Phantom Pain is truly the right definition of every day a different kind of pain. I remember when I was younger, just after I finished secondary school.
One of my mom’s few friends then. I would call her, her friend since she was one of the few people who feel they wouldn’t contact poverty by speaking to us in our church. The woman had an accident then and fractured her leg.
I remember it took her a long time to get well, about six months. She didn’t come to our house until about a year and a half.
Even before she did, whenever my mom came back from visiting her she would narrate all her ordeal with the snakelike things that were moving about in her leg and her frequent nightmares.
How a he-goat once came into her room at midnight and tormented her. When she finally came to our house; from her conversation with my mother, she was convinced she was bewitched or hexed by someone who caused her accident and also put some supernatural things like snakes in her leg. They kept crawling about.
I can still remember visualising a whole snake let alone snakes in someone’s leg. Then I would shiver from just imagining it.
The woman was always terrified and whenever I hear her describing her pains I always felt some sympathy for her. Although I never really understood what she was going through then but she was convinced what she was passing through was beyond physical.
And now that I know, I still can’t imagine how she must have felt then. She was almost going out of her mind then being tormented by what she couldn’t understand but that she would have at least been able to cope with if only someone would have prepared or educated her.
After my accident, apart from the series of “it is well”, God understands” “and you should be glad you are alive or that you can still feel the pain, nobody told me that the after would be worse than the present.
When the phantom pain started it was frightening, just like my mom’s old friend I thought it couldn’t be physical too.
First, it was this feeling of a heavy drum or mortal being rolled over my leg. Then like someone was using pliers to pull out my toenails one after the other.
When they get to the last one, they would start all over again from the big toenail. While the wound was still fresh.
And the electric shock feeling, I still cannot find the words to describe that other than its closeness to being electrocuted from inside.
There are different ones, I will discuss the ones I do have and the ones I have read about below.
Common Types Of Phantom Limb Pain.
Stretched Toes: This feels like your toes are being stretched only without the elasticity, I mean it is easier and less painful when you are stretching or pulling something that is elastic. But in this case, it is not. even then elastic or not everything has its limits.
Red Hot Poker Torture: This was one of the hardest ones for me before my wound healed. It feels as if someone was putting a hot poker through my foot. Then they would pull it out and insert it again. I call it the hot iron torture.
The Hammer: This feels like someone keeps smashing the big toe with a hammer at intervals. I still get it and I hate it. It wakes you up suddenly like a bad nightmare and when it hits you again you realise it isn’t a dream. Sometimes it would keep me awake at night.
I know the intervals so I just wait for the head shattering hammer to deliver its painful blow every 2-3 minutes. When my wound was fresh it used to be every thirty seconds.
The Pliers: I have mentioned the pliers above. I still get that too and I am not even sure which one to prefer between it and the hammer. I think the pliers, lol.
The Fibula and the Tibia Being Broken in Half: I have read that the above-knee amputees do get the feeling of their tibia and fibula being broken in half. That can’t be easy to keep living through over and over again.
I once asked my sister where they buried my leg because I thought someone had done something to the mangled one. The result was months of mental and psychological torture after my discharge from the hospital.
It was hard to talk about it because it was insane and hard to understand if you aren’t going through it. So, one day I took my phone and googled Effects of amputation, (Read more here: 10 Most Frustrating Things About Amputation) After amputation and this was how I was able to understand some of what I was going through.
One other thing I wasn’t prepared for was the PTSD that followed, GAD and depression afterwards.
I was sure I was going crazy. This mental torture is one of the things that one could be spared if only there was proper education of the things to expect like the phantom pain before being discharged and sent home.
If only someone had warned me I would always feel the missing leg, that I would feel it being hammered then life after amputation would be a little easier. If someone had prepared me for the PTSD afterwards then I wouldn’t live years scared of even my shadow while I kept wondering what was wrong with me. I would imagine a crazy me hopping about on one leg then I get panic attacks from my own weird thoughts
All the preparation I got was, “You cannot fall, there is no reason you have to fall. You have two good hands and one leg” I fell within the first week I got home and had no idea how to get up.
These were the things that took me to the internet to find explanations for the nightmare that had become my life. I searched for things to expect and found all kinds of pain to expect as an amputee.
But what about those who have no access to the internet, those who wouldn’t know or think that they could search the internet for what hail them? What about people like my mother’s friend who believe they were bewitched?
They go from one church to another, one native doctor to another who would only confirm and feed their fears and rip them of their money. I don’t know who might find this someday. If this is what you’re passing through, I just want to tell you, you’re not crazy. And you will get over it or get used to it so much that you won’t notice them anymore or be bothered. When the terror strikes, try to remember that it is not real and it’s only in your head.
You are not alone.
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