An Unexpected Journey: From Pain to Healing

Default Icon
Posted on by on September 18th, 2019 | 2 Comments »

By Terry a. O’Neal


Since mom passed on in February, life has been turbulent. One obstacle after another, it seems. To say the least, it’s been arduous. And let me not fail to mention that in late January, I somehow developed two bulged discs in my lower back (near my tailbone), that were putting pressure on my sciatic nerve.


Some days, I couldn’t walk to the bathroom. I was taking 1000 mg of ibuprofen (more than once a day), just to get through the day. Walking was painful. When mom fell ill, my sisters and I stayed in the hospital at her bedside for three weeks until her passing on February 22, 2019, at 8:13 PM.


It was still winter.


Everyone who has traveled with me on my life’s journey knows how driven and determined a person I’ve always been (a woman on a mission, folks would say). Not being able to be that woman has been quite infuriating, and even discouraging, at times.


Now comes spring.


Still fighting to get on my feet, though the pain had become more and more unbearable. I was numb. Some days, I couldn’t see my reflection in the glass. The months kept passing—the seasons kept changing. Time wasn’t waiting on me to get it together, and I knew it. That made the wait even more intense.


Still, no resolve. My doctor had not long before done an MRI to determine the cause of the problem, and finally referred me to pain management and neurology specialists.


My pain management physician prescribed heavy medication, like hydrocodone, methocarbamol, and gabapentin in high doses. (It’s only because I listen to my body that I take only what my body needs to help manage the pain.) But when your body is undergoing the kind of excruciating pain mine has been over the past 7 months, some relief is better than none at all.


Some days, it was difficult to even think beyond the pain, but I knew I must move. When the brain gives a green light, but the body flashes red, then what? One big, frustrating conundrum.


It’s summer.


I was stuck. Time was moving full-speed ahead. There was work to be done; bills to be paid; deadlines to be met; life to be lived, and then, there was me.


And my children…


Track season ends; Jorden graduates from UC Riverside; Mike is focused, working and creating in Las Vegas; Cameron stays in grind mode from the Bay to Sacramento; Jorden is accepted into CSU Long Beach; Mike moves into his new place; Cameron continues to work and build; and on and on and on.


It’s still summer.


Doctors prescribed epidural injections, which I’m sad to report were ineffective. The bulges were too large for that treatment. I needed something more.


My cousin, Pat, recommended strengthening my core and icing three times a day for pain and inflammation. “If you do, your pain should be gone in three weeks,” she said. So, I took her advice and iced religiously. Finding a way to strengthening my core, however, was more challenging.


After a month and a half of icing, my pain decreased considerably, and the inflammation reduced a great deal. Nonetheless, I still had a dilemma: the sciatic nerve was still agitated and I could only walk for 3-5 minutes before having to urgently find the nearest seat. Standing hasn’t worked well for me these days.


After speaking with the neurological surgeon nearly two months ago, we mutually decided that before entertaining the surgery option, we would try a different shot: the right-sided selective nerve root block. I was extremely positive about this. Because I’ve done my part in reducing swelling, pain, and inflammation, I believed it would be effective.


In the midst of all this, the world is still spinning.


Life carries on. There’s work to be done; bills to be paid; deadlines to be met; and other things happen.


It’s almost winter again.


It’s mid-September and I’m still awaiting this shot. I’ve been waiting patiently—not only at the expense of myself, but at the expense of those who love and support me. They’ve been patient, too. Apparently, there was a mix up with my medical paperwork that has been recently resolved. Restlessly, I wait on that call from pain management to inform me of the date my injection will be administered. (And yes, I’ve already called and bugged them several times this week.)


Like I said before, even in the midst of our struggles, life carries on; other things happen.


Last Thursday, I mysteriously came down with a flu bug. Yep! I was thinking the exact same thing when it happened: This is the last doggone thing I need right now!


Over the course of five days, my fever fluctuated between 98.5 – 104.1. On Monday morning, my fever finally broke! Praise God.


What can you do? It’s just another part of life and living.


Me, I’m on a mission. I keep sayin’, I’ve got work to do. Things to accomplish. Goals to reach. Mountains to climb. Life to live. Afterall, I was birthed by one of the strongest women on earth. My mother never gave up on anything. She fought until the moment she took her last breath.


In three days, it will be winter again.


Lately, I’ve been working on strengthening myself, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. I’ve returned to listening to morning sermons and prayers to help get my day started in the right direction.


And then…


Yesterday, I heard a still small voice say, “Stop taking that pain medicine.” Even though for a brief moment I questioned how I would cope with no pain relief, it had been a thought I previously pondered.


Today is Wednesday, September 18, 2019. I awoke just as I do every day, going through my daily morning rituals. Only a couple things were out of the ordinary. I didn’t take any medicine (Just my daily vitamins and supplements). And even though it was dark and drizzly this morning, I went for a 30-minute walk, and I only had to stop to sit once.


Now, that right there is somethin’ to shout about!


Sometimes, it’s the little things…


7 Minute Read


  1. TD Trice
    Posted on: 9-19-2019

    Thank you for sharing this part of your journey! What a challenge and struggle! Life is to be lived, God is carrying you through this… in this way… for specific reasons… and you are deftly playing your part with determination and perseverance! Stay in there Sistah – you got this! <3

    • Posted on: 11-2-2019

      Thank you for the encouraging words and support!

      Terry a.


Leave a Reply