts.  I respect that sometimes people just want to talk about how uncomfortable they are.  At the same time, I want to punch them and everyone who sympathizes with them because I know their pain will go away and mine won't.  Those temporary fellow sufferers and their sympathizers rarely acknowledge that the same pain is the one I live with daily.  I'm hurting so bad that the only way I can express any kind of sympathy or empathy is to just shut the hell up.

I used to try and explain chronic pain using The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino.  Now I just feel like explaining it costs me a spoon I don't have to lose, especially to those people I've had to explain it to more than once.  Eventually, keeping my spoon became more worth it than their understanding. 

Living with chronic pain is lonely.  You don't want people to come over because you don't want them to see the mess, or even worse, pity you and start helping.  At the same time, you can't afford to go out either because you just don't have the "spoons", or you need to use what spoons you do have to take care of what needs to get done, or you literally can't afford it because you missed work or paid for a prescription this week.

I know that I am not alone.  I know there are others out there who feel this way.  That doesn't make it any easier to live inside the monster sometimes. 

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