Pain in the Butt

Don't make go all Tae Kwon Dodo on your a$$...

I may have written about this already, I don’t recall.

Fact is, I have a back problem. I don’t know what the problem is, specifically, because I’ve not consulted someone with access to medical imaging technology. I have good reasons not to have done so, and I have reasons which some of you will probably find dubious at best.

I find, as I get older, I have less and less faith in the medical community than I used to. As a boy, I admired and loved my doctor. He’d saved my life on more than one occasion. I’ve made no secret of how many times my parents were told to consult clergy and make preparations for my death. All before age five.

But that man is passed on now, and men like him have largely gone the way of the dodo and great auk. More like the dodo, I suspect, but that’s my opinion.

My doctor took time to hear me out, ask questions, and do some things needed to ensure his diagnosis was correct. When he found my course of treatment wasn’t working, he moved to a new one and watched. He did everything for me a doctor can do for another human being. The last time I saw him was after eighth grade, when I was going for my entrance physical to high school. He had a distinct smell I never forgot, and remember to this day, a scent unlike any other I’ve ever encountered. He was kind and intelligent, and thoughtful.

But, as I said, he’s gone now. And in his place have come a new breed of doctors who are driven by different goals than he was. In his stead are doctors who won’t listen, who have nurses collect symptoms and then come in with a preformed diagnosis. If they ask questions, they won’t listen to full answers. They spend moments with each patient before rushing onto the next. They don’t really care about my concerns or my input to my health care regiment. These new doctors aren’t doctors at all. More appropriate titles would be technicians, like so many other hospital workers have now. Lab technicians, X-ray technicians, MRI technicians, maintenance technicians, landscape technicians…

These “doctors” don’t much care about their patients. They don’t have relationships with them. They can’t. They have huge, high-volume practices demanding their attention, and insurance-dictated quotas and time limits for each patient. Not to mention dollar-value limits for each treatment. They’re shills for drug companies and medical manufacturers who have a direct interest in seeing you don’t get well.

I don’t mean to offend anyone, but medicine isn’t about wellness and it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s about dollars and cents, like everything else. Some doctors are still caring and try to genuinely help people, but even a precursory examination of how certain high-dollar diseases are treated will tell a reasonable person something’s not right here.

Being sick is a multi-billion dollar industry. Those who are in it aren’t in it because they want to work themselves out of it. They’re in it to profit from it. They have a direct interest in seeing that people remain sick.

Sounds conspiratorial, doesn’t it? Sorry, I don’t mean to come off as a paranoid sitting in my basement wondering who’s spying on me. But the fact is, drug companies don’t want you well, they want you to buy their drugs. If you get well, they can’t sell them to you any more. Why is diabetes so rampant? Depends on who you ask, but follow the money.

So, what’s all this got to do with butt pain? That is the title of the post, after all, right?

My wife, beloved soul that she is, wants me to see a chiropractor. She swears by them. She went to one after a car accident in 2002 and he resolved not just her shoulder injury, but other back issues she had for years. Years. She loved him and still gets a little weepy when recalling Dr. Goodbar.

But I’m still skeptical. And for the reasons I’ve already outlined. This person isn’t interested in seeing me get better. How can he be? If all his patients get better, he’s out of business, and no one is working for that. How can he continue to tap into the monetary artery of your insurance company if he heals you? How can he make you a steady cash-cow if he’s going to get you better and send you on your way?

So, the pain I have is in my upper hip/lower back area and I have pain in my buttocks on the left side, as if the muscles deep in the cheek are extremely tight and painful. I can hardly walk, and most times I limp. Sitting can offer some relief — depending on the chair, of course — but even laying down causes pain in some positions. I thought buying a new bed would help but it hasn’t. Not much.

Last time I felt this poorly, I accidentally discovered I was using the wrong pillow. By changing my pillow I solved the problem almost entirely. After the pain flared up again to the point of being debilitating, I remembered the pillow change. Next time I hit Walmart, I bought another pillow, but that didn’t work. And it still hasn’t. I can get lucky once or twice a week — like I did night before last when I slept on a throw pillow and had my regular sleeping pillow between my knees all night — but I can’t usually duplicate the success. Last night, no luck, and today, major pain.

