I’m An Amputee With PLP

Don’t know what PLP is? Well here’s some info about what I’ve been experiencing since losing my arm in a car accident a few years ago. 

Phantom Limb Pain (PLP) refers to painful and lasting sensations that seem to be radiating from a limb, extremity, or other body part, that is no longer connected to the body. The suffering that PLP causes isn’t uncommon, either: between 60-80% of all amputees experience some kind of phantom sensation in a lost limb.
A mysterious condition that is still being researched
Though the exact cause of PLP is unknown, the pain is thought to be caused by signals traveling from the brain to the spinal cord getting crossed. Nerves that originally sent impulses from the limb to the brain continue to send information, until the brain “rewires” itself and adjusts to the changes in the body.
Identifying the pain and symptoms of PLP
The length of time in which this pain is felt varies from person to person, occasionally lasting only a few minutes, to hours, days, or more. Phantom Limb Pain most often occurs soon after amputation surgery, rather than limb loss due to accidents or sudden injuries. The feeling of the pain can vary from tingling or burning sensations, to itching or pressure.
Pain can arise from once normally routine activities
While the brain is adjusting to the absence of the body part, it finds new nerve pathways to send neural “information”. This can cause PLP to trigger from activities that did not involve the original limb, such as touching another part of the body, going to the bathroom, changes in outside barometric temperature, or fluctuations in blood pressure.
The pain can sometimes be avoided by identifying the activities that trigger it, which may include:
Changes in diet

Irregularities in the gastrointestinal system

Smoking cigarettes, drug use, or alcohol abuse

Spikes in blood pressure

Sudden rises or drops in barometric pressure (such as storms, or traveling between low and high elevations)

Not necessarily always a pain
The feeling derived from a phantom limb may also be a non-painful”or even pleasurable”sensation, as the brain works to “understand” the newly-modified nervous system. Documented reports have painted the spectrum of sensation from feeling like wearing a piece of jewelry or clothing, to feeling like the limb is attached and still moving as it used to.
Treatment and living with Phantom Pain
Fortunately for most people, Phantom Limb Pain is a fleeting experience, with symptoms that disappear over time. In some cases, however, lingering pain may persist for quite a while. Some studies have reported that medications such as acetaminophen and other NSAIDs can help reduce phantom sensations, and there have been reported successes involving low-frequency stimulation of the brain with electromagnetic therapies.
Other reported ways of easing PLP include:
Gently massaging the area that the missing limb was once attached to, or the other existing limb

Supplying cushioned support to the afflicted region

Changing the surrounding atmosphere to a more relaxing one with music or lighting

Most sufferers are unwilling to report phantom limb pain, believing it’s just in their head.
Phantom pain isn’t just in the mind, it’s the body’s way of adjusting to a new experience. Though patients complaining of it used to be dismissed in years past, PLP is a real, medically-recognized problem, and can be treated with a physician’s help. Phantom Limb Pain should always be reported to a doctor; it may be an indicator that something is happening during the body’s natural healing process. Together with your doctor, your body may be able to say goodbye to the departed limb more quickly and with less discomfort.
Sources: 

Limb loss resource center: Amputee Coalition.Phantom Limb Pain (study): Lone Nikolajsen MD, PhD & Troels Staehelin Jensen MD, PhD.Phantom Limb Syndrome: NYU Langone Medical Center.Significant Reduction in Phantom Limb Pain After Low-Frequency Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to the Primary Sensory Cortex (study): AMSUS.

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Feedback Please?

Ok so I don’t live in a big town where there are many businesses, programs or services and I don’t have a license to drive a car anymore (I surrendered it after I was a passenger in an accident and was severely, permanently injured). I can’t work due to disability and complications resulting from injuries sustained in that accident. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about wanting to volunteer at something. But there’s nothing around here!! Earlier today though while browsing pages on facebook I came across Rescue NL and they had a post there stating they needed volunteers for a few different things and one of them was to help with some web design and online awareness things they are doing.

Cha Ching!!! I can do that!!

