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I’ve lived a pretty full life, certainly hasn’t been boring. The first injury I can remember was to my low back when I was a little girl; jumping on a carnival trampoline went to do a belly flop and kinda bent myself in half, the wrong way. I’ve had low back pain ever since.
Jump ahead to adulthood, married with child, loved to go hiking thru the California Redwood forests, mountains, trails, camp out, be one with Mother Earth. One trip was sitting atop a gigantic boulder about the size of a small mountain, smooth but covered with oak leaves, pine needles and such. Sat there enjoying the day, with a full back pack on loaded with food and canteen and other possible. Had my feet drawn up under me, wearing my favorite pair of Pivetta hiking boots, steel plates and guards, super protective and sturdy, just about ankle high. Well, I went to turn to talk to my son, my feet slipped on the leaves and then out from under me, and down I went landing flat footed on a slanted boulder; the slant was facing me, not behind me. Which if you can imagine, was the worse of the two angels. Anyways, my knees smacked into my chin which knocked me out, and the force of the landing pretty much shredded all the soft tissue in both ankles, feet and lower legs.
The good part was, an off duty fireman was walking that same trail, came upon us about an hour later, maybe it was because he heard my screams. He and my husband made a fireman’s chair of their arms and carried me off that mountain. Took about 3 hours. Doc at the ER said my injuries were like an “implosion” and that my Pivettas saved the bones of my feet and ankles from being shattered, and kept my feet from swelling. They had to cut my boots off and well, I kinda went black after that. Woke with double casts, two black eyes, a busted lip but at least my teeth were still intact.
Buried my Pivettas near that same boulder about a year later.
Jump ahead about 10 years find me on a horse ranch, working with green broke horses, which meant further training them to the saddle and to the trail, as this was not only a stabling ranch where people kept their stock but also a training ranch those who purchased horses, what to do with them. There were endless classes and I was in every one of them, but I was there to get the rental horses ready to rent out to the public. I rode bareback a lot because you and the horse have no interference, which also meant there weren’t a lot to hold on to when things went sideways. So I had lots of falls and getting bucked off. The one that ended my career was a doozy and really stupid on my part; working with a hell bitch who just didn’t want to be ridden, but off to the arena we went to work out some kinks. We were riding split reined, I was on a English saddle. I accidentally dropped one of the reins pulling on a glove and as I bent to grab it, I applied just enough pressure with my knees to her sides that gave her the go ahead to run. And she did and she bucked and her neck connected with my nose and my butt went over my head and I landed on my neck. I woke up in ER with severe concussion, 3 fractures in my neck and I couldn’t feel anything below my hips. Seems I’d landed on my neck with my torso going one way and my hips and legs going the other way. About 18 hours later I got feeling back and about 4 months later I went back to the ranch. She and I had a discussion, a nice ride and I hung up my cowboy hat.
Jump ahead to 2008. As a Massage Therapist, I was always on my feet, bending my body in certain ways holding positions to administer particular techniques to clients. I was working at a huge Las Vegas Hotel spa, I mean it was HUGE like about 86K square feet. I ran a lot between appointments to keep on time. Already living with chronic pain but not taking any meds for that or the RLS that began in my late twenties, dealing with occipital migraines every couple of weeks, hobbling along when I wasn’t working, icing and doing whatever I could to help my knees, I knew my time at that spa was limited. As a Veteran I started going out to the VA hospital for Cortisone shots in my knees, but you can only get those a couple times a year. Xrays, MRIs, CTs, Physical Therapy, all showed the end result of all my injuries and limited range of motion and, endurance. Just touching my knees was like electricity. Swollen twice their normal size all the time so that walking or sitting was almost impossible, working as a MT was excruciating and I knew it was time to do something. The breaking point came when it was hard to pick up my foot from the gas pedal to the break and back in a timely fashion. You gotta be able to do that, right? The VA didn’t have an Orthopedic surgeon for knees so they contracted a civilian for those types of surgeries. Mine scheduled bi-lateral meniscus and cartilage repair and, removal. That was fun. The scope pictures showed Grade 4 Osteo-Arthritis in both knees and he told me, after surgery “It won’t be long before you’re back here for replacements.” And I was; about 4 months later, I had them both replaced at the same time. I started on my pain medications for the first time; 4mg Hydromorphone 4 times per day.
