Part 3: The Story Of My Diagnosis

February 2012 – September 2012

Part 2: Tailbone Shift

Around February of 2012, I decided to see another Spine Specialist (a much more senior person) to get a second opinion about my tailbone. This Doctor tried to convince me that I was imagining extra pain. That it was all in my head. He said a little bit of pain was normal, but the amount of pain that I felt was too abnormal to be true. He said people do dislocate their tailbone , but they recover  fast and the fact that I wasn’t recovering, was my problem. He increased my medication but that didn’t help either. When I said the medicines weren’t helping, his reaction was, “You say my medicines aren’t working. YOU tell me why they’re not working!”

By April 2012, my pain reached its peak. I was sick of Doctors and Physiotherpists and I was beyond sick of explaining my story and trying to justify that my pain was real. I knew that my pain was real because I felt it. I had pain shooting down my legs! My butt was hurting. I used to carry a donut cushion because each time I tried to sit, I felt the same sharp pain .It was painful to stand! It was painful to walk! No matter what I did, the pain wouldn’t leave me.

I spent a lot of time online looking for solutions. I wanted to know whether what I was experiencing was anywhere close to normal. I used to feel ridiculous about my pain, especially because my Doctors didn’t believe me. It was all messed up. Knowing that I really was in pain, and then being told “you’re imagining it” used to drive me even more insane.  I came across someone online who recommended taking corticosteroids in my tailbone. I did my research and found that many people felt instant relief after taking corticosteroids. I went back to the Spine Specialist to speak with him about it, to which he said, “You don’t need it. You’re so young! Nothing is wrong with you. You don’t need to take it. You guys! You youngsters! You think you know better than us.” I know he was much older, but I don’t think it mattered at that point. I told him that I didn’t care if he thought I didn’t need it – I WANTED it.

So I took corticosteroids in my tailbone.(http://www.medicinenet.com/corticosteroids-oral/page2.htm#for_what_conditions_are_systemic_corticosteroids_used).

Injections deep inside my tailbone. Imagine that.

He told me that it was normal if my pain increased a little bit, but in less than a week, I would feel better. One week later, I went back to him, still complaining of pain in my tailbone, lower back, butt and legs. The whole of my lower body just didn’t stop hurting. He was almost angry to see me again and said, “Didn’t I tell you that you don’t need it? Please just give it time to heal. You young people!” I told him that I was considering leaving Design School because I couldn’t deal with the pain anymore. Because I didn’t think it was possible to get through such a physically taxing course in SO MUCH PAIN. His reply to that really made me lose some respect for him. He said, “You’re giving up! So easily. Why? Just because you have pain? I don’t understand your generation you know? You guys take everything for granted. How can you leave your course so easily? You say it’s your passion and you want to give up? This is not done. People like you just don’t want to try hard enough. Just because of pain! A bit of pain!”

Deciding to leave Design School was one of the hardest decisions I took and if anyone thought that it was any where close to easy, I think they’d be very very wrong. Having a doctor tell me that I was giving up too easily was simply demoralizing. But I decided I didn’t need his opinion.

I was starting to freak out. I couldn’t tolerate my pain anymore. Life was changing too fast and I didn’t know what to do. Through all this pain, confusion, frustration and craziness, there was still something inside me that wanted to figure this out. I had a strong feeling that there was something more serious happening inside my body.

During this time, we were also speaking with other Orthopaedic surgeons over email and Skype. I consulted a couple of other surgeons in Singapore too, but they had no clue what was happening to me. I was treated like anyone with sports injury.

The only “sport” I was doing back then was to walking around my house.

Part 1 :Herniated Disc at L5-S1

A week after that, I went back to the Spine Specialist and literally DEMANDED to be sent for an MRI and X-ray. He should have sent me for the scans himself, but he wasn’t doing anything expect discouraging me.

 My scans showed that I had a herniated disc in my lower back. The Specialist said herniated discs were common and I didn’t need to worry. I just needed to continue Physiotherapy and take medications to help with the pain. I asked him WHY this was happening to me. All he said was that it happens sometimes.

It happens sometimes?

Left shoulder, tailbone and now lower back. No one knew why. Some people thought I was working out too much(or dancing too much), which just made no sense.  I could barely walk! It used to make me really angry when people said things like I was in pain because I wasn’t eating right. People started giving me all kinds of advice that I didn’t need or ask for.

I was really running out of patience.

Part 2: Herniated Disc at L5-S1

I was desperate for answers that made some sense. I needed real advice. I needed to know how to feel better. It had been a year and a half since my shoulder operation and about three years since I felt no pain. I was starting to forget what it felt like to be painless.

I went to see another Spine Specialist around June 2012. He was so upset with the amount of pain medicines (and the type) I was taking so he changed the prescriptions. He put me on nerve medications instead. I still needed painkillers and muscle relaxants along with that. He told me that there was a need to break my pain cycle. It’s not as if I didn’t know that! I needed to know HOW to do it. I needed to know WHY I was in pain and if my body was okay. I was told to start cycling (stationary) in order to strengthen my back and to watch my weight because that could make things worse. There was no way I could do any form of workout, so I did nothing. I was just constantly in pain.  Sometimes I’d find myself wondering if I was even living MY life.

Homeopathy

I saw two different Homeopaths in Singapore around that time. My parents believed that this would work so I tried.  I didn’t notice any change.

Part 3: Herniated Disc at L5-S1

In September 2012, we decided to fly to India to meet more Doctors and Specialists from Mumbai and Pune. They patiently looked at my reports and told me things I already knew by then. They  believed I was too young to be in pain. I was told I didn’t need a surgery so my next option was to take Epidural injections in my lower back. My pain was really starting to take a toll on me. I  don’t know how I was surviving through that much pain…

We must have seen about five Doctors plus another Homeopath in India.

We got back to Singapore and went over to discuss other options with the new Spine Specialist that I was seeing. He referred me to a Pain Management Specialist.

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