The Starting Point of Living with Chronic Pain

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

January 29th, 2009 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

I loved life.  I still love life, but I can’t physically throw myself into it the way I used to.  For now.  I do plan on returning, or rather, moving forward into that state of total engagement.  But at the moment, my spirit cannot manifest my essence through my body.  My body is a shadow of who I am.

I always talk about the car crash in October 1997 as the turning point, but who knows when it started.  Maybe the trigger point was in August 1994, when I was playing tackle frisbee with a gaggle of guys.  Okay, to be more accurate, they were playing frisbee, and I was tackling them.

I was a very physical person.  When I was a kid, I loved wrestling.  I was plenty confused and saddened when, at age 11, my mother informed me I could no longer wrestle, because I was a girl.  I made up for lost time in my adult life, however, turning pretty much any sport — even basketball, were I would lose points for it — into a tackle match.

Oh yeah.  And I was always into physically out-powering guys. You could say I was born a radical feminist on a mission to add a new dimension to the women’s movement.

So back to the frisbee game: During one tackle, I fell backwards and landed on my tailbone.  A couple of days later, I had trouble walking — I was limping.  I went to the doctor at the local clinic and was told that I had hit a nerve, but that I would be fine in a week.  I was also told to see a doctor for follow-up when I got back home.  (I had been out of town at a conference when the incident happened.)

I don’t think I ever went to the doctor.  Even back then, I thought doctors were generally useless.  And why should I follow up, being that I felt fine after a few days? Sometime after that, I think months later, I would be on a five or six mile jog, when suddenly, my leg would go out, and I would have to limp home.

It happened randomly and only occasionally.  I have a vague sense that I went to the doctor and was told that I was fine — which translates into “they couldn’t find anything.” Regardless, I do clearly remember feeling frustrated that I didn’t know what was going on.

That continued for about a year.  Then in December 1995, I woke up one day with excruciating hip pain on my right side.  I figured it was stress-related, as I was by then pretty miserable at my job.  But even after I quit, the hip pain didn’t.  If I wasn’t totally convinced by then that doctors were completely incompetent, I was about to be schooled in that train of thought.

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