It all began in the spring of 2015, The Company I worked for just moved onto a new premise’s that wasn’t in the best condition and needed a lot of work. My boss new office was now upstairs. After a long day of unpacking boxes and going up and down stairs on numerous occasions I was done for the day leaving at 5pm walking normally down the stairs when I turned the corner and felt this sharp pain through my knee and I knew something was wrong. My co-worker saw me and asked if I was ok, I said “my knee is really sore”. I hobbled to my car which is an SUV and as i lifted my left leg up to get in, i couldn’t the pain brought tears to my eyes, I rang my mum explained what had happened and i had no idea how i was going to get into the car as the pain was unbearable. Mum offered to pick me up but i just didn’t want to leave my new car at work. I finally worked out how to get into the vehicle by straightening out my leg and sliding in. As I drove home still in pain with a million thoughts racing through my head to what the hell have i done? Once i got home i wasn’t able to out of the car without help from my 14yr old son and my mum helping me hop inside. Mum took me to the local GP as my usual GP was closed. After checking my knee and leg she was concerned i had an infection in my knee as it was warm, and swollen. The GP recommend going to the hospital.
So off we go to the Austin emergency where we wait for 4 hrs. and during that time i had rang my boss to inform him of where i was, what had happened and that i would not be in on the Friday. The doctor at the hospital said i had just done some damage to the soft tissue and gave me pain tablets and sent me home. On the Friday i went to my GP who ordered an ultrasound, MRI and X-rays. Finally after a week home from work it turns out i had torn my meniscus in my left knee. Unlike lot of people who tear their meniscus and have 4 to 8 weeks rest i went back to full time work. My doctor said i would most likely need surgery; she gave me a referral to an Orthopaedic surgeon. I rang to make an appointment but like most appointment to see a specialist i had to wait 7 weeks for a time. During the 7 weeks I was still in pain, i was on a walking cane and going to the Physio to help try and repair the meniscus through ultrasound waves to help bring blood supply to the meniscus.
I reflect back now my doctor said I should have some time off work. I wanted to save my sick leave for when I thought I would have surgery as at the time I had my boss informing me if I was away for more than 6 weeks I would be fired, he couldn’t afford to have me at home that long. I wish i took the time off instead of being scared to lose my job as I’ve now realised my health is more important than any job and me being me I didn’t want to let the people I worked with down. It’s not like my employers really believed I had a serious injury. Which was really hurtful as I didn’t take much time off only when I really sick.
After speaking with my GP she highly recommended putting in a claim for WorkCover to protect myself for the future and at first I wasn’t going to but after the way I was being treated from my bosses I knew I had to think of me and my son.
The first orthopaedic surgeon i saw didn’t seem to see much for concern, he said lose weight and exercise and it will repair itself. It’s hard to exercise when it hurts and i couldn’t move. I was going to see a physio who was trying to help me but i just wasn’t getting any better. My Physio recommends getting another referral to see another orthopaedic surgeon and i did just that. In that time i had put a claim in with work cover which made me unpopular at work. Work needed to pay for the work cover excess before anything could be approved which caused a delay until December if i remember correctly. Something’s i will never forget about that day and what happened soon after.
I went and saw Orthopedic Surgeon Dr Anna Manolopoulos in late November. She knew there was something more seriously wrong and i had another MRI and she booked me in for surgery. Monday April the 18th was the day of my arthroscopic surgery. i felt nervous, scared, hopeful, and i just want to get it over with. I wanted to be pain free and back at the gym working out and losing weight.
I wake up in recovery feeling like i need to sleep more and disorientated Dr Anna finally comes to visit and explains that in 7mths from just having a meniscus tear she found my meniscus was shredded, so instead of 3 key holes i had 5 key holes in my knee. I was on crutches for 8 weeks knee was swollen for months.
While I was still recovering from surgery I had a meeting at work and the Occupational therapist WorkCover assigned me to discuss my back to work plan. In June 2016 I went back to work like my back to work plan was agreed on starting slowing an hour 3 days a week, 2 hours 3 days a week and so forth until i was able to get back to work full time. However my bosses had other plans and at the end of June 2016 i was made redundant. How do you think i felt? Yep pissed off after being with the company for 3yrs and being a loyal employee i was let go and i didn’t know what my future was going to be like. Would i be able to get another job?
In January I had enrolled to do my cert VI in Business Administration to help me with my job so i could be a more efficient worker. After surgery then losing my job and realising my recovery is taking long it was hard to be in the mood to do my course luckily had 18mths to complete it.
