Painful

I write on here a lot, about my mental health. How I deal with my anxiety and depression. It’s not the only health issues I have, though.

I have had muscular problems since I was at primary school. Nothing serious. But I would take my dog a walk, where she would pull on her lead, and my arm would ache, afterwards. I would get sore hands for carrying heavy school bags. I would go to the doctor, and like most things when you are a child or teenager, hormones were apparently to blame. I then worked in a bakery, as my first real job. Did it for about 4 years, and would have awful pains in my hands and elbows. At this point, the doctor’s diagnosis changed from ‘hormones’ to ‘tendonitis’. And they just gave me ‘prescription only’ strength Ibuprofen.

The pains never went away. But, I always got the impression I was an annoyance, so I stopped going to the doctor unless it became unbearable. I am also deeply aware that this is when my mental health became a big player. And my anxious brain tells me everything that I do, is a waste of time. So I would always talk myself out of calling for help. I would just manage it myself, with hot showers and baths, and buy off the shelf basic painkillers. Nothing would ‘take the pain away’ but it took the ‘heat’ off a bit.

As I have got older, the pain has got worse. A lot worse. Focusing around my feet, ankles, and hands. So, I was recommended by my work’s Occupational health department, to try again with the GP. I did, and I eventually got a referral to a rheumatologist, as rheumatoid arthritis is a big problem in my family. I finally felt I was getting somewhere. I had the initial appointment, with x-rays, scans, and a complete head-to-toe check. The rheumatologist believed that I definitely had signs of arthritis, as there was some deformation in my ankle, and concerns about my hands too. Great. He would get in contact for the next appointment.

Except, with COVID, I never heard anything. I phoned the rheumatology department, and no answer. I left messages, and no one got back. I called my GP, and they said my referral was still with the hospital. My anxious mind, once again gets involved, and lets me know that if it was really serious, they would help me. So, once again, I found myself really struggling to call up. So I found an email address for rheumatology, and I emailed them. Explained I had been trying to contact them, but had nothing. And it was they who were supposed to contact me. After 2 weeks I had a message left on my answering machine on my mobile phone. The message explained that because I had only had my first appointment, and no follow-ups. Too much time had lapsed. I had been referred back to my GP.

I was in my car. In the Tesco car park. Crying. Properly in bits. I felt like, after the best part of a year, I was back at square one. And things were getting worse. My shoulders have been agony for the last 7-8 weeks. I haven’t been able to sleep, and nothing seems enough to get referred again. I am exhausted.

Sometimes I think, because I work, because I try to push through it. I am treated as if my problems aren’t serious. My mental health is better when I work, as it is the only routine I can keep. And for a lot of my pains, being physical, actually loosens my sore joints, and helps with pain. Until I stop, and everything ceases up again. Sometimes it can take 25 minutes for me to get dressed, because my movement is so restricted because of the pain.

I barely have the energy to go to work. I struggle through my job. I am just very fortunate that my management, and the folk I work with, try to understand and help when I am having problems, be it mentally or physically.

I am at the point where I have tried 4 weeks before I was able to get a GPs appointment, and they just gave me stronger pain killers. She actually said to me ‘would you like a sick line, that might help you be seen quicker’. Why? Because your problem is thought of as serious when you are unable to work. How ridiculous does that sound?

Every day feels like a ‘no bones day’ or a day where I am running on half spoons. I am so exhausted all the time.

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