I was diagnosed about three years ago with Dercum’s Disease, a rare and often unknown (to the medical profession) condition that causes fatigue, weakness, and severe pain from very painful lipomas that can range in size from a grain of rice to basketball. Many doctors are of the opinion that “lipomas don’t hurt” but need to be re-educated that they do indeed hurt.
I was originally told that I had fibromyalgia, and though I was willing to accept that diagnosis (before I had heard of Dercum’s) I was also told that my pain was the result of my negative attitude and that I was making more of it than I needed to. The hundreds of lumps that were forming and growing daily were dismissed as “everyone has those.” I was told to exercise, exercise, exercise, and to quit eating so much, though I was existing on barely 1200 calories a day. At the time of my diagnosis, I was 5’9” and weighed 180 lbs. But the more I exercised, the worse the pain and stiffness became.
A pain management doctor prescribed double the recommended dosage of the anti-depressant I was taking, thinking that would speed up my weight loss; I suffered a seizure, and discontinued both the medication and my association with the doctor. My family doctor refuses to prescribe pain medication any longer, saying that she doesn’t want to “get me hooked on strong drugs.”
The medical profession in general needs to realize that women are not always hysterical in their assessment of our pain. They need to understand that certain conditions cause unrelenting, constant pain, and need a constant dosage of medication to control the pain, and that the pain medication, like any medication taken for conditions like high blood pressure, is not necessarily addicting for us, but necessary.