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Faces of Pain - Pela's Story

I was born on November 26th, 1975. Tina Turner’s 36th Birthday. I certainly didn’t have her musical ability or wildness but I definitely had her energy. I was active right from the start. I did gymnastics, karate, baseball, soccer and anything else I could do to hang out with my brother and his friends. In the winter of 1982 I was playing after school with a friend at the baseball diamond. The snowplow had made a big pile of snow against the fence of the backstop. My friend and I climbed the pile and sledded down a zillion times. After my friend left I stayed and played for a few more minutes. I was at the top of the snow pile and I decided to climb over the fence and scale my way down. Bad Idea. I made it over the top and then my hands slipped out of my wool mittens and I fell to the bottom and landed on hard snow and ice on my back and head. I have no idea how long I was laying there but I remember screaming “ somebody help me I can’t move.” It felt like I was there for hours but I managed to get up and start walking home, screaming and crying the whole time. Note that not one person stopped or tried to help me. I must have been gone a really long time because I met my dad close to home. He was in the car looking for me. I remember going to the hospital and just sobbing. I kept saying that they better have a “waterbed” for me because it hurts so bad and I had one at home. ( By the way, they had no waterbed.) It turned out that I had broken a bone in my back, a concussion and internal injuries. I stayed for a long time in the hospital and finally went back to school for the last month of the school year. I learned an early lesson about kids being resilient from this injury. I was back to playing sports and running around in no time.


For many years my injury caused me very little discomfort.
When I was approximately 11 years old I started “slouching.” Everyone was on my case about “standing tall. My mother’s solution was to enroll me in a modelling class to help with my posture. Gee thanks Ma. This was the same time that I started to put on some baby chunk. I had always been super skinny and very petite. So in my 11th year I started slouching and getting chunky. Perfect, and now I’m in a modelling class. Talk about torturing a child. I tried to tell everyone that I could not stand any taller, that I wasn’t slouching and that my bed was the cause of this. I would cry nightly about the feeling of the springs poking me in my back and maybe that was why I could not stand up straight. Finally, I was taken to the doctors where I was told that I had growing pains and my slouching was due to my lack of confidence. By the time I was 13 the slouching did not go away and the pain was intense enough for the doctor to send me to a specialist at Toronto’s Sick kids Hospital. I was diagnosed with Scheurmanns Disease and put in a brace to correct it. If I thought modelling was torture I was so unprepared for the pain of wearing a brace 24 hours a day. It was Hell. After a year of wearing it with no results my dad hung it up in the basement. I actually was terrified to look at it. The pain never went away and I still “slouched.”


I left home when I was 17 and went to work. My jobs were always very physical so I attributed the pain to the demands of my jobs and sucked it up. I moved in with my husband at 18 years old and he quickly got used to my constant complaints of back pain. I would go to work everyday and come home and cry to him about my pain. He would run a bath for me and rub my shoulders and neck daily. It was during my early 20’s that I developed poor sleep habits. I could not stay in bed for more than 5 hours, and I still cannot. Over the years I have spent thousands of dollars in pillows, beds, memory foam, natural products, creams, over the counter meds, physical therapy, shoes, special car seat massagers, braces, heating pads and ice packs. I don’t recall ever having any relief for the last 15 years.


In March 2011 I fell down three steps and landed on my tailbone. I thought I had wounded my pride more than anything but 4 days later I still could not move so I went to my doctor. He said it was bruised and swollen and he gave me some pain pills. A month later I went back to him because it had not gotten better yet. He prescribed more pills. Two weeks later I went back and he thought that an x ray would be warranted now. I had the x ray on a Friday and at 9am Monday morning he called me in to discuss the results. He said my back was a mess and that it most likely had everything to do with my initial injury when I was young. He chalked it up to not having the technology and resources that we have now. This was also the first time that he referred to my pain as “chronic.” I had never actually considered this and the way he said “chronic” I felt like he was implying that it was all in my head. Since my injury at 7 years old I lived with chronic pain yet not one person had suggested this or attempted to treat it. Heck, I had no clue what chronic pain encompassed until that day in June 2011. That day was life changing for me and I began my new chapter of life. I believe that I am finally on track, on board and on the right path now. Years of not knowing why I hurt so bad had all been summed up to one word; Chronic.


Now that I have the support from you all at CPS I feel positive and happier. I look forward to overcoming obstacles and accepting that my life is what I make of it and that my pain will not define me.



This photo was taken 3 months before my injury in 1982.

 

 

 

 

I am wearing a survival suit on my husbands boat in 1996.
Who knew back then what kind of meaning it would have now.
We are all survivors!

 

 

  



Taken in November 2011.
Still Smiling.