Day to day living with difficult pain

Contributed by: Julianne
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, July 2012

Julianne is a 51 year old woman who lives in Florida.  Before an accidental fall she worked as a nurse.


I live in Florida and was injured 13 years ago at work. I am an RN and fell down a flight of cement stairs and crushed my left foot and ankle.

I have had multiple fusions on my foot and ankle to try to heal the fragmented bones. After the first year I developed REFLEX SYMPATHETIC DYSTROPHY. From this point on my life has been full of medications, sympathetic blocks, epidural injections, intrathecal pump, spinal cord stimulator and the list goes on and on.

I recently had to be put in a psychiatric facility to detox off of the large amounts of opioids I was on due to developing severe sleep apnea.  Heavy doses of narcotics can cause the brain to not communicate with the breathing center while sleeping and left me gasping for air at night.  I snored loudly and would sit up in my sleep 15 to 20 times a night to catch my breath.  The only place I was comfortable sleeping was in a recliner.

My physician said this was a very dangerous situation and I needed to get off narcotics.  This was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  My brain was so used to narcotics, I became very depressed and withdrawn.  I did have to be put back on a low dose of narcotics because of the constant shooting, burning, stabbing, aching unrelenting pain I have. I have been to a major teaching hospital and was told” that my condition was “too far gone” for any intervention from them.

I struggle every day to participate in life but many days it is too much to deal with.  I feel very cheated out of a promising career and many active things I enjoyed in my life.

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