The regular followers of this blog know that I occasionally blog about my dealing with chronic pain, and this is another such blog entry. For over a decade now, I've been dealing with pain that's caused by a reconstructive chest surgery I had when I was a teenager that has slowly been breaking down. Unfortunately, the deterioration seems to be increasing. It used to be that I had pain in my two lower left ribs, but now I'm beginning to have pain all through my chest...in all of the ribs and in the sternum. It's also become painfully obvious that my sternum is collapsing further into my chest. Although that may sound scary, it actually isn't. The collapse is very slow, which, unfortunately, is causing me to have shortness of breath. The odds of a rapid collapse that might puncture something are extremely small, so I'm not really worried about that. My biggest concern is the increasing pain.
The other night at my oldest's honor band concert, I went to put my arm around Rebecca and felt a few of my ribs pop, meaning that I couldn't even put my arm around my wife to enjoy our daughter's performance. It's now gotten to the point that I can't go out and play volleyball with the oldest, or soccer with our middle daughter, or pick up my youngest and play with her like I used to. It's very depressing, but I know that just about anything I do can cause pain. Last night I took a deep breath and felt a rib pop and the pain increased dramatically.
It's obvious that at some point I am going to have to have surgery to repair this, but that's not something that is even remotely feasible at this time. I am uninsured, and the cost to put me on Rebecca's insurance right now would mean that the family would be eating ramen for a long time to come, and it would also deter our plans of getting our own house. Hopefully she will get promoted before the next open enrollment, and that will at least make it a little easier, but such a dramatic surgery would put a real strain on us, as I would be useless for quite some time...something I would not deal well with.
Dealing with this pain, it has become quite clear to me how some people can be driven to suicide by chronic pain. Don't worry, I'm not suicidal. I have an amazing wife and three wonderful daughters, so I wouldn't do something like that. I'm just saying that the pain, the feelings of uselessness, and the depression could certainly lead someone to make that decision.
For now, I just have to do whatever I can to avoid things that will cause pain, which is almost anything. I have to take it easy when I'm cleaning the house, when I'm at my "real" job, and just about anything else.
Well, that's enough griping for now. If you've actually read this far, thanks. This wasn't an effort to try to get people to feel sorry for me. I don't want that. Sometimes, it just feels good to document these types of things for others to see. In time, I will get this fixed and I will be out of pain. For now...I deal...