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Faces of Pain - Chief Bud Dark Cloud Grime's Story

Come with me on a journey like no one should ever have to travel, but Dark CloudChief Bud Dark CLoud Grimesmany of us do. This journey is filled with Chronic pain, surgeries, doctors,  and a will to live. I am Chief Bud Dark Cloud Grimes, elected by the people to be their Red Chief of the Southern Cherokee of Louisiana. I was also the Principal Chief of the Four Winds Rocky Hollow Tribe of Arkansas until I resigned to come to Louisiana and be the Spiritual Leader (Red Chief). Before that, I was the Town Chief and Arkansas Representative for the Red Nation of the Cherokee for five years. My ancestors on my mother’s side date back to the 1750's from the old Eastern Cherokee tribal lands Snowbird reservation of the Bird Clan. I am Lakota and Cheyenne from my father’s side of the family. I was a Calvary Scout, Forward Observer for the Army in the late 1970s until the mid 1980s, and a Juvenile Probation Officer and a Police Officer for eleven years. I left the police force because my wife and I decided it was getting too dangerous. Little did we know my next career would change my life forever as I knew it.

bud I went to work driving trucks, hauling large loads of building materials. On Dec. 7th 1995, my load shifted, and I stopped to see what I could do about it. As I approached the load, one of the chains holding down the load snapped. The large chain grabbed both of my wrists, wrapping around them and trying to jerk me over the top of the load. I was 6 foot 4 inches and 250lbs. It destroyed my left shoulder severing my bicep, triceps, deltoid, rotator cuff, and AC joint, causing major nerve damage to my left shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist and hand. The rotator cuff in the right shoulder was torn, my collar bone broken, and my AC joint destroyed. I drove five miles back to the yard with just my right arm, and was helped out of the tractor trailer by five guys who placed me on the stretcher. I had major reconstructive surgery on the left shoulder. Four months later, I was sent to a specialist for shoulder reconstruction. He operated on my left shoulder and said when he made the cut the shoulder exploded into pieces everywhere. Eight weeks later, he reconstructed the left shoulder. Six weeks after that they started reconstructing the arm, elbow, hand, nerves, and everything else on my left arm. I had to learn to use my arms and hands again. I had to re-learn to write, draw and paint. I then started having major back pain and found out that the accident caused 8 herniated discs and extensive nerve damage to my spine. I spent the next four years in therapy and having nerve blocks on my spine. So far to date, I have had 96 nerve blocks on my spine. I wear two tens units, using them most of the time. I have had six major reconstructive surgeries on my shoulders and arms.

The Neurologist and Neurosurgeons had told me for ten years I would be in a wheel chair and lose my motor skills. The damage to my spine is inoperable. The injury with the spine caused an arachnoid cyst to form on my brain stem that was also inoperable. Being named arachnoid, the cyst grows legs like a spider and attaches itself to different nerves in your brain. This may cause ticks in your face or nerves not working properly and even sudden jerks of the body. The longest anyone has lived with one is ten years. I was diagnosed with this in August of 2002. I was told that I could drop over dead at any moment. I stopped driving because I did not want to die behind the wheel of my pickup truck and injure or kill someone. In May 2007, I was having my six month MRI of the cyst and it was gone. I have had several MRI since then all showing the cyst has not returned. Once again I was blessed by our Creator.

This past Monday, I received the results from my last MRI that was done on my neck Thursday. The doctor said to me, “Bud this is not good. There is very bad news I have to tell you. It shows that C2 through C8 is at a very critical stage. The disc is cutting off the blood flow and oxygen to your brain. The nerves are exposed, causing pain in your arms, shoulder, wrist, hands, elbows, chest, head, and neck. C2 through C8 is critical and inoperable as far as I can tell. They have degenerated to a critical stage”. I asked the doctor what could be done and the possible outcome. He said, “The outcome is grim, and I do not know anyone who would even try surgery at this point. There just isn’t anything left to work with“. Tuesday, I went for two more MRIs, one on my lumbar and the other on my Thoracic to see how the spinal disease has spread, and at what stage the rest of the discs in my spine are at. T2- T3 small budge, T3- T4 small bulge. T5- T6, T6- T7 major bulges affecting the spinal cord, nerves, and blood flow. L4- L5, L5 -S1 narrowing of the spinal canal with major deterioration exposing the nerves and a mass on my left kidney.

As with most people, I suffer from chronic pain in all of my back, shoulders, arms, and hands. Right now, my left arm and hand have gone numb and do not want to work. My left leg is pretty much in the same shape, and to the point I have to wear a full leg brace. I have neuropathy in both feet and believed to have fibromyalgia as well. I suffer from depression and anxiety. The anxiety is brought on by the high levels of pain.

