- CASE FILE
Medical Mess-- Constant, untreated pain; Mental health chaos; Very few answers
ABOUT THIS CASE FILE
I kind of joke that I turned 18 and my health tanked, but that's essentially what happened. A knee injury, nerve pain due to a brain malformation, aseptic meningitis, kidney stone, gallstone, a severe ulnar nerve injury, and constant, untreated abdominal pain have plagued me for about a decade. My mental health isn't great, on top of depression and anxiety, borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder were batted around as potential diagnoses, but nothing concrete. I have an incredibly difficult time sleeping, staying awake for 4 straight days once, regardless of attempts to sleep. On top of all this, I seem to have a certain tolerance or resistance to most medications, making treatments incredibly difficult.
Several years ago, I started dealing with a sharp, unceasing pain in the upper left quadrant of my abdomen, right under the ribs. There seems to be no cause for this, my doctors have tried just about every test they can think to try, and everything has been negative. There have been brief periods where it seems to have faded for a while, but it always comes back, and is often crippling. I have had a 5.5mm kidney stone on my right side, and I've recently been diagnosed with gallstones (so my gallbladder will probably be coming out soon), but nothing on the left side has ever been diagnosed.
I was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation with syringomyelia back in 2010, and it was treated then. Chiari is a malformation of the cerebellum where it sits too low on the exit of the skull, and in my case, it caused a cyst (syrinx) to form in my spinal cord, about mid-throat. (I forgot which vertebrae it is.) I have dealt with moderate to severe head and neck pain since the surgery in 2010, including a case of aseptic meningitis directly after the surgery. I saw a chiropractor for the neck pain, and it seems I have a whiplash injury as well.
Many of my joints - more than is perhaps appropriate for a 28 year old - either have lingering injuries, or have issues. As previously mentioned, my neck and shoulders are constantly tight and hurting, my left elbow recently required surgery to relocate my ulnar nerve (and some nerve issues are steadily healing), my lower back feels like two vertebrae are grinding against each other, the kneecap of my left knee is loose (according to one doctor), and I've had constant issues with my left ankle. Most of my joints feel like they want to crack all the time, like if I could crack them, I would get rid of a lot of pain.
Between the pain in my abdomen, my neck, and whatever joints are acting up that day, I am constantly physically exhausted, but I find it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. My current 'record' is 4 straight days awake. Due to whatever tolerance or resistance I have to medication, it is incredibly difficult to rely on medication for help, as my body seems to metabolize them very quickly to the point where they no longer help. One option is stronger medication, which obviously, most doctors are VERY reluctant to prescribe. Recently, when I do sleep, it's in excess of twelve hours (more often than not), whether high medication doses are involved or not. Being tired makes everything else worse, and it's just a vicious cycle of trying to deal with everything.