I’ve been reading about symptoms similar to mine online, but there’s something different on every page I find. This doctor who specializes in trigger-point therapy says it’s connective tissue. That chiropractor says it’s the muscles from my lowest rib to my iliac bone(s). Two different treatments — this one says get an adjustment, that one says get trigger point therapy — and ’round and ’round we go.

And meanwhile, I can’t walk for more than a few steps, I can’t stand for more than a couple of minutes, and I can’t sit in certain chairs or for extended durations without pain. This puts a serious crimp in my writing. My entertainment. My exercise. My eating. My living.

What to do?

I’m on the cusp of giving in and going to a doctor. He will likely tell me it’s a bulging disc or something horrifying like that, and I’ll either need therapy I can’t afford, or surgery I can’t afford, and with both there’s no guarantee of success. But I can’t do nothing any more. It’s a long-term problem. I started having back issues in 2005 or 2006, and they became life-altering in something like 2008 or 2009. I have to address them.

It’s incredibly difficult to find honest, trustworthy information on things like natural healthcare on the Internet. Books are made to generate cash for the author more than provide information to the buyer. I don’t know who to trust anymore, if I ever did.

I sure wish my old family doctor was still around. He’d know what to do.



11 thoughts on “Pain in the Butt

  1. I think you need to bite the bullet and go to the doctor.

    Yeah, probably. I can’t see what else to do. I’m trying to hold off until after the new year, though, and save the money for Christmas.4B23806

  2. I understand how you feel about today’s doctor world. While I was in Fresno, my allergist person said I was to take this inhaler every day. It had a steroid in it that, while not totally harmful, wasn’t exactly good for you, either. The inhaler also caused you to slowly lose your voice. Lovely. I found all this out from the doctor here in Houston that my mom uses. She doesn’t take insurance and always checks you out, asks in-depth questions, asks about your history, everything. I’ve never seen any doctor be so in-depth with their patients, which is sad. Especially since I’ve been to the hospital many times.

    This is one reason I don’t like doctors. They don’t doctor anything anymore. I stay clear of them when I can, but I might be beyond that now. I don’t know. I don’t believe a heating pad is going to work like my wife does, but at the same time, I have to do something. I can’t spend all day on the couch, fighting for a comfortable position, or lying in bed doing the same thing. *Sigh* And what’s up with a doctor who won’t take insurance? That’s career suicide. Pretty soon NO ONE will be able to afford her. How’s she paying her ridiculous student loans and ungodly malpractice insurance?

    Of course, if it weren’t for my mom’s insurance, we never would’ve been able to afford the ridiculously expensive chemo and radiation. I mean, really, God blessed my mom with her job, but we still shelled out somewhere around $30,000. Insurance covered most of it. When I think about it — think that, without treatment, I would’ve died — I realized the doctors wouldn’t have cared. I mean, it’s all about the money, and it became grossly obvious. So yeah, I don’t trust doctors much, either.

    I was determined to become a doctor until I got derailed back in ’84. Just after high school. I see God’s wisdom in it now, but my family doctor from childhood was a superhero to me. I would’ve given anything to be as good a physician as he was.

    All of this to say that I hope you figure out something that doesn’t involve ridiculously expensive surgery or medication or anything horrible like that.

    Me too. Thanks.

  3. I’m sorry that your experiences have left you with a bad taste for the world of medicine.

    Not all doctors are like that, and it isn’t always a “doctor thing”, it’s often times a “too many patients, not enough doctors/poor system thing”. New doctors aren’t always better, and older doctors certainly aren’t, either.

