As many of may know, I’ve had chronic back pain for around 18 months now. It’s been a real challenge to overcome it, and it’s tied in with many of the underlining reasons I got addicted to the pain killers Codeine and Oxycodone.
Well thankfully it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, but not because it’s less painful, but simply because I don’t really allow it to control my life. I really try not to pay attention to the pain, and for the most part, it works relatively well.
There are of course always those bad episodes where you kind of have to acknowledge the pain seems worse, in order to take the necessary steps to reduce it. Last night I had one of these episodes, and the result of it kind of shocked me to the core. The reason I’m telling you about it, is not for sympathy, but more to show just how complicated chronic pain can be. The things that you’ll do to manage it are beyond normal or even reasonable.
I went to bed around 10:30, but got up around mid night. Conceding to my back pain, I realized that I had to heat my hot water bottle up so I could place it on my back as I tried to sleep. The intense heat from the hot water bottle does absolute wonders for the pain, and as far back as I can now remember, you won’t find me in my house without one behind my back.
I wasn’t wearing a shirt, because naturally…who does when trying to sleep, and there happens to be a mirror in the kitchen. While I was waiting for the hot water to boil, I decided as many of us do at certain points in our life, that I wanted to know more about how my back looked.
So I positioned myself to see it in the mirror, and what I saw made the hairs on my neck stand on edge. At first I wasn’t even sure what it was, and I actually almost freaked out, thinking what the fuck has happened to my back. It didn’t take long for me to work out what had caused it. Third degree burns, all the way from my lower back to right under each shoulder blade. It looked absolutely vile. I was repulsed.
Then, after a minute of looking at the implications of putting almost boiling water against my shirt every day for over 6 months;
I went over to the kettle, poured the boiling hot water into my bottle, and went to bed.
Even after seeing what using it as much as I do has done to my back, I would still rather have the burns and scars on my back, than face the pain when it flares up. If that’s not a good example of how chronic pain can effect your life, I really don’t know what is.
As I write this I’ve got the hot water bottle behind my back. This is the morning after seeing it for the first time. Yet hear I am, knowing that having it there is going to be making it worse, and probably increasing the chance of it becoming life long scars. Yet I write, and yet it sits. I will not move it. I can not move it.
The pain is worse than the fear of disfigurement and scarring.
And my pain is entirely neurological. It’s not even “physically real”.
I guess the funny part is, this blog doesn’t seem particularly positive, but actually, it is. I understand what I’m doing to my back and while I really wish there was a better way, I know that ultimately until my back pain disappears I will have to continue managing it in any way I can. The hot water bottle is so effective it’s not worth it for me to stop. I actually kind of feel like I can’t.
But I’m not worried. It’s not something I can really control, I can only do what I can to manage it. Maybe someday I’ll be able to stop using the hot water bottle, and hopefully it will fade away. Ultimately though, I have scars from surgery, and some people have asked if I would have them surgically removed. I wouldn’t dream of it. These scars define who I am. They are a part of my life. My history. I feel the same way about the burns on my back. It’s not that I think they look good, they look awful, but I am not prepared to be uncomfortable, unhappy or ashamed of who I am.
This is me.
And I’m proud to be me.