Editor’s Note: September is Pain Awareness Month – The National Pain Report has received a number of personal stories. Tiffany Nichols lives in New York and served in the U.S Army who is now married with three children. She sent this personal story to us.
I joined the U.S. Army to serve my country after 9/11. I was healthy and ready to fight when I enlisted in September 2002. But fate intervened.
During my training I was injured.
And as soldiers do and, are often taught, I pushed through the injury and graduated in 2003. What I didn’t know at the time was that I injured my back and pinched my sciatic nerve. No x-rays were done, no therapy was given – rather than they gave some ibuprofen and sent me on my way. By the time I got to my post I was in severe pain. I then found out my arches had fallen.
They gave me some generic inserts and more ibuprofen. Eventually, walking became a problem, my ankles rolled every time I tried. I was medically discharged.
I was no longer the soldier that I dreamed to be.
My care was given to the Veterans Administration (VA). I trusted them to make me 100% better. 3 years later, the pain was worse not better. In addition to my back and feet, my knees, the top of my feet, my hands and wrists all were in pain.
The best way to describe it is that it felt like someone was squeezing me hard and just wouldn’t let go.
I eventually saw the foot, pain and orthopedic clinics, there were so many clinics. But I couldn’t find relief and they all gave up.
I fell into a deep depression. I had been working, and was just promoted at my job, had a new house but the pain prevented me from working.
The feeling came over me that I just wanted to die.
Why did God do this to me?
Why did I have to live in constant pain with no one to help?
My husband stood by me, even after I told him to leave him. I wasn’t the happy go lucky woman I once was. He didn’t. He urged me to go on.
After five years of constant pain and one attempt at taking my life, I was able to see a mental health professional who let me get everything off my chest.
And then I was able to get a diagnosis: fibromyalgia, achilles tendonitis, arthritis in every joint, weakness in my ankles and knees, carpal tunnel, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, as well as the depression and diabetes.
I’m still in pain, actually the pain is worse. I am now on 14 different meds, I have use to a walker in my house and wheel chair scooter outside.
And as you know the VA has taken almost every chronic pain off all the narcotic drugs so I have no help to lessen the pain.
But I persevere.
I am mentally a shell of a person I was.
God is helping. When I get frustrated and hopeless I got to my church to find a quiet room and worship God.
Also I sing—like crazy—ever day.
I thank God for the growth of my husband as my caretaker.
(My children still some help on that front 🙂 )
My pain is constant but through it all I thank God for my family.
Without them, I wouldn’t still be here.
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