After 9 Years of Pain, I Finally Got a Diagnosis
“Nothing is wrong with you.”
“You’re very young and healthy.”
“You probably just need some rest.”
“Here’s a few days’ worth of medication. Come back if you don’t feel any better.”
These are just a few of the things I’ve repeatedly heard over the years. I’ve been in pain since I was a teenager due to a back injury. Any pain I had felt in my body since then I always just assumed was because of said injury. I had learned how to tolerate my pain for so many years, so I also tolerated any other symptoms, including the anxiety I was diagnosed with at 16.
2012 came around and I’d finally had enough. I made an appointment with my doctor to try some medication for my anxiety. While at my appointment I was also diagnosed with OCD and given a prescription for Zoloft and an emotional support pet.
Fast forward four months. I had been experiencing pelvic pain for about two years, and was told it was due to my IUD. The pain got so severe I had to spend the night in the ER. Pelvic exam: Normal. CT scan: Normal. Urine sample: Normal. I was sent home with nothing for the pain, no answers and a recommendation to see an OB/GYN in two weeks. I did just that, and of course everything came back normal. I’d had enough, and got my IUD removed a few months later.
Between that time and May of 2017, I had regularly visited different OB/GYN offices to get pelvic exams, blood tests, ultrasounds, etc. All normal, and the pain was always checked off as period cramps or a temporary annoyance. Then in May of this year, I was once again experiencing severe pelvic pain. This occurred after a 30-day period, followed by an eight-day period a week after that (which I had seen my OB/GYN for, and of course all tests came back normal).
I went into the clinic and had explained to the PA my usual symptoms: “pelvic pain, back pain, months of fatigue and night sweats.” She figured it was a ruptured cyst, and sent me home with a prescription for Naproxen. She told me if I wasn’t feeling better in a couple days, I would need to come in for an ultrasound. She called the next day to check up on me. I was feeling better, but still in pain. She made an appointment for me to come in for an ultrasound. Two days later I had my ultrasound, which came back normal. She sent me home with different pain med, and advised me to go to the ER if the pain didn’t go away.
Nine years of back pain (which now resulted in knee pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, head pain, etc.), seven years of pelvic pain and a countless number of times hearing the word “normal.” You can imagine how much I hate that word. I was at a loss at this point. Multiple doctors, and all the research I could possibly do, but no answers. A couple months passed, and the fatigue I’d been feeling since the holidays was getting worse and worse every passing week. I could no longer function like this. I finally took the advice of an acquaintance and made an appointment with my regular doctor to talk to him about fibromyalgia.
When this acquaintance mentioned fibromyalgia to me, I denied it. My best friend has fibro, and there was no way I did as well. Her pain seemed much worse than mine. I can’t have what she has. I kept telling myself that my anxiety and OCD were making me tired and tense.
I was wrong. My doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. The F-word I really didn’t want to hear. He gave me the news, told me to get rest and exercise, gave me a sample of Lyrica and sent me on my way. After my appointment, I sat in my car and took a couple minutes to cry. It was a bittersweet experience. I was crying because of the diagnosis, but I was also crying because I was happy to finally have answers after nine years of frustration. I also realized that just because other people may seem to have it worse than me doesn’t mean I’m not in pain as well. It may just be a different kind of pain. Fibro is different for everyone. I may have a symptom that someone else doesn’t, but we share the same illness.
After being diagnosed, I had the most amazing support from my husband, family, friends and even strangers. I feel lucky to have such amazing people in my life, and hope others have the same support as well. I’ve also realized how strong I am. I’ve been through all of this and have still pushed through it all. I will not let my illness get in the way of living my life. I appreciate my life so much more now. I realize I do need to rest, and I won’t be able to do all the things I want to do, or the things other people are doing, but I’m still going to do everything I possibly can. I refuse to let my pain and exhaustion stop me from doing the things I love. My diagnosis does not define me. I define my diagnosis.
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Thinkstock photo via Good_Studio.