When I first began seeing doctors for the health issues that I was having, I would have never pushed. I would have mentioned whatever was bothering me, let the doctors respond, and I’d do whatever it is that they said or recommended.
As time went on, and I felt like more and more was being brushed off, I actually gained a voice. Being silenced had the opposite effect on me than it should have. If one doctor wasn’t taking me seriously, I proceeded to the next. If another doctor only felt an x-ray was necessary and it came back that everything was normal, I pushed for the next test.
The message here is that we know our bodies best; we are the ones who have to live in them and suffer if we experience pain. A doctor can say that a test showed nothing, but ultimately, I can feel inside if something isn’t right.
Take my knees, for example. I started to have swelling in them, extreme weakness, and deep pain in both of them, right around the time of my diagnosis, and the pain hasn’t stopped since. I was told that it had to be my fibromyalgia. Nothing abnormal came back on my x-ray, the multiple times that various doctors sent me. I tried gabapentin, Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Voltaren over the course of a few years, all while the pain persisted.
Certain days, I would randomly feel throbbing pain. Other days, my knees would be weak, and I’d have to wear a support brace. Ice felt good, but it was ice–when it melted, it was nothing.
I eventually got to a point a few months ago where I told my pain management doctor that the pain would just not go away, and I explained how deep into my knee the pain went. He had already done an x-ray, so without hesitation, he told me to go get an MRI. A few days later, I received the results, and to no surprise, they actually found things going on. I felt relief at the fact that I knew something was there, and it felt like I was being validated. At the same time, I felt upset because something did show up.
Without using medical terminology, a cyst was identified in one of my knees. My doctor also told me that it showed that my knees were lacking the fluid necessary to properly move my joints. I was told that as I got older, I would develop horrible osteoarthritis if I didn’t take precautionary measures now.
Genvisc is what my doctor suggested. It’s a series of five gel injections. I go once a week to get them. Another term for these shots are “chicken shots” because that’s where they come from. The injections are actually hyaluronic acid; this is injected to replace missing joint lubricant. I began getting these right before the pandemic, but I had to take a break after shot number two when things became bad. I am going for my last shot this week.
I was told originally that these shots would last through the summer, and I would need to continue to get these. Until when? I’m guessing eternity. Have they worked? To a degree, I think slightly and slightly is better than no.
If you want to know how bad they hurt, I’ve had varying scenarios. The first injections, I passed out, and I have a very high pain tolerance. The second injection was better, but I couldn’t walk that day or the next. After the injection, it feels like your knee is so full that it could snap while walking. It’s partially numb, partially full of pain, incredibly difficult to walk on without being in pain, and although I’ll continue to get these, I wouldn’t say it’s an easy peasy little thing to get through.
By the third injection, I was expecting the worst, but that one wound up being my best. I was able to walk around a little that day, unlike the prior injections. The fourth one gave me SO much pain. I actually bruised from those injections. So, my fifth one will be a mystery, as all of the others were unpredictable.
I feel a few different emotions about all of this. Why couldn’t I have been heard the first and second and third times I complained about my knees? Why did I not hear about these gel injections until five years after my diagnosis. Why was I only presented with this type of treatment after another doctor of mine pushed for further testing? I’m not angry by any means, but the message here is to keep pushing for yourself. Keep advocating. The only person who can truly describe what’s going on is you.