Breaking Down Barriers

Digital Painting made by me

After seeing the doctor who didn’t believe me, I tried ignoring the pain I was feeling. I felt so stupid for going to the doctor for no reason so many times. I tried to shift my focus.

When I started college, I went to the gym less and less. I didn’t have to keep up with the tough gym class in my High School anymore. Whenever I would work out one day, I would suffer for two more days after that. Eventually, it just wasn’t worth it anymore. I stopped working out altogether. I gave up myself.

I originally went to college for radiology, but I found a passion for art (mostly during High School, but especially during College). I changed my major to Fine Arts. Art was a big release for me in general. When I was drawing or painting, I wasn’t thinking about my pain. There was one teacher that told me that I would crawl into my drawing if I could. We drew in Charcoal and I would always leave that class covered in it. 

It was in my art major that I found my saving, and I didn’t know it at the time. Yes, art itself did save me in some way, but it was a girl named Anne in one of my design classes, who really led me to the path of recovery. Anne was (and is) an inspiration to me in general. She is extremely talented and strong in a way that most people are not. 

One day before class, Anne was talking about her struggle with pain management. She had her own battle, which is not for me to speak about, but she spoke about it with perseverance. I don’t recall now, whether she was talking to me or to someone else. It was many years ago that this took place, but I do remember asking her about it some more. I mentioned my own pain, with some hesitance. I thought maybe she won’t believe me either, but she did. Anne looked at me sternly and told me to trust my body. She told me that if something is hurting me, I have to take care of it. I told her about my hesitation with going to the doctors because so far no one was willing to help. Anne assured me that I would find someone that would. I smiled and agreed and we went about our day.

I think Anne doesn’t remember this conversation that we had because it was just a regular conversation, but to me it was life changing. I started to allow myself to believe that the pain I was feeling was real. I wasn’t confident enough to go to the doctor yet, but at least I had taken my first step.

In 2015 I was done with my Associate’s Degree and I was working on my Bachelor’s degree. I was up on my feet a lot more and at this point, the pain was becoming to affect most of my daily activities. There were days when even throwing my leg over my bed to get on or off, would leave me in a fatal position with tears in my eyes. The cold weather was creeping up on us, and the colder it got, the more pain I felt. It wasn’t about activities anymore – I couldn’t even fall asleep. Finally, I was fed up. 

I went to my mom with tears in my eyes. “I can’t sleep! My hip hurts me so much that I can’t even sleep anymore! I can’t be making this up! I’m not stressed about anything… well, other than this hip. I need help! If this is all in my head, I have to do something about it. I can’t keep living this way!”

My mom looked at me with compassion in her eyes. She thought for a little while and then she looked through her contacts and she gave me the name to a specialist she saw for her ACL transplant. “Listen, he may not specialize in hips, but maybe he will lead you to someone who can help you.” I called and I made an appointment.

The day of my visit came. My stomach twisted and turned as I walked into the office. They handed me an iPad to fill out my forms. Whoa, fancy, I thought to myself. I looked at the questions. “On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being extremely difficult, how would you rate these daily activities?” The listed activities included walking, running, taking the stairs, sitting, getting up from sitting, getting in and out of a tub, etc. I found myself using the numbers 4 and 5 a lot. I tried to be as honest as possible without exaggerating because I thought if I put 5 for everything, they won’t believe me either. 

Finally, they took me into the exam room. Everyone so far was being really nice, but my stomach was still filled with knots. The Medical Assistant came in and introduced himself. He explained that he was a student in NYU and he was going to be asking me some questions before the doctor comes in. Slowly, I started explaining the pain I felt as nonchalantly as I possibly could. “Sometimes when I run it feels like my hip locks or something, I’m not really sure, but when it unlocks it hurts a lot. I told many doctors, but none of them found anything significant so here I am.” I was looking at my hands and shifting nervously.

“Oh, I know what the problem is!” I freeze and look up at the Medical Assistant, who suddenly looks like an Angel to me, “You most likely have a torn labrum in your hip. Your hip isn’t locking, that’s your leg popping out and back in. Obviously I have to ask the doctor what he thinks, but I’m pretty sure he will agree with me and send you for some testing.” I’m pretty sure I didn’t take more than a breath throughout the whole time this guy was talking. He went on about how he had that same thing and it was a very easy procedure and it helped him a lot. He then left the room to get the doctor. I sat there looking around the room, trying to fathom what just happened. 

The doctor came in and also introduced himself. He said he agreed with the MA’s diagnosis and he was getting a referral ready for an MRI ready. He immediately said that if the MRI results come back confirming a labrum tear, he is referring me to a specialist who will be able to help me. 

I left the doctor’s office feeling a hundred pounds lighter. I cried, I laughed, I processed my emotions. Yes, I was told that something is wrong with my leg… but someone believed me! Someone believed what I said AND they gave me a solution! I was ready to face the world.

To Be Continued…

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