It was then, at my most happiest, that I was struck down with the most debilitating pain. A pain that stopped me cold on a daily basis; a pain that worsened as the days went by, and a pain that not only scared me, but my husband as well. We didn't find any answers from the many doctors we had seen and the countless tests that were being performed. There was however a common thread. The doctors deserved concern for me turned to questioning and disbelief as their tests brought them no solid answers. If it didn't show on the countless tests then it wasn't really there was it?
It was a very demoralizing time. I went from happy and healthy young mother to a needy patient who was likely seeking pain killers. If only they knew me, they would have known I was the least likely to be seeking pain medication. I didn't take as much as an aspirin. I had delivered two babies without any pain medication, and not because it wasn't painful it certainly was. My choice had always been the alternatives. I didn't like to take pills. I had also had six stitches in the bottom of my foot while pregnant and fought with the emergency doctor who was insisting I should use pain killers. You get the picture.
Now here I was on a daily basis with pain so bad I couldn't catch my breath at times, and doctors didn't know what it was. Because they didn't know, it was assumed by some, it was nothing.
I was shamed by my own family doctor. She felt I was attention seeking. Can you imagine a busy mother of two in a happy marriage having the time to go to a doctor for attention? Crazy, I know. It was only by fluke I was sent to a colleague of hers while she was away, and it was he who was able to diagnose neurological pain. He took my shame away that day, by validating my pain and telling me he could help. The correct medication was administered and some relief happened. With his help I was able to function as a wife and mother again and had the ammunition to get the correct referral I needed.
I hate to think what would have happened to me as a person had he not seen me that day. It was the long beginning to my road back. It was also the beginning of me having to rely on medication to function.
Shortly after that time I was correctly diagnosed with a spinal cord injury. One of the most painful, invisible things a patient can have. I felt vindicated, but it didn't take away the days and months of being treated like a drug seeking hypochondriac.
I have the absolute best care in the world now. I have one of the leading neurosurgeons in North America, a fabulous family doctor and anytime there is a health issue, of any kind, I am referred to the best right away. I'm very grateful but I can't help wonder about others who suffer without diagnoses. I have been down that road and it's not a pretty one. How many people have conditions that are under the radar and not treated.
Being on medication the rest of your life is not something one strives for believe me, but when I consider the alternative, I'll take the pills and be grateful there is a way to manage the pain.
Here's an excellent article about pain medication and the shame some feel for taking it. I really recommend reading this it's a very well written story.