Thank you for sharing, and you know full well you're always welcome to rant here. My email link is up and available, so if you don't want to air your laundry here, by all means feel free to drop me a line and "talk" to your heart's content. We all know how bad bottling this sort of thing up is.
You're probably right, they have the best intentions, but they also probably don't understand, certainly not from your perspective. If they could begin to comprehend how your life is at the moment they're still going to overlay their own personal feelings in how they'd approach the whole matter.
I know when people have said to me "I know how you feel" I have two reactions. If they're CP people, that's one thing and they probably do know. If they're friends and family, well, I know they mean well, and they're trying to comfort me, but until you've stood in my shoes and walked a mile in them it's gonna be pretty hard to grasp what's happened in my head as a result of my life changes. If they're random people, like store clerk's, etc.... well, yes, especially when you've had little sleep, having a pain spike, it's really easy to want to snap at them. Most of the time they just don't want you to feel alone, they are trying to care and they mean well.
Can I say I know how you feel to you though? Several things you wrote echo'd inside my head and heart. A major "oh... I know that one to well". And you have my sympathies for certain. I have tried to hide my pain for similar reasons to you. I'm a strong, independant woman who can do just about anything, or well, I could at one time in my life. I could work as hard as a man, do any job they could do and do it just as well if not better, I didn't need help, but I knew when to ask for advice or input on projects I was doing. I'd been the head of safety and ergonomics when I was building fiberoptic filters. I was a student and a TA teaching craps and blackjack at an acredited school. I used to train horses, specifically problem children... infact I still have one I work with in exchange for board. I worked hard, and played harder.
And then I got hurt, and life was never the same. I still try to maintain my independence, try to do it on my own, but in the last three years I've come to accept that's not always the case. I struggle to maintain my independence now, and to be strong, especially for my son. But it's so frustrating to not be able to open something as simple as a jar of peanutbutter, or to watch my cup of tea slip through my fingers because my hand says it's holding it, but in truth it's not.
Your coworkers, like my family, are trying to be incredibly supportive and helpful; they want to let you know they're there for you, and that it's okay to ask for help. At least they're not ignoring you or avoiding you, and your attempts to maintain your fierce independance probably makes them admire your strength and tenacity. Maybe you need to talk to a few of them though, or one person you're comfortable with higher up. Let them know as much as you feel comfortable, but also enough so that there's no room for making up their own conclussions. By doing this you can also help remove that health gap, and some of the mother henning. You can also request kindly that while the help offers are comforting to know your coworkers care if they could kindly stop unless you ask for help. Communication is always a good thing. And certainly you don't want to come to resent your coworkers. My exhusband always said my disability was okay by him, that he understood, that he was there for me, that he understood wht he was getting into by getting involved wiht me, and married to me. What a pack of lies that was. He was always on my case to stop being so independant and ask for help, and yet he never stepped up and took matters into his own hand. An example, he'd rant on me about asking for help to take care of our combined three boys in the morning, but he wouldn't get up to take care of them, whining about work and being tired; I never got to sleep in, let's put it that way. I was being stubborn in not asking for help, and yes, I probably was, but he hated when I put myself in pain even though I had tried to explain to him (and give him material to read as well) about my condition, and how I have to put myself in pain, to fight against my condition. All he saw was me being stupid, putting myself in pain, and then he'd pay the price for it later when he couldn't hold me at night. "You need to stop putting yourself in pain, because it's getting in the way of my happiness!" So much for understanding.
Now I certainly doubt that's what's going on with your coworkers. I was merely using it as reference point in my life for how I do understand how frustrating it is to feel like others are smothering you with help and taking your independence from you, or at least, that it may feel like that. Just remember, they don't know your situation, but they mean well.... they obviously care about you. But if they knew more then they wouldn't treat you like a chinadoll, and some of the offers to help might ease up a bit.
Also Jeff, the thoughest thing you'll learn, well the two toughtest things, are being able to ask for help. It's tough. If you're like me and pride yourself on your independance, you don't want to ask for help, but believe me, there are days when it's easier to ask for help then to suffer in your pain and frustration. The second thing is a lesson I haven't learned yet, but that I have been told is one I need to learn, and that is to cry in public. I have a hard enough time crying infront of my family and close friends, even my boyfriend has not seen me cry, though he's seen me pretty darn close on more then one ocassion. But when my pain gets so bad I don't always have the option to hide in the bathroom or my bedroom and cry, or sit in my car and weep in frustration over yet again something I can no longer do. I need to let it go, and let it out. I guess it's acceptance, and there is still a part of me that doesn't want to accept that this is my new life. Just call me Cleopatra, cause I'm the queen of De-Nial.
Just remember your true friends are here for you, and you can rant at us when ever you need to. Nothing good ever comes from bottling up your emotions. And you're always welcome to drop me an email and talk if you want to. *hugs* I've probably forgotten a bunch of stuff I wanted to say, but lately my mind has been pure swiss cheese, so forgive me I'm not trying to be a knuckle dragging neanderthal, or an insensitive cretin. I'm just another person trying to cope with my pain, my life changes, and takeing it one day at a time.
Originally injured 10/26/2007 - Initial diagnosis; Tendonitis
Spent next year seeing specialist after specialist; Bone, Muscle, Hand, Neurologist, Chriopractor, Physical Therapist...
Went through a battery of tests, multiple MRI's
11/16/09 I was finally diagnosed CRPS - Stage 2
Permanently disabled, on Percoset.
February 2011 successful SCSU trial
No surgeon willing to do my SCSU Implant