Advocating for Your Own Health: An Invisible Pain

why advocating for your own health is so important, silent pain, chronic pain

Chronic Pain

I typically don’t talk about health and wellness over here, but wanted to share an experience that I had and the lesson that it taught me. Back in September, I came home from the gym with low back pain. I chalked it up to overdoing it a bit. The kids had gone back to school and I had been making an effort to get to the gym more frequently. But the pain persisted and worsened in the following days and weeks. I tried stretching and yoga, but it just kept getting worse. 

An orthopedic doctor ordered X-rays and an MRI which came back normal. The doctor suggested some at home exercises and told me he’d be shocked if I wasn’t better in 3 weeks. But I wasn’t. What followed has been months and months of testing, steroid injections, prescription trial and error and endless doctors appointments. I was about to learn why advocating for your own health is so important.

Why Advocating for Your Own Health is So Important

The thing with chronic pain is that, on the outside, you look fine. And I wanted to ignore it, I really did. I’m not 20, but I also felt way too young to be feeling so damn lousy. And the treatments and advice I was getting from my doctors just weren’t helping. But the worst part was I just didn’t feel like they were listening to me.

I’ve always had what I would consider to be “bad hips”. They popped when I worked out and always felt a bit on the weak side. Having 2 babies didn’t help matters. I suspected they might be the root of the problem but no one would listen. But when I was sent to a neurologist for further testing for MS and Neuropathy, I had had enough. I scheduled an appointment with an orthopaedic hip specialist who, in about 30 seconds, diagnosed me with labral tears in both hips. MRI’s confirmed this and now surgery on the right side has been scheduled. 

If you’re still reading and are curious, a labral tear is when the cartilage that surrounds the hip socket tears. It almost always requires surgery. Mine was caused by an injury from the type of exercises I was doing, but this isn’t always the case. The surgery itself is pretty straightforward but the recovery will be difficult. Mine are so severe that there isn’t much that isn’t painful. Sleeping, sitting, standing, walking, even wearing certain jeans…all painful. 

Trust Yourself and Listen to Your Body

Advocating for your own health means listening to your body. You know yourself better than any doctor, no matter how well-intentioned. My situation was made much worse by the time it took to diagnose and the painful physical therapy that further exacerbated the injury. Had I trusted my gut from the get go, I could be on the other side of this already.

I am not sharing this story for sympathy, but because it was such an eye opening experience for me that I felt the need to share. There is just no better advocate when it comes to our health, than ourselves. I’m still sorting out a long term plan but it feels good to know that there could be light at the end of the tunnel. 

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