About Jennifer Kain Kilgore

My name is Jen. At the time of this writing I am 27 years old. I’m an attorney in the Boston area, and I also do a lot of writing and editing in the off-hours. I have a wonderful husband (we’ll call him “Husband”) a fat cat (“Fattie”), and a tight-knit family. Husband and I live in the suburbs and own a cute little house that was built in 1935. We go to the farmer’s market on Saturdays. We laze around and watch Netflix. I like my life. Really, everything is perfect except for my chronic pain.

When I was seventeen, I was driving with my mother and aunt to visit Georgetown University. Our car (stopped on the highway because of traffic) was hit at 65 miles per hour by an attractive man from Florida. My spine was fractured at T-11, T-12, and L-1; a facet joint in the thoracic level was broken as well. We didn’t find that last fracture for more than a year, so it healed wrong and calcified on a cluster of nerves.

Fast-forward almost ten years to the summer of 2013. My back was by no means great, but I’d learned to live with the constant pain. Driving home one night after work, my car was rear-ended again. It was a lesser accident that resulted in a lot of damage. My body, which had been working so hard to maintain some sort of equilibrium, was pushed over the edge. My neck and low back were alive with pain; they’d been mostly unaffected the first time around,  so this was new and terrifying.

I ended up needing spine surgery less than a year later: a cervical discectomy and fusion of C5-C6. Now I have a scar on my throat. It’s like a gang tattoo; all of us who’ve had the surgery recognize one another.

This blog is for me to come to terms with what’s happened to me. I want to enjoy this life as much as I can, despite the pain.

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Update as of 4.15.16:

Happy almost-Tax Day, everybody!

I figured this biography deserved an update in case you don’t want to spend the day sifting through the past years’ archives. I’m now 29 years old, living in the same place, living with the same wonderful (amazing, supportive, hilarious, caring, kind… Elaborate as further needed) Husband, and being tolerated by the ruler of the household: Fattie. Husband said I should tell you her real name now, and I do suppose the world deserves to know who this glorious creature really is:

Readers, meet Hobbes, my lady cat.

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“Do u haz foods?”

What has changed between that first biography and today? A heck of a lot. I left my job as an attorney at the end of 2015; I’d asked for part-time instead of full-time, and my bosses really did try their best to figure it out. It was just eventually understood that part-time wouldn’t really work with the setup of the office. I do miss my coworkers (though I do not not NOT miss tax season). I now work from home as a sole proprietor, telecommuting for a few different companies and generally liking this new, flexible structure of life. I get up when I wake up naturally. I take frequent breaks for walks or yoga. I nap when I need to nap. It’s a good system.

The personal injury case settled after three years, far exceeding my timing expectations given how long I had to wait the first time around (*cough*SEVENYEARS*cough*). I had another discectomy and fusion of C4-C5 two months ago, and it looks like we finally have a handle on my neck problems (though I still need injections at C2-C3 every now and again to handle the cervicogenic headaches). I had shots of the thoracic region that didn’t go very well. I see a pain therapist once a week, and she is thoroughly delightful. I also have more access to treatment from my father now (which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post because it’s hellishly impressive, and obvious disclaimer, yes he’s my dad, but the manual therapy work he created is still amazing). I’m recovering from both the surgery and the shots, working when I can, relaxing when I have to. I’m starting to get into pain advocacy. I showed up really late to the party on Twitter (@WearTearandCare). I have an Instagram account… I think.

Husband is doing very well. He’s recently gotten into boxing and woodworking, and he’s having a blast.

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Impressive, right? He’d never made any of those before. This picture and the wooden objects within are owned by J. W. Kain.

Our relationship is solid, but we get so very tired of this sometimes. We get frustrated because the pain isn’t between us; it’s more like us against the pain. I’ll feel better, and then I’ll do something ultimately deemed to be “too much” and power down for the rest of the day. Most of the time it carries over into the next day, so then I’m recovering from the recovery. Sleeping so much and waking up late feels unnatural to me. Only being able to complete three or four hours of work at the most is ridiculous. I still have to wear the soft neck collar on occasion in order to take pressure off my neck.

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Luckily, Hobbes provides enough hilarious interludes that she can always paralyze us with laughter.

Things, however, are getting better. The days are becoming brighter. Dates with Husband have extended beyond the living room to the local coffee house. I’m able to drive farther than five minutes at a time. I’ve started writing again — at least 500 words a day for the past month, minus one day that I regretfully skipped. And most importantly, I am becoming far happier.

I’ve finally made my health the priority. Putting myself first has been so strangely liberating. My days are shaped around what I need, not what I think I’m supposed to accomplish. Do I have a doctor’s appointment? I can cut things elsewhere in the day. Do I need to just relax today?

That’s fine. Go ahead. The world will still be here when I get back.

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24 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for popping by my blog and for following me. I hope at some point they are able to find a way of dealing with the pain. I have a few friends with similar and they are an inspiration to me. I look forward to reading your posts

    Like

  2. This is a tragic thing that happened to you but you sound like an overcomer! Writing does help us with so many issues, physical and emotional.i’m so glad you stopped by my blog and I look forward to reading your post.
    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your follow, which as brought me to your blog. I am sorry to hear of what as happened to you and the pain and suffering this as brought you. You may be right to absorb yourself in writing, which may bring you some relief.

