The pain in my toes, feet, and legs is too intense for me to bear tonight, and I’m hoping that writing can refocus my attention.
Relentless. Like the hounds chasing the fox, that’s the burning and aching I feel due to erythromelalgia. It never stops.
This rare neurovascular disorder intensifies when the weather gets hot or when I have too much physical activity. Sometimes the pain flares for no apparent reason. Even sitting upright for too long can cause the pain level to skyrocket.
It’s not always this severe, but it never disappears.
The temperature hit the somewhere in the 80s today, and I’m certain that’s what initiated this episode. I’ve explained the pain to more doctors and nurses than I can recall, and I’m running out of ways to describe it. Burning, tingling, and aching sensations begin in my toes, cover my feet, and ascend up my legs like scarlet lava socks.
Besides that, the 26 bones in both feet and my two tibias feel broken. When the pain kicks into high gear like this, I sometimes think that bashing my legs and feet with a hammer would being relief.
On several occasions, I’ve even researched elective amputation. I’ve read of people with erythromelalgia having a limb surgically removed, but I’m not inclined to follow through. At least not yet.
My wife and two of our nearly-grown children are out of town and two time zones ahead. It’s after one o’clock in the morning there, so I’m sure they’re asleep. I don’t want call and wake anyone up.
I’ve visited the ER a few times when the suffering has spiked like this, but I’m reluctant to go tonight. I’ve taken my full complement of pain meds, and I’m due for the next does in about five hours. With all of the meds in my system, the emergency doctors probably won’t prescribe any more. Many people with chronic pain conditions get turned away from the ER because they’re seen as drug addicts looking for a hit. Plus, I know this episode will eventually pass like it has so many times before.
Between now and then, I’ll probably meditate, pray, watch SportsCenter, look for some funny YouTube videos, scroll through Twitter, listen to music, finish the podcast on Byzantine history I started about an hour ago, and cry.
It has taken me months to give myself permission to cry when I feel like this, Maybe it was a misguided sense of manliness or strength or self-control. Whatever the cause, the suffering has just washed over it, and Psalm 6:6 has become my prayer.
I’m worn out from groaning.
Every night, I drench my bed with tears;
I soak my couch all the way through.
I know I’m not alone in my anguish, and many people have troubles worse than mine. I could be on the street or caged in a camp like so many people; God forbid that anyone should be treated that way. Friends tell me not to compare suffering, but there are various gradations. I have food, a couch to stretch out on, and an icepack on my fiery feet. For all of that, I’m thankful.
This is all I can write for now, and editing is out of the question. Thank you for sitting with me in this ordeal.