My Journey With Chronic Pain and Fatigue
I still remember when I was just tiptoeing through chronic pain and the journey I took getting to the point where I was completely submerged in chronic pain and fatigue. At first I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and, for two decades, I spent my life trying to manage a disease I didn’t have.
With every excruciating step it felt as if every bone in my feet were brittle sticks being broken at every step as well as catching fire like kindling. My calves felt so tight it seemed as though they would snap with every stride. I had to rally every ounce of will power to make the next step forward. With every bone crushing step forward I was one piercing pain closer to crawling on my knees.
Back in 1984, I was excelling as a salesman at a home improvement store. I was the leading in store salesman and occasionally the regional sales person of the month. After I decided to go to the doctor about the pain, it took six months and three or four doctors before ending up with a Rheumatologist diagnosing me with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). Given the time period and the symptoms, it was as good a diagnosis they could make.
Chronic pain wasn’t really, to my knowledge, recognized as an issue or a diagnosis. At least not with the community of doctors I was around. I read a lot of literature about managing arthritis. One of the things I read was that there are a lot of unscrupulous quacks out there preying on those who suffer pain from various types of arthritis. They make outlandish claims about treatments that will take away your arthritis or manage it completely pain free. People are so desperate that they will pay any amount of money at a shot of relieving the pain they are going through.
My treatment was primarily an anti-inflammatory and when needed, Tylenol. Other than flare ups from time to time through those two decades, the treatment worked. Occasionally my doctors would update my anti-inflammatory as a new one came along. Occasionally they would give me steroids for flare up pain.
During those years I got married and a few years later started having children capping off with three adorable girls. I had a great job and things were going well in spite of the occasional flare up, where pain would come from the front my pelvis and hip region. The pain was exquisite, but fairly short lived. Usually two or three days tops.
In the fall of 2004, I had reached a climax of pain. It was at that time period, about the time the Vioxx was taken off the market, that my pain started to flare up and transitioned into severe chronic pain and chronic fatigue. Only this time, the pain was twenty times worse than in 1984. I was virtually paralyzed with pain. Thank goodness for a recliner. My back hurt too badly to lie prone all day, and I couldn’t sit all day long without raging pain. So with a recliner I could move into many positions to try to relieve that infernal chronic pain. A heating pad seemed to help some of the time.
I was skipping around from doctor to doctor like a flat stone skips on the water only to have my hope of a diagnosis sink like the flat stone sinks, into the deep cold water of pain and misery. My body was a prison of pain that I didn’t have the strength to escape.
I spent more than a year with chronic pain before I found another Rheumatologist who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. Great diagnosis. The problem was symptomatic of the times, around 2005. Some doctors were generally understanding the syndrome, but at the same time, generally lacking the ability to treat it. So with a correct diagnosis and no treatment I was right back where I started from, the only difference was, now I had a name to call my suffering.
After that diagnosis, it took two or three additional doctors before I started to get treatments that worked. The doctor that finally came through for me was Dr. George. He was a pain doctor who specialized in treating chronic pain. Several months later I found a ND who added to my diagnoses several additional illnesses like Epstein Bahr Virus and Cytomegalovirus along and Chronic Fatigue syndrome. After about three or four months, my pain started to improve and the other symptoms improved somewhat, but I was still lousy with pain and other symptoms, but now with a correct diagnosis and a couple of treatment protocols, I finally had hope to face the future with chronic pain and fatigue. It wasn’t smooth sailing, but at least there is hope and less pain and fatigue. Sadly, the pain, fatigue and additional symptoms will not allow me to work as I once did, and that’s where I find myself now.
Troy Wagstaff ©