Chronic Pain Answer on the Horizon?

I had a visit to the doctor the other week. After trying many things to find the answer to my chronic pain (turmeric, magnesium, stopping my birth control, stopping my simvastatin, amongst a dozen other supplements none of which worked) he finally agreed it was possibly lupus and definitely something autoimmune. He reversed my diabetes diagnosis and stated there is no way I have diabetes with an average hba1c of 5.4. There is also no way I could neuropathy and kidney disease without having diabetes. He sent a referral to the rheumatologist/immunologist at Shand’s in Gainesville. They are going to see me in September finally. I am still on the waitlist at Shand’s for neurology. The clinic is an hour and a half from my home and I will lose a days worth of work (thank goodness for PTO and an amazing company I work for). I would drive to New England if it meant getting an answer.

So you ask what the hell does all that have to do with domestic violence? I will explain it all. I suffered two traumatic brain injuries, full on concussions 21 years ago. The first concussion I was knocked unconscious and pretty much left for dead with three children at home. My children were ages 4 months, 3 and 6 years old. Obviously they could not help me and did not know it even happened. I do not know how long I was out for. I woke up not knowing the crying infant was my own child. I had full amnesia. I heard a knock on the door. I went downstairs to open the door and a police officer was there. He was a familiar face in the neighborhood everyone knew and him and respected him. I never sought medical attention for the serious brain injury. It was not until weeks later I realized the extent of what happened. When I questioned the man that did this to me, he would only say he hit me with his fist. I am sorry but I truly believe that level of brain trauma was caused from a blunt object, which my doctor agrees.

Less than six months later, once again another brain injury. This time luckily I was not struck with anything in the head. I do not remember much of the incident. I remember we were arguing about something in his mother’s home. I do not remember what it was about. And he pushed me HARD asf. She had a split floor living room and when he pushed me, I lost my footing on the edge of the top level of the floor and fell straight backward onto my head from that second level floor. The only thing I can remember from that night was the man holding my head in his lap and him yelling at me “DON’T GO TO SLEEP!” I am pretty sure after that I blacked out due to not remembering anything. I do not know how we got home. I do not even remember waking up the next day. I don’t remember shit of that night.

And now what this has to do with domestic violence: my doctor believes that much of my chronic pain could be attributed to these very serious traumatic brain injuries and if I suffer another brain injury of that caliber, it will be devastating. The last few months of my chronic pain have been worse than ever!! I have been declining rapidly. I have excruciating cramps in my feet that cause my feet to contort in ways I never thought were possible. I have headaches every damn day. I go to bed with a headache and wake up with a headache. Migraines. I take BC powder now like Lick Em Sticks almost. I have joint swelling and pain that is debilitating. The joint pain is daily now, my hips, fingers, ankles, feet, knees, elbows, and hands. If I have to walk for more than 10 minutes forget it. The pain becomes severe and I need a cane or walker to assist with walking to alleviate the pressure in my hips. My muscles are very weak and become painful. I take Baclofen and Robaxin, most of the time they don’t do shit for the muscle spasms. Climbing stairs? Yeah HELL NO. If it’s more than 2-3 stairs its impossible without severe pain. I have to live with this every fucking day. And having to live with the possibility that all this could be caused from a man who decided it was okay to beat the hell of me nearly every weekend for 8 years. Sometimes I down myself for staying all those years but logically I know why I did it. The degradation, name calling, put downs, and beatings almost left me no choice. I lived in constant fear. I had to live with PTSD and constantly looking over my shoulder. Thank goodness I finally got the therapy I needed and did not need the dozens of medications they tried to treat my PTSD with at this shitty mental health clinic I was at. I went there for insomnia and anxiety and they put me on antidepressant after antidepressant that I did not need!! With the new mental health clinic, the doctor took me off of the benzodiazepines I was taking for 14 years (Ativan and Restoril) and he put me on only trazodone, because I do not sleep due to the brain injury, and gave me coping skills. After about 3 years I could finally begin to function normally!

Now the PTSD is minimal. My anxiety is bothersome when I am in large crowds or hear people arguing. I become neurotic when I hear loud music or yelling. I have been mostly single for the last 10 years and happy for it. I did develop a fear of trusting others. I have a well mind now and do not want anyone to jeopardize that. I have an amazing career as a social worker helping others. The only thing I wish that were different was the chronic pain I live with daily. If you are in a toxic, volatile, codependent relationship there is help. Its difficult to leave and nearly impossible without help.

“I often wished that more people understood the invisible side of things. Even the people who seemed to understand, didn’t really.”

-Jennifer Starzec

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