Thursday, April 18, 2013

When a Doctor Tells You "It's All In Your Head"

A cord struck with me when I was surfing today and I feel a huge need to post this.  I'd like to apologize to my avid readers because a good part of this post will reiterate things I've said in the past on this blog, and in my books, but after all the current talk about a recent study on Fibromyalgia, and it possibly being a Psychosomatic disorder, I have to rehash this along with a few other things that are new to you.

In the past 40 years of my life I have seen 1 pediatrician, 1 family doctor, and 4 general practitioners as my regular care physicians.  Some of them were very good, some of them were okay, and some of them had such a horrible bed-side manner that they would put House to shame.  To be honest, 50% of the doctors I've seen on a regular basis believed that Fibromyalgia was an actual illness with actual symptoms and 50% of the doctors I saw thought I had some type of Psychosomatic disorder. 

I literally had a doctor tell me that my blinding headaches were "all in my head".  This doctor who had known me as a patient for quite some time based this on a blood pressure and heart checkup and not a cat scan.  Now granted, that might be okay if I had exhibited any signs of a Psychosomatic disorder prior to this visit, but I did not.  Here's why.

I was the perfect patient.  I never complained about anything-- not even to my parents.  Why?  Because I have been bombarded with opposition 50% of the time.  Half the time someone would understand my pain and that I shouldn't have it at a young age, and half the time I'd get, "Well EVERYBODY gets aches and pains-- even at 13."  That was the explanation I got when I said my knee still hurt months after my sprain healed.

At 5 I was asked, "Why can't you just sit still?" and I tried very hard to oblige, but my legs had very poor circulation.  My legs would "fall asleep" and I had a really hard time getting up from a cross-legged position on the floor even way back then.  Sitting in a seat was also difficult.  I felt stiff constantly throughout the day.  I thought this was normal so I never spoke of it. 

Sleep was also another huge problem.  My mother hated trying to put me to bed because I just wouldn't sleep as a baby.  That carried on into adolescence, my teenage years, and adulthood.  During my adolescence and teen years when I was still living with my parents, I'd wake up at least 3-4 times a night.  Sometimes it was because I just woke up, other times it was from a vivid dream or nightmare, and still other times it was because I was sick.  During these times, even if I had a stomach bug, I tried very hard NOT to wake my parents. 

I didn't do this because I thought my parents didn't care, quite the contrary, they were loving parents growing up, I personally didn't wake them up because I knew they both worked hard and needed their sleep.  I figured if I were sick with some type of bug at night, I'd certainly be sick in the morning, and that's when we can both deal with it. 

As far as nightmares, I learned at a young age to deal with those by trying to change the outcome WHILE the nightmare is happening.  It's not an easy process, it takes a lot of practice to do, because nightmares are terrifying, but it is possible to change the outcome.  Freddy Krueger beware.  I, like Nancy, know the secret.

During my college years, I was pushed socially.  I didn't blossom into a social creature until then.  I missed all the high school parties because I was too shy.  A part of my life that I regret. 

At 17, and a Junior in high school, I was invited to an "exclusive" popular party by a friend.  He and I worked together at the same grocery store and he was a Sophomore.  He wanted me to come because he wanted me to be his date.  I knew that, I really did, but I was a chicken in high school.  I didn't want to drink or do drugs and I naively thought that someone would pressure me to do it, so in turn, I ran for the hills EVERY time I was asked to go to a party.

I liked him, though.  I actually really liked him, so I made an excuse that I couldn't go because I'd be in NY with family.  He bought it and probably because he knew I never lied.  I just couldn't do it.  And that was the first time I had ever felt bad in my life about lying.  I have never done it since.  I'm now blunt when I need to be. 

Something happened that night with him and I wasn't there to help stop it.  My friend Jimmie died.  He drank, got into a car, rolled it over three times, and leveled two trees.  His best friend, who was in the passenger side, was ejected from the car and suffered a broken leg, but he lives with this terror daily.

Me?  I live with the guilt of what if?  What if sucks because there is no what if.  I now truly believe that.  If Jimmie was supposed to still be here, he would be.  But he's not.  He left to help me, and many, many other people realize that driving drunk is deadly.

