I thought instead of an update I’d talk about phantom pain. I suppose it is an update as the reason I’m writing this is because it’s what I’m experiencing but it’s going to be solely based on my experience with phantom pain.
Before my operation I was told and sort of already had heard about Phantom Pain. For those unsure what phantom pain is its a pain that feels as though it is coming from a body part that is no longer there, strange right? Doctors believed it was a psychological problem until experts recognised that these real sensations originate in the brain or spinal cord, basically meaning for me that my brain is not used to the fact my foot has gone and is still sending signals to my nerves.
I was told that my phantom pain would feel like the pain I experienced when I had my foot. I can tell you now that is a lie. Yes, I do get the odd old pain I used to have but I also have some new ones. For a week after the operation I was lucky as I had only phantom sensations not pains but the past 2 days my heads been so messed about with the fact my foot isn’t there but I can feel it, I can feel the individual sensations in my toes, heel pains, pin pricks in the ball of my foot. It’s felt so real, that is until I’ve looked down and seen that still my foot isn’t there.
I constantly have the sensation of pins and needles so whilst I write this in bed with my leg not in sight, it’s hard to believe my foot isn’t actually there. Many times now I have been on my crutches and gone to put my foot down to then realise it was a mistake. Don’t get me wrong it’s not all bad, some phantom limb sensations are good, it’s oddly still nice to feel my foot now and again as I do miss it sometimes, it’s just the shock pains I get that I don’t expect that then makes me jump out of my seat and makes it look like I have some form of Tourette’s that I don’t particularly enjoy.
So the sorts of sensations I’ve been getting have been shock pains that come unexpectedly. They hurt the most, I can just have one every couple of minutes or hours but I can have an episode of them where I get 4/5 at once. That is when I am broken down into tears because it can be unbearable for someone like me who is no good with pain. Other sensations have felt like the ones I had when I was in my external fixator, I sometimes feel the pin in the back of my heel or the pins and needles I used to get when putting my leg down with the frame on. Toe pains are the weirdest. You can feel the individual toes that hurt, it’s usually my big toe and it feels like someone is pinching it, or sometimes I get a sore little toe like a shoes been rubbing on it for too long.
What’s frustrating is the fact there is no cure for it, although I’m on medication for it, it’s not helping the way I wish I were. I know it’s doing something slowly but I need the instant relief, which at the moment is sleep. Unless it’s that intense that it wakes me up. That’s when you’ve got to accept the fact it could be a long day/night ahead.
If someone is reading this who is choosing to go for an amputation I do not want this to put you off, all phantom pains are different, the odd intensity of mine might not even happen for someone else. You could even be lucky enough to not have any pain just sensations.
Although I get the odd pains I do not regret my amputation one bit. It’s exciting to think I could go on holiday and get to go sight seeing without complaining my foot hurts, or even when I turn 18 and start going out I can have a dance with my friends and not stand in one place because my foot hurts in the smallest heels. What I keep telling myself is that phantom limb pain does not last forever. Eventually my brain will catch up and go “hey your foot isn’t there, let’s give you a break.” Oh the day!
You can try, I certainly did before the operation, to imagine what phantom limb pain is like, but until you go through it you could never ever imagine exactly what it’s like. I remember nights where I sat and thought to myself what it could be like and whether I could deal with it. Obviously now I have no choice but I’m dealing with it. I’m only in my 2nd week of being an amputee and for saying I should have still been in hospital right now, I think I’m doing a bloody good job if I do say so myself. Self encouragement is what I’m having to work on at the moment, I’m getting support left, right and centre from friends and family and although they can give me encouragement I have to give it to myself 24/7 to get me through my day.
Hopefully soon I’ll have better ways of dealing with my phantom pains but until then I’m just coping the best way I can.