In my previous post I recounted my past six months of Fibro flare-up hell.
It feels all wrong! Not that there is ever anything right about Fibro; but this has been wronger then usual.
Is my fibro changing? Getting Worse?
Actually that is a really dumb question. Of course it is changing. As we age we change, stands to reason that our disabilities change too. Some things get easier to tolerate, while other things get worse.
But what if I am not getting worse? What if this is something completely different all together? It is all too easy to just blame everything on fibro all the time. But the possibility that I could have something in addition to FMS, is feasible, isn’t it? What if I was completely misdiagnosed all together?
This year of pain and exhaustion has felt so intensely bad that this can’t just be my fibro; it HAS to be something more than that. …Doesn’t it?
I know, I know, that’s what my doctor is for. But there have been issues with the whole seeking medical attention thing this past year. My last visit with my primary care doctor in 2010 was for my routine 3 month fibro maintenance follow-up in October. It was before this flare-up really reared its ugly head, so I reported that I was feeling pretty good at the time. Then winter came in and decimated me with freezing cold weather and blizzards. My regularly scheduled winter flare-up tore me down, big time.
My next 3 month appointment which was scheduled for the end of January, didn’t work out, because I had to reschedule it due to the fact that Ron had commandeered my van for work when his car died and I no longer had transportation. Well, that and it was so bitterly cold that I just couldn’t get out of bed, let alone my house.
Unfortunately, I had to cancel the March appointment too. My sister was in the hospital and sadly, at 23 weeks pregnant, lost her baby. It was a very difficult month both in the weeks prior when the complications in her pregnancy arose, and after – as this was a terrible loss.
We all mourn the loss of the sweet little girl who was taken before we could know her but not before we loved her.
It was the beginning of April that I FINALLY met with my doctor. But it wasn’t a regular maintenance visit; it was a sick visit – for my nasal/bronchial issues. Dr. T is pretty much a stickler about only getting into what the appointment was scheduled for so I was shooed out of the examining room before I had a chance to go into any details about what was going on. But not before he suggested I see a Physiatrist first and then go back and see him. I think he was reprimanding/punishing me for not keeping my appointments…
I had no idea what a physiatrist was, so I looked it up here. And after I checked out the doctor’s website, I felt hopeful that this was going to be my answer. After months of no energy or strength, and constant fatigue and pain I was more than ready for answers. When I spoke with the receptionist to make my appointment, I had to admit that it had been more than 6 years since I had any MRI’s or other testing done. Because up till now I was maintaining my Fibro with meds; and flare-ups, although still painful, came and then WENT.
She told me not to worry; the doctor would order all new tests. When I got off the phone I felt a sense of relief. I just wanted to get answers to what was going on with me. And, here was a doctor that “instead of treating only specific symptoms and illnesses, a D.O. will regard your body as an integrated whole”, according to his website.
I had been going through so much difficulty and pain, all I wanted was to start anew. The seasons were changing and I was tired of hibernating. I had spent so long trapped in my home by the cold weather; my illness; and with still no transportation; and although I still felt like utter crap, I had to force myself to join the land of the living again, if anything, for sanity’s sake. I had been a shut in for so long that even my friendships were suffering. I tend to withdraw from people; friends and family alike; when things get this raw (read painful and depressing). And believe me this was raw!
In my effort to reconnect with my friends (and family) I felt I owed it to them to clarify why I needed to withdraw so much, why I bailed on commitments I had made, why I could not be reached by phone or even return messages. I felt I had to explain that I don’t mean to be a lousy friend, who forgets things, breaks promises, and just disappears.
In the process, of explaining what I was going through, I surprisingly had three separate people who didn’t even know each other suggest that it sounded like I had MS.
MS? Really? multiple sclerosis
I had heard of MS; but in truth I didn’t know anything about it, at all. It would never have occurred to me. When the first person said something to me I did what I always do; I disregarded the possibility that it could be anything but Fibro. After all, I had my diagnosis, and it took forever to get that in the first place, I didn’t want to start questioning it, no way.
But then a second friend suggested it as well. She knew a lot about it and started describing me, to me. All I could do was keep sit there nodding and saying, “Yeah, that’s me!”, “that’s exactly what’s happening to me”, “you are describing me”; her response was, “no, I am describing MS”.