The one thing I have truly learned is that the physical affects the mental, which in turn affects the emotional. The emotional affects the spiritual which in turn, the spiritual affects everything. We start to question life, our Creator, our purpose and everything in life. We ask why me? When we are in pain, we lash out at the ones we love the most. We do not want anyone to be in the pain we are in but we want them to feel our pain long enough for them to know where we are coming from. It is a hard life to live. It is a vicious cycle, but you can get through it. You have to trust, believe, have faith, and hope. Love conquers all if you allow it.

I have taken just about every medication known to man to control the pain and nervous system. I have taken just about every known pain killer, and I live on ice packs, heating pads, and two tens units. I now receive morphine injections into the muscles of the neck and shoulders once a month and sometimes twice a month. Some days the pain levels are so high that I cannot function. I sleep for two hours, then I am awake for another two hours because of the pain and spasms. This goes on for about four days until my body is so tired I am able to sleep for four to five hours. I have been told that I would be in a wheel chair too many times as I have been told that I was going to die countless times. I was even going to take my own life in 1997, until I walked past a talk show on TV and saw people who were worse than I was. One lady did not have any arms and just wanted to hold her child for five minutes. Another lady rode around on a skate board. Another man was a quadriplegic never able to leave his bed only his head would move. I fell down on the floor and started to cry asking my Creator to forgive me of the thought I had just had. That day I humbled myself before my Creator and saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

My wife came home and I told her about my plans and she said why would you even think of doing such a thing. YOU got just what you have been praying for. I looked at her as if she had lost her mind. I did not pray for this I said. She said you prayed for more time to be with your people teaching them about their culture and more time to do your art work and you got it. Yes, she was right I got just what I prayed for, all the time in the world to do what I love the most. Our Creator has a way of putting us in our place at times. So many times it is how we look at situations that make them grim or positive. You may pray for a steak and get the whole cow. Be careful for what you pray for, you just might get it but not in the way you expected it.

The doctors tell me not to do anything and not to pick up anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I tell them I am not going to stop living. My family knows all too well that I will do what I want. I still mow, use the chain saw, and I even get on the roof to clean it off. That is not the smartest thing to do. I work in the yard and on cars. Does it hurt? Yes it hurts. Sometimes it hurts to the point that I cannot walk back into the house and someone has to bring me both canes. Other times I am laid up for a day or two. But you do not stop living because of the pain. YOU work through it to the best of your abilities. Keep your mind busy and fresh.

What I am saying is do not stop living. Do not give up. I worked to become a great Native American Artist, and my art has sold all over this world. I am writing a book on the spiritual beliefs of Native Americans. I became the Red Chief of the Southern Cherokee of Louisiana. The list goes on and on of the achievements I have conquered and made come true. Most of them have been after the surgeries, and while the doctors are telling me I won’t walk or I am going to die. Only our Creator knows what day that will be. Until then, I am going to fight each day to see the rainbows and play in the rain. I am not boasting. I am saying grab a dream and make it happen. Rainbows to me are the blessing in life, even the smallest of rainbows can be the biggest of blessings. After my injury and surgeries we lost just about everything we owned. I felt like my manhood was gone, I could not provide for my family. I felt like a failure. These are just material things. I have been blessed 100 or 1000 times more today then in 1995.

I have achieved all of my dreams. I have lived a great life, and I am not done yet. IF you are reading this it is because you or a loved one has back or chronic pain. Living with it is one of the hardest things I or you will have to do. But I HAVE lived through it, as can you. Life is hard, there is no doubt about that, but you cannot have the rainbows without the rain. Last week, I got so excited because I was pain free for two hours. That was a true blessing. Just two hours without any pain. I was so happy. Why was I without pain, I do not know, but I count that as a Blessing and I was thankful. Sometimes I tell myself and my wife I do not know how much more pain I can handle. But you know with her love and the children’s love and support, I have and am still learning each day just how much I can take. Each day that I wake up is a blessing. Some mornings my wife has to help me get up to sit on the side of the bed. Then I have to sit there for a few minutes before I can stand. Then stand there for a few minutes before I can walk but at least I am still able to do that.

I still work on my art everyday that I am able and that is a wonderful thing. For we have to have something to keep us going each and every day. You have to stay busy and find a goal you want to work towards. Only you can say “I quit”, or “I will not quit.” I am going to be a Grandfather in April. Now if that doesn’t make you want to fight for life, I do not know what else can, other than life itself, family, and friends. If you ever want to read a book about a man who suffered and lost everything in his life and still kept his faith and was rewarded just read the book of JOB in the bible, I still read it today when I am at my lowest points and know there was someone who lost more than I ever had. You can live with Chronic pain with help from people such as on this site, family, friends, and believe in yourself. Even when you are at your lowest point know that tomorrow maybe the greatest day that you might have. If I can make it this far then you can conquer the world. If nothing else, always try to prove the doctors wrong and show them how strong you are in your life and belief.

Chief Bud Dark Cloud Until we speak again go in a good way and with a good heart. You can also go to my web site and read more about my writings blogs and see my art work and relax for a few minutes and listen to the music in the videos.

Chief Bud Dark Cloud Grimes