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On Being Heard

I’ve been to my new doctor. Awhile ago, actually, but I haven’t been in my writing groove. Then it got to be so far past the appointment that it left my mind to write about it. But this post is actually important. As my mental health has healed, my focus has turned to my physical health. And that is what this post needs to talk about. My physical health. My chronic pain.

I went into the appointment with high expectations. He doesn’t give pain meds. He’s been in practice a long time. I’d love him. I’d find him amazing. My psychiatrist knew him. Warned he talked a lot but would be good for me.

When I got there and got into the appointment, my first impression with him wasn’t what I expected. I told him I had pain issues, arthritis. He told me just wait til I was older, if I thought I had bad joints now. That wasn’t the wording. It was weeks ago. But I heard discrimination. What the hell joint pain could someone not even 30-years-old feel?

I thought about walking out. I thought about just never coming back.

I told him I had no interest in pain meds. All I’d ever been given, after all, was canoe sized Ibuprofen, and it has never helped. He told me there was more out there than Ibuprofen. Yes, but most of it is addictive or just doesn’t help.

I don’t need pain medication. I need a diagnosis. I need to know why at 29-years-old, if I sit still for too long, I completely lose my hip(s) and can’t hold my weight, can’t walk, until they decide to rejoin the rest of my body.

That should not be happening. And I told him as much.

But I honestly didn’t feel he was hearing my words. So I told myself I’d let him have his blood sample and then I wouldn’t come back. I’ve wasted enough life blood and hours on doctors that don’t hear me. I’ve learned that lesson. I refuse that road.

Then he did the most unexpected: He walked back into the exam room with about 5 weeks worth of a sample for a medication no one has ever offered me. Asking me what I knew about fibromyalgia. Offering me the diagnosis I’ve known all along but no MD has ever bothered with. Offering a medication that doesn’t treat the symptom. But instead, something that treats the source.

I’m about 4 weeks in and so far I’m not sure if it’s helping or how much. It’s not that simple since even without meds the pain is never the same from day-to-day. Even without meds I have days here and there pain free. However rare they may be, they do exist. So I’m not sure that anything is different.

But it’s only been 4 weeks. And these things take time.

Fibro is a mental based pain. It’s the nervous system misfiring. It isn’t a pulled muscle or a swollen joint. It is, in fact, all in the head. And that makes it harder to treat. Like any mental condition, there is no 1-pill-fits-all. You take Ibuprofen for swollen joints. Maybe a Vicodin for a pulled muscle. But fibro is treated with a mental health med. Those take time to work and more trial and error.

So if he can hear me, I can see the need to be patient. Take the time it takes. Keep doing what I need to do.

And one part of healing mental pain is knowing someone hears you and cares. I have that. It may not bring my hip back to me when I go to stand up here soon. But it brings the patience to work it out as I work the joint back into existence and hope that tomorrow is the day I wake up a little better. Or that my appointment in a week brings the medication that lets me keep my hip for good.

I may not have been given a cure, but I have been given hope.

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