My Life is Not My Own

By Michell Freeman, Guest Columnist

A little over two years ago I was in an automobile accident that involved a fatality. I was hit by a car that ran a red light.

I was unable to walk without great pain. When I arrived at the hospital, my legs felt very cold and I had lost feeling in my saddle area and later down my left leg. The doctor came in and told my family that I had a sequestered disc fragment in my spine.

The doctor told my husband that I was to lie flat on my back and only to get up to use the restroom. If I lost control of my bowel or bladder, I was to call 911. I was released the same day with a follow up appointment with a neurosurgeon.

I was able to see the neurosurgeon the next day, and was instructed to take a steroid for seven days and given opiate pain medication. He wanted to get the inflammation down. About a week later, I returned to his office unable to walk. The pain had me screaming for help.

I was told that I needed to undergo an emergency laminectomy and discectomy to remove the damaged disc. On my follow up, I let my surgeon know something wasn't right. I was leaking and having sudden urges to urinate. I was also having electric sensations go down my back and legs. I was burning. I had another MRI and was told I had a lot of inflammation involving the nerve roots.

michell freeman

michell freeman

I was referred to a pain management doctor for a series of selective nerve root injections. On my first appointment I was nervous and was given a Valium. I laid flat face down and the nurse said that she was going to walk me through it. The doctor didn’t speak, only to say who he was.

As the procedure began, the pain was terrible. The nurse said he was about to inject Depo-Medrol steroid. I felt a shock of electricity go down my leg and I began to cry. The nurse assured me this was normal and the doctor cleaned my back and walked out the room. I had no feeling in my leg and was placed in a wheelchair.

My pain was not better but increased and my head would hurt so bad I would put an ice pack on it. For a while my body ached. Two weeks later in I went for a second injection. On my third injection while on the table my doctor started the procedure and inserted the catheter. It was very painful. He moved the table up higher with the needle inserted to get a better view using fluoroscopy.

Tears were falling and the nurse said it was almost over. Just as she said that I screamed out loud as my back jerked. The pain was excruciating. The doctor finished and walked out the room without speaking.

The following summer, I went back to the neurosurgeon and he told me my pain may possibly be permanent. He said he was out of options and my primary care physician would need to take over; either helping with pain medication or a referral to another pain management specialist because I refused to get anymore injections. The neurosurgeon, imaging and pain management were all in the same complex.

Last February, I was finally diagnosed with Adhesive Arachnoiditis. I had sent my MRI scans to be reviewed, and the scan taken two months after my surgery confirmed that the Arachnoiditis had already advanced to the adhesive stage.

I have since developed colitis, bradycardia with syncope, and fluctuating blood pressure. I no longer can go to activities with my children at home nor play the same with my four grandchildren. I break plans often due to unrelenting pain.

I have days of not being able to get out of bed. My life is no longer my own. I have lost control of deciding what I am able to do each day. I have to take opiate medications in order to have some life, relief and function. Before finding the correct dosage and keeping it as low as possible, I would constantly cry out and beg to die.

Pain altered my brain and I had thoughts of suicide daily. I lost the life I once knew as an employee with USPS, an active wife, mother, and grandmother. I now live a life of having to learn how to adapt, improvise and overcome.

Michell Freeman lives in South Carolina. She is a member of the Facebook support groups Arachnoiditis Together We Fight and Arachnoiditis Everyday.

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The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.