Don't Dismiss My Psoriatic Pain!

I recently went to the emergency room with pain that I could no longer tolerate. Nothing I did was enough. The pain was similar to the pain that doctors have refused to do anything about in the past.

I worried that they would also dismiss my current pain. Sadly, instead of proving me wrong, they proved me right.

Assessing pain from psoriatic arthritis

While this pain was familiar, it was also very different. Different enough that I had hoped they would be able to figure out what was wrong.

I do not treat my chronic pain with prescription medication. I am not in the emergency room all the time asking for pain relief. In fact, until last year, it had been two years since I had stepped foot into an ER for anything regarding my own health.

If it hadn’t been for a car accident and then later taking a tumble while power walking, I wouldn’t have gone at all last year.

Pain, pain and more pain

The triage nurse and attending doctor suspected that the pain was from my gallbladder or possibly pneumonia. Although we all agreed pneumonia was unlikely, it wouldn’t hurt to have a chest x-ray along with an ultrasound to look at my gallbladder.

The ultrasound was a hellish experience. The tech dug her wand deep into my ribcage forcing tears to pour out of my eyes. I had to wait two hours for pain medication because that is how long it took for them to put me in a bed. Not that receiving it earlier would have mattered as it didn’t decrease my pain in the slightest.

When the doctor finally came to my stall, I expected an examination and an explanation for my pain. Instead, he stood in the doorway and said that the tests didn’t show anything wrong, that he was releasing me, and that I needed to lose weight.

When frustration set in

Do I need to lose weight? Yes! But that is not what was causing the pain that made me submit to going to the place I despise. I refused to accept his answer and pressed him to figure out what was going on. Instead, he began going over diet plans.

I am not proud of my reaction. I said things that I shouldn’t have said. However, sending me home in more pain than I had arrived in was way worse than any of the words that flew out of my mouth. Even my nurse, who couldn’t do anything to override him, knew he was wrong.

Before I left, she whispered for me to call patient services and beg to see another physician. And that is exactly what I did.

Finally feeling heard

After 30 minutes of sobbing on the phone with a representative from my insurance, I had acquired an appointment for the following morning. This time the gloves were off. I was not leaving until I had an answer.

Call it luck or divine intervention, but someone was looking out for me that morning. I was scheduled to see a retired doctor who only saw patients that regular staff didn’t have time for.

He did what should have been in the emergency room. First, he looked over all the test results from the ER. Then he talked with me, listened to me, and performed a physical examination. The attending ER doctor never laid a finger on my body.

Don't let your pain get dismissed

When he was finished, he gave his diagnosis. I had multiple broken ribs. I asked how he came to that conclusion when the ER didn’t. His response was that there are too many doctors who rely on test results alone. Had someone in the ER listened to what I had to say, looked at the results, and performed a physical exam, they too would have come to his diagnosis.

The x-ray clearly showed an abnormally high level of inflammation that should have been further explored. Instead, it was ignored.

Moral of the story: Never give up fighting for a diagnosis. Never. Trust your instincts. If you suspect something is wrong, don't be afraid to pitch a fit and demand that you be seen by someone else.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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