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So.. my recent problem.. how do you treat pain when you can’t get the cause diagnosed properly?

Sure, I could just live on Tylenol, but I’d really rather not thanks, that has side effects of its own. I will admit that I’m taking OTC NSAID's daily at the moment, at least in the evenings when it gets overwhelming. The problem is one that started last fall. I went to the ER, the doctor said it’s probably a pinched nerve in my neck but he wanted me to see a specialist and get an MRI.  In order to do that I had to see my PCP and get a referral from them because the Medicaid HMO I was on wouldn't honor a referral from the ER.

By the time I got to my doctor and got that referral, there was two weeks left before my Medicaid re-up would go through. So, the insurance company delayed oking the MRI that the specialist wanted before I saw him. The PCP kept trying to push it through; they kept denying it, and changing the reasons for the denial. What we didn't know at that point was that the State was also denying me Medicaid and changing it to medically needy, which of course wouldn't cover anything I needed to have done, or at least make scheduling impossible because it’s approved on a month to month basis after you've already met your ‘buy in’ amount. I've also discovered that they send you the letter saying you’re approved for the month and can use your Medicaid usually the day before the end of the month, so it’s essentially useless.

WYFP is our community's Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here. Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?

Fast forward to present day. I still have problems with my neck and shoulders. Daily. My neck ‘crunches’ when I turn my head. My shoulder muscles swell and lock up every day. By evening I’m in so much pain I’m often nauseous and unable to eat, or I just pick. I also usually have one humdinger of a headache at the base of my skull. I spend a lot of my evenings now in the recliner in front of the TV because I can’t stand sitting in my computer chair any longer, too much pain, not enough support. The pressure on my neck and back from the recliner hurts as well, but at least the muscle strain eases some along the way.

Here’s the most frustrating part. There are things I can do to help this. I have a degree as an occupational therapy assistant. I can think of several things I could do to minimize or help heal this, depending what is causing it. The problem is, that the cure for one could make the other worse. The fact that my spine is affected and possibly a source of the problem stays my therapeutic hand without a firm diagnosis. Sure, I apply heat to the shoulder to help that, and do some simple ROM exercises which help with the muscle strain involved. But I can’t do anything concerning my neck without knowing a cause. It could be a pinched nerve as the ER doctor postulated. It could be a deteriorating disk. It could be arthritic narrowing of the spine. It could be vertebrae out of alignment. It could be a combination of the above.

My only real hope is that we will be covered in January when Obama Care starts in force. My only real hope of that is a change in government in this State, as right now they’ve denied Medicaid expansion and we’re well under the 133% so I don’t know what’s going to happen with that yet. I intend to explore my options in October when the exchanges open up. Even so, that’s 7 months until I can even get this looked at. 7 months of increasing pain and potentially life changing damage in my cervical spine that I can do nothing about. I suppose I could go back to the ER if it gets bad enough, but they’ll probably just send me around in helpless circles once more. The ER after all isn’t a solution for chronic conditions, despite what Republican talking points say.

That’s MFP, what’s yours?

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