My Story: Going from Doctor to Doctor

My Story: Going from Doctor to Doctor

I have had back pain since I was 14 years old. At first it wasn’t so bad, just an ache from time to time.

When I was about 16, the pain became more frequent. My mom took me to the doctor and I don’t think she even touched my back. The doctor just asked me questions, prescribed me naproxen, and referred me to a chiropractor.

Also around this time I started a job as a certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home. I had taken classes after school and gotten certified. I enjoyed the work and was good at it. I never thought that it would make my back pain worse. We had learned about proper body mechanic techniques and I always used them. Plus we had mechanical lifts for patients that couldn’t transfer themselves.

Kaylee Foley

Kaylee Foley

For the next few years I still had the pain but it didn’t bother me too much until I was 20 years old. That’s when my legs started hurting. I went to a new doctor and they prescribed muscle relaxers. The muscle relaxers did nothing but make me extremely drowsy all day long.

I went to a third doctor, who prescribed Vicodin and physical therapy. The Vicodin helped some, but the physical therapy made things worse. And I still had no answers as to why my back and legs hurt.

It went on like this for some time, having to see a different doctor each time I went in because I was a new patient without a primary physician. They prescribed anti-inflammatories, opioids, physical therapy, muscle relaxers, and chiropractic care — but they never did any imaging. No x-rays, no MRI’s, and no insights as to why I was in pain and why it was getting worse.

At 22, I got pregnant. I started seeing a regular doctor because of the prenatal appointments and he became my primary. After I gave birth to my son the pain was much worse. I went in to see my primary about it and he felt around my lower back and said he was pretty sure I had a bulged disc. He got me an appointment for an MRI right away. I had 3 bulged discs and my sciatic nerve was being pressed on, thus the back and leg pain.

I had my answer, but what is the solution? My doctor referred me to a pain specialist. The pain specialist did steroid injections. They didn’t help. After seeing him for a few months, he moved to a different practice.

My primary doctor gave me pain medication but that was about all he could do. For the next few years my pain was barely managed by the medication I was taking. It was a cycle of trying to stay on top of the pain, without much success.

Two years ago I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was in pain 24/7, the meds were barely touching it and I was frustrated. I also found out I had fibromyalgia on top of all of the back and leg pain. Some days my body hurt from head to toe.

My doctor told me that there was a new specialist that visited once a month from a practice in another town. He specialized in back injuries. I got an appointment with this doctor. At first he did the steroid injections and physical therapy. I told him that I already tried them and they didn’t work, but he said that insurance makes them try all of the cheaper therapies first before they can try anything else. So I did them both again, with no results, again.

The specialist told me that he really didn’t want to do any kind of back surgery on me at my age because it would most likely cause problems for me down the road. A fusion can put pressure on the discs and is more likely to damage them in a younger, more active person.

He then offered me the option of a spinal cord stimulator. I decided to try it. It did help some with my leg pain, so I got the permanent unit put in.

Today, I am 29 and still in pain most of the time. The spinal cord stimulator offers me some relief, but it’s not total. I still have a lot of pain in my back. I still take pain medications. I can’t do a lot of the things that I used to love, like working out or taking long walks.

I am still working but I know there is going to come a day when I can’t, and I feel that day is coming sooner rather than later.

I wish that one of the doctors that I had seen earlier would have done some kind of imaging. I would have known that I had this injury and I could have done things to prevent it from getting worse. I would have changed jobs and I wouldn’t have volunteered to help friends move or help with farm work.

If I could do it over again, I would have fought to get in to see the same doctor each time or gone to a pain management clinic.

12_7.jpgKaylee Foley lives in Richland Center, Wisconsin. She suffers from constant back and leg pain due to herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. Kaylee also has fibromyalgia and migraines.

National Pain Report invites other readers to share their stories with us.

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The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

Authored by: Kaylee Foley

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Cindy- Over the years, I have learned not to tell others what has worked for me in becoming fibro free. Most, not all, people take it the wrong way. Frankly, a lot of people have done what I did to become fibro free for other conditions- it is no great secret. But,having said that part of it, do doubt, was the Grace of God. I’m sorry if that doesn’t satisfy your curiosity, but that is how it is.

Would love to know dave how you became pain free. I suffer, along with the hundreds of others, from fibro, so am interested in how you accomplished what everyone else seems unable to do. Thanks!!