Thoughts that crept around in my head: Oh crap!! Do I have MS? Wait! What the hell is MS?; What are the symptoms?; How do I know if this is what I have?; Do I really wanna know?
So I peeked, just a little, I looked it up on the internet. Just enough to get general info. I am all for getting self-informed and getting educated about something like ADHD, for instance, when your child has been diagnosed with it. But with this, I just didn’t want to read so much in to it, that I’d start self-diagnosing before I even see the doctor. What I read up on was the basics; the symptoms and how one get’s diagnosed. I also read that it isn’t unheard of for someone suffering from MS to be misdiagnosed with Fibro.
As my appointment with the physiatrist drew nearer I got more and more emotional about how bad this whole year has been so far because of some illness that I have. I just wanted answers and I felt that in order to do that I need to start from scratch. I want to wipe the slate clean and start fresh as if I had never gotten my diagnosis for FMS all those years ago. Like I mentioned earlier, it is all too easy to pigeon-hole everything into Fibro without considering there might be something else going on.
A few hours before my appointment, I sat down and I just started writing and I kept writing until I had 3 pages full of what I needed to remember to discuss with the doctor. I listed symptoms, body parts affected, descriptions of the level of pain I was feeling, the emotional toll it was taking on me, etc.
It was unfortunate that after all the time I took to prepare, I ended up forgetting it all at home. I was beside myself. The poor doctor did not know what to do with me. I just started crying and crying. I could not get my thoughts together, I was forgetting everything I wanted to talk about AND what was worse was this doctor just was not living up to my expectations. I wanted him to have all the answers, to fix me, to order the tests that were going to get me my answers.
The doctor didn’t actually do anything wrong, he was just not right for me. He focused on the pain in my arms and scheduled an EKG/nerve test. Through my tears I managed to tell him I felt that that wasn’t enough. What about the pains in the rest of my body? His response was that he wanted to focus on one thing at a time and he advised me to go back to my primary care physician for a referral to a rheumatologist for my fibro.
I left there in tears. I cried all the way home and by the time I walked back into my house I was sobbing uncontrollably; poor Ron and Leon had no idea what was going on and were very concerned.
I want a doctor that was going to treat the whole of me; not just the parts of me. This is not what I got in this doctor. I realize that I had put way too much stock in this one visit, and my hopes and expectations were waaaay too high. I was overly emotional, and at a loss. Now what?
The fact is I don’t see a rheumatologist although I know I should, but after never being able to get an appointment with the one that I initially had, the one who diagnosed the fibro, I began to rely on the neurologist that she had sent me to. I was maintaining fairly well with the meds that my neuro had prescribed. Eventually I lost my neuro too, due to the fact that she became ill and left the practice. In the end I never did find a new rheumatologist or neurologist; my primary care doctor was prescribing the medications I needed, so I felt that there was no need to find another one; till now that is.
Last week I met with my primary care physician, to discuss a plan. This time I did not forget my notes. Even so, I was still a blubbering fool, with tears falling uncontrollably from my eyes, as I explained how bad things had gotten and how lost I felt. I explained that I was concerned that what is going on with me was something worse than Fibro and I shared the suspicions of MS that others and now myself had. In the end my doctor told me that he feels that I have extreme Fibromyalgia and that I am suffering from severe depression; he also feels that I am beyond his help at this point and he referred me to a rheumatologist and a psychiatrist. When I questioned the MS again, he told me that he felt it was unlikely that I had MS at all. I would love to just accept that but I am too worried about something being over looked because it is too easy to stick with the original diagnosis. He gave me the name of a neurologist to call, if I felt the need to pursue it.
I do and I did. Feel the need to pursue it I mean. I have an appointment with both a rheumatologist and a neurologist next week. I have not scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist yet as I have yet to find one that takes my insurance.
In the several days it has taken me to write this post (I can only do a little at a time due to the pain in my arms and hands) the tears have seemed to come to a halt. Writing and getting all these thoughts and feelings out of my head seems to help a lot. But I will bring the tissues to my next appointment; just in case. 😉