My story starts like many others. Aside from the fact that I was quite young. At 16, I started having nagging pain in my lower back. Nothing too serious, but uncomfortable enough for me to notice. However, I was a hard-headed teen and chose to ignore it instead of bringing it to my parents’ attention.
Fast forward two years. I had just given birth to my daughter. While carrying her to her room in her car seat, I went to step over a baby gate and my back seized up, causing me to drop my newborn daughter. Thankfully she was unhurt. But this caused me to question myself and why I had put off seeking help for so long.
With my husband being in the military, we move a lot. So between the ages of 18 and 25, I went to see multiple (questionable) doctors. Different doctors meant different diagnoses, different approaches to pain, and different prescriptions. The first doctor told me that I had a pinched nerve that would, in time, heal itself. I was sent home with a small selection of pain meds and anti-inflammatories. Even though I knew it wouldn’t “heal”, I accepted what he had said because I was young and he was the doctor, so I figured he had to be right.
The second doctor barely looked at me. He just poked a little and said, “Oh, a pulled muscle. You’re too young for anything more serious.” He prescribed me some more narcotics for pain and sent me on my way. I couldn’t even take the pain medication because it caused me to be so sleepy that I couldn’t function, and with a newborn, that’s just not something I was willing to chance.
More time passed and I found myself at yet another clinic seeing another doctor. She looked me over and said that she wanted me to go see a physical therapist. WOO HOO! Something new. Maybe this meant we were on the right path.
My physical therapist pushed me so hard that I literally couldn’t move for a week. I was in so much pain I was bedridden after each visit. I went back to the doctor after attempting 3 visits with the physical therapist and told her I couldn’t go anymore. She then proceeded to tell me that she would not prescribe any more medication, as she believed that I had already been given too much. AKA, she thought I was faking and just wanted narcotics.
I left in tears, thinking this is it, no one believes me. I wondered if I was going crazy. Am I too young to actually be hurting this bad? It must be all in my head.
After returning home, I spoke to my husband. He settled me down and helped me start thinking straight. So I made another appointment and took my small pharmacy of narcotics that weren’t missing but one or two pills each from the last four years in with me. I put them on the counter, and told the doctor, “Take them, I don’t want them. I just want to know what’s wrong with me. I will continue to make appointments every day until you do what needs to be done to diagnose me.”
Two weeks later, I was laying on an MRI table. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed. I had an answer…finally. The doctor sat me down and informed me that I had 2 herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis in my T12-L1, and L1-L2 vertebrae. She said at some point, I’d likely be in a wheelchair. Minimally, I’d need surgery on my back, but they refused to do the surgery at that time because the risk of paralysis was too high for someone my age. So I was sent off with nothing but medication. Again. I was right back where I started, but at least now, I knew what was wrong with me.
I am now 30. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly started hurting all over. Hands, feet, legs, even skin. I feel like any time someone touches me they are taking off layers of skin. There are days I haven’t been able to wear pants. Days where the seams on my socks have felt like they are knives cutting into my feet. I’ve started having multiple migraines a week.
I have also started not leaving the house for weeks at a time unless absolutely necessary.
I put off going back to a doctor, thinking I would just go through what I had already been through: I would get passed between doctors, they would think I was lying, I would have more drugs pushed at me. Then my husband stepped in. He told me I had to go. He all but put me in the car and buckled me in. After three more doctors, I have now been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, agoraphobia, depression, chronic migraines, and severe anxiety.
It’s been over a year since my new diagnoses. We have been playing with medications, doses, and the horrible side effects. We are still trying to get everything right but at least now I feel like someone is listening.
I feel like I’m not crazy. I feel like I have a voice and it has finally been heard.