So I got the application and one of the questions was “Why do you want to volunteer with Rescue NL?” Ummmmm …..so here is what I put for my answer (please give me some feedback as I’ve never done out a volunteer application before):

I am interested in volunteering because I love animals. But it’s about more than just loving them. I believe that they deserve more respect and love than they receive. And it’s about fighting for their rights when they cannot do so themselves. Although I don’t drive and cannot physically be there to help out in a hands on way (which is what I would LOVE to do), I can work from home with anything related to social media, including any fundraising, events, photo editing, marketing, raising awareness, creating web pages or editing and updating current ones, etc. I have a good knowledge of doing web related things and if there is any way that I can use my education, knowledge and talents in any way to aid Rescue NL then I would love to be given the opportunity to do so. I want to volunteer so that I can be a part of the solution, not the problem; to help reduce the number of animals that are euthanized each year to go down, not up. If you can’t adopt…foster. If you can’t foster…volunteer. If you can’t volunteer…donate. If you can’t donate…educate, network and share. Everyone can do something to help animals in need. And I can volunteer.

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Miss Independant

It’s been a really long, tiresome week. With hubby being off work due to a back injury he’s been pretty much confined to the couch for the past 6 days. As of tomorrow he is cleared to go back out into the real world. Not only is this freedom for him but also freedom for me! After surrendering my own drivers license a few years after the accident, when it was quite clear that I would never have the nerve to drive a motor vehicle since becoming an amputee, after that I became more reliable on David for my transportation. 9 chances out of 10 we are always together but sometimes when I want to do things like visit my grandparents for the evening I need to get him to drive me there and pick me up.

So this week we haven’t gone anywhere together. Yesterday evening I went out for a few hours by myself but I still had to depend on someone for a ride. This week has made me realize that I’m not as independent as I thought I was. It has never really sunk in this much before that not having a driver’s license creates such limitations. But it does. I’ve been made well aware of that this week.

And since tomorrow David is able to go back 75% of his usual duties, we are planning on getting out of this apartment and taking a road trip! Its hard to believe that in approx a week we will be moving into OUR new house! No more apartment building life for us (I hope)!

(I just wish I had support from from all of my friends)

The room triggered the PTSD

I’m trying to make sense of what exactly is happening to me right now. I spent the night in hospital last night. It all started with some dull chest pain that wouldn’t go away. As the day progressed it kept getting more crushing and it was starting to get difficult to breath so I begrudgingly went to the ER. It ended up being a pulled chest muscle.

But spending the night in the exam room triggered the PTSD and the portal opened. Images of my unconscious, lifeless body lying on the stretcher with people running in and out, trying to stop my bleeding (when I had a car accident and lost my arm) Connecting me to catheters (which I unfortunately remember clearly) … and sometimes I wake up in a panic because I dream someone is standing at the foot of my bed trying to put a catheter in me.

Another incident was when I was lying on the stretcher with 2 nurses working on me, one on my arm and the other on my feet. Trying to get needles into me. So I lay there on my back and just glanced up above me on the wall at the bare bulletin board. I was immediately brought back to the many many times I have been there, in such a horrific mental state, and the boards had to be stripped for safety reasons. Staples and all tacks were things I’d grab and hack away at my skin.

Those are just 2 of the things that kept happening to me throughout the night. And now, at home, it continues.

My psychiatrist has diagnosed me in a full blown manic stage now. Maybe this is a part of it?

The Wknd I Spent Sedated 

Ok so last week was quite the ordeal. A lot of stuff happened and then towards the end of the week I had to deal with some medical things at the hospital. All to aid with functioning and pain control from injuries I sustained in my car accident 5 years ago. 


My wrist is functioning much better now. It will give me some more time before they do surgery. So I guess I can say that the wrist treatment was successful. 


My right foot is not constantly burning with hot, fire-like pain anymore. I’m actually going to bed without having to use capsasin cream and a sock for relief. So I suppose the horrible treatment they did on my foot was also successful. 


My knee? A different story. 

I had a steroid solution injected (by a 6 foot long – exaggerated – SPINAL needle). Then he used another 6 foot long – exaggerated – spinal needle to inject a solution of cortisone. Problem is my knee got messed up bad in the accident so the spot where they would inject that in the average person turned out to be a piece of BONE in my knee. Meaning, when that needle punctured my knee it was SUPPOSED to be going right into the main tendon. Instead it brought up solid in a bone. Every person within hearing distance heard it too because it was a pain unlike anything I’ve ever felt. 


Second needle. Complete repeat of the first. 


Next needle. Full of lidocaine so that my knee would now be numb. That stuff was like liquid fire. 