In March 2017 I went to a Pain management clinic to find out why i was still in pain and didn’t still have full use of my knee. Why I was feeling so depressed more and my anxiety was higher. I saw a Pain Doctor, Physiotherapist, Psychologist and Psychiatrist. If you’re wondering what the difference is the Psychologist and Psychiatrist is a Psychiatrist can prescribe medication and psychologist can’t. The doctors at the pain management clinic were amazing and so helpful to understand what was wrong why i wasn’t getting better and why i was feeling the way i was. How an injury affects you as a whole not just the area where the original injury happened. It was explained to me that my pain is chronic pain and it’s like a loop. How I understood it my knee feels sore so the nerves near the injury is more sensitive and sending signals through my spinal cord to my brain which perceives the pain at a higher level that what the knee is actually feeling. It was explained to me that my pain is chronic pain and it’s like a loop. How I understood it my knee feels sore so the nerves near the injury is more sensitive and sending signals through my spinal cord to my brain which perceives the pain at a higher level that what the knee is actually feeling.
The below diagram is how I feel on a daily basis. I worry more about how I am going to support my family, if I will get hired when I have numerous restrictions, I do get angry and very frustrated at what I am unable to do and what I really want to do and unfair as it sound I have taken it out on my family. I didn’t ask for this injury or to be in pain all the time and just feeling numb. I know where isn’t any magic wand that will fix this (where is Hermione when you need her :)) or (the time stone Dr strange has, I could really use that). I need to learn how to live with my injury and everything that comes and even though I can’t yet get positive about my future I know it won’t stay like this. That is what I can be positive about.
So here i am it’s been 2yrs since surgery and 2 and half years since i got injured. The above diagram is how i feel every day of my life. No one tells you this can happen at the beginning. I was just hoping surgery was going to fix the problem and even though my knee is structurally good i am however not.
One of the worst aspects to having an injury is trying to find the right dose of medication that can help you physically and emotionally. For me it’s been a hit and miss and I have yet to find one that works for me without any issues.
I’ve been on Norspan patch starting at 5mg and going up to 20mg for over a year which contains Burprenorphine. While on it I did have days where I felt some of the side effects below at different stages of usage.
- mild abdominal problems such as feeling sick (nausea), loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhoea (I would have days where I was just nausea all day and the only thing that help was having junk food or just eating to take the feeling away.)
- weight loss (that was in the first few months of using and then I gained)
- dry mouth or changes in taste
- sweating ( I would find at night I would feel hot and cold)
- feeling anxious or nervous or having trouble sleeping (this is was really bad for me as I just found it hard to sleep at night and once I did sleep I would sleep all day)
- fatigue, feeling of tiredness, drowsiness, or lack of energy ( I felt this one a lot made it hard to leave the house)
- trouble with your balance (found this when I was walking or working out at pain managements gym, I had to do exercises to help my balance and it made me nervous to drive at times depends on how I felt)
- itching at the patch site or other areas of your body (after nearly a year of using the patch I started to get itchy and found out I had become allergic to it)
- redness or rash at the patch site ( When this started I had to come off the patch)
- Swelling, including but not only, of the legs or ankles. ( I thought I had been on my feet to long or it was from the heat)
While the patch did help with my pain and I start getting back to living, going to the gym, I went on a holiday with my son which we hadn’t been since I got injured I felt like I was heading in the right direction until I became allergic to the patch. I did try and come off the patch when I finish pain management (it runs for 12 weeks) as I was itchy a lot more, and the doctor put me on durogesic 12mg and I went through withdrawals from it and I felt like crap for days. I felt like was a junky I had the sweats, shakiness, nausea, unable to sleep, heart palpitations. Then I went downhill in more pain, was hard to get to the gym and I became isolated. I finally was back on norspan then the itchiness got worst and I had a rash and it didn’t matter where I placed the patch.
The Psychiatrist put me on (Desvenlafaxine) Pristiq (Serotonin and norepinephrine are chemicals) 50mg and I went to 200mg and now I’m back to 150mg. It would help with chronic neuropathic pain as well as my depression/Anxiety. My depression and anxiety are like a rollercoaster I have days where I feel happy and great and days where I feel sad and just yuck. My doctor put me on Lyrica (pregabalin) 25mg to 175mg (LYRICA is believed to work on damaged nerves for specific conditions, reduces “extra” electrical signals sent out by damaged nerves in the body.) I’m now on 125mg, I have noticed that I’m not as sensitive in my knee as I was before. If anyone was to lightly touch my knee it could literally feel the nerve running through my body to my head. I have been others like tramadol (which I had the worst side effects off) One of the medications I did love was Circadin (Melatonin) 2mg it was great to help me fall asleep and stay asleep longer than a few hours. Now that I am on lyrica I have stopped taking circadin because for me using both made me drowsier.
Once I was unable to use norspan any more my gp put me on durogesic (Fentanyl)12mg all the way to 20mg. Side effects I had were the following:
- Nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, uncomfortable feeling in stomach.
