Since we have been focusing on health I think we also need to talk about advocating for our health.
If you are a woman*, you know that this means you have to advocate for your health.
Going to the doctor can be stressful because we are often not listened to and treated as though we are overreacting.
A couple of years ago I was in a car accident. My car was written off and I was left with lower back injuries that increased in pain every day. Instead of getting better, I got worse.
In my professional life, I’m a strong advocate. In my personal life, I don’t like to do this. But my back injury left me facing my biggest hurdle: advocating for myself.
I was going to doctor appt after doctor appt: telling them that the pain is getting worse. After many appts, I convinced my doctor to get me a referral to a specialist, which was set for months down the road.
By this point, I had troubles waking up in the morning due to the pain.
It would take me a long time to sit up and work towards a stand, which was basically me hunched over, holding onto the dresser, breathing through the pain, hoping I won’t wet myself before I could make it to the toilet. I would slowly get ready and hobble my way to the car. After sitting in the car I would have to continue to breathe through my pain before starting the car and driving to work.
Yes, I still went to work. Mainly because I was told I needed to keep moving. And secondly, I couldn’t really afford not to as I was also working on my Masters degree. My accident was in January. By the summer, I couldn’t stand up straight. The pain was so overwhelming I thought I was losing my mind.
I saw the specialist and as soon as he asked me why I was there, I could barely talk through the tears. He told me that I needed a MRI and to see a surgeon. I was on the verge of a complete breakdown, but I was told to keep working and keep moving.
Meanwhile. I finished my Masters and started a full time job. Finally, I was scheduled for the MRI 6 months later and for an appt with a surgeon for a year later.
It was at this point that I knew I wasn’t going to last another year, let alone 6 months. I was taking it day by day. And near the end of August, I walked away from work because I was hunched right over, having tunnel vision due to the pain and absolutely losing it. The pain was so great I couldn’t think. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t. I went to the doctor and I was given Morphine and offered methadonefor pain management. I declined the methadone. (I know way too much about it to accept it.) So, I took the morphine. It made me sleep but unfortunately did not kill the pain.
Thankfully I had a good lawyer, who was able to somehow convince the insurance company that paying to see the surgeon privately and for an MRI privately was the best option.
This moment changed everything.
I knew it was bad. By this point I had a dropped foot with no feelings below my ankle. It felt like bugs crawling on my skin and I wasn’t able to stand up straight. I wasn’t seeing straight, was on meds that weren’t working, and was hanging on by a thread.
I stopped checking in the doctors to give them the insurance information/updates and started to tell them I need help now.
And, no amount of rehab was going to change anything.