Monday, November 23, 2009

My Fibromyalgia

Doctors hate to say, I don’t know.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a doctor. From 9 to 5, every fifteen or twenty minutes, a new person sits on your exam table and tells you that she is broken.

It hurts.

My finger is green.

My memory is... what was I saying?

Your patients are suffering and they’ve come to you for a solution. That’s what you signed up for. Maybe you like helping people. Maybe you enjoy solving problems. But every question doesn’t have an answer. Whatever your motivation was to study for hours on end, year after year, to become a doctor, sending me home after failing to fix me, even though you tried your best, must suck.

So, doctors have come up with clever ways to say they don’t know without actually shrugging their shoulders. Here are some clues that your doctor has no clue what is going on: he uses words like syndrome or condition, and phrases like ‘let’s give this a try’. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, a group of symptoms, but not an actual disease. Many doctors collaborated to come up with that one.

The oh-so-special specialist, Dr. HC, who is supposedly an expert in all matters Fibromyalgia, sent me back to my GP for treatment with some notes. It was her first time treating the condition. She has been practicing medicine for more than fifteen years, and she currently has three thousand patients. But I was her first Fibro-victim. To put that into perspective, she recently told me that she’s treated two people with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which only happens to 1 or 2 people out of 100,000.

“Let’s give this a try’, she said, referring to some heavy-duty pain killers and sleeping pills.

Woah, back up, Jenn. Why do you need drugs if this problem isn’t real? That is what you meant when you wrote, “Many doctors collaborated to come up with that one,” wasn’t it?

Well, my friends, my pain was real. And I was tired, even though my exhaustion came gradually and it was hard to notice until Dr. HC asked me about it. Make no mistake, I don’t discount anyone who is suffering or disabled because of the long list of symptoms you can read about here.

All that stuff really happens. I just think that Fibromyalgia is a get-out-of-my-office diagnosis. But I wanted the truth.

Instead, I was shrugged off. Even worse, I think I was shrugged off by someone who didn’t do their job.

When I came home from Dr. HC’s office the day of the diagnosis, still in shock, I searched the Internet for every legit piece of information I could find about Fibromyalgia. What I found infuriated me, and gave me the confidence that I needed to believe my suspicions.

The test he gave me, when he jammed his fingers into my muscles, is the big test used to diagnose the condition. I saw what tender points he was looking for and instantly knew he was wrong. Because I hurt every place he pressed, not just at those spots. Some sites describe the amount of pressure a doctor should use when giving the tender points exam: only enough to whiten his fingernail bed.

Try this: push your fingertip into the muscle on your forearm until your fingernail bed changes colour. Doesn’t take much pressure, does it? Then push the tip of your finger into the muscle until it hurts. He jabbed hard enough to make it hurt every time.

My disbelief turned to rage.

Okay, back to my GP saying, “let’s try this”.

I told her that I didn’t have Fibromyalgia. The conviction in my voice was enough to get a referral for a second opinion. But we still had to deal with my pain, because whether I was misdiagnosed or not with a condition that may or may not be officially recognized, my upper body hurt like hell.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I emphasized this enough in my post: I don’t discount anyone who is suffering or disabled because of Fibromyalgia. The pain is 100% real. If the condition isn't real, then it's only because the medical community doesn't know what causes the pain, not because anyone is faking or crazy. Some people are seriously suffering, and the fear of becoming crippled was a big reason that I started to spiral into depression, which I'll write about in a future post. In this post, I wrote that the diagnosis is given to get a patient out of the office because it's often a last resort, when there is no other cause found for the pain. I think researchers jammed a bunch of symptoms into a category as if giving it a name solved the problem, when they should be trying to figure out why it hurts and how to fix it. There is no disease until there is a cause, and that's why it is still just a syndrome.