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Hi Kaylee, can relate to everything that’s happened to you dear girl. I’m 61 and a bit further down the path than you are and I have been struggling with this problem for 20 years and it hasn’t got any easier. The only crumb of relief I can give you is that as the years go by, if you try to accept the situation you can come to some accommodation with your plight. People say they will fight it all the way, but some times ‘going with it’ can be a better way. I hope which ever path you choose will be the best for you.


I felt like I was reading my own bio!! I have had back and leg pain for the same reasons - farm work, hay, lifting calves, etc. I worked in Nursing Home, 9 years, I liked my job. I had no insurance even thought I am also a diabetic, hadn’t seen a doctor in years. I got injured on the job. I was on workmans comp for years - was told I couldn’t get SS disability and w/c at the same time. I was off work so long that by the time I was off w/c I no longer “qualified” for SSD. I have several medical issues - back, legs, knee, fibro, anxiety and depression, migraines, diabetes, insomnia due to pain, every time I need to move after I do fall asleep the pain wakes me up. I am still in pain. I am always in pain. The Dr I have been seeing has given me muscle & pain meds &, anti depressants, but I am still in pain. I have been to an intensive in-patient pain clinic, but body mechanics were/are not the problem, but were the focus of the clinic. I also have a tens unit but it only helps a little, some of the time.
If it weren’t for my husbands retirement SS we would have no income at all because I can not work because of all my issues. I have been in this situation with the pain for over 30 years. I am always on the look out for SOMETHING that will alleviate the pain. I hope this is coming across clearly because “confusion” and fibro fog are flaring for the past few days, as is the pain. Any additional info on pain relief would be greatly appreciated. By the way - I also live in Wisconsin!

Kevin Porter

Your story sounds a lot like mine, but I had crohns disease and no doctor bothered to even examine me, they all told me it was nothing but gas and that went on for 4 and 1/2 years until the spasms and the unbearable pain and weight loss of 53 pounds in under 3 weeks from having diarrhea 10 to 20 times a day. I didnt know what was happening but I thought it might be cancer and was hurting and weak and had to force myself out of bed to go to work, which didnt work to well. One doctor decided to do an upper and lower GI and the results as the doctor saw them showed up a couple ulcers, and so he also said my nerves were really bad so he started me on a low dose of prednisone and Ativan. As the weeks went by I only got worse and looked like a walking skeleton. When I went to fill my scripts my pharmacist ask me to come into his office because he had noticed my huge weight lose. He ask my symptoms and I told him everything and he said I think you have Crohns Disease. I had never heard of this before, but he gave me a name of a Gastroenterologist in MO and so I went to see him, and he figured it out the minute I told him what was going on. So he set me up for a colonoscopy and endoscopy and sure enough two thirds of my colon were ate up by small unlcer type pits and thickened walls to where there were only about 10 centimetors of space. He prescribed Prednisone and some spasm medicine and within 2 days I felt great, and was back to doing everything I used to do, and that lasted a couple years, even though I would end up in the er ever so often with terrible pain in my lower intestines and finally collapsed at work and was taken to the hospital where I ended up having major surgery and 2/3rd on colon and a foot of small intestines were taken out. After about a little over a month in the hospital and put on 80mg of predisone and about 5 other medicines for heart and nerves and pain and antispasmatic drugs, and told not to lift over 10 pounds ever again and to not work for 6 months and then only part time until the doctor released me. After about 4 to 5 years of being on a high dose of steroids I had other surgeries for a variety of things, one including horrible lower back and leg pain because they said that the steroids had caused degenerative disc disease at every level, and degenerative bone disease, which also started messing with my eye site and rotting my teeth. They tried to lower the prednisone but it took years even to get it down to a lower strength of 10mg and to… Read more »


Ms. Foley- I appreciate your courage and candor in sharing your story. I, too, will be sharing my own story of having fibro for 4 years. During my 4th year of having fibro, I started to dread what my pain would be like in the future, for I could only believe it would get worse or a new condition would arise. But, this year will be 14 years of being fibro free and frankly, I am in better health now than I was 20 years ago.
I sense you will find a way to become pain free. It may not be easy, in fact it may be a great struggle- but I think you are nobler than your pain and sooner or later your pain will be a memory and you may even lose the memory of pain.
If I can be of any help, I will do what I can.