Physical pain and suicide
Past two weeks I have had two episodes of really bad physical pain that had me in tears and wanting to end my life. I didn’t do anything to spark this pain, such as dropping a brick on my foot or stubbing my toe. The pain went deeper than that. And despite taking pain medication, I still was in agony. People think that all you have to do is take a pill to make pain go away and most times it works. But what do you do when you have a condition that doesn’t allow for that?
I have what is known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, CRPS for short, in my left foot. I got it because of another long name diagnosis called Cauda Equina Syndrome, CES for short. I got this former condition as a result of a ruptured disc when I was twenty-five. I didn’t know that it would result in the CRPS until now. Since I was twenty-five, I never learned how to walk correctly and pulled muscles that were not meant for walking. Because of this overuse, I developed CRPS after eleven years of dealing with CES. I have been suffering with CRPS for the past 2 years and it sucks. Every pain flare up feels like it is going to last forever. I am on disability because I can no longer work as a lab assistant. I can’t walk long distances, or stand too long on my feet, which working in the lab you do all the time. You are constantly getting up and down going to the different areas of the lab for the different testing that we do.
The pain started after I sprained my ankle on some ice in the winter of 2011. I went to several different doctors but no one could tell me what was wrong. All the x-rays, MRI’s, and physical condition of my ankle were normal except for some minor swelling near my peroneous muscles and tendons. It is when these get really swollen that I am in agony. As I am typing this, my foot feels really cold, like it is soaking in ice water. But to the touch, it is warm. I have a sock on it to prevent it from cramping. I have to protect my foot at all times from the cold to prevent cramps that are eye popping and then my foot becomes really sore. I don’t have any physical discoloration like typical CRPS. I think if I did I would have an easier diagnosis.
This pain drives me to suicidal crises every single time it flares up. The last time this happened was last week. I didn’t do anything, but I really wanted to die. I am almost out of my pain pills as I have been gobbling them up like candy to try and take control of my pain. I see my PCP next week to get something for flare ups. If he doesn’t do anything for me then I am afraid that things do not look good for me, at least mentally. I wrote a letter to my psychiatrist when I had this pain flare up. She understands the only time lately I become suicidal is when my physical pain becomes unbearable. And my pain is never during normal business hours. It is during the after hours, wee hours of the morning. I can be up all night because of pain. And no matter what I take, once it starts it seems never ending until exhaustion comes into play and I get some relief. Only then do I become a “different person mentally.” The events of the night before seem remote, like they happened to someone else. I guess you can say I dissociate from the pain and what is killing me.
Pain flare ups are hard to predict. Sometimes they come up when I do too much. Making cookies one time caused a flare up. Washing dishes will cause another. Standing more than a half hour for the bus will cause another. I never know what to do when I feel the pain coming on. My first instinct is to pop a pill and try and relax. After a bit I will take a muscle relaxer to prevent anxiety and spasms/cramps. Sometimes this will work, sometimes it won’t. It’s when it won’t that the suicidal self goes into play and all I can think about is death. I often play my fantasy of what the doctor will say if he doesn’t give me pain medication. That truly terrifies me. I often come up with me telling him to sign my death certificate, because that is what will happen. I can’t live with this level of pain every day. Right now it is not so bad. I have restarted another mood stabilizer and it seems to be helping but I still feel I need a longer acting medication that I can use for flare ups and to get me to sleep better. Because without the benefit of sleep, nothing is worth a dime.