For over 10 years I went to my male doctor with severe chronic neck pain and constant muscle spasms. The pain would last for days and leave me in bed afraid to move in fear of triggering another spasm.
At the time I was around 30 years old, attractive and very physically fit.
Some days the pain was so bad I would cry to my doctor. What I always got from him was “take some Advil.” A couple of times he wrote a prescription for Naproxen.
Finally I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon for an MRI.
I was told nothing was wrong with my MRI from the new physician. He said to me, “If I pulled a random person off the street they too would have herniated or bulging discs.”
Then the doctor walked out of the room and never came back.
I thought he would come back so I could ask where all my pain was coming from.
I felt as if I was really losing my mind. The pain was just overwhelming and so hard to deal with every second, every minute, hour, week, month and year.
For a decade I let doctors tell me nothing was wrong and the pain was all in my head. Many, many times I wished for death and did think a lot about ending the pain.
My girlfriend told me of her female doctor and I switched. I was stunned when she listened to me and sat there for as long as I needed her to hear me.
She sent me into pain management after seeing the initial MRI I had with the first doctor and orthopedic surgeon.
For the next two years I tried everything to get rid of the pain, including five facet injections, medication, three rounds of prolotherapy, acupuncture, monthly massage, Botox injections, epidurals, physical therapy and chiropractic treatment. Still the pain continued.
I got the name of a neurosurgeon in Miami who some say is the best in the world — including myself. This doctor will not even see you without first having your MRI faxed to his office.
I was invited to come see him a week and a half after sending out my still original MRI. Two weeks later I was on his operating table undergoing a six hour surgery.
Because of all the excessive bone growth in my neck the doctor informed me my original injury must have happened when I was very young- around three or four years old!
I had anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), a surgery that removes herniated or degenerative discs. I had another ACDF with the same neurosurgeon almost a year later with another triple fusion.
Today I still have constant chronic pain. The surgeries were successful in that I don’t get the sharp pinching pain in my neck anymore but it did leave me with permanent nerve damage down my right arm and into my fingers. The surgery did make things better, but at the same time made things worse. Very hard to explain but I’m happy with my decision to have the surgery since I took two years trying everything else-
All this from the original MRI over 10 years ago when I was told over and over again that nothing was wrong with me.
There is something really wrong with the medical community where they just look at you and assume you are young, attractive and physically fit and they just brush you off instead of really listening to your problems.
I remember bawling uncontrollably each and every time I was told the pain was in my head.
Lisa Pelligrinelli lives in Boca Raton, Florida with her husband and two bulldogs.
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