By Amanda, Thoracic outlet syndrome, United States, June 7, 2019
Coexisting with pain is indescribable, indefinable. Pain doesn't have a face or a physical identity, and it won't produce an image on an X-ray.
I was involved in an accident in February 2018 where another car ran mine off of an interstate road and the car overturned and landed on the roof. Lucklily my partner and I were able to get out of the accident with just a few cuts and scrapes, and we both ended up going to the hospital the next day for neck/back pain and sent home without any major injuries. After a progressive decline and prolonged inconclusive testing I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome in February 2019.
Burning pain, stabbing, aching, numb, dull, loss of function, abnormal sensations, temperature sensitivity. My hand felt cold, my arm was sensitive to touch, my cervical neck pain caused migraines at least 4-5 days a week, my back and neck stiff with spasms. I had to wrap my wrist and pinky finger because they were painful to move and were always numb. Putting my elbow down on a table felt like it was just hit with a hammer. I gave myself bruises trying to massage the tension of the muscles for some relief. I withdrew from family and friends because I felt like a burden but I continued working up until the weekend before I had surgery this past May.
One human will never be able to experience another human's physical suffering, they will never be able to see or touch it; the most that humans can do is try to relate to each other, which oftentimes results in judgement due to misunderstanding. When you coexist with pain, you're making the choice to share your bed with something terrible and wake up to it the next day. Even though you loathe it, life has a slight imbalance when it leaves for a moment.
Depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia and mental health issues latch onto pain and exacerbate it. Through all of this I've felt abandoned by my body, frustration and abandonment by the healthcare system, waking up with dread, a loss of independence, rage, uselesness and loneliness. So far I've had positive results from the surgery, and it has at least given me hope.
Believe people who are debilitated or withdraw themselves due to persistent pain. Believe that people with depression along with chronic pain are directly driven to regard suicide as an option, even if it is just a recurring thought. Sometimes having the understanding and consolation from another person is the only relief.