When I acquired a chronic pain disability following a workplace-related accident, I couldn’t even fathom my nerve pain levels ever getting worse. At the time, never-ending neck and back pain dominated my daily life and limited or eliminated all of my daily living activities and ability to exercise. My Workers’ Compensation doctor advised that I would need to accept that I had a permanent pain disability.
After going through a difficult “fail first” pain medication process, my doctor prescribed Oxycontin to control pain. The problem was that it was ineffective for me and due to scary stories I heard about emerging addiction concerns, I declined his offer to increase dosages.
Two years later I was diagnosed with colon cancer and scheduled for immediate surgery. While grateful for a successful surgical outcome, enduring incision-related pain on top of nerve pain made for a difficult and slow recovery.
I was told that Oxycontin was my only available pain relief option, but the gap between its ineffectiveness grew wider following the surgery. It became a viscous circle of surgical pain inciting even more nerve pain so every part of daily living and the ability to sleep were exponentially impacted.
Another problem was the lack of full recognition by post-surgery medical staff about the dual impact of nerve and surgical pain during hospitalization and home recovery. Once the effects of the surgical pain medication wore off, every recovery day was hellish. I tried my best to describe the pain duality problem, but only received polite nods and best wishes.
After a long recovery period, the surgical pain diminished and my crippling “normal” nerve pain became my singularity. For some strange reason I was grateful that I had a single rather than double scoop of pain, but I wish that the impact of an existing pain disability after cancer surgery and treatment got more recognition.