Archive for February, 2012

Bionic Mama

In one of my favorite childhood pictures I am standing, posed with my fists on my hips, in my Wonder Woman underoos. I have band-aids covering battle wounds on both knees and I am grinning ear to ear. I wanted so badly to be Wonder Woman, but it looks like I’ll have to settle for the Bionic Woman. Amazing legs, but her costume is very disappointing.

I do not have Endometriosis, I also do not have Cancer…perspective is everything. I’m recovered from my surgery and ready for the next solution: implantable pain control.  There are two types: nerve stimulator and drug delivery. The main goal is to control the pain with significantly less medication. I will start a nerve stimulator trial at the end of the month. It basically tricks your brain, making the pain sensation a good one (I’ve had some unmentionable recommendations as to what the sensation might be). I’ll have a wire implanted at my pain site and carry around a super fancy fanny pack for 10 days (maybe the Doc will let me use my Kate Spade instead). If it works, we will implant the pacemaker sized contraption into my back side – Ta-da! Bionic Woman!

Nerve stimulators are not super successful with my type of pain, but insurance likes you to test them. If it doesn’t work, we will move on to the drug delivery system trial. If you imagine the daily medication I am taking now is equivalent to a gallon milk jug, this system would lower it to a teaspoon. It delivers the meds directly to the spine, so you get better results without the mental and digestive side-effects. Same set-up as the last: pacemaker size machine implanted in the backside and refilled with an injection. Implantation can be a bit more dangerous, as it involves the spine.

My last pain clinic did not offer this as an option, telling me I was destined to take narcotics for the rest of my life. I am thrilled to have found another way around the looming dead-end. It feels a little dramatic, all of the procedures and such. But, I remain hopeful and grateful to live in the land of Medtronic. Thinking I need to do some underoo shopping in preparation…

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Work Sucks.

I like to think that I want every moment of energy to mean something, to be joyful, because they are so hard to come by. That I am somehow different or more observant in that way. But that is unlikely, it’s just me trying to make sense, to make something positive of this pain. Ultimately, it just comes down to the fact that the time I spend at my desk working is the most difficult time I put in throughout the week.

Every morning my six-year-old and one, if not both, of the dogs come bounding up the stairs to my loft bedroom and they JUMP on the bed to wake me. I lie there a minute, become conscious, and the first thing I think 5 of the 7 days a week is “How the hell am I going to get through the next 9 hours…I might not make it today” On the weekends I have more control, but the work days own me. I look at the clock and realize that I have no more time to think, I have to get rolling, cause I’m already late.

The other day I was giving my husband a kiss good-bye and he ask how I was feeling (it’s amazing that he still does this year after year) and I said, “I am in no shape to be going to work today.” The words fell out of my mouth and tears welled because of the truth they spoke. The truth I desperately ignore every morning. By the time I manage to get cleaned-up, lunch packed and kids kissed goodbye, I’ve already take 2 pain killers for the gnawing at my side.

There are many places to go from here:

  • Disability isn’t available for most pain diseases. We must work, no matter the pain we are in.
  • Pain is misunderstood; many managers and co-workers feel it is a disease of moral failure or poor tolerance.
  • Pain treatment is controversial and many workers are uncomfortable sharing their disease with their work place.
  • Nationally,  $297-$336 billion are lost annually are lost productivity due to chronic pain (based on days of work missed, hours of work lost, and lower wages).
  • Most managers would rather let someone go/force someone out than deal with their pain related needs. The pain becomes more important than the value that employee has to offer.

Really, I only have my own experience to speak of. If I had a hearing disability, my work would be required to make the accommodations I need to continue being as productive and comfortable as possible. I have stabbing pain many hours of the day and everyone in the office can ignore it completely. Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. It’s time we start considering what that means for our workplace. I can guarantee that a flexible work schedule, or work from home options, would improve my productivity two-fold. I am passionate about the field in which I work and would love to be proud of the impact I make everyday.

And, perhaps more importantly, when my girl and her dogs come running up the stairs in the morning, I might spend a few moments thinking what a gift today is.

The Littlest Rabbit

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