by Paula Manuel Staff Nurse Interest Group

As a Registered Nurse with many years of experience my time as an individual with a long-term progressive illness had been relatively short–a mere decade.

At first the condition was more of an annoyance, but my physical decline in the previous five years correlated with increased dosages of necessary medications and side effects that impacted my well being.

Living with constant pain, compensating continuously for increased movements, fatigue, and countering the effects with exercise, body therapies, and energy healing. My life was about carrying on and coping with an altered dynamic health status. As one physician observed, you are extremely high functioning. Translation I worked full time in a demanding managerial role, mentored and led RNs and RPNs and influenced Allied Health team members.

The emotional toll evolved into the characteristics of depressive qualities, crying jags were not uncommon. When the offer came to be evaluated for an innovative surgical option I readily agreed.

Two years from initial assessment to receiving a date for surgery was a mixture of anticipation and concern. I mean this was a procedure to alter my brain function, to drill into my cranium and place electrodes and a computer with power source. Twenty years in development it still had the elements of new territory, it was comforting to be told I had a good brain. So my view was that even if a few neurons were lost in the process I would still be okay.

Such an undertaking is not done alone, my family, friends, colleagues, team, and the health care team at the academic tertiary hospital were all instrumental in my successful recovery from the surgeries. The unexpected outcome was severe sciatica that affected all aspects of my life.

Pain unrelenting, all consuming, agonizing, frightening, debilitating it affected me physically, emotionally, cognitively, and a significant frustration that I was not being listened to, even when I researched and defined the working diagnosis.

My family physician, truly a gem, who invested the time to carefully consider what options were possible referred me to a pain management clinic. There a physician was intrigued by the surgical option for my condition and how well I had responded other than the life altering pain in my “ass”.

What’s the status now? Injections into the lumbar region of the back to cool off the nerve that had been firing out of control, secondary to the stimulation by something and here I am 10 months later gaining more control of my body, pain has minimized, my outlook improved, and the desire to move the body. Let me rediscover the athlete within and prepare for the 2019 golf season. Stay tuned.

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