- confusion, hallucinations, trouble sleeping, agitation, loss of memory, pins and needles, numbness;
It didn’t help with my pain at all, I had an appointment with the doctor from pain management and he decided to have to come off durogesic which was fine with me as it wasn’t helping me. I did have withdrawal from it lucky he gave me a script for endone to help take the edge off until I see him in a couple of weeks to decide what is next.
Another thing about trying different medications i have found is for me i’m always tired. I struggle every day to wake up especially if i have had a really bad night. If i have an appointment early in the morning it’s a huge effort to get up and go and if i do manage to get up and go i find i come home and have a nanna nap (which was something i never did before the injury unless i was really unwell).
I often look back and expected my life to be different, better, fuller. I don’t feel like I’m living any more I’m only exiting, I’m limited to what i can physically do, it has affected me emotionally. I have days where i feel good and then the next i feel like crap and all i want to do is hide in my room in bed and let the day go by.
It’s hard living with an injury especially for those who have never suffered an injury, how much it impacts your life from not working being on work cover, to have to think if i get invited to go anywhere i now think does that place have stairs, is the seats to close together, how far will parking be am i able to walk the distance, how much pain will this simple outing going to cause and it’s not like i will be fine once i get home and rest no! It lingers for several days. Knowing this makes it hard to want to go out and be social or enjoy the activities i used. I use to love going on Ghost tours but how can i go now. To be able to go on a Ghost Tour there is travel usually driving for hours which i can’t do as it hurt sitting in a car for long periods of time, all ghost tours are at night and that causes even more stress and i worry about the ground is it uneven? Is it grass? It is Concrete? It’s at night with just a flash light it’s hard to see your surroundings. Most are in old mansions or asylums with narrow corridors, stairs (again i can’t manage stairs well and it was cause pain going up and down) if the stairs and short even worst. Then it going to be cold and that rips right through my knee in a very sharp pain. Will i enjoy myself that answer is NO! Will i suffer for it later HELL YEAH! So am i going to go simple answer at this time NO.?
I do feel a loss of life for me for the person i was before the injury to the person i am now. I know i can’t change the last 3 yrs. but god i wish i had a genie to grant me the wish to go back in time and not take that job and then i wouldn’t have gotten injured.
I could be somewhere different in my life. I know i just miss her and its weird talking about myself as if there are two people but for me there is. The girl who was going to the gym, losing weight, eating well, (for anyone who knows me that was huge) feeling confident, who (even though afraid of heights) still climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge
with my son and felt so proud of that moment and having my son be proud of his mum was an awesome feeling. It was a big achievement for me. Now the girl i am today feels broken, lost, sad, sore, unsure, anti-social, gain the weight back, suffers chronic pain, heighten depression and anxiety is a hermit and just want to feel safe and my safe place is home where i have more control of my pain and my environment. If i do go out i stay in my local area as i know what i can expect and i’m not far from home.
I am very surprised by how much I have written as I don’t consider myself to be a writer. For one I’m a shocking speller and my grammar is terrible (thank god for office and spell check). But I’ve managed to get my thoughts written down not just for my own benefit as this has been really freeing, I wanted it to be out there if anyone else was to read it and feels the same way. It can be very lonely and as much as family and friends will sympathize with you they still just can’t understand. It’s not until you meet other people who are in the same boat with different injures and we all have the same concerns that you start to feel like I’m finally not alone and that is a very powerful feeling as you start talking about how each other’s life is you soon realise that is me too.
The unknown is a very scary thing and as I come to the end of my 130 weeks on WorkCover it’s even more frightening. What will happen if I haven’t found suitable employment by then it’s not like I could cope with working full time. I have been approved for part time work, as long as I work 6hrs every 2nd day. I have yet to see a job on seek that offers those hours. I need to be able to have regular breaks as I find it hard to sit for long periods (I’ve noticed it has a lot to do with the time of chairs I find I get pins and needles through my legs and numbness) I am unable to stand for long periods, I can’t squat, carry more than 5 kg, walk up and down stairs, depending on how I feel I can sometimes walk 500 meters and then the pain sets in. My OT brought up how would I cope if I got a job on a leveled building and there was a fire, well I can honestly say I would be screwed while everyone else is hurrying down the stairs to safety I would be slowly walking down with a death grip on the handrail praying to god I don’t fall or have someone rushing past knock me down. (Things I didn’t think about before) Then I could get up dead or with another injury. I really don’t have a lot of options.
Where do i go from here. I have no idea, i’m going to try and improve my quality of life one way or another as i really don’t want to continue living this way.
If this has been read i would like to thank you for reading and hopefully it was helpful.