Psychogenic pain?


I think everyone who has a neck injury in Norway can relate to the feeling of being judged. Not only those with neck injuries, but others who suffers from chronic illness or diseases that there is little or no knowledge about.

Some of you may be judged by colleagues, family or friends, but the worst part is to be judged by the people who are supposed to help ypu and give you answers. When they simply tell you that the pain is all in your head and that you suffer from mental issues. 

I'm not going to name names, but years ago I went to see a female neurologist at Aleris dep. Marken in Bergen. I want to tell you about my apointment with her.

I went to the apointment with great high hopes and I was really looking forward to it. I kept thinking this is the day where I'm finally are going to get help!

We briefly said hi and I started talking about my pain and my symptoms. From that very first second I knew that this was a woman that was not going to help me. It was something in the way she talked to me. She was so judgemental in her stone cold eyes.

She told me to dress down to my underwear and had me walk back and forth on the floor. Then i had to close my eyes and touch my nose with my forefinger. When I was done with that I had to stad on one leg. I think I had to hobble too.

I got dressed and sat down. I can still remember the despair in my eyes, because I could see my reflection in a picture she had on the wall. I remember my face, how tired and exhausted I was from a long night with pain.

"Well, I can say with certainty that you don't have any injuries from a car accident" she talked while she took notes. 

"Okay" I answered here while my voice trembled.

She turned away from her computer, leaned over her desk and sighed. "Do you have a rough time at work?"

I was shocked. "No, I'm doing fine woriking at the shoestore 6 hours a week, I just...". I started to cry "I'm in so much pain!"

I dryed my tears and tryed to keep it together.

"Mhm" she replyed while she prepared a syringe and filled it with something I don't remember the name of.

She found a spot where I expirienced severe pain and the pushed her thumb right into it. "Is this where you feel pain?"

The spot where she pressed her thumb is an area it's normal to experience pain if you have a injury in C3/C4. "Yes, it's really painful" I replyed.

She inserted the syringe on that exact spot.

My body got tense and I screamed at the top of my lungs while I clung to the chair. It was a pain wouldn't wish upon my greatest enemy. (Exept for people who hurt animals. And racists.) 

The was completely thrown off by my reaction. She gasped and here eyes where wide open. 

I don't remember what was said after that.

A week later I went back for a check up and she asked me how I was feeling. I don't her that the pain was the same. 

Again she leaned over her desk. I will never forget the words that came out of her mouth: "this thing you have with not being willing to work, that's something you just have to work on".

I went quiet. Did she really say that? I could not believe what I just heard.

When I walked out from her office I cried. I cried when my mom picked me up. I cried when I got home. I cryed all day.

That night I spoke out loud to my self and asked if the pain was all in my head. I tryed to think long and hard, when did I expirience pain? Was it only at work those 6 hours each week? No. It was not. I was in pain when I had fun with my friends. When I ate dinner. When I was babysitting. I was in pain 24/7.

After this episode I got stronger. I understood that I would not get any help anytime soon. It was going to be a real struggle. I realized that I had to find someone special abroad.

An elder GP once told me "you are going to get help, Hanne. You just have to navigate in this large jungle until you find someone with the right knowledge."

It turned out that many years would pass before I heard of Upright MRI.

Last year I picked up my journal that the anonymous female neurologist at Aleris dep. Marken in Bergen wrote.

"The patient shows more pain than normal when injection is preformed. Viser mer smerte enn normalt ved injeksjon, she has low pain threshold. Psycogenic pain, but denies any depression. Starts to cry easily during the consultation".

Low pain threshold annoyed me the most to read.

I wish I could go back in time. Go back to Hanne who sat in that chair on that office that day. I would tell her that everything is going to get better. I would tell here that years from now she would have many amazing people who supports her in her life. Years from now you are having a foundraiser to a surgery. Just hang in there a little while longer.

Hang in there.