    I had the same doctor for 23 years, and he was amazing. I grew up with his kids, he was honest, and to the point. He didn’t sugar coat it, and he was funny. He genuinely cared about me. I know he did, and still does. He always asks my mom how I am and how our family is now. He called numerous times to make sure while pregnant I was to get my Rh needles because of my blood type, and I caught of the glimpse he wrote to my OB/GYN, and it was so sweet.

    Finally having to admit I needed to find a doctor where I lived was difficult, so I called and called and called until someone finally said “yes, we’re accepting new patients.” He was a little old Indian man with a very thick accent (and I don’t say Indian to be stereotypical, I say Indian because he is). His office was based out of his home, and it felt like a clinic you would see in a movie. Lots of chairs lined around the walls, it was dark, crappy magazines lying everywhere, and just an off feeling to it. Matt insisted it was fine, and said “you were spoiled with a doctor who had a beautiful office, most aren’t near that nice”.

    When I first suspected I may be pregnant, we thought I was miscarrying, and wanted to have a urine sample, and blood work to be sure, but this doctor, he asked when my last period was, and quickly dismissed me exclaiming “you can’t possibly be pregnant – you had your period” I wanted to rage out on him and ask what 100 year old text book was he reading from. One of Matt’s co-workers at the time, her daughter went full term and didn’t know she was pregnant until being in a car accident, because she barely gained any weight, and she believed she was still having a light period each month. A couple weeks later, we were quite positive I was pregnant, and went to see him again, I told him I had a positive read on a home test, and his demeanor completely changed. He was very happy, and started rattling off all the things we needed to get started on with the hospital and such, and I started to ask questions about somethings I wasn’t sure if I could or couldn’t do now, and he stops me with his hand and slowly waves his hand up and down in front of me saying “dooon’t wooorry about that, God will take care of the baaaby”. Are you serious?!

    I was very thankful to move again and to not see him again. The OB/GYN I was signed up with was amazing. I loved him from day one. He is truly, a very kind, and caring individual. He’s so genuine, and you know he loves what he does. My appointments were brief, but the man has a million things to do, but when he sat down to speak to me, and to check things over with the pregnancy, I know I was all that mattered in that moment. After the pregnancy, and I was struggling with my post partum issues, I went to see him for an appointment, and he asked me if I was breast feeding or not, and I just started bawling, because I wasn’t. And he felt awful, I could see how upset it made him that he made me cry. He quickly told me it wasn’t bad, and I was doing what was right for my child and me, he just wanted to know what I was doing, and I just kept bawling. He hugged me and told me it would be okay. If we ever have another baby, I don’t care where we live, I will be traveling to see him. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, especially when we originally planned on having a mid wife, and couldn’t after moving to a county that didn’t offer the midwife program.

    The family doctor the hospital found for us is incredible, too. She’s this hilarious and kooky lady, with a delightful accent, and she just lights up when we come in. When I go for appointments for myself, she asks about Matt, and Cain and how they’re doing, and after finally admitting to the post partum issues I was having, she asks Matt how I am doing each time he goes in for his appointments, too, and how Cain is doing. She asks how I am doing on my medication, and how I’m coping, and if I have met anyone in the community. I love how genuine she is, and that we’ve only known her for seven months, and she treats us like my doctor I grew up with did.

    However, my positive experiences won’t change your mind. I hope you find someone who will change your mind though. Doctors, as a whole, aren’t the enemy, individual doctors may be terrible, and sadly, it sounds like you’ve encountered them, but there are many, wonderful, genuine doctors in this world. Some are medication junkies, and love to dole out whatever is new on the market (I assure you, I’ve seen it, as a former technician, you can always tell when something new comes out, because it flies over the counter faster than it can be filled) and some like to stick with the old faithfuls, but there are plenty of doctors who want to feed the soil first, not the plant.

    And it may sound like a conspiracy, but I can assure you back problems in Americans wouldn’t be the mission. My brother has severe back problems, as I’ve told you about, but the only procedure that could fix it has a significantly higher risk of paralyzing him, so with chronic pain, he lives at 23. It’s been years for him, too. Conspiracy has bigger plans.

