40. Chronic Neuropathic Pain (1): Sudden Onset

[Numbers in square brackets refer to posts listed on the right at the Home/Archives page.]

On that fateful summer day in 2004, many hours after the biopsy operation on my spinal cord tumour [01], I first woke from anaesthetics in the evening but only briefly; still sleepy. Vaguely, I noticed my younger sister and my two friends standing at the end of the bed but I could hardly breathe or talk. In my half asleep state, I felt tightness around my lower chest wall, especially on the left, as if someone had wrapped it around with a heavy metal band.

            A Tight Band Around Lower Chest Wall

     Ouch…..!  Ouch….!
     Where has this broad metal band come from —
     Wrapping tightly around my lower chest wall, tying me to the bed?                 
     Who has put it there? Why?                             
     To stop me moving?
     To stop me breathing?
     To stop me speaking?
     Please remove it!
     Please let me breathe!
     Please let me sleep!

I fell asleep after speaking to my sister and two friends, with difficulty and only briefly. As I was falling asleep, I felt my legs becoming heavier and heavier. I was later woken by a nurse (M) who apparently had been turning me every hour or so while I slept. Later in the night, I told him that I could not move my legs; I could not feel my left leg; but my right leg was very painful. He told me that he would report it to the neurosurgeon. Later, another nurse (senior) came in to give me, or to increase the dosage of the intravenous desthemetisone (an anti-swelling steroid), and she told me about it. I asked for the time; it was about 10 p.m. I continued to sleep and felt being turned over a few times throughout the night.

When I finally woke up fully, it must be morning: there was bright sunlight outside the window and I heard trolleys being pushed along the corridor.  I found myself in a single room (in a surgical ward), facing a blank wall with no clock. I still felt a tight painful grip around my lower chest wall.  When I tried to turn to lie on my left to relieve the acute pain in the right buttock, I noticed my lower body did not move! I still could not move my legs!  When I touched my left leg, I could not feel anything! In sharp contrast, when I touched my right leg, I felt such  excruciating pain!  All my right side, from both the lower chest wall and lower back down to the toes was extremely hypersensitive to touch! 

          My Legs: Identical Twins No More [03]

     Drastically, overnight,
     my two legs have stopped being identical twins.
     They have stopped talking to each other.
     Right leg extremely hypersensitive to touch:
          millions of sharp needles
          pricking at my sensitive nerves.
     Left leg completely numb to touch.

In addition,I felt severe pains and strange sensations in my whole lower body that I had never experienced before: there were ‘constant activities’ inside both legs and buttocks: 

      Soundless and Invisible Fire Crackers  [07]

     Many long strings of fire crackers
     bursting and burning
     rapidly but incessantly
     up and down, inside my legs,
     from toes to buttocks,
     making crackling sounds
          I cannot hear;
     giving out hot bright sparks
          I cannot see.

I treated these completely unusual pains and symptoms as post-operative and believed that they were only temporary. I remembered back in 1989, a right-knee arthroscopy left me with temporary discomfort in my right leg for about a week, especially my calf: stiff, heavy, as if I had been standing on my feet from morning to night without resting, which were relieved by gliding the knee up and down while in lying or sitting position. However, these pains and sensations I was experiencing now were completely different.

I would never have imagined that these conditions would be permanent, and that I would become a permanent wheelchair user and a permanent sufferer of chronic, acute neuropathic pain for the rest of my life, as a result of a ‘simple’ biopsy operation on my spinal cord tumour [01], performed by an eager neurosurgeon. 

     Sudden Onset of Chronic Neuropathic Pain
                    (posted on Jan 7, 2015 [03])

    Many long hours after the biopsy surgery,
I wake from anaesthetics—
my entire body wrapped in strange new pain:        

    A tight broad metal band
corsets my lower chest wall—
I can hardly breathe;

    My lower body crackles, crunches
and bursts with sensation—
if only I could stop them.

    My two legs have stopped being identical twins:
right leg is hypersensitive to the gentlest touch;
the left is completely numb.
.

 

 

 

 

.
.

A sudden onset of permanent disability [02] and chronic neuropathic pain [03], and an irreversibly changed life style imposed on me [38], putting an abrupt end to my academic career [39]. Such multiple destruction and suffering for nearly 15 years now after a ‘simple’ biopsy operation! What happened in the operation?  Hopefully, it has never happened and will never happen to anyone else.
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NEXT  POST:  CHRONIC NEUROPATHIC PAIN (2),  NOV 30, 2018
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Jacek_Malczewski_-_Rekonwalescentka.jpg ‎(800 × 600 pixels, file size: 162 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) (Jacek Malczewski – Convalescent Woman (1882)), posted by Ablakok, 2017. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. At  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jacek_Malczewski_-_Rekonwalescentka.jpg

An example of a person in Pinel restraints, by James Heilman, MD, 2017.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. At https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PinelRestaint.jpg

