A ligament in Christine’s right wrist tore. Not by accident. It was all the laundry, yoga, carrying around a bunch of sporting equipment for her two boys… all that stuff. It finally just messed up her wrist. She needed surgery, so she chose a young Stanford surgeon after interviewing him and two others. He DID come highly recommended.
Surgery went fine, and Christine quickly wound up at home with her forearm in a pink cast. She had to wear it for six weeks, but she was sure anxious to get back to her normal life. The surgeon promised she would be good to go by Christmas. Well, she should have been.
A couple of days later, her wrist swelled up and she was in immense pain. At first, her arm was shaking in pain. Then, her whole body. She called her doctor about it on Sunday. He seemed agitated because of that. He told Christine to go ice it down and it would be fine. Well, he was the doctor and he should know what to do. So she did it. And she kept doing it. But two days later, she couldn’t eat or drink and had such a hard time getting out of bed. The pain was terrible.
She called her doctor’s office to try to get in immediately. They acted like she was bugging them because they were booked solid for the next two weeks. But she begged and pleaded. So they slotted her in for the next day and acted like she should be thankful for that. Her pain was intolerable, but she held on until the next day.
The doctor didn’t even see her. It was a nurse. She took a look at Christine’s arm, told her it was fine and sent her on her way. Christine began to think that maybe it was just her… but it hurt so much. Day after day she convinced herself it would get better. It didn’t. A week passed then she called her doctor again. They said they would see her and she was relieved.
The doctor checked her arm and told her she had RSD disorder. He explained that as being a misfire from her brain telling her that there is pain when, in reality, the arm is just healing. He assured her that everything was fine, but gave her some pain pills and sent her to a pain management doctor. That doctor did a nerve block on her. Didn’t work the first time. So she tried it again. It didn’t work that time either.
So this doctor recommended Christine go to physical therapy to reduce the pain. So she did. And she was going five days a week. She did this for six months. Family and friends helped to get her to and from, and they took care of her kids. Christine had felt a lot of guilt over the past few months because she wasn’t spending near enough quality time with her kids. That pain in her arm consumed her.
After months of it, it still seemed like nothing was improving. She cried every day. And she cried a lot.
On New Year’s Eve, one of Christine’s friends was having a party. She invited her over, saying one of her old high school buddies was also coming by, and he was an arm surgeon. He could look at Christine’s arm. Long story short… she went. The surgeon looked at her arm and made himself some notes about it. He told Christine he knew her surgeon and that she was in good hands, but that he would email him in the next day or so with his thoughts about it. She thanked him and left the party a short time later.
A few days later, her doctor’s office called her and asked her to come in the next day. Christine was excited. Maybe he was going to do something to fix the problem now. But when he walked into the room she was in, he obviously was bothered. Why, he asked Christine, did you go to another doctor? Christine told him it was just a meeting at a New Year’s Eve party. Her doctor was not happy with that at all. He said, “You’re fine! You’re just a hysterical housewife!!” Now why in the world would he say THAT? He didn’t even KNOW her. He then cauterized both ends of her incision and sent her on her way.
Two weeks later, while taking a bath, a big piece of metal slid out of the incision. Christine was horrified. She took a picture of it, sent it to her doctor