And the fourth and final spinal needle was once again inserted and thankfully it went in the right spot. God got a lengthy prayer of gratitude after that. 

My knee was the treatment that got done first. After that they decided to sedate me. That wasn’t in the original plan of how that session was supposed to go. 


Soooo. When I was semi alert later that (Thursday) evening they wheeled me out to our car and the nurse and my hubby helped my inside. I fought to hold my head up long enough to hear David say that he don’t know what to do because there was no way he would be able to get me up 3 flights of stairs while I was passed out. I heard him say more things I can’t recall and I guess that then I passed out. 


When I woke up I was in Gander Bay on my mom’s couch. That was Thursday evening. By Friday evening I was pretty much alert. David got off work then drove back out to Gander Bay and we both spent the night at mom’s. 


We had a great day Saturday, spending time with my family. I almost didn’t want to leave. But it was nice to get back in my own bed. 

Just wish my knee was actually feeling better after everything I went through. I am still unable to feel secure when walking stairs as it tends to just completely give out on me. The pain is no longer a constant one but I get random shooting dagger-like sensations. Not impressed. 


But hey. I have 2 functioning legs and feet. I’m not in a wheelchair like I was 5 years ago. 

Therefore I am very thankful for the way things are. 

Look At Me … Now

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It’s not every day that I stop and view myself like this. I don’t like to stare at the scars. Especially the big one with the little marks on each side from the staples. If I ever develop skin cancer it would go unnoticed for a while because I don’t like to look at my skin. I shower, dress, undress, have sex … without making direct eye contact with my body. It’s not all due to self image problems, though much of it is. But I don’t like the memories ….

Of life before I became a broken, scarred, torn body. Of my arm – before it was ripped to shreds and torn away from my neck. Of my breast – when it was round, voluptuous, full … intact. When my nipples were parallel with each other. Now I have a partially concave area of skin that is rippled with scars and a nipple that is far from centered. A breast that while it should be a very sensuous part of my female body, is nothing but a dead, mangled, shapeless piece of useless flesh. Serving the purpose of none other then to remind me …

Of the car accident that almost took my life several years ago.

Although it literally tore away several of my body parts, I’ve been known to be stubborn a few times in my life, and this was one of those times because I’m not ready to go yet. It’s going to take more then that to make me leave this world so sorry guys. You’re stuck with me.

The New Me

(((I wrote this poem today after experiencing a bout of anger and sadness following some very emotional flashbacks.)))

The sand
Loose, running freely
Through all 10 fingers
Simple
But unforgettable

I will never forget …

Playing guitar after school
Creating notes, plucking chords
And
Applauding that wonderful performance
The beauty of your voice lingered for days

I will never forget …

Running fingers through my hair
Flipping magazine pages
Searching for styling ideas
High pony tails and fancy braids

I will never forget …

Holding your newborn baby
Cradling her head, supporting her bottom
Rocking, back and forth
My heart bursting with love for this little being
That you named after me
Because our friendship meant so much to you

I will never forget …

The grey sky
Roads covered in white powder
That song on the radio
The beautiful melody
Turning to screams …
Crunching metal
Screaming tires
Shattered glass
Running red
Excruciating .. Crushing .. Ripping
Pain

Silence

I will never forget …
Sirens
Screaming voices
in the distance
In and out
Coming and going
Alive
Dead

Helicopter blades
Oxygen mask
Strapped on a board
Blackness
Sounds but no sight
Distant beeping

I will never forget …

Laying there
Lifeless
Numb
Unaware
Wanting to move
But my body refused
Signals were cut
Never to be used again

You fed me, like a baby
You dressed me, like a child
You washed me and brushed my hair
Every
Single
Day

I will never forget …

Looking in the mirror
Staring
A piece of me missing
Broken body and a shattered heart

I will always remember …

My guitar sheet music
How to change her diaper
Where my hair clips are still stored
How to tie my laces

But I will never forget …

The place where we crashed
The hospital bed that I spent months in
Bandages
Blood
Pain medications

Loss
Gone
Torn off
Ripped away

Never to be a full person again
Trying to forget
The day I lost my arm.

But I remember …

To not be defeated
I can walk again
And I hold my head high
Refusing to bow in hopelessness.

I am …

A different person …

A stronger person …

I
Am
Me.