So I had the replacements done – stupid but people do them at the same time. 2nd day I was supposed to go to Physical Therapy but the pain was so horrific I can’t even describe it. I also had a lot of trouble breathing. But up I got and I tried but it just wasn’t happening. Later that 2nd day some of my monitors went off, a nurse rushes in, next thing I know I’m being wheeled down for a CT and that shows I had about 10 Pulmonary Embolisms – blood clots – in my lungs. Hence the trouble breathing and then the order came no exertion, no physical therapy, basically no movement.
A week later transferred to a “rehab” home – it was a place you put your elders when you want them to die. It was a tragic place. My surgery was Nov 17, 2008. I was transferred right before Thanksgiving. The whole time I was in that place I never saw a doctor, never saw a Physical Therapist, just nurses would come in, give me shots, give me pills, empty my foley (my pee bag), big orderlies would lift me into the bathroom so I could do my business, then back in bed. They kept pillows under my legs so my legs wouldn’t swell. But that also kept my knees slightly bent.
On Dec. 10th I discharged myself afraid I would die in that place; my Mom came to get me and drove me home, we felt like bandits escaping prison. I had a bag full of drugs, a walker, 2 canes and crutches. The only good thing was before I split, one of the nurses finally removed that damned foley!
My surgeon was a good surgeon, it wasn’t his fault the way things went, but while I assumed he’d been informed of my progress, he assumed I was doing fine as he’d heard nothing. I called him a few days after I got home to say hey and did you know this is what happened to me and now what’s the plan. He was stunned. NO physical therapy for a month? He arranged for my first session of PT on the 17th, a month after my surgery.
My PT was an angel from heaven. After consultation and examination, he told me in no uncertain terms “You know what we have to do here; you know the work that is in front of you. At least 3 months PT, 3 times a week, couple hours every time. I have to break all that scar tissue around your knees or you’ll never walk again.” Yeah it was going to be a fun time.
And so … let’s just say if someone offered to shot me I would have said Yes. More pills came fast; Morphine 30mg 4 times per day, Hydromorphone 4mg 4 times per day. I can walk and lead a fairly normal, active life only because my PT ignored my screams and did his job, breaking down all that scar tissue, stretching and pulling and pushing and bending my legs and knees until I was pretty much “normal”. Took four months, but the damage done to the nerves and soft tissues was irreversible. Just something to live with
Jump ahead Oct 2013. Had my own massage business and was making and selling my own body and bath products. So I was running 2 businesses, 7 days a week and a crazy person to say the least. My days were full of massage appointments and when I wasn’t doing that, I was filling product orders. My medication had taken a turn to support my activity of being on my legs about 18hrs every day. Now I was taking: Morphine 30mg 4 times per day, Morphine 15mg 4 times per day and Hydromorphone 2mg 4 times per day. I had a Pain Management Specialist at the VA who cut my Hydro’s from 4mg to 2mg because “I” was taking too many opiates.
So October 2013 – hadn’t been feeling so good, like I had the flu, the intestinal kind. The girls at the spa kept saying “Taleda you don’t look so good.” I couldn’t eat, was in gut pain all the time and everything I drank came right back up. So I cancelled some appointments thinking I needed to rest. On the 2nd day I was in so much pain it felt like I had glass in my guts. I drove myself to the VA ER. SIX HOURS LATER I was seen, finally. Blood work and so forth came back not so good; my WBC was 18 indicating I had either a whopper of an infection or, several. I had a fever of 104, I was dehydrated and the slightest touch on my lower left side produced vomiting waves of pain.
The doc I was seeing called in a Gastroenterologist who made it clear I was very sick and admitted me to hospital right then. I’d never experienced pain on that level before and I pray to God I never do again. I drifted in and out of consciousness for days, writhing in pain, I had so many IVs and tubes and monitors it was a mess when I had to rush to the bathroom. On the 4th day, my infections were controlled enough to allow surgery.
I ended up having my Sigmoid Colon removed and about 2 feet of my intestines. I wear a Colostomy bag. I was in ICU for 4 days after surgery. All in all in hospital for 2.5 weeks. Had to have a neighbor drive out with his wife so he could drive me home in my jeep.
