Count My Blessings
Part One The Pain Never Ends
When I think of the title of this I realize I have too many blessings to really count. I have been blessed with family and friends that warm my heart. My little grandson has been the sunshine of my life and my daughter is always there for us. My husband knows more than any the endless days with me groaning in pain and trying my best to go on in life and be able to feel I am not worthless. Together we try each day to do the best that we can.
There are others. There are so many others who have helped. Even with all the help and encouragement the pain never ended. I have lived through a lot of pain in this life but my back and at times my foot never stopped. Even in the night, it never stopped. I began to lose hope and feel so desperate. I did not want to die but how could I live and have any real life?
Even in the hospital the doctors said how sorry they were for me after the MRI and CT scans showed what was going on in my spine. They can not give strong pain medication or I might now be able to breathe and the lung I have left might begin to fill with fluid. They offered counseling.
Eventually I was referred to a pain management specialist named S_ _ _. I will not call him a doctor. I have never been closer to giving up in my life than after one visit with him. He had not read any of my records or considered any other problems I might have. He announced that my only problem was that I was lazy. I was selfish being so lazy to my family and all around me. He said he was going to go in and do a nerve branch block and I needed to get an exercise bicycle.
I told him I had been going to the Health and Wellness center 3 times a week and it was helping so much and I was able to loose 1 ½ to 2 pounds a week. He announced that was useless and a waste of time. I was just lazy.
I asked how he would prevent excessive bleeding and swelling if he did anything to the spine. He paused and looked confused saying he saw no reason it would be a problem. I reminded him on what blood thinners I was on. I knew he had not even read my medication list let alone any other health issues.
He told me to quit taking them for two weeks. I was outraged and repeated what the cardiologist said after the 4 stints were put in. He told me I would die if I did not take them and allow the stints to heal in place. He said to not even miss a single dose let alone two weeks.
The response was to hand me a prescription for pain meds and tell me to just skip a day or two and he would do what he thought was best. He ranted on saying I was worthless and lazy and other things. He said there was no excuse for lazy people like me.
I did what I thought best and never went back. I did not fill his prescription and just went home. When I got home his loud and abusive tirade echoed in my mind. Memories began to flood in of my mother and grandmother.
I remembered my grandmother laughing and smiling and all of us gathering together for every holiday. I remember her as health issues seemed to be stealing away the joy and ability to enjoy life for her, no matter how we tried. The answer for her was medication and more medication. Pain meds, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, tranquilizers and more. Medications to treat the side affects of other pills. At that time it was common and sometimes still is, to treat anything with pills and if that does not work just give more pills with more side affects. She had a whole case full of pills and still suffered with pain as her spine deteriorated more and more. The more it hurt the less she moved until she was a prisoner in her own body. The suffering as she lay with bed sores growing and not even able to turn over was heart breaking.
I remembered my mother, who we had just lost, suffering with spine pain and eventually almost bed-fast and in a wheelchair. She had lived most of her life on so many pills of all kinds. So many pills and each with their own side affects. There were times she drooled from her mouth and could not even talk but always more pills.
There are no words to explain what I felt that night after my visit with S_ _ _. I have never been closer to giving up. I wondered if there was any hope for me at all. I did not want to leave my family and felt I had so much more I wanted to do in life but what hope was there left?
The level of pain I endured made controlling my blood pressure impossible. Terrible pain can not only steal the joy from life but kill a little at a time or even quicker if the heart gives out or a massive stroke lay in the future.
I tried one last thing and agreed to see another pain doctor named Dr. Gera. By then, I had begun to feel there was no hope left for me. You can only live so long when the pain never ends before the body gives up. Our life was filled with challenges. With Albert unable to work we often had to go to food pantries for what little they could help with. Worry about if we could afford the blood pressure medications and others I was on made me dread the day I would end up with a stroke lying in a bed and nothing to fill the hours but more pain. Hope was dim or almost gone.
Dr. Gera did so much more than ease the pain. Dr. Gera restored my hope for life. He not only is an amazing doctor but a person of heart and care for others. He has done so much for me there are really no words to tell. He did the same thing for my husband as he suffered head aches that incapacitated he and left him no peace or hope. What can you say about someone who cares and dedicates their life working to ease the pain and suffering of others?
My whole family is grateful for the help he has given me. My little grandson said he has been so worried about me. He said he could feel how sick I was and he loved me and wanted to help me but did not know how. Then he smiled and said he could tell I am doing so much better and seem happier. He smiled even bigger and told me someday I could go outside with him and Papaw (Albert) and we could all roast hot dogs together. They gathered up their things and headed out to cook our supper. When they came in they were smiling as little Zander announced that he cooked my hot dogs himself and did them just like I like them.
What Dr. Gera did for both of us helps our whole family. I don't know if he could ever really know what a difference he makes. We had to go and pick up my medical supplies. The woman there noticed I was doing so much better and I told her it was because of Dr. Gera. A big smile came on her face as she told me her sister and sister's husband also went to Dr. Gera. She told me how grateful the whole family was. Her sister had gone to Dr. S_ _ _ and after one visit was so devastated and depressed she had to seek counseling and they worried she might become suicidal. The woman was filled with outrage as she continued to tell of how destructive that one visit had been. Her sister had been told she was just lazy and apparently the same treatment I had received.
I asked how her sister was doing now and she said thanks to Dr. Gera, she and her husband were doing great and so much happier than she had been in years. She told me how her whole family is grateful to Dr. Gera and I shared our story too.
If you know of someone in the North East Arkansas area I hope you share this with them if they are in pain and know the hopeless feeling not knowing where they can turn. I trust this man with my life as well as my care as he works so hard to help in this difficult time of life.
If I wanted to count my blessings I would have to say Dr. Gera is that. He is a blessing to not only my husband and me but so many others.