PHANTOM PAIN IS REAL

Many of my family and friends ask me about phantom pain and what it entails. I experience this pain every day since the accident three years ago, just in different places as my phantom arm will be next to my stomach at times, mid-way up my chest pointing out or crumpled next to my arm pit. Regardless of position it feels like the skin has been removed and it is in hot frying oil just burning like fire and being poked with millions of needles. I have learned over the past three years this is the most tolerable of the pains. Sometimes with the burning sensation it feels as if someone has taken a knife and put it under the bed of my finger nail and slowly peels the nail and skin off back to my elbow. This happens with all five fingers. Then they all grow back and it starts all over. This goes on all day! Other pain is as if my arm is put over a board while burning and pushed so hard the bones crack. Only to go back in place and the process starts all over. When the arm is close to the armpit is usually the most painful spot. For the phantom arm feels as if it is not only burning, poked with needles, skin peeled off, but the pain of each individual finger bones being snapped between each joint while being electrocuted by thousands of volts of electricity. It also feels as if someone takes a knife slices through the muscle to the bone at the elbow and scrapes the bone peeling off muscles, tendons and skin all the way to the wrist. Once there it starts all over. In this position I am usually so exhausted by the pain. I am a zombie by two o’clock in the day.

All this is the brains attempt to get a response from the nerves of the brachial plexus that have been avulsion (torn out) of the spinal cord. These nerves run all your motor and sensory movement and feeling of the hand, arm, and shoulder. As my doctor said, the nerves may be gone but the part of the brain that controlled them is still alive.

My brain has taken over other parts of my body to get a response. When I shave the left side of face I feel pain in my phantom arm as if I am putting pressure on the underside between my elbow and wrist. When I tap my left chest it feels as if I am touching my palm and elbow. When I tap the upper part of my head near the temple it puts pressured pain on the outside of my arm. This really feels weird but neat at the same time.

Once I woke up and I felt no pain and was ecstatic. It is gone! Whooo Hooo! So I went and started taking my shower and like a limb growing out of a tree trunk it slowly grew down my side across the front of my stomach and all the pain started again. Oh well enjoyed it for a little while. That has only happened once. In closing all I can say once again is, phantom pain is real so please have compassion for those who experience it. Thanks for taking the time to feel my pain.

                                                           Tommy Fergerson