Back Doctor and Pain Management Clinic Rant – Why So Insensitive?

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This is going to be a bit of a rant. Yesterday I received a letter from the orthopedic doctor and pain management clinic I was seeing for my upper back/neck pain. That letter turned my mood sour quickly. It said that I had been non-compliant with physical therapy and the spinal injections they had ordered, so they were kicking me out of the practice.

Why did it tick me off? Because the way they expressed it is totally not what we had discussed in person. First of all, I was not “non-compliant” with physical therapy. I tried it for several weeks and it WORSENED the pain rather than helping. It also caused widespread fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome flares throughout my body. This wasn’t the first time I had tried physical therapy, so I had been worried from the start, but they had promised they would accommodate my conditions, which they didn’t actually seem to do.

When I called the physical therapy office to explain that it was worsening my back pain and my fibromyalgia/cfs symptoms, they seemed understanding at the time. I was also having issues driving myself to therapy because when my back pain flares up, I can barely turn my head because of the neck pain. I asked the physical therapy office if I should perhaps try again in the summer when my husband could drive me, but the lady said that if the sessions were causing me that many problems, trying it again in the summer didn’t make much sense.

As for the spinal shots, the main reason I was fearful about going through with them is because they would not offer any kind of sedation. You see, I had been told how important it is for spinal injections that you be absolutely still during the process or you could cause damage to the spine. As an autistic person with severe sensory issues and intense over-sensitivity to any kind of sensory input (including pain), this worried me. I also have severe anxiety and that can sometimes make me shake and tremble involuntarily.

I had researched the shots and noticed that many other places offer sedation. I even talked to a few other people who had undergone the shots and had been sedated. I was not trying to be a pain or a drama queen, I was simply being cautious. Affording the shots was also a major issue at the time (since they required full payment up front), which I had explained to them.

In the end, I’m not upset that they were unable to further help me, I had already kind of figured that out. However, I am upset at the accusatory tone of the letter they sent me and the obvious insensitivity and lack of understanding for people who suffer from chronic pain/chronic illness and people who happen to have autism or other sensory processing difficulties. By the way, I will be sending them a letter back stating much of what I just said here. Hopefully they will learn something.

 

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Plantar Fasciitis Flare Up

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The last few days I have had a bad plantar fasciitis flare up, the worst in quite a while. I have dealt with this awful condition since I was 19 years old, so for 16 years I have dealt with chronic foot pain. I wanted to take a moment today to explain what it is really like to live with this condition, especially on bad days. Here are a few descriptions of what I go through:

  • During a flare up, it feels like every step I take, I am walking with a huge, jagged stone piercing my arch, near the heel. After a few steps like that, it starts to feel horribly bruised and I start limping badly. Sometimes it feels almost like something in the arch of my foot “drops” and the pain starts then. It is a seriously weird feeling.
  • During flare ups, I find it hard to stand long enough to do even the simplest tasks. I have to sit on the kitchen counter while waiting for my pop-tart to toast. I have to sit on the floor or my bed while brushing and flossing my teeth. Showers are out, baths are in. Massages can help sometimes, but other times even that is agonizing.
  • When the flare up is really bad, even staying off my feet doesn’t help. The burning, aching, throbbing pain is constant. I do ice it and that helps a bit to numb it, but nothing else does a thing. Often I wind up in tears because the pain is simply unbearable. I hate to have to turn to narcotic pain relievers, but sometimes do. When the pain is constant and unyielding, I find myself fighting thoughts of suicide just to make it end.
  • Unfortunately, nothing really helps but staying off my feet and giving it time. I do take NSAIDS and muscle relaxers, but they take a few days to work (if they even do work). I’ve tried cortisone shots, but they didn’t help at all. I’m not willing to chance the risky surgery that can leave you crippled for life, especially when nothing else modern medicine has had to offer has helped.
  • Even when I’m NOT having a flare up, I have to be careful, because being on my feet more than a half an hour to an hour at a time can cause a flare up to occur. Even a day of regular grocery shopping can cause a flare up because of being on my feet too much. It truly is an intensely disabling condition for some people like me.