Recovery at home took about 4 months. I lost my massage business, I pretty much lost everything. I didn’t care, I was grateful to just be alive. My medications were reduced from what they were in the hospital and I was transitioned back into Pain Management Care and back to the medications I had been on, for years.
Now those pain meds keep my pain calm, I function, I’m not pain free, and I am of course an addict. I endure neuropathy in my knees, sometimes it’s so bad I can’t stand or sit. I have back pain always, especially when I sleep, my migraines subsided I guess with age as I rarely get one. I still have intestinal problems on occasion. On the whole, my limitations are standing for long periods, sitting for long periods, lifting pushing pulling, and I have no control over my bowels; in the mornings at least 2hrs before I can leave the house and I don’t eat during the day, and at night after I eat I have to wait at least 2 – 3hrs before I can sleep.
August 2014 I was reading Yahoo News in the morning with coffee like I always do and saw an article from Natural News on Kratom. I’d heard about Kratom but never gave it much thought as I assumed it was like any “new” herbal trend – amazing today forgotten about tomorrow. But I read the article and was intrigued; I followed the links provided at the end of it to two Facebook Groups. The article btw was written by Paul Kemp. One of the FB Groups had 2 admins, Kim Jerue and Destiny Fletcher. I wrote to both of them about myself and asked to join just out of curiosity. I went to Youtube and watched I don’t know about 5 different videos from Jonny Enoch. I was pretty interested in the whole herbal, natural, get off opiates and be pain free at the same time, concept.
I read testimonials from everyone, their stories so sad and yet I saw myself in those stories of unimaginable perpetual pain wanting something anything to be a whole person again. Only another person who experiences what we experience can possibly understand. I started asking a lot of questions, I did my own research. I kept wondering if Kratom was right for me. How to get off my scripts without horrific withdrawals was my main concern as it is for everyone. Nobody wants to face that! We live with enough pain as it is! But my 2nd concern was the cost. I lost everything, I have no money, I can’t pay my bills let alone my mortgage which is so far behind I worry everyday about foreclosure, I worry about living on the streets. At my age, I have to worry about that shit too? So the cost of Kratom is prohibitive for me and I rarely am able to buy it. But when I can I buy some or when someone gives it to me as a Gift, I know from experience how miraculous it truly is.
I found thru Kim Jerue a wealth of information; she’s a compassionate person who gets it, who understands what we all deal with, who tirelessly campaigns to keep Kratom legal and properly available to those who want it. Responsible, intelligent mature chronic pain sufferers who want to live addiction free. We have that right.
But it isn’t only chronic pain sufferers who benefit from Kratom; PSTD, MS, Menstrual Cramps, PMS, Depression, Anxiety, RLS, and on and on I mean I haven’t heard of one condition, illness or disease that Kratom doesn’t help with.
So for me, to finish up this long testimonial; Kratom works for me. It works when I use it for the symptoms I use it for; chronic pain, depression, anxiety and RLS. I works keeping me pain free and active, it works keeping me focused and my emotions on an even keel, it helps me not fall into lethargy and give up when everything crowds in on me. I sleep better, I eat, I have energy, I’m happier, I’m not moody or argumentative or easy to irritate. Sure some of my physical issues are still there, my legs are still stiff and sore, my back is still a mess but nothing is going to eliminate that. But the severe pain associated with that structural damage, Kratom does eliminate that! I’m like an old car; runs great just don’t look so pretty on the inside lol !!
I feel Kratom needs to remain Legal and accessible thru responsible vendors. I feel there needs to be some sort of system for Vendors to become vendors; I mean I can’t do massage therapy unless I have the proper training – I feel someone dispensing Kratom should have some qualifications! Kratom, like any herb, should be taken only after one has done their research, asked questions of knowledgeable advocates who understand the chemistry of Kratom, who aren’t about the “money” part but are about the compassion part. Am I saying that right? I wouldn’t buy Kratom from just anyone. I would buy and use Kratom from a trusted, respected, educated source.
Be responsible. Use common sense. Know your Vendor. Know where the Vendor gets supplied from. Understand Kratom. Experience the different strains. Find what works best for you. Don’t offer guidance without the education behind you.
And that’s all I have to say about that.