I may sometimes think of the what if, but if Jimmie didn't teach me that valuable lesson at 17, I could have never saved Brian at 21.  Brian was a mutual friend of my bestie, Steve.  Steve and I were inseparable.  We were like Mutt and Jeff.  He was 6'6" and I was 5'5" (actually I'm 5'4 and 3/4 but the DMV made me taller because they don't have the technology to use 3/4 so they gave me the 1/4 of an inch LOL! so I say I'm 5'5).  We completed each other's sentences.  We were that close. 

Brian was his friend and Steve introduced me.  I liked Brian, but Brian liked to drink, and from what I could see, a lot.  But Brian had hobbies.  One was pool.

A girl can tell a lot about a guy who plays pool, just by the way he handles his stick.  If he only hits the shots hard, he's too much of control-freak for you to bother with.  If he's wild, watch out, he may want you to be crazy with him.  But if he can hit a shot with the precise amount of pressure it needs, whether that is hard or light, he's worth getting to know.  Brian was worth getting to know. 

On one particular night, I noticed Brian completely on his game.  He didn't miss a shot until he ordered his last beer and it was the end of the night.  And when he missed that, it was really off.  I could tell.  It was at that point that I asked my bestie to get his keys.  He wasn't driving, not on my watch. 

Brian, as I knew him to be due to his pool, was a perfect gentleman.  He would not search me for his keys.  I'm not saying he went with me blindly, he fought.  He thought he was fine and he knew he needed to be for his Grandma, the one he lived with.  In fact, he fought so hard he angrily asked why I'd do this to him.  You can imagine my reaction.  Yup, went there.  I said, and I quote, "Because I already lost one friend and NOT I'm losing another!"

I drove him home and not only saved him that night, but from what I had learned, a few.  He decided to quit drinking after I drove him home.  He thanked me two days later, and it was beyond sincere.  He actually couldn't look me in the eye.  I know that I struck a nerve with him then, but I unfortunately lost touch, so I can't add to the story here.  It ends.

My life, however, did not.  I've had to deal with a lot more.  I've dealt with more death, abuse, date rape from an almost complete stranger, a car accident, work harassment from a male, work harassment from a female, harassment from two college professors, I've had people steal from me, my mom is sick with Alzheimer's, my Grandma is bedridden due to Polio, I care give for both along with my own kids.  My oldest is dealing with a priest that abused a child (not her thankfully) but it is still traumatic for her. 

I know I forgot some of the traumatic events in my life, I can't remember all of them for this post, and I don't mean to sit here and write a laundry list of what has happened to me to explain my pain away, yet, that's what some people think Fibro is.  They think we can just lift our pains in life away and get better by looking at our pain Psychosomatically.

I don't completely knock that-- don't get me wrong.  I can meditate like a Tibetan Monk and eliminate some of my pain, like them, but I can't do all of it.  I need help, just like the rest of us.  And I refuse to believe that I'm just too much of empathic entity like some of the study hint at, that I'm fighting with my body mentally. 

We as a society can empathize with a cancer patients, someone with depression, or even schizophrenia.  We get it because it's a documented disease.  Something happens to the brain or body where it deteriorates.  But Fibromyalgia, even though it's been documented in the Bible, is looked at STILL in circles, as a "thing in our heads".  And this JUST NEEDS TO STOP because it's not just in our heads.  It's part of us.  We were born this way.  Our DNA makes us suscepitble to this sort of thing-- nothing more.  

We aren't a case for just the psychiatrists to deal with.  We are complex.  We have a disease.  We may need a chiropractor, a psychiatrist or psychologist, a general practitioner, a rheumatologist, and possibly an herbalist.  Why?  Because our disease isn't studied enough at this point to even know which way we should go.

We are no different than the Polio, Cancer, Alzheimer, Depression, or the Schizophrenia patient.  We just happen to have a disease that everyone wants to label as nothing but "all in our head" because they can't fix it right now.  Is that right-- no-- BUT IT STILL HAPPENS.  DON'T think it doesn't.

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley
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