When You Just Learn to Deal with Pain by Deneen Azzolino

Image by Gan Telya from Pixabay

As a kid growing up I’ve always had those body aches and pains. My mom always said, “they’re just growing pains” and I would just go along with it. As a teenager my knees would give out and hurt, almost constantly every single day I would be in pain.  I did soccer and cheerleading but during those activities I would just be in continuous pain.  Looking back when I use to roller-skate with friends I think that might have been the culprit with my knees. We finally went to an orthopedic doctor who did an orthopedic exploratory surgery and he said the cartilage in my knees was dissolving and there wasn’t much they could do because I was too young to have knee replacement but eventually it would come to fruition when I got older. So as always, I just went along with it and pretty much just learned to deal with the pain.

Jump to about 20 years later and now I’m in my mid 30’s still dealing with the pain and now it’s also in my back and other places.  I tried going to other doctors to see if they could help. When I told one of those doctors what the other doctor had said, they look at me like I’m an alien! I felt completely stupid and I just look at them and tell them “well, that’s what my other doctor told me!” Then they proceed to tell me there is nothing wrong and maybe physical therapy will help. It really didn’t I tried it for quiet awhile to no avail. I still had the pain and now I feel completely defeated. I ended up switching doctors and hoping for the best. You know how they say get a second opinion? I think I’m on my fifth or sixth at this point! My new doctor said he really thought I had Fibromyalgia. I had all the markers and pressure points of pain. I’m not one that likes labels but this one made me feel like I wasn’t nuts it’s not all in my head, my pain was real and someone believed me, finally! My new doctor sent me to a specialist with the hope that he could help me with my pain.  I got there feeling this is good, finally this could be the one person that can help me for the first time!  I met the doctor and he said “who said you have Fibromyalgia?” I told him “my primary care doctor” “well he’s wrong, you don’t! “ he proceeded to tell me I didn’t have pain in all the pressure point areas. I was totally in shock! So what now? He said he would send me to a pain clinic and they can do shots in my back and knees. I went along with it as always and I did the shots and they lasted for a few months, maybe if I was lucky. Never in my life have a felt so defeated. You honestly get exhausted from being in pain all the time.

For most of my life I have dealt with body pain and heard so many different diagnoses. I’ve been to physical therapy so many times I’ve lost count. One of the things I always hear is to keep moving. Try doing this or try doing that. One thing people don’t understand is, when you are in pain all the time you are exhausted from it all and when you try to go on a walk or try other exercises you end up in pain. You end up feeling that pain for days afterwards. I have gone for walks, not even a super long walk, maybe a mile. The following day I can’t move. My hips will hurt so bad that I would have to use a cane to get around my house. I feel like a little old lady.   I finally have a new primary care doctor, I’ve actually had her for a couple of years before she left the practice we were at and she opened her own and we followed her there. At last years physical I was talking to her about the aches and pain and how long I’ve dealt with them and to be very honest how exhausting it was always dealing with it . I told her about the situation with the fibromyalgia specialist. One thing she brought up was that at the time of seeing the specialist I might not have been in a flare up and wasn’t hurting in those areas at that time. She thought maybe sending me to a rheumatologist specialist might be the next step. So we are off to another specialist with new hopes.

When I met the specialist of course he asked my history and says you’ve been dealing with this for a long time and I said yes. I almost want to scream, “ Please help me!!”  He ran a bunch of blood test and also put me on some medication. I was to see him in six weeks. During that time the medication didn’t help. I felt awful on it. I went back to see him six weeks later and told him how I was feeling. He pretty much said that my blood work looked for the most part ok and that I had Fibromyalgia and that there wasn’t much he could do because the medication that he put me on was what they would use in this type of case.  I honestly left there and was crying. I looked at my husband Mark and said, “ what do I do now?” In the past I had researched acupuncture and heard many good things about it and he said, “why don’t you find an acupuncturist that takes our insurance and try it!” I went home and stated looking. I found a place only 25 minutes from home and was able to have an appointment the following week. To be honest, I was cautiously optimistic. With all the disappointment I’ve had in the past I was so afraid to actually think this might help but I never wanted anything to work as much as I wanted this to! I went to the appointment and they handy me this paper with a person on it and for me to mark all the places where I had my pain. I put little x’s all over that picture of the body.  She looked at it and said “ I really think I can help you!” That was the first time in my fifty-six years of being alive that I felt a rush of relief go over my body! I wanted to cry but for the first time it was a cry of joy not of pain and frustration! That same day I was laying face down on a table and she was putting pins up and down my back and shoulders. I even had a few on the top of my head. I laid there for twenty minutes and just relaxed. The pins did not hurt at all, which I was worried about. When she came back in and took the pins out and rubbed me down, she asked how I felt? I felt relaxed the pain felt almost lessened. I don’t know if it was because I felt I finally had found someone who could help me or if those little pins actually were doing something. After a few months of going to acupuncture I can truly say those little pins were doing something. It was amazing! I told my primary care doctor about it and she said when she was in medical school and they had acupuncture classes they would fill up instantly. When you look at the theory behind acupuncture and how long it’s been around it’s absolutely amazing.

Acupuncture has been around for 3,000 years. You can’t be around that long and not have some success! What acupuncture does is helps stimulate the nervous system which releases endorphins, norepinephrine, and enkephalin. These chemicals then are released into your muscles, spinal column and your brain. This all helps in relieving your pain. I know a lot of doctors including my rheumatologist specialist thinks it’s all pseudoscience but if it is all in my head and it’s making the pain go away, so be it! From what I felt with all those specialist I was seeing, they made me feel like all the pain I was saying I was in was all in my head too! This is one thing I can tell you, I do feel so much better since I’ve started going. There are days when I go in and I tell her how my neck has been killing me and by my second appointment I will have full range of my neck again. I even have my husband going. He has diabetes and has neuropathy. He’s told me that it has gotten better since he’s started going. I’m not saying that this is a cure all for everyone. It may work for some and not for others.  I’m just giving my opinion on what finally worked for me. I still get my aches and my pains but at least I know that there is finally something I can do about it.