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'Just breathing makes it hurt more,' chronic pain sufferer says

Tuesday 1 November 2011

From Canada's The Vancouver Sun:


Margaret Bristow
Margaret Bristow spends most of her time in her Ottawa
apartment dealing with fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain.
Most days, such as on this Sept. 14, 2011 morning, her
pain is a seven on a scale of 10, and there are days she
can't walk more than a few steps. She has to survive on
less than $10,000 a year in disability pension. She is
tired all of the time.
(Photograph by: David Kawai, Postmedia News)

'Just breathing makes it hurt more,' chronic pain sufferer says

By Sharon Kirkey, Postmedia News
October 3, 2011

As long as the pain holds steady, Maggie Bristow can function.

She can dress herself; she can tie her shoes and brush her hair. She can make a meal. She can walk more than 30 steps without the pain in her hips crippling her.

But even then, the 51-year-old Ottawa woman can't bear to have her arms or legs touched, and when the pain spikes, it feels as if someone has peeled away her skin, and every nerve ending is exposed. She can't even stand to have clothes on.

"When it gets really bad, you question your continuing existence," Bristow says. "You feel useless."

She shifts in her wheelchair, lifting one hip slightly. She grimaces, briefly closing her eyes.

Bristow has fibromyalgia and spinal stenosis, a narrowing in the spaces in the spine. The former administrative assistant can no longer work because of the pain. She receives a disability pension of less than $10,000 a year.

The pension doesn't cover all of her medications. It doesn't cover the acupuncture or therapeutic massage that can sometimes make the pain more bearable.

It started with a dull ache in her lower back, a pressure that made it feel as if someone were sitting on it. Then the pain moved into her neck, her legs, her arms, hips and jaw. New places just started hurting. "The latest is the shoulders and chest," she says. "My chest feels like a knife is being jabbed into it repeatedly."

She sleeps propped up, on a hospital bed. She hasn't slept on her back for more than 10 years. It sometimes feels as if her back is broken into a million pieces. "Just breathing makes it hurt more."

There are days she feels sore everywhere except her head. "You know how everything hurts when you have the flu? Take that and multiply it a few times," she says. "It doesn't ever stop."

She has tried Tylenol 3s, oxycodone, morphine and Dilaudid. Nothing worked.

"It was like popping Lifesavers."

The medicines she takes now are helping control the pain, but they make her thirsty all the time and play havoc with her digestive system.

"The worst part is you can't see pain, everyone wonders, 'What's wrong with you? Why aren't you working? Why are you in a wheelchair? is she faking?'"

"If you don't have pain then you have no idea what it feels like."

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News


The above originally appeared here.


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