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Phantom Pain

November 22, 2005

I had a particularly bad bout of phantom pain last night. It’s a very interesting phenomenon, and you would think that being an amputee for ten years would make it stop, but it doesn’t. I think I’m destined to have phantom pain for the rest of my life.

Phantom pain is basically nerve memory and it results in pain or tingling. The weird thing is that I feel it in a foot I no longer have. It’s a little different for everyone, but for me I can really feel my knee and foot. I can also tell that my knee is bent at a ninety degree angle. That really bothered me at first because I felt like my leg was going through the hospital mattress when I was laying on my back. It doesn’t hurt nearly as badly as when I first had my surgery, but it shows up every once and awhile to surprise me. It’s never a dull or aching pain, but is rather sharp and sudden.

I can’t really tell why it happens and I can’t predict a bad day. I do know it happens when I have a fever because all of my nerves are super sensitive, not just the missing ones. Sometimes rubbing or tapping the end of my leg (sort of like reminding it that nothing is there) helps, but nothing was working last night. I ended up taking some Tylenol and went to sleep. I’m really lucky because this is rarely a problem and I hardly ever think about it. Just an interesting fact from the world of amputees.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2005 9:30 am

    Hi Jodie – I’m a friend of Ant’s from the tribe and from Eugene. I’ve sort of been a closet amputee for the past 6 years but I too still have phantom pain. I’m a below the knee kid and my foot or toes often ache, especially in this weird sort of shocking twitch way (it must be entertaining to sort of watch me clench up like a boxer taking blows). The worst is when my ankle will itch endlessly and I pound on or rub my thigh to try to numb it. They say the phantom pain is supposed to dissapate until it pretty much disappears, but I’ll go through bouts of pain – shocking, throbbing, itching – and the sensation will never go away. Anyway, cheers to those who can’t wiggle all 10 toes. How did you lose your leg, if you don’t mind my asking?

  2. Jodie permalink
    November 27, 2005 7:42 pm

    I don’t think my phantom pain will ever totally go away. Nerves remember to much.

    I don’t mind you asking. I lost my leg above the knee to bone cancer, osteosarcoma, when I was 13. I always wonder what people think as I’m twitching around because of the sudden surprise of feeling a nonexistent foot.

    I also didn’t tell anyone about my amputation for a long time. Well, didn’t tell anyone unless they asked. Now I’m much more open with it. I have a very cool blue and silver C-leg that helps me get around. Feel free to e-mail me if you want.

    vlnjodie@hotmail.com

  3. January 13, 2007 7:06 pm

    my son’s hand was amputated in utero due to amniotic band syndrome. i wonder if he’ll ever experience this…

  4. Jodie permalink
    February 2, 2007 7:11 pm

    I don’t really know if it’s different for children born without limbs or not. It certainly doesn’t hinder me in any way. Sometimes it’s even a little bit comforting. Something about my body remembering that I had a leg, not just my mind. It’s existence isn ‘t completely erased.

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