Life always presents obstacles. Though my life developed more challenges than the average person, I’d sum up my early life as a “good life.”
I recall going to bed one night in July of 2005 counting my blessings for what was forming into a wonderful life. I lived in a two-story townhouse in Mill Valley, California with my beloved girlfriend and my dog. I had a nice office job as web developer in San Francisco, which was enough to pay the bills and for a ring to eventually “pop the question” to my girlfriend.
Unfortunately, my life took a turn in the wrong direction after my dog woke me up due to a fire in the neighbor’s house. In an attempt to put out the fire, my neighbor threw out items from his house that caught on fire.
Other neighbors attempted to contact the local firehouse, which was about 5 or 6 houses away. They were told that those firemen won’t come unless we call 911 and they are dispatched. At this time, the fire spread rapidly to my house due to the warm, breezy day. My rage consumed me for the lack of action from the firehouse, but I realized that my dog was still in the house!
Despite detests from my girlfriend, I ran back inside to rescue my half-blind dog. The dog was of course scared, but I lifted all 75 pounds of her and attempted to run down the stairs. Unfortunately, I tripped halfway down the stairs and landed awkwardly on my neck with my dog on top of me. Perhaps it was the adrenaline, but I didn’t feel any pain. I quickly got up with my dog and joined my girlfriend outside.
Feeling a little devastated by the fire taking our home, I was happy to see some hope left in humanity. Neighbors scrounged up some clothing to keep us covered from the hot sun, and later the American Red Cross supplied us with some goods too. We never did find out how the fire began.
Pieces of my life were returning to normalcy. We found a one-bedroom apartment in Sausalito, California. While it felt like home, I didn’t feel quite right. I began experiencing “shocks” of pain, kind of like my body was being electrocuted. My girlfriend did a great job taking care of me and took me to the Emergency Room.
I eventually saw a neurologist, who discovered a bulge on my C-Spin (C3-C4) that still exists to this day along with the “shocks.” Initially, I was diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy, but later named to Neuralgia.
My employer in San Francisco was understanding of my condition for about a year, but then I was declared disabled and unable to work. I didn’t take this well. I’ve been working since I was 15, and now I was no longer able to. Unable to cope, I inadvertently drove my girlfriend away along with some other friends.
Life with Pain
After moving several times, my life was beginning to return somewhat to normal. But beginning in late 2016, my legs hurt more than normal. I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds of muscle primarily from my legs. Despite this, my legs feel heavy and generally register an average pain-scale rating between 7-10.
My health didn’t improve. One day, I woke up with major swelling on my knees and still tried to get some answers from doctors. To this day, they cannot explain the swelling that appears to stem from trauma that athletes face. Obviously, that isn’t the case.
I went to see many different specialists, tried new primary physicians all in the goal to just go through life without excruciating pain. I went through plenty of scans and tests only for labs to test me as normal.
After a while, the medical field denied me painkillers or any form of treatment. I resorted to alternative medications with severe side effects. At this point, I am tapped out of resources. I need better physicians and medical facilities than what I have access to. Which is a problem since medical bills are extremely high.
The truth is, I don’t remember what it feels like to function without pain. Standing for long periods of time doing basic tasks like taking a shower or brushing my teeth are too painful at times. I own a car, but it hurts too much to drive. The pain takes so much out of me that sometimes that I can’t focus on anything. Leg pain is only one of my many ailments. I suffer also from joint soreness, night sweats, left ear bleeding, severe headaches, bruising, rashes, dizziness and long periods of exhaustion and fatigue.
It gets tough living life like this. I become envious of people that can walk normally. Sometimes I just feel like I am fighting a losing battle and I just can’t find the answers. I do my best to fight though. The pain is awful, but I make an effort to walk. I try to look on the brighter side of things and watch my favorite teams.
One of the dreams I still wish to accomplish is to become a writer for these teams, including the Los Angeles Rams. Derek Ciapala and the rest of the Rams Talk crew have made me feel a part of something again. But it’s more than that, when I feel up to it, I am contributing to this talented group of individuals, plus moving closer to my dreams.
Editor's Note: The goal here is to raise money for Dom to relocate to Seattle, Washington to seek treatment from the research wing of the University of Washington. He needs funds for travel, food, and to help pay the bills. Disability is not enough. I've watched Dom deteriorate mentally throughout the last seven months due to the pain wrecking his body. I honestly don't know how much longer my friend can hold on. We're trying to help him get this life back. The fire took so much from him, and hoping that Rams Nation can help us give the gift of life back to Dom. - Thank you, Derek