Monday, October 08, 2012

Dealing with Chronic Pain - The Beginning

I'm not sure of the exact date, but sometime back in June I started to feel an ache in my middle, right finger. It wasn't anything major. I figured I had just over-used my hand. The pain got worse as time went by though. After about a week or so, I started to think back to see if I may have hurt it and forgotten. I couldn't think of anything. Then, one night at work, it hurt so bad that I couldn't pick anything up. My middle finger felt broken, but I hadn't injured it. What was going on? When I woke up the next day, the tendinitis in my right index finger returned. I had suffered from tendinitis in this finger on and off for two years.

At the same time, I had been suffering from a pain in my right leg, for at least 6 months, if not longer. I believe that it had started even earlier, but that because of my sedentary nature, before I started working again, that it stayed dormant until I started moving again. The pain went from my hip to my ankle, but centered on the right side of my right knee.  I researched it and the only thing I could come up with was an IT Band issue. I had noticed the pain after many uses of the treadmill and stationary bike, so it didn't seem far fetched.

I've been in a lot of pain, for most of my life. I have suffered from migraines since the age of 18. I have slight scoliosis and have had back pain for as long as I can remember. I am under a ton of stress, I am fatigued, I am tired of the pain. I also, thankfully, just got insurance. I had decided to go to urgent care so I could be seen right away. I was also hoping that if they couldn't help me, that they could refer me.

The urgent care doctor told me that they couldn't diagnose me, that I needed to be looked at by a primary care doctor. He gave me a list of doctors, some pain meds, and said that I may want to be checked for Rheumatoid.

Back at work, my co-workers and boss are very helpful. I am not able to do as much as before and they don't make me feel bad for it. I am thankful for this. I finally get in to see a doctor after three weeks and many attempts at trying to get someone listed as a PCP and dealing with insurance woes.

I do not tell the doctor what the urgent care doc said. I just give him my symptoms and history, and he has the same idea as the urgent care doc - Rheumatoid, as well as carpal tunnel. He also says that my leg pain is most likely the IT Band and gives me some exercises to do, some pain meds, and a list of blood tests to get done. He wants to wait three weeks to see me again to see how the pain meds help.

During this three weeks (and the three weeks preceding) my pain got worse. the pain is in all of my middle finger and other joints in the hand are beginning to hurt now. By the end of the three weeks, the joints in both hands hurt, my toes are starting to hurt, and I was breaking out in rashes.

When I see the doctor, he tells me that my blood tests all came out normal, no RA factor and my sed rate is fine. He wants me to get a lipid test and wants to refer me to a Rheumatologists.

After another couple of weeks of dealing with the insurance, I get an appointment scheduled with the Rheumatologist, though it is a over a month out. My pain is getting worse and spreading. My doctor wrote a note for work for light duty.

Everything continues as it has been. The pain is still there, it's random every day. I never know what is going to hurt, but at least it has a schedule. I am stiff in the morning. My heels hurt so bad I can hardly walk when I get out of bed. The stiffness and pain diminish over the course of the morning, only to return at the end of the day. Sleeping is a nightmare (pun intended). I usually wake in the middle of the night in pain, tossing and turning and unable to fall asleep until extreme fatigue takes over.

Then, one night, I wake up in the middle of the night and feel like someone dropped a brick on my toes. I can hardly walk the next day. I call out of work and call the doctors office to see if I can get in that day.
I see the doctor around 3pm. I tell him the new symptoms. He thinks I definitely have an autoimmune issue, but there isn't much he can do. He also said that my lipid tests all came out fine. I don't have diabetes and my cholesterol is okay. I am totally healthy except for this. I have to see the Rheumatologist, which is still a month away. So, he writes me out of work for 5 weeks and gives me narcotic pain meds so I can sleep.

Right now it's a waiting game. Two more weeks to go. My carpal tunnel is so bad that I have a limited time on the computer. Right now I am on day two of a migraine. After typing this up, I will be icing and heating my hand. Will most likely take pain meds so I can sleep tonight. I have pain in my palms and all the joints of both hands. I cannot stand for any length of time without all of my toes burning. I need to use a cane on long walks because of the pain in my right knee. I am beginning to feel burning pains in both knees and elbows. An old pain in my foot that i have had off and on for the past 12 years has come back with a vengeance. The fatigue has probably surprised me the most. I used to think I knew what tired felt like. This is a whole different ballgame. It's so hard to describe. It's like an urge to lay down and sleep that you can't shake. No amount of coffee or exercise, or anything that is supposed to wake you up helps, even sleeping doesn't help.

That's all for now. I will continue the story once I have more to share, or if I have new symptoms. Thanks for reading.


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