I am interested in sharing my pain story with others to raise awareness about the fact that chronic pain is something that can happen to anyone, including young and educated people. It is not necessarily a disease of the poor or the mentally ill. Pain does not discriminate and a person in pain does not look like anything in particular.
Three and a half years ago, at the beginning of my career, I started to experience strange pain in my right hand. About a year later, this pain spread suddenly to my entire arm, then to my other arm, and never went away.
I was soon diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a condition of compression of the nerve/vascular bundle in the arm, beneath the collarbone. The condition varies, but for many, this means chronic pain, at some level - often for life.
I have had my first rib removed on my right side and am going in for my second in two weeks. This operation is designed to decompress the nerves in my arm and lesson my pain.
The experience has been quite a been a journey for me. I've learned that clinicians don't always have a good education about chronic pain and that it's important to seek out a doctor who you trust and is educated in the area. I have learned that self-care now has to be my number one priority. I've learned ways to speak to others about my pain in ways they understand. I've learned that acceptance is a giant part of the journey.
I still find this a confusing journey, and it's one I am still living. But what I would like people to know and what I would love to share the most is that just because I look ok, does not mean I feel it.