    Some things, medicine can’t fix, it can only help. Maybe the chiropractor is the right choice for you, or acupuncture, or physio. But what will help most will be losing the weight you’ve mentioned you’d like to ditch. Did you know that for every ten pounds over weight you are, the pressure on your back and knees is the equivalent to 30lbs? I’m not one to preach, you know what I look like, and there’s no hiding that I’m overweight now, and I’ve gained a lot over the last five plus years (I miss my college days), but I do know my back problems, have become worse since having had a baby, and it’s irrelevant, because all those pain killers, and all those “back relief exercises”, physio, and massage, hot bath with Epsom salts, and heating pads won’t stand a chance at fixing the problem – or at least allowing it to become comfortably manageable – until this Fatty gets her butt in gear.

    I’m done rambling now.

    Hehehe. Turns out, you’ve sort of helped me make my point. 🙂

  4. I’m sure since you’ve been dealing with this for a long time ago you’ve already heard of this, but I’ve had some relief from myofascial self-treatment. The technique I’m using involves lying on tennis balls to gently stretch the connective tissue in the sensitive spots. It’s working pretty well so far on my neck and lower back.

    Thanks! I’ll check it out! (You got dumped to spam. Sorry!)

  5. Your skepticism is well-founded. My best advice is get referrals to health care professionals from people you trust. In the long run you do need to take care of yourself; sometimes problems get more entrenched the longer they go untreated.

    I have had back pain on and off since my early 20’s. I have had the best results from doing yoga and light exercises every day to strengthen and stretch my back muscles, and from going for massage by a registered massage therapist. Heat will help if the problem is a simple muscle spasm, but if there is inflammation in the tissue a cold pack is actually just the ticket. A nurse I work with revealed the magic of the cold pack to me the last time I had an agonizing spasm, and it worked like a charm. (Just be careful not to over-do the ice: wrap your cold pack in a dishtowel and don’t leave it on for more than 10 minutes at a time, then leave it off at least 10 minutes.)

    One thing that might be affecting your back besides your chair, bed, and pillows: your shoes. You’d be surprised at how much your feet affect the position of your spine. I had to wear orthotics inside my shoes for a few years, and while my body was adjusting to my new posture I felt the effects all the way up my spine, including headaches. It all settled down eventually. So consider changing your footwear, or getting orthotic inserts for your shoes, but if you do give yourself at least a few weeks to get used to the change.

    I’ve thought of this, but man! I wouldn’t even know how to BEGIN with this. First, shoes aren’t cheap. Second, how will I know if it’s them or not? And third, I don’t know that isn’t, but I’m guessing not because of how bad it got BEFORE I had new shoes. (But like I said, how do I know?) Still, good advice.

    As for chiropractors, I went to one for a while. He was very nice and well-intentioned, and he did help my back 99% of the time. However, one time he cracked my back, and accidentally jammed two of my vertebrae against each other. They got stuck. I couldn’t move at all, and he couldn’t seem to unstick me. I remember him pounding my back over and over, grunting and muttering to himself in frustration, until finally he got me unlocked. I didn’t make any more appointments after that. It was pretty scary.

    They scare me too.

  6. I tried to comment twice with my name and url and neither showed up, so I’m trying it while logged into FB.

    If you haven’t already, google “myofascial pain.” I’ve been having good results with tender spots by lying on tennis balls to gently stretch the connective tissue.

    Fal SWEARS by her little racquet ball trick. Same deal; she lays on it, and it loosens all her stuff. Problem is, I don’t know, exactly, where the tissue needs (or even IF it needs) stretching. 😦

  7. My mom went to some sort of (witch doctor) massage therapist and insisted she was healed. She then sent my daughter to her. My daughter swears she’s healed. I don’t have the time to list all the spinal issues my daughter has due to a snowmobile accident and a car accident, but trust me, if my daughter says this woman helped, then she’s some sort of a miracle worker. I think she’s a neuromuscular massage therapist (not sure) and there’s probably one in your area.

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