    I am looking forward to viewing your posts.

    Like

  4. As someone else who deals with chronic pain, though due to an accident of genetics rather than a car accident, all I can say is that chronic pain sucks and anyone who goes through it deserves a medal. And some dark chocolate. Preferably lots of dark chocolate. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I eat so much dark chocolate!!! Chronic pain does suck, but at least chocolate can put a smile on my face. I’m sorry that you have it as well… and thank you for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Laura Wagstaff says

    Hi Jen! I work with the Quell team and we were so glad to hear about the pain relief you’ve been experiencing. Would you be open to sharing your pain management testimonial? If so, please reach out to me at laura.wagstaff@cohnwolfe.com. Thank you!

    Like

  6. Wow, Jen! I stopped by to thank you for following my blog and to visit yours. I am overwhelmed at what you have experienced already in terms of pain and bad luck accidents. Say hello to your newest admirer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tony! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words. I look forward to reading your blog in more detail. I love that you were a Reuters correspondent — I’ve worked with magazines and newspapers, but nothing of that caliber. I am also looking to lose weight and keep it off, mainly because exercise is so difficult when I’m in pain, so I use Lose It as well. Can’t wait to read more of your work!

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      • Check out my page How to Lose Weight and Keep it off. I realize you are a special case, but I think you will be able to find some workable ideas and techniques there. I learned journalism working for
        Reuters. Until I got there, I was just a magazine writer. Haven’t looked at their financials in a while but the last time I did there were some thing like 11,000 employees of which only about 1,100 were journalists. It is an electronic communication company now.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so happy to have stumbled upon your blog. I was diagnosed with idiopathic peripheral small fiber neuropathy in January and have been going down hill ever since. At the time of diagnosis I could walk, though my feet would ache after 30-40 minutes. Now I’m bedridden and it has spread to my hands. Things I used to take for granted (folding laundry, walking, driving) now causes extreme pain. I tried Lyrica, Neurontin, Topamax, Cymbalta, lidocaine patches, compounded creams with ketamine, lidocaine and who knows what else – nothing worked. The meds kept me catatonic and put 40 pounds on me and carrying around an extra 40 lbs. while dealing with intense pain from any kind of walking is not helpful, kwim?

    My awesome husband came across Quell and ordered it for me. I had it for over a week, but didn’t open it. I finally just put it on because the past 3 days my pain was in the ‘should I jump off a building or throw myself in front of a car?’ category. After I set it up I did some googling about it and found your site and now don’t feel so isolated and alone.

    I hope I get a good result because I am ready to sell my soul to the devil to make this device work for me. I just want some of my old life back, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad we found each other! I definitely had to google your form of neuropathy. That sounds super intense. I know exactly how you feel. While the Quell has been helping, I have an appointment to talk about internal spinal stimulators — one for the upper half, one for the lower half! I’m just like, replace my spine, gimme a transplant, I’m sure we can make it work. 😉 Has the Quell worked for you at all? I hope it has. It’s given me some relief, which is all I can ask for at this point!

      Feel free to DM me if you want to talk. It’s never good to feel isolated or alone! You won’t be either of those here. 😀

      Like

  8. Karen says

    I just joined the group…hi! I am female, almost 61 and in 2001 was bit by a brown recluse spider, on my neck, which only minimally damaged the skin, but due to proximity to the brain, damaged by sympathetic nervous system. This developed into Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, pretty rapidly, then 3-4 years later developed full-blown Fibromyalgia. Also my RSD is rare, as it is whole-body instead of just affecting one limb, I have it everywhere. So I am no stranger to pain, try to keep my quirky sense of humor, and also have a fabulously wonderful Husband.

    In April 2016 I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and am now dealing with diet restrictions, weight loss and diabetic nerve pain. Just about the time I feel things can’t get worse they do.

    I just received my Quell device today and will let you know how it works for me.

    Even with all that, Husband and I are looking forward to starting traveling the USA in 2018, so I am trying to get off of my opioids by then. A goal and something positive to look forward to. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome! Thanks so much for visiting! Goodness, I knew brown recluses were awful, but I didn’t know they could do all of that. I am so sorry that you have to go through all of that. It sounds like your sense of humor and Husband are helping you tremendously! Please let me know how the Quell works for you. I am nearing by year anniversary with it and love it to death. I hope it helps with all of your pain! And that cross-country travel sounds amazing!! That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, just jump in the car and go east to west coast! ❤

