My Story: Fighting Through Pain with God and Family

My Story: Fighting Through Pain with God and Family

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.

I tried.

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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Authored by: Tiffany Nichols

There are 7 comments for this article
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  2. Joanna at 6:32 am

    God bless you, Tiffany…despite your struggles it’s plain to see you are a fighter. That’s really all any of us can do.

    I know it’s often hard to see, but I like to think there is a divine reason we are put to the test like this. For everyone it’s different and may take a while to figure out, but I really do believe it’s there.

    Your children are surely drawing inspiration from their mother’s strength, no matter how you feel they may not.

  3. Dennis J. Capolongo / EDNC at 1:26 pm

    Hi again… Well, from my perspective that’s a good thing that no one has yet forced you to have ESI’s. So please be careful and do your research before any new treatment plan (especially steroid laced needles) are started.

    On another note, please be on the lookout here at NPR for my simple and innovative way to graphically depict and track your pain to help your doctor better visualize & evaluate your symptoms.

  4. Stephen M at 11:26 am

    It sickens me that as Americans we can’t get access to basic, effective pain care (opioids), but when I’m reminded that even veterans (actually especially veterans) are denied this basic level of care, it disgusts me to my core. We need to end this epidemic of opioiphobia. Aside from denying people opioids, opioiphobia causes the medical profession to view as all as potential addicts instead of patients. Doctors should be healers, not drug cops. I can’t get into an interventional pain doctor because we PCP has me on opioids (although not nearly enough), even though they would not be prescribing, they refuse to touch us opioid tolerant patients.

    I was mistakenly diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which caused the doctors to treat me like a psych patient instead of a pain patient for years, even now it persists with some doctors simply because it was once an active diagnosis (they can only deactivate it, not remove it from the EMR)

  5. Tiffany Nichols at 9:48 am

    No I have not had any injections as of yet. Since I have painful numbing in me leg and no feeling in my toes they are starting to point toward the injections. I am now being discharged from chiropractic care. Also they gabapentin and And now Lyrica have left me with a lot of neurological issues including memory loss. The crazy part is that everyone tells me unless I let my guard down for a brief second and show the pain, they can’t tell I am in pain because I am always smiling, cracking jokes and laughing. I have finally after 11 years accepted my new way of life and accept that this is just me now. I am happy, I have a family and a few friends left. Not many can say that.

  6. Terri at 9:36 am

    Check out Rest Ministries at http://www.restministries.com and on facebook!
    They are a Christian organization supporting those with invisible disabilities, especially chronic pain.
    A lifesaver!

  7. Dennis J. Capolongo / EDNC at 9:03 am

    Hi Tiffany, I’m so sorry to read about your plight, and yet proud of your patriotic service. Every month I hear from veterans like you who have suffered from back injury during their training period or while deployed overseas with some believing they were made worse at the hands of their treating physician. Have you ever had epidural steroid injections (ESI’s) or nerve block injections to treat your condition? This popular yet unapproved form of pain management is currently under FDA investigation due to its high-risk potential that could possibly explain many of the symptoms you are now experiencing. Reported adverse events span a wide gamut from permanent nerve damage, arterial infarction, sensory nervous system disturbances, paralysis, bowel & bladder dysfunction, arachnoiditis, death, etc.

    If you had these injections, even one, it is quite possible you may be suffering from a severe adverse event that’s compounding the underlining issue.