My personal experience with the American healthcare system has been one with many flaws. I have suffered with chronic pain and dysfunction (poor movement patterns) for almost 4 years and only recently, after finding the correct practitioner and treatment, have I finally been able to return to my normal activities.
Like many women, I wear many hats. I am a: Full time employee; wife; mom; outdoor enthusiast; but once I started having pain in my neck, shoulder, and hand I was barely able to get myself out of bed in the morning. This pain was so unbearable, I was unable to play with my daughter, work out, do my job, or have any fun in life. I would spend many nights with some whiskey ( I normally don’t drink) and Netflix just to make it through a night. I still had this desire to be myself again – active and care for all responsibilities. But due to the pain, I was failing at all of them.
Thus, my lack of living and the pain started my search for answers. In total, I have seen approximately 10 different doctors ranging from my primary care doctor to esteemed specialists at John Hopkins. I have 4 MRIs in my file now so I guess that is good if I ever need to cross reference something in the future. The sad part about my situation is none of the doctors truly listened, or heard, what I was telling them (Seems to be all too common). Many of them wrote me off completely and one even convinced me it was all psychological and I spent a brief period of time getting biofeedback treatments with a psychologist just because I was so desperate to find something – anything that would make me better again.
I did find something unexpected in my search for relief through my experience with PEAK Physical Therapy. As a patient, they took the time to listen to me and actually believed that I had an injury and always strived to help me try to figure out what was wrong. For some reason the owner, Sasha, took a liking to me and I was able to quit my stressful job and start working at PEAK Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy helped lessen the pain but I, and they, knew there was something still wrong and we had not determined the true reason for my pain. With the lessened pain, I still wasn’t able to return playing with my daughter or doing the things I loved such as biking and kayaking. I never gave up on my quest for “The Answer.” Neither did they.
I finally went to a doctor in DC who was doing ultrasound on my neck and I convinced him to look at my finger as well. I had complained about this issue to many doctors before but always ignored me. Kudos to this Doctor as he took the extra time to honor my request and saw some abnormalities there. After that discovery, it was all uphill. He suggested that I should go see a hand specialist. I went to a hand surgeon and found out that I had a tumor that was removed with surgery. And after a short recovery of time and rehab, I am fully recovered.
Though, this experience was horrible I do feel it has made me more understanding of the clients I work with in the clinic. I try to make sure patients feel they are able to express how they are feeling to include physical/mental well-being. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had given up at any point and just lived with the pain. It was a very stressful and painful road but I am so happy that I can finally play with my daughter and be the active person that I always was before this issue arose.
Final Thought: Don’t Give Up! If you have pain or problems with not moving well causing you to miss out on the beautiful things which life has to offer…don’t stop searching for the answer. It may not be a perfect answer, but, at least come away with an answer that you know that someone has taken the time to listen to you, heard you, and tried to help solve & correct. Hope my story inspires you! Wishing you all the best and hope to see you out on the trails, water, and/or outdoors!