Anatomy of an Injury: It Ain’t Pretty, and It Ain’t Tidy

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

August 12th, 2010 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

We talk about “getting injured” as if it is a tidy, self-contained incident. Injury, however, is part of a web of events and circumstances that in turn prevent or encourage our optimal healing and that create a vicious cycle of complications. Take this recent example:

Yesterday the management company of my apartment did construction work in the apartment below me, without advance notice to the tenants. In other words, I did not know what was going on. All I knew is that when I woke up, there was a lot of banging, so I stayed out of my office — which is just above the apartment where the noise was happening. I cleaned my living space, made phone calls to settle some banking matters, and folded the laundry.

When the banging stopped, I figured the coast was clear and got to work, opening the window looking out over the landing. Suddenly, there was an explosive bang that shot a jolt of terrible pain through my eardrums. Instinctively, I plugged my ears and folded over, my nervous system in shock.

I went out to see what had happened and discovered that large and heavy steel items had been thrown from the second floor landing to the steel garbage can below. From there, I went into prevention mode, inquiring about additional plans to do noisy work and gearing up to bolt from the premises until that work was done.

What I really needed to do was crawl into bed and lie quietly, pressing acupressure points around my ears and recovering from the assault on my nerves. But in negotiating space and timing, there is not always the option to recover in the optimal way we need. So after spending five minutes pressing my ears and crouching in as close as I could get to a fetal position in a chair, I prepared to leave for the day.

I ended up being informed the noisy work would take just 10 minutes, so instead I went for a walk and came back 20 minutes later. I did calm down from walking in the sun, but I also felt extra sensitive to any noise, like that of cars passing. In addition, I struggled a bit with walking at first, because I was already recovering from some foot and thigh/groin pain.

For the rest of the day, I worked as much as possible. But it was a challenge, considering that I not only had pain, strange sensations, and compromised hearing in and around my ear, but I also had eye and jaw pain — triggered from the jolt to the nerves in my ear. I couldn’t make important phone calls, because talking on the phone hurt.

By nighttime, the pain was intense and all over the right side of my head. The acupressure, deep breathing, and energy healing I’d been doing on myself was just not doing the trick. “Take a drug,” my mom suggested. I’m generally against taking pharmaceuticals, but on occasion, it is in fact a good idea to pop a pill and take the edge off. So that’s exactly what I did. I was delighted that the pain did in fact subside significantly, so much so that I could talk on the phone.

I went to sleep anxious, unsure whether the management company planned to paint outside my apartment the next day or not. I had asked them to give me a heads-up about which day they were going to paint. I knew it was going to be by the end of this week but not sure which day. In the chaos of dealing with the loud noise and subsequent ear pain, I hadn’t thought to check in about the painting.

I also was anxious about whether they would be banging again in the morning. I tried putting in earplugs as a preventative measure, but my ears were so sensitive, they could not handle the ensuing pressure. Fortunately I woke up early enough that nobody had arrived on the premises yet. So I closed my windows, turned on the air conditioning (facing a different direction than where they were going to paint), and this time, successfully inserted earplugs. Then I went back to sleep.

When I woke up, I was once again in pain and crazy sensitive to noise. I took out my earplugs when I woke up but found out I had to put them back in again; because actions as simple as cracking eggs could send a jolt of pain through my ears. Yes, the impact of yesterday’s steel-on-steel action was that intense.

After eating breakfast, I popped another pill and called my mom, asking her to send me healing energy. My mom is super powerful in that department. As a kid, she was able to move objects with her mind (ie, not touching them). She pushed down the ability, out of fear of it, but re-accessed it recently, when healing from the life-threatening accident she had a couple of years ago.

I don’t know if it was the pill or my mom, but within 20 minutes, my pain levels were much lower. Still, I couldn’t handle the banging in the apartment below. No matter where I went in my apartment, it was affecting me. Meaning that I couldn’t do what I needed to heal – lie down and rest. In addition, I found out that the painters will be painting outside my apartment tomorrow and doing construction or carpentry work around the building, for the coming two weeks.

Which brings me to another subtlety in the whole matter of injuries: Had I been informed of the construction work ahead of time, or more importantly, had I been notified of the steel + velocity + impact action at any time before it happened yesterday, I could have avoided this injury altogether. (“An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure”!) Then, without the assault on my nervous system, I possibly could have tolerated the not-as-loud banging downstairs today – enabling me to stay at home. At the very least, I would have been up for being a café refugee for the coming two weeks.

As it stands, however, I’m in need of rest and quiet but instead find myself homeless and bedless, doing the best I can at a local café. I’m working with earplugs, because everything is hurting my ears now. I need to make some phone calls (thus the café instead of the library), but it seems that phone calls are not doable at the moment, considering that I can’t take these earplugs out — lest I end up in exacerbated pain.

I may end up needing to go to a hotel tonight and tomorrow, so that I can sleep, rest, and otherwise function properly for at least a day — which of course will add to my expenses. I may also need to get some cranio-sacral therapy, to reboot my nervous system. Cha-ching! And so the wallet is emptied. Never mind the lost productivity and work hours, and really never mind the lost social life and chain reaction of events from that.

This is how it goes. Injury leads to complications lead to financial drain lead to more complications…So, no. When we talk about “an injury,” it’s not a tidy, self-contained incident. Not at all.

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