Chronic pain and fumbling for a diagnosis

I have migraines (since 1974), back pain (since 1980), crushed vertebrae (since about 2005), and a myriad of other less serious, but still frustrating, symptoms.  My current Dr, bless his little black heart, keeps treating these chronic conditions as injuries.

He’ll give me 30 day prescriptions and be surprised when the condition returns when I stop taking the pills.  He says pain is subjective, and everyone gets back pain.  I have tried to explain the difference between my constant, never ending back pain and the flares of other pain, or unusually high pain. But he doesn’t seem to get it, as he tells me to make another appointment to discuss my pain, he doesn’t have time.    Sure, no problem.  I haven’t slept in 2 years, can’t walk a city block without crying, can’t make supper without 1/2 dozen breaks to rest, fall over at random intervals when my legs suddenly collapse under me, but no problem, I’ll make an appt for another month from now.

But yesterday he did something that may keep me as his patient.  Maybe. He wrote fibromyalgia in my chart.  He didn’t mention it to me, the word never crossed his lips, but I can read upside down and his handwriting’s no worse than my own.

So, as anyone with ambitions of being a writer would do, I spent time today researching fibro.  Especially as connected to back injuries.  This is what I found:

“Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that affects 10 million Americans. The most common symptoms are wide spread muscle pain and stiffness, fatigue due to sleep disturbances, and depression.

Many fibromyalgia sufferers also experience impaired memory and concentration (also known as “fibro fog”), irritable bowel syndrome, skin sensitivities and rashes, Raynaud’s Syndrome, dry eyes and mouth, anxiety attacks, dizziness, vision disturbances, impaired coordination, restless legs, and various other neurological symptoms.”

yup, yup, yup yup, I sound like one of those muppets that sing the mahna mahna song.  I don’t know why I never thought of this, at least 10 women I know have fibro, and their numbers increase every year.  It must be the brain fog.  The same one that lets me go to the bathroom for nail polish remover, and go pee, put on perfume, check my dry dry skin, apply moisturizer and go back to the living room, only to realize I still can’t take off my nail polish.  I watched my friends’ symptoms, commiserated over their  similarity to my own, but never thought of applying that diagnosis to me.  Of the 15 symptoms listed, I have 13.  Huh.

I have been blaming my odd eye problems on my annual spring migraine, but could it be a symptom of fibro?  Last month I went blind in one eye.  Twice.  For about 20 minutes each time, but after seeing an ophthalmologist, there is no explanation.  My eyes are fine.

I’ve had Reynaud’s for years, but it’s getting worse.

If you define depression as: I really want to do that but getting up and getting dressed is too much work.  And sleeping 10 hours a day, then I’ve been depressed for years.

Restless legs, yup, just ask my poor long-suffering hubby about getting kicked all night.

I might have IBS, but I’m on codeine for pain and it has the side effect of constipation.  If the 2 things just cancel each other out, then I’d be fine in that department.  Aside from the occasional problem due to wheat exposure, I’m fine in that department.

And it could all be related to that bungled spinal surgery surgery in 1980.

More from the research:

“An American physiologist by the name of Walter Cannon (1871-1945), established what is now a widely accepted principle of physiology known as “Cannon’s Law of Denervation Supersensitivity.” According to Cannon’s Law, when a nerve is injured or “pinched”, the results are not just muscle spasm and stiffness, but a whole series of reactions that compound the pain. Bands of muscle fibers tighten and squeeze specialized pain sensing nerve fibers within the muscle known as trigger points. Compressed muscles do not allow proper blood flow (which can explain symptoms like dizziness and Reynaud’s Syndrome) or waste products like lactic acid to be removed. The buildup of waste products in the muscle exaggerates the perception of pain. Long-term muscle shortening and compression can cause tendonitis to occur throughout the body. It becomes a vicious cycle of pain, muscle spasms, and nerve entrapment.

But how do muscle spasms and pinched nerves lead to symptoms like sleep disturbances, rashes, irritable bowel, dry eyes, and anxiety attacks?

The spinal nerves located between our vertebrae regulate all body functions: respiration, heart rate, digestion, ovulation, red blood cell production, kidney and liver function, etc. The spinal nerves receive signals from the skin, muscles, internal organs, eyes, ears and tongue, and transfer those signals to the brain. When one or more of the spinal nerves is damaged or dysfunctional, it can have a significant affect on one or more body functions and can result in a variety of seemingly unrelated physical symptoms.”

Again… huh.

So, most of the research into managing the pain and other symptoms talk about a holistic approach, herbs to take, meditation, diet, gentle exercise….

Why do I hear my healer friends laughing at me?


2 thoughts on “Chronic pain and fumbling for a diagnosis

  1. […] Chronic pain and fumbling for a diagnosis. […]

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