Dealing with chronic pain is… well, a pain.
Har, har, aren’t I funny? But in all seriousness, you’d think it would be fairly easy to settle, but it’s not.
Some years back I went to a neurologist (after several annoying referral clinics) to be tested for carpal tunnel syndrome. The results of the test came back clear, but I was told that all the symptoms I described were a match for carpal tunnel syndrome and that sometimes, symptoms don’t always show up on the test in early stages, and so I could come back in a year or so to be tested again.
I didn’t. Life got in the way, quite literally, as my mom started having more kids, and I graduated high school and headed off to college. But the pain kept getting worse until I could barely write by hand for any length of time, so finally, this year, I started making plans to see a doctor again. I was still going on the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome at this point and was therefore figuring I’d likely have to go for the release surgery, in which they open up your wrist, cut the muscles and allow more room for the nerves.
Well, imagine my surprise when the doctor (a different one this time) finished conducting the tests and informed me that my nerves were, and I quote, “robustly healthy!” I was told I didn’t have carpal tunnel syndrome, and I reacted by staring blankly at the doctor. (In my defense, it was eight in the morning!) He added, “That’s a good thing!” and I finally managed to find my voice and say “Well, sure… except what do I have then?”
That was when I learned I have myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). It’s a chronic pain condition similar to fibromyalgia, characterized by persistent, worsening pain. However, fibro affects the entire body; MPS affects certain trigger areas or “hot spots.” In my case, those areas are the back/shoulders and forearms (including hands and wrists).
To be honest, I’m still not sure why the doctor told me having a chronic pain condition that will be with me the rest of my life–and can potentially develop into fibromyalgia with time–is preferable over carpal tunnel syndrome, which, while painful, can be resolved by surgery in most cases. (All those I’ve spoken to who had the surgery have had no problems since. Some even felt immediate relief.) MPS, on the other hand, is treated via lots of stretching, some physiotherapy, and, get this–antidepressants.
Nope, I’m not kidding. Some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications as well as some types of antidepressants are used to treat this, to which I say WTF? I know chronic pain can mess with your moods, but seriously.
So of course, now I need to look into physiotherapy, which isn’t cheap… and while I’m covered (at least until I graduate in the spring) under my dad’s work insurance plan, to do so I’ll still have to find a way to pay up front and then get reimbursed by the insurance company. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of the most basic points of the insurance plan to cover medical treatments we can’t afford on our own? Aaaaanyways.)
I for one, have more or less decided f*** it. Right now, my biggest issue is just how I’m going to pay rent, let alone physiotherapy. And since I’m going home on Christmas Eve and not coming back for a while, this whole issue can wait til the new year. Which, incidentally, I hope will be better than the last. Don’t get me wrong, 2011 could have been a lot worse to me; but it could have been a bit nicer, too.