Angela

I live with chronic post-surgical pain as a result of significant facial nerve damage after maxillary and ongoing oral surgery.

Although I was aware of the risks, I hadn’t prepared myself for the pain and subsequent impact on my life.

Life has been a challenge at times, not being the person I once was. The ongoing, constant pain has had unfortunate consequences, emotional and physical.

My diet is severely restricted and anything but normal (it is essentially soft foods and liquids). This has made me somewhat antisocial and reclusive because so many social engagements involve sharing and enjoying food, which is something I cannot do.

It has become increasingly apparent to me that most people don’t really understand what being in constant pain is like because it is not as visible as, for example, having a broken arm or leg.

The pain is an unrelenting, constant dull ache; there is no reprieve. Then, just to make life interesting, it develops a different personality and becomes more intense. It is unpredictable and it can be so, so depressing.

To manage my pain, I take Endone, together with a cocktail of other medications for other conditions. Although the Endone is effective, it does have its side effects, but at least it allows me to function and continue to work. I’m very conscious of its addictive properties, so I am very disciplined with the dosage.

With work, I find that matters just take longer. I need more time to think and am not as reactive as I used to be; but it is a saviour. I might still have pain but at least I’m intellectually and socially engaged. This is good for my mental health.

Coping with chronic pain has now become part of life and I just ‘get on with it’. What’s the alternative?

I have to admit there have been many dark days when I get depressed and have to overcome scary thoughts. As hard as it is at times, I try and focus on the positives in my life and convince myself that living is the best option.