“How long has your leg been hurting?” the technician asked me.
“Years,” I told her.
“No, seriously,” she said.
“Yes, seriously. My calf for over ten years. My thigh for a few years now. The last couple of years really bad,” I said.
The technician continued walking down the hallway and didn’t ask any other questions.
I didn’t know how else to answer her. I wasn’t getting an MRI because of an isolated incident, like a sports injury or something along those lines. I was getting an MRI because the pain in my left leg is no longer limited to my calf. The pain now extends to my left thigh.
If you follow me on Instagram (@wendykennar), you may remember I posted a picture from an MRI a little more than a month ago. That MRI only looked at my left calf and knee. Apparently, my calf looked okay (whatever that means), but my knee is in bad shape.
The scan hadn’t looked at my thigh, though the pain was there as well. At my follow-up appointment, my rheumatologist did some strength tests on my thigh. She pressed and squeezed. Everything hurt, and the left thigh is definitely not as strong as the right. This, apparently, was the evidence she needed to order the MRI of my femur.
It’s not easy living with a chronic illness; a chronic illness that causes chronic pain. And it’s really not easy to advocate for myself. But that’s what I had to do in the form of several emails before the appointment with my doctor. I had to keep asking for this second MRI; after, of course, I politely expressed my displeasure that the first MRI hadn’t included my entire left leg.
My pain has intensified and spread. I told my doctor I was experiencing more difficulty in my daily tasks —getting in and out of the car, climbing the stairs at home, making dinner. I was struggling just to make it through the day.
I am taking more medication than ever before and not feeling any better.
I’m not one to complain. In fact, I have often been described as tough and stoic. But really, I don’t know how much longer I can put on the brave face. I hurt. And it’s utterly exhausting to hurt this much and not feel like anyone is doing anything to help me feel better.
And now all I can do is wait. Wait to see if the MRI provides us with any answers about why the pain has worsened and spread. If so, this might mean a change in my treatment plan. Or, as tends to happen with me and medical tests, results come back in that “okay-enough” gray area. And then we’re left with trying to make guesses about where we go from here and what we try next.