My biggest fear

Contributed by: Marianne
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, December 2011


Marianne is a 54 year old woman from Maine who has rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative bone disease.  She submitted this story to respond to the request in the painACTION newsletter for stories about how subscribers handle their greatest fears – her fear was that she would not find a health care provider who could help her manage her pain.

A famous person once said….”The greatest fear is fear itself!”…..think I got that right, but no matter if it is, it ran through my head every day for the last three years.  I have been living with chronic pain 24/7 since 2008, off and on chronic pain since the 1990’s.

I feared it was in my head, would the doctors I saw decide it was in my head?, would I ever get a diagnosis?, would I get my “old normal” life back?, would I be able to continue working in the profession I worked so hard to obtain and that I loved?……Scary and a very fearful time.  This past year has brought on tremendous stress….increasing disability, divorce, living on my own, caring for a 200-year-old home, and all the other problems that come along with life.

Seven years ago I moved to a rural area with an unexpected lower standard of healthcare than what I was accustomed to.  I am a nurse of 30 plus years who lived in an area with nationally-known physicians and hospital care.  For the last several months, I have experienced severe flare ups of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease of my cervical and lumbar spines.  I had two spinal fusions in 2008, one cervical and one lumbar due to degeneration and arthritis.

I then had a bad fall in my barn….no one would refer me to pain management where I live, not my primary care physician, not my rheumatologist, nor my neurosurgeon.  No other spinal surgeon would give me a second opinion.  Great anxiety overcame me, great fears!  So I went on a private “retreat” and took a long drive on a scenic roadway.  Even though it was very painful, I needed to sort things out.  Yes, I prayed out loud and talked to myself on that drive.

I found a wonderful interventional spine center, out-of-state, but not so far that I can’t drive there or find a friend that will.  The newest physician on “my team” performed a physical exam and history interview that was the best I have experienced during all these years of pain.  The treatments and care I am receiving now are improving my “quality of life”…….that fear has now become hope…..