12 years. I have been dealing with this pain for 12 years now. From what I can remember, it started when I was a senior in high school (2007) when I was cashiering at a grocery store. It was not a constant pain, but an “every so often” sort of pain in my upper back and neck area. It was not something that occurred often enough then for me to want to go to the doctor. After Chris and I met in 2010, I was a supervisor in the lawn and garden department at Walmart; Spring and Summer being the most physically exhausting time of the year. I would spend a lot of time lifting heavy objects over my head and cashiering (which always has been an agitator for the pain).
In 2011, I finally was able to quit my job at Walmart. My mental health was in a pretty bad spot at the time. Luckily, we were able to move into Chris’ parent’s house. Around that time I finally decided this pain was annoying enough that I needed to see someone. I made an appointment with my family doctor. When I went to the appointment, I felt like he really didn’t take me seriously. He even made the comment, “you are too young to have problems” so basically he wasn’t trying to give me a workup to find a cause. He wrote it off as bursitis and prescribed me this over the door contraption.
I tried the contraption one time, but literally felt like I was trying to hang myself so I stopped using it. I was too hesitant to see another doctor for the fact that I was told I was too young to have any actual issues. For 11 years the pain progressively got worse. It became much worse when I went back to work after 6 years of being a homemaker. I remember it only took about 2 months of working before it started becoming a problem. I actually had to leave work a few times because it was hurting so bad that I couldn’t move. Most days I would just work through the pain, which honestly is probably doing more harm than anything. However, I had to do what needed to be done regardless so I just kept trying to push through. I did finally decide last Spring to see a doctor again about the pains because I didn’t want my employer thinking I was just some sort of slacker. That doctor said it was likely a pinched nerve and prescribed me a muscle spasm pill, physical therapy, massage, and using a myofascial ball. The pill did not even take the edge off my pain. I tried physical therapy for maybe a month or so, but that seemed to agitate the issue even more. In physical therapy they did a lot of massage work also, but that didn’t help. There was one day we tried to do cupping and that helped for about 2 days, but when we tried it again it made it worse. Eventually I quit going because the pain just wasn’t getting any better; especially for the price of therapy.
After getting pregnant and adding all the issues together; I finally quit that job this last March. Now, I don’t know if my month long bed rest adventure had anything to do with it or not, but since then the pain has been getting worse. Unfortunately, the doctor I had been seeing retired at the end of the year last year. Which meant that I need to establish a new primary doctor. Luckily for me they were able to get me in with another doctor to see what has changed.
At my appointment I explained to the doctor where the pain was and answered all his questions. Without hesitation he asked, “have you had any testing done on this?” I said “nope” because I knew that is what I needed to find the cause, but no one took me seriously enough. He immediately said, “well we are going to do an xray today”. He did a few resistance tests and then put the word in with the xray tech. The fun part about this was I was by myself (adult wise) with all 3 of my kids. So of course my first thought is “uhhh where will my kids be?”. I asked him if the kids are okay to come back there with me and he said it should not be a problem. I was so glad because the last thing I want to be doing is running around town with 3 kids; adding more appointments in. It can be exhausting. I lugged all 3 kids to the xray room with me. They got to stand behind the window with the tech while I got 3 xrays done. It took less than 10 minutes and they found it quite amusing.
Flash forward to today, I woke up to a voicemail from the doctor with my results.
Hurray for me. Not.
I now have an appointment with a pain specialist, they are talking about possibly doing injections. As well as taking Gabapentin.
I actually wasn’t surprised to hear about the degenerative disc disease as it does run in my family. It really makes me wonder though about the rest of my back and hips (we only did my upper back this time). Just add to my list of things to take care of. I am just glad to finally be getting answers, even if it did take 12 years.