I Was Misdiagnosed But Now I’ve Been Correctly Diagnosed and Cleared for Pilates
Posted September 30, 2013on:
Source: Parsley & Dill
In June, after having been diagnosed with hip bursitis earlier in the year, I had completed two months of physical therapy and gotten a cortisone shot, but my pain persisted and I still couldn’t do yoga.
What happened after that was, I got the second cortisone shot my doctored recommended, which was really the last one I could get, for awhile at least. And my pain got worse. I started having muscle spasms in both legs and pain in my right calf. Also, aside from bursitis, my physical therapist thought that there might be something wrong with my actual hip joint.
I called my doctor to tell him about my worsening symptoms. He was very friendly and upbeat, assuring me that nothing was wrong.
“Youshouldhaveafinehip,” he said.
“What?” I asked. I was taking notes, and didn’t want to miss anything important.
“You. Should. Have. A. Fine. Hip,” he said, overly enunciating every syllable.
I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. The way he’d switched on a dime from warm and cheerful to cold and condescending made me feel like a little kid who was getting reprimanded. So I responded how I always do when someone speaks to me harshly and I feel immense discomfort: with excessive cheerfulness.
“Great, thanks!” I squeaked. “Have a great weekend!”
The next step was to get an MRI but in the meantime my doctor prescribed pain medication for me — at the highest possible dose. I’m very sensitive to medication and also have depression and anxiety, so I quickly experienced disturbing side effects. I felt spacey, disconnected, and checked-out, in addition to really sad and extremely anxious to the point of panic.
After a few days on the medication and feeling like I was jumping out of my skin, I had a meltdown at the pharmacy counter late one night asking through tears if I could stop taking it immediately or had to do it gradually.
“Stop!” the pharmacist said, handing me a tissue.
My gut, which felt like it had been punched after my last conversation with my doctor, was telling me to go to a different doctor. But I felt scared and people-please-y.
Maybe I should at least go back for one more visit and get the MRI through him, I thought.
The primary reason I didn’t want to go back to him was the way he’d talked to me that one time, which didn’t even seem logical. Maybe I was too sensitive or just overreacting.
But then I started to think about how he’d prescribed a pain medication at the highest dose allowed when I’m a fairly petite person who’s highly sensitive to medication. And then I started to think about how after four months of treatment including two cortisone shots, my injury wasn’t getting any better at all. I still felt nervous about not going to him anymore, though.
If I wasn’t trying to please someone else, what would I do? I asked myself.
The answer came loud and clear: Go to a different doctor.
So that’s what I did.
My new doctor didn’t think I had hip bursitis, the condition I’d been diagnosed and treated for over the past four months. She thought I had a labral tear in my hip, and prescribed an MRI.
Early on in my injury, I thought I had a lip labrum tear based on a conversation with my neighbor who had the same thing — her symptoms sounded exactly like my symptoms. At the beginning of this year, when I was experiencing these symptoms, Lady Gaga had a labrum tear in her hip and had to get surgery. My fear, going into my first doctor’s visit in April, had been that I would have a hip labrum tear and would have to get an MRI and surgery, and I was so relieved when I was diagnosed with hip bursitis and did not have to get an MRI.
I’d heard scary stories about MRIs — the enclosed space! The loud noise! — so by the time I got to the hospital for my appointment, I was terrified.
“Are you claustrophobic?” the pre-MRI questionnaire asked. I panicked. I didn’t know if I was claustrophobic. I had anxiety that could be pretty severe at times and didn’t want to discover I was claustrophobic while I was in there.
My MRI technician put me at ease though, talking to me through headphones throughout the session to let me know what was going on. Pretending I was in Savasana pose, I put one hand on my heart and the other on my belly and breathed. The noise was loud but repetitive and oddly soothing, and I fell into a calm, meditative state. By the time it was over I was almost asleep and totally relaxed.
The results of my MRI confirmed what my new doctor had suspected — I had a labral tear in my hip, and no bursitis at all.
A labral tear never heals, but there are things that can be done to manage or hopefully cease the pain, like stretching and strengthening.
After a very extended yoga hiatus and barely being able to do any physical activity all year, at my appointment where I got my MRI results, my doctor cleared me for Pilates right away (!).
Excited to get back to a class of any kind, I found a small Pilates studio a few blocks from where I live that offers a super-beginner level class. That Sunday, I put on yoga pants and a tank top, and sat down on a mat — similar to my familiar yoga mat — at the studio.
There were only four people in class, and before it started I talked to the instructor about my injury.
“I knew about Jen,” the teacher said, standing at the front of the room, “but are there any other injuries I should know about?”
Everyone raised their hands. There was a shoulder injury, a painful lower back, a knee thing.
So this is what it’s come to? I thought, laughing to myself. I used to do advanced yoga and now I’m in Pilates for injured people.
Although I stopped going to physical therapy a few months ago when my injury wasn’t improving, I’ll go back soon and incorporate that into my rehabilitation routine along with Pilates. Hopefully physical therapy will have more of an impact once it’s treating the correct condition.
For now, I feel happiness from my new Sunday afternoon Pilates ritual with a wonderful teacher who remembers what my injury is from week to week, tells me when I shouldn’t do a pose, and offers adjustments and modifications. And with my new — correct — diagnosis, I’m starting all over from the beginning, taking gentle, mindful baby steps on the slow road to recovery.