Falling and the Misdiagnosis… Kind Of

Around Christmas of 2011, I was hanging decorations in my restaurant. It was probably 2:30 in the morning, as we had just opened, and I was working long hours (9:30 AM to 2:30 AM Monday through Sunday for… 10 weeks? Yeah, I think 10 weeks before I got a full day off). I slipped off the ladder… and landed on the retaining wall in the restaurant on my back… and was promptly folded in half backwards. That felt nice. My pride was bruised, and so was my back. I went home, and let my employees finish up.

Starting in about February of 2012, I was hurting a lot. I went into the doctor. Looking at my symptoms, he diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I don’t often name this when speaking to people, because of the common belief that fibromyalgia is psychosomatic, It is not. If you still believe that it is, go do some more research. After that research, if you are still convinced that it is psychosomatic, go stuff yourself. I don’t want to discuss it with you.

We based my treatments (insufficient at best) off of this diagnosis until really last year. But the problem was, this wasn’t the problem. It was a mis-diagnosis… kind of.

In the fall of 2013, I went to a rheumatologist to get an official diagnosis, as a GP’s diagnosis of fibromyalgia doesn’t generally hold much weight. He thought that I likely had Ankylosing spondylitis, which is nasty. Fortunately, I don’t have that. He neither confirmed nor denied my fibromyalgia diagnosis, because we needed to rule everything else out. He discovered spinal damage. He sent me to a neurosurgeon… Over the next year, we discovered that my lower back is… bad… I have 1 ruptured disc, which protrudes into my already small spinal column. Now, normally a ruptured disk can also be described as herniated. Mine is not herniated so much as… exploded… and it likes to push on my spinal cord. I have 3 compressed disks in my middle back.

So, If you see me with my cane, it’s because I can no longer walk more than a few feet without it. If you see me fall… that happens. It’s embarrassing. It hurts. There’s nothing to be done at this point. If you see me wince, it’s probably not something you said, it’s probably pain. I try to hide it. I try not to wine, but… I fail…

Most recently, we discovered that my upper back is fine! That’s great news, but it also confirms the diagnosis of fibromyalgia… which sucks…

So basically it goes like this: My back feels like I’ve been kicked by a large horse… twice… and it always feels like that. It doesn’t really feel better… ever… “get better” feels more like a slap than anything else, because I can’t. Surgery isn’t really an option, according to my neurosurgeon (well, it’s elective with a %50 chance of making it a little better and a %50 chance of making it a lot worse. I don’t like those odds).

If you see my hands twisted against my chest, that’s the fibromyalgia. That’s just my body’s reaction to nervous system pain in the arms and hands. If you see me weep a little, that happens too. I don’t like that. It’s embarrassing, and I try to hide inside during those times.

So, for me the back injury and fibromyalgia are tied together, not because of any level of cause and effect, but because they started about the same time, at least, they were discovered about the same time (looking back, I’ve probably had the fibromyalgia since about puberty, but at least since my crash in high school)

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