Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fear is debilitating

I have been having a lot of pain in my right elbow, going down my arm. My RSD pain is generally in my legs, back, and joints, but this amount of right elbow pain is new for me. My hand is on fire, I can't move my hand without making strange noises because the pain is that bad. It's enough that I'm having trouble typing, and (you'll all laugh at this) I can't push my own wheelchair - I'm forced to ask for help.

Okay, I've had new pains before, this is nothing special. The problem is the fear. Every time I experience a new pain, especially if it lasts for more than just a couple of days, I'm sure it's the RSD progressing, and this pain will never go away. Once you have a degenerative disease, you can't just pull a muscle or sprain an ankle. Everything is "oh my goodness, my [insert degenerative disease here] is getting worse again, my ___ hurts." Then the 'whatever was hurting' starts feeling better and I realize that I panicked for no reason. That fear is just so difficult to overcome.

I have heard people with Multiple Sclerosis say the same type thing. Every time they have a flare up, they're sure that this is the time that the MS won't go away - it won't be remitting anymore. Then the symptoms ease, and they realized that they were paralyzed by fear, not MS.

But how do I stop doing that? How do I stop feeling every new ache and pain so acutely, and getting terrified by it? Some of the aches and pains didn't go away; I was right, the RSD had spread, and the new pain was mine to keep. But many more times, it was a simple "I guess I'm not as young as I used to be" pain, and it went away in several days. And yet, now I get a toothache and I'm sure my mouth will hurt forever. It's the fear; fear is absolutely debilitating.

I also find myself being scared whenever a loved one has to have surgery. My mother-in-law has had several joint replacements, and my husband had multiple surgical procedures after his racquetball debacle (see "Seeing pain from the outside." 4/27/09), and I was afraid each time that they would get RSD. Forget that RSD is rare, and that many people have surgery every day and don't get it, I'm afraid anyway.

One of these days I'll get a handle on my fear. Mostly I fear my pain, it's so intense and so crippling. But I don't want my fear to hold me back. I need to learn to assume that an ache or pain will go away rather than the opposite, and I need to accept the pain I already have and stop being so afraid. Any thoughts?

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