Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I didn't think I’d ever be the same Lori Ann I was before the experience with Eric’s Canadian vacation. No matter my many faults and character defects, I had always been a trusting soul who wore her heart on her sleeve and opened up easily to just about anyone. Something inside me died those nine days and the cracks in my fragile ego were growing like those in a windshield of a car driven hastily over a road full of pot holes. My health suffered by my overuse and misuse of my medication to try and cope with my feelings of inadequacy. And since Eric constantly blamed me for pushing him away by my “constant questions “and “incessant neediness”, I was never more alone in my life. I spent half the time trying to find ways to make a connection with the man who once was my best friend, my confidant, my silly buddy, my lover, my soul mate and the other half asking for extra pain pills by exaggerating my discomfort or more Klonopin because my anxiety was so severe.
I started seeing the same neurologist I had been seeing before my injury for the horrible migraines which mysteriously disappeared after my neck was broken. Of course I suffered a different type of pain these days. The rehab and pain specialist doctors called it central pain which is a severe type of nerve pain that can happen anywhere below the level of the SCI (spinal cord injury, ed, ect.). The symptoms vary, but I had it worst in my legs. There’s almost no way to describe it to someone who has never had the pleasure of experiencing it firsthand. However, I will TRY. It felt as if my legs and feet were on fire from the INSIDE of bones out through the veins, arteries, tendons, nerves, muscles, and skin. It was excruciating. I would awaken screaming in pain which did NOT please Eric who was running on empty from lack of sleep and working too hard remodeling my bedroom. But the neurologist was giving me very strong narcotics again.
I also had other pain that almost drove me crazy. It was my butt. It hurt ALL the time. It hurt from sitting ALL the time and lying on my back most of the time while sleeping. I didn’t get much of chance of getting off of it except when Eric and my younger sister Mary who worked for me for about a year helped me roll over on my belly. If I could relax enough to get past the anxiety, I might even doze for an hour or so. Oh ,what sweet relief! I was going to outpatient physical and occupational therapy, seeking the magic combination of treatments, shots, or pain medications for my constant pain, and I began using a service the state offered called “peer support”. That’s when I met my good friend Don. He has cerebral palsy and his function as my peer counselor was to take me out into the public once again as a disabled individual. It was around this time that Mary left, citing personal conflicts as her reason. We had a few other attendants but eventually hired Janice who I became fast friends with.
As the spring rain was just letting up and looked like summer was just around the corner I felt what I thought was a chest cold coming on. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist and since his office was in the hospital; I decided to stop in the emergency room on my way back home and get checked out. My attendant went with me on all trips so Janice was there too. By this time, I loved her like a big sister and she seemed every bit as loyal, honest and committed to the friendship as I was.
After seeing my shrink and picking up my script for my regular meds, we took the short walk outside around the hospital to have a smoke before going to see the ER Doctor. However, I just couldn’t smoke my cigarette without coughing so hurried along and made our way into the sliding glass doors. It seemed as if we waited awhile and I had to go over my “story” again and again. When I finally saw the Doctor he told me my blood oxygen level was dangerously low and that his hospital was not equipped to take care of me. He said I should be life flighted to Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh PA where they could monitor me better and so forth. I really wasn’t worried I don’t know what was going on in my head. I just looked at Janice and almost jokingly said, “Ya wanna go on a helicopter ride?” and she told me she never was on one. So I said, nonchalantly, almost eagerly, “Let’s go then!” I had no idea what nightmare lay before me.