My spine shifted to the right and my vertebrae were knocked out of alignment. A critical nerve root in my spinal cord was nearly severed, leaving me with no feeling in my right leg, foot, and toes.
For months after the accident I went through traction, steroid injections, and surgery to remove the damaged bone and restore some of the feeling in my leg. I went back and forth to my neurosurgeon for a cocktail of narcoticsbut even with all the drugs, pain had taken over my life.
I wore a leg brace and could barely get out of bed. I couldn't walk, hadn't driven in months, and lived in constant fear of these terrible, electrocution-like shocks that shot through my lower back, leg, and foot nearly every 10 seconds.
Hitting rock bottomand begging for help
No matter how many times I went back and forth to my doctorstelling them I wasn't sleeping, had lost 30 pounds, wasn't eating, and sinking into depressionnot one of them ever said to me, "You should see a pain doctor." I'd been a nurse for about six years, and I know the importance of getting a second opinion.
So almost a year after my accident, I called my neurosurgeon at 4:30 in the morning. I remember thinking, I literally cannot live another day like this. My suffering had affected every single aspect of my life: relationships, spirituality, my self-identityit had all just collapsed around me.
On the phone I told my doctor that I had to do something to make the pain manageable, just so I could sleep and walk again. And he said to me, totally exasperated, "What do you want from me, Sweetie?" Sweetie. That just blew me away.
I told him I'd written a letter that held him and my insurance company responsible, if anything happened to me, for allowing me to suffer for so long. I told him he had one hour to get me some help. He finally said, "Well, at this point, I guess you're a chronic pain patient."
I called the 24-hour emergency line at my insurance company, and they made me an appointment at 9:30 that morning with a pain physician. Finally, someone had listened to me.