A Cup of Coffee – When The Scan Doesn't Match The Pain

Welcome back! Last week, we talked about Death Doulas and offered a free class regarding planning ahead for your death. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.

This week, we are going to talk about common frustrations related to pain. I felt compelled to share some of my journey with you all because I think it’s important to cover the “real” and “raw” aspects of wellness. We’ve talked about this before, but I feel like I want to tell each and every doctor that reads this to please share it. It’s important. Our pain is important.

Pain has been a part of my life for a very long time. I know many of you will relate to this week’s blog, and for that, I’m deeply sorry. I hope this blog encourages you to never give up looking for answers or positive outcomes.

Next week, I will not be blogging. I will be recovering from shoulder surgery. It’s been over a year since I injured my shoulder. It was a silly incident, to be sure. I was in bed, attempting to roll over and pull the blanket with me, and as I was in full swing, the blanket snapped and so did my shoulder. A dog was lying on the other side of the blanket, and in the dark, I missed him.

The pain was instantaneous and severe. I ran to the bathroom and vomited. The next day, I was worse, not better, so I went to my healthcare providers web page and searched for an appointment. This would be the beginning of a very long and frustrating journey.

In the course of a year, I had every therapy known to man. Nothing helped. Cortisone shots, ice, heat, massage, osteopathic medical manipulation, pain pills, muscle relaxers, (I can’t take ibuprofen due to previous stomach bleeds), CBD oils, essential oils, lidocaine patches, and I even sought out faith healing.

My nights started to get shorter. I tossed, I turned, I got up, I gave up. At one point I was getting fifteen minutes of sleep every hour. I started falling asleep at my desk, my head hitting the keyboard with a crack. I stopped driving because I was micro sleeping and running off the road. I was scared I would kill someone.

Email after desperate email, I contacted my provider, and when she referred me on, it was my specialist that I would nag. “I’m suffering” and “I need help” fell on deaf ears. They didn’t want to pursue surgical intervention because my MRI “looked pretty good…it was too blurry to see much, but what we saw looked good”.

My fingers started to go numb, the pain in my bicep caused me to drop things instinctively. I stopped folding laundry, or even trying to dress myself.

Then the shoulder froze due to me favoring it. “Even if we wanted to operate, we can’t until you unfreeze that shoulder”. And so I did. A new MRI was taken, and lo and behold, there were two partially torn tendons and one “likely” torn completely. “We were able to see a lot more this time”.

“Finally” I said, “I will get help”. There were no surgical appointments available for the unforseen future. This surgery was considered elective and they weren’t doing those kinds of surgeries at this time. Thanks COVID19.

When the call came in yesterday offering me a surgery date, I was over the moon happy. While I know the road ahead is still a long one, at least I’m being believed, taken seriously, and someone is doing something about it. That’s huge.

I’d like to say this is the first time this has happened, but it’s not. I had an ankle issue after breaking my leg that took the specialists a year and a half to finally believe me and go in. Again, the Xrays and MRIs looked fine. My pain told me a different story. “I put the probe in and where there should have been something holding the ankle together, the probe just dropped right through,” said the surgeon. Right? I walked on that ankle for all that time. I’m aware.

Several years ago, I was having horrible lower abdominal pain. Same story. Scans fine. I finally found someone that was willing to believe me and go in. My appendix wasn’t even where it was supposed to be. They had to literally look for it. It was found, wrapped in scar tissue, festering. It would have blown had they not removed it. Additionally, the scar tissue had sent out a tentacle that was squeezing my intestine. Once cleaned out, my life returned to normal. No pain, but those were several years I will never get back. You know the pain is for real when you are laying down in a public restroom so you don’t faint.

Once upon a time, I volunteered with a local fire department. I passed my First Responder training and was being mentored by one of the most beloved paramedics on the team. He told me something I will never forget. He said, “Linda, listen to your patient. LISTEN. They will tell you everything you need to know. Forget the equipment. If they tell you they feel so bad…they feel like they are dying…I don’t care what the oxygen rate is…their blood pressure may be perfect… watch them. They will likely be going down. Equipment fails but people know their bodies”.

Doctors…if someone tells you they are in pain, please listen. A wise man once told me, “Equipment fails, but people know their bodies”. I have to wonder…would we have these opiate issues right now if more people followed his advice?

To all of my readers who are suffering…I see you. You are rat tough, and you have my utmost respect. Keep advocating for yourselves. You deserve to live a pain free life.

Thank you for reading us. We do so appreciate you. I will miss you while I’m gone, but you will be in good hands with our guest bloggers.

Until we meet again, be good to yourself and each other…

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