Firecrackers in action in Chinese New Year celebration. Photo by Dr. LEE Sao Bing, who is the Medical Director and Principal Surgeon of Shinagawa LASIK & Eye Centre, Singapore. Photo taken from his personal blog at:  https://drleesb.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/firecrackers-new-year/

Bonfire. Photo from English Wikipedia, 8 September 2004 by Fir0002. This file is liscensed under CC AS-A 3.0Unported License.  At http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bonfire4.jpg

Feux d’artifices rouges, 2008.  Author unknown.  Source:  http://www.photos-libres-de-droits-gratuites.com/photos/Artifices/feux-artifices-pldg007.jpg .  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license. At  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Feux-artifices.jpg

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30. An Old Baby in Sling & Wheelchair

30.1  In a Tight Sling1024px-Stork_with_new-born_child

I am an infant
being carried by a stork
in a tight sling
dangling in mid air
legs like willow branches

(First published in Eucalypt, An Australian Tanka Journal, No. 12, May, 2012)

 

30.2   Old Baby in a Wheelchair

Like an infant in a pram
with its mommy or nanny,
I am an old baby in a wheelchair
with a young caregiver:Mobile Hoist with Sling
depending on her
to hoist me in a sling
between wheelchair
and bed or shower commode;
depending on her
to put me to bed
to sleep in my comfortable position;
depending on her
for personal grooming, companionship,
cooking, grocery shopping, house keeping.

I am an old baby in a wheelchair,
donning a long adult bib during meal times,
to prevent soups, sauces, curries
from tainting my garments;
to keep morsels of foods
off my garments and seat cushion—
no litter on my bed or the floor
after transfer.

I am an old baby in a wheelchair—
a skinny body
riddled with chronic pain;
a compromised immune system
subject to bacteria and virus attacks;
limited mobility,
vulnerable to falls,
subject to abuse and social isolation.

I am a senior lady in wheelchairsenior-woman-sitting-wheelchair-using-laptop-midsection-hospital-36579735
having no access to many places
but unlimited access on the internet
to keep my mind active.
Still a useful citizen,
capable of contributing to the community,
through sharing my experiences with others
in creative writing.

 


Une étoile est née. ‘A star is born’. By Claude Covo-Farchi from Paris, France. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. via-
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Stork_with_new-born_child.png

A caregiver hoisting a wheelchair patient.  Picture taken from ‘Divided leg patient lift sling with headrest’ at
http://www.rehabmart.com/product/divided-leg-patient-lift-sling-with-headrest-419.html

A Senior Woman in Wheelchair with a Laptop. Photo by Tyler Olson. Royalty free Stock photo, at
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-senior-woman-sitting-wheelchair-using-laptop-midsection-hospital-image36579735


 

27. Neuropathic Pain in Feet: Sharp Screws Drilling

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.80px-Wood_screw

several sharp screws
drilling simultaneously
into right ankle–
invisible, inaudible–
sharp pain vibrates across sole
.Right_sole
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a sharp burning nail
hits deeply into big toe
inwards curls the sole
like a strong rope tightly 120px-Nailpulls–
restless, interrupted sleep
.
.
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A wood screw being driven into a board. By lord_zeke.  Under CC BY-S -02 license, via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Wood_screws#/media/File:Wood_screw.jpg

Right Sole. By  Phulvar. Licensed under CC A-S A 3.0 unported license. via –   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Right_sole.jpg

A metal nail. By Chippen dog. In public domain, via
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Metal_nails#/media/File:Nail.JPG
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11. Who will wheel me there?

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Twenty two degrees C
On this sunny winter day
With gentle breeze
What’s it like beside the sea?
Who will wheel me there?

(Published in Eucalypt, A Tanka Journal, No. 9, November 2010 ; later in Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume Three (2010), Anthology, edited by M. Kei, et. al., published by the MET press; and also in 100 Tanka by 100 Poets of Australia & New Zealand, edited by Amelia Fieldon, Beverley George & Patricia Prime, published by Ginniderra Press, 2013, p.34 )
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800px-main_beach_-_gold_coast_qld.jpg December 20, 2014.



Main Beach, Gold coast, Australia. Photo by Alpha from Melbourne, Australia.
CC AS-A 2.0 Generic License, via –
 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Main_Beach_-_Gold_Coast,_QLD.jpg



06. Spasm: The Invisible Puppeteer; 05. A Marionette

06. Invisible Puppeteer

duvet vibrates
bed rattles against bed board
oh! here he is again
pulling and jerking my legs
The Invisible Puppeteer
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(Published in Eucalypt, A Tanka JournalNo. 10, May 2011, p. 21)
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05. Marionette

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(a)

A marionette
I have become, overnight
Strings attached to
Head, shoulders, hands, knees and toes
For the invisible hands

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nepal-400_1280, http://pixabay.com/en/nepal-dolls-figures-colorful-400/

(b)

a marionette
strings tied from head to toes for
invisible hands

.

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Nepalese Puppets. Photo by Simon Steinberger from Ulm. Deutschland.
CC0 License Public Domain.
Photo from: http://pixabay.com/en/nepal-dolls-figures-colorful-400/