Draining The Poison

In 2011 I had two spinal fusion surgeries, one in my lumbar spine and one in my cervical spine, 4 months apart. I am still recovering from them, so that means I can’t say with certainty if they were “successful.” I had a previous lumbar microdiscectomy in November of 2009 which was unsuccessful and basically just caused further damage. I live with chronic physical pain. And the pain inside swirls like a storm…

To briefly describe the fusion process, what they did is open up my lower back, remove discs L4-L5 and L5-S1, and replaced the discs with metal cages, bone grafts, plates and screws. They did the same procedure in my neck, from the front, removing C5-C6 and C6-C7. Can they remove, everything, I wonder?

While in the hospital for the first lumbar fusion, I felt closer to death and closer to heaven than any other time in my life. I had, up until that point, thought that there could be no pain greater than the self inflicted injury I had caused myself and others. I hated myself for mistakes I’d made in the past, blamed myself for things I had no control over, and hated the fact that I had developed so many mental disorders as a result. Intellectually, I had “gotten over” the harm caused by others. I had forgiven the people I love and despise for their actions. But like many others who walk in the tortured existence between the earth and the sky, I did not yet forgive myself. Cockroaches are the dirtiest creatures on the planet.

In the hospital I was hooked up to some heavy duty drugs. I am a recovering alcoholic, and have not had a drink since Christmas 2009. I have to admit, I was a little excited about the drugs. Until they were hooked into my veins…

The pain. I don’t have words in my vocabulary to explain it.  I am reminded of a line in the movie “Candyman.” The Candyman is about to cut Virginia Madsen’s throat and belly with a hook, she is sleepy and in a spell cast by his handsome darkness, and he tells her “The pain will be exquisite.” I get you, Virginia.

The drugs. They didn’t work. There was a continuous feed into my veins, and then I had the option to press a pain pump, which would administer a little more. I could only press “The Pump” once every 10 minutes. That is a good thing. For if I could press the pump and get an unlimited amount of pain medicine, I surely would have died.


It’s Microscopic Monday and I’m on the purple couch belonging to my EMDR therapist. It’s our 3rd visit. She’s dressed in purple, and I ask her if she’s been wearing purple for every appointment. She says yes, and that purple is her color. I love that in an eccentric froopty doop kind of way. I brush off the fact I haven’t noticed before.

She asks me how I was doing since last week’s session, where we worked on the gang rape that happened in college. I smile, let out a huge sigh, and lie, “Today? I’m okay.” I go on to tell her that in the preceding days, I was having what felt like a warped nervous breakdown, slowed by the pointy finger of the monster who controlled my inner record player. It feels as though a tiny cut has been made in a huge water balloon that’s been hanging over my head for decades, and while I only sense a tiny dripdripdripdripdrip, I can also sense the impending doom of the birthing of pain, being dumped over me, leaving me unable to swim or breathe. I know why they call it Chinese water torture.

I am so sure of it’s “coming” that I feel choked. A pit of burning angst swelling in my chest and throat. It’s the feeling that used to make me want to drink or purge. I feel so overwhelmed by the dripping, that my mind goes blank. Suddenly, brushing my teeth is a monumental task. And OHMYGODIHAVESOMANYEMAILSICAN’THANDLETHIS is how my mind views every tiny task before it. As though BREATHEOPENEYESSWALLOWEATSMILESTANDWALKBREATHE are all commands my mind must specifically make, or yell at me, in order to get my legs out of the quicksand. I am moving in slow motion, yet it’s all happening too fast.

The pain is unbearable. Yet I must walk through it.

I explain to my ET that the other morning, I was sitting with my boyfriend having coffee. He was preparing for his day at the office. I was trying to hold myself together IGNORINGTHESCREAMINGINMYHEAD so he could peacefully leave and not have to worry about me. I don’t recall what question was asked, but as soon as my mouth opened, the water balloons in my eyes burst, and I cried, those tears, that seem to come from “nowhere” and have no end. He’s used to this now, but I am not and I caught my own self by surprise. SUUUUUPPRRRIIIISSSSSSSEEEEEE!

I want to be okay. I want to get better. I want to walk through this with grace and dignity. Yet, I know, I must trample through some mud and trash. I will get dirty and I will get stuck. I must face the circus clowns and not-so-fun-house mirrors head on.

I KNOW I must not press the pain button, all at once…but allow it in tiny drips, just minutes at a time. To do otherwise is certain death. dripdripdripdrip


The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

~ by Kissing The Cockroach® on March 7, 2012.

8 Responses to “Draining The Poison”

  1. I spent a few months on neurosurgery helping with lumbar and cervical discectomies and fusions…I understand the pain that you went through. Those are some of the most gruesome surgeries that I would never want done to me. On the flip side, it can really change your life once you recover. I’m not just referring to the pain from the surgery.

    I hope writing is helping.

    • I’m a firm believer in the self perpetuating cycle of pain begetting pain…physical causes mental causes physical and so on….it’s fascinating, really. I am open minded to the idea that all that pent up “stuff” had nowhere to go but to express itself physically. It’s funny, my surgeon is so curt. His last words to me before the first fusion were “It’s going to hurt like hell.” And then he smiled. Change the words around a little bit, and that’s exactly what the EMDR therapist said!
      I really appreciate your perspective.

  2. Wow, I could not stop reading. I can’t imagine the excruciating pain that may cause. The mental torment I can understand, and of course my mental pain often hurts my body. But you have to fight both…
    I hope writing out your experiences does offer some mental relief at least, and I hope the physical pain lessens for you. ♥

    • Thank you, muse!!! Physical and mental…it’s all related. It does help to write. It feels a little foreign, expressing something instead of keeping it inside…but I’m going to keep trudging through the mud.
      Kisser of Cucarachas

  3. I recently realized how inept I am at dealing with pain. I spent all of my adult years (and many of my childhood years as well) covering up all my emotions and general uncomfortabilities with alcohol, pain pills and purging. I now have an extreme fear of actually having to experience any sort of pain in a somewhat sober state.
    You are unbelievably brave.

    • I remember a therapist telling me that “when the pain of today is worse than the fear of tomorrow, it’s time for action.” I promise your time will come…and this is exactly why I want to share. I am you, still. And you are me. We all do it together but at different times.
      The Cockroach

  4. I had my first serious surgery in November. After the surgery I thought, “Oh, piece of cake. This isn’t much worse than labor!” Until, I had to get back to my daily life.

    After a woman has a baby, she is afforded all of this time to get back to herself. After a woman has a gynecological surgery, well, they are expected to go on about their life. Anyone that tells you different, or that it doesn’t hurt worse than a bad period is a liar.

    I had a ton of restrictions for four weeks. No excessive standing or walking. No stairs. No lifting. Etc. And, I immediately realized why. And for six weeks, it hurt. The first four were the worst, to the point where I was physically incapacitated. I’d just put my head down on my desk during prep periods and groan.

    If that was bad, then I cannot imagine the true agony of what you are going through. My sincerest condolences.

    What your therapist said made me think. “When the pain of today is worse than the fear of tomorrow…” As thinks have slowly been seeping out for me, the pain and fear of enduring it another day is equal to the suffering of today. I’d rather have the greatest pain of my life in one day, to never have to face it again. I finally finished a piece of my full, tell-all confession of an abusive relationship.

    Each time I’d pick up that pen, I’d start to shake. And those vibrations shook me throughout those days. It was liberating to have it all out there. I don’t know what to do with it, but I don’t feel like it lives with me anymore. It lives in a book, in the past. And there is nothing he can ever do to hurt me again.

    Just some thoughts….

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