      Like

  9. Karen says

    Hello again! How long were you on the Quell before you had relief, has it gotten better the longer you used it, and, I promise, last question, how often do you use it? I find that I have some minor slippage issues and worry about wearing it while, like, going to the movies. I have noticed some decreased pain, but wonder if that is just me. I really want to get off the narcotic as it would make getting my meds filled on the road easier. I guess I won’t know how good the pain is actually doing until I start weening myself off, which will probably take months. Thanks so much for your valuable information and your dedication to your cause.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there! Let’s see… Going back to my first post on the subject, it looks like I noticed a difference during the first Quell session. https://weartearandcare.com/2015/06/17/the-quell-pain-relief-device-living-up-to-its-label/ It’s definitely gotten better the longer I’ve used it, especially as I really figured out how to calibrate it to what I needed. I use it every day, all day, and take it off when I go to bed. Most people don’t take it off, and some even have two (one for each leg), but I’m such a light sleeper that the sensation keeps me awake. I always feel better when I’m laying down anyway. I was able to cut back on Vicodin use, which was lucky, because that was about when they stopped prescribing it. As for the slippage, do you use a lot of skin lotion? They should stick really well. When I put on skin lotion beforehand (I’ve found it helps with any skin irritation), I usually wait about half an hour before applying the electrodes just to make sure it’s all absorbed. Please keep me updated as to how it works for you! 🙂

      Like

  10. Karen says

    Good tips! Thank you so much. I’ve just started using lotions because the diabetes is drying my skin out, even though I drink lots of water every day. I use my Quell all day too and have found I can’t use on my left side, where most of the damage is…so I will be a right-sider lol. I don’t think I could handle two of them and find, that since I have it on sleep mode it usually shuts off after the first night session anyway. I will definitely use the lotion tip! I think most of us with severe, chronic pain are light sleepers, since we feel every movement, even our own. Thank you so very much. I will keep you posted on the Quell progress.

    Like

  11. Karen says

    Good morning, J.W. 😋 I wanted to thank you again. My husband is always after me to “sit in the living room for a change”. Then he saw a response you made where you said either you spend most of your time in bed, or bed was where you were most comfortable. He hasn’t asked once since. He told me he gets it now.

    I’m still using the Quell and it must be working because when I don’t use it, my pain levels are more noticeable. How did you figure out the best calibration for you? I did the initial calibration then I just move it up or down, using the app. I pretty much adjust it until it’s too much, then back off a little. I’ve seen other blogs where people have said you should use different intensities, as your body starts to compensate if you use the same one all the time.

    Have a wonderful week! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello my dear! I’m glad your husband understands now. It took my husband a while too — like, why don’t you sit on the couch instead of your reclining chair? And I’ve actually started sitting on the couch recently for short periods of time, and he’s been shocked. (My recliner is far more comfortable for me.) Even weird little things like that can be difficult!

      As for my best calibration, it’s a day-by-day thing. Right now it’s up pretty high because I got a new one that needed recalibrating, and somehow I ended up at a far higher setting. Ideally it should be something you notice but don’t focus on. The way you’re doing it sounds perfect. Different intensities does help keep your body from becoming used to it, as does the one-hour-on, one-hour-off aspect. That’s why I haven’t gotten a second one for the other leg like some people have — I want to make sure my body doesn’t get used to it, and I want to give my skin a chance to breathe!

      I hope you’re feeling great today!! 🙂

      Like

  12. Julia Murphy says

    I just heard your interview on my local NPR station in Philadelphia. I wanted so badly to hug you through the radio!!! You spoke all of my thoughts about dealing with chronic pain & the complications involved in getting pain meds for a bit of relief.

    I have suffered from developmental degenerative disk disease for at least 15 yrs now. I was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis & spinal stenosis in 2005. I have the distinction of being a rare case where the stenosis was traveling UP my spine after it had gone down as far as it could go. I have had 4 surgeries – 2005 & 2006 for minimal fusions (3) & just had two extensive surgeries one day apart in October 2015. Those were very extensive. All previous hardware removed, fusion from S1 to T10, nerve decompression, vertebral spacers installed, and then they had to break my spine & install rods at L3 to straighten my back because of developed scoliosis. I am now considered to be disabled & had just retired in May ’15 from 25 yrs at a very physical job as the technical administrator in a biology lab at a community college.

    Up until my chronic back issues I led a pretty active life – whitewater canoeing, hiking, camping, biking etc. now, at 61, I have great difficulty even picking up my grandchildren & even wiping myself! It’s so heart breaking. But what’s been worse the past 5 years has been getting the meds that I need. Pre-certifications, pre-approvals, sky high prices and copays are forcing me to attempt to get off the opiates completely. I’m currently on OxyContin because my private insurance would not cover my normal prescription for Nucynta. It’s like getting off of heroin. The withdrawal is horrific. But I can’t put up with the red tape & bureaucracy anymore, no matter how many letters I’ve written to my local, state & federal legislators.

    I just wish there was something that I could do to help others. Hearing your words was comfort beyond belief. You helped me feel a bit more like a normal citizen instead of a criminal. And I thank you for that.

    Take care!

    Like

  13. Pingback: Reblog: Everybody Has Something Wrong With Them | AS I LIVE & BREATHE

  14. i suffer from what they call non-diabetic lumbo-sacral ridiculoplexis neuropathy. a mouth full for sure. On drugs like gabapentin, cymbalta and methadone to control the pain in my burning feet, ankles and legs to my knees. I am non-diabetic. My pain doc mentioned and will give this a try and get back to you via the blog. good luck and thanks for the honest comments.
    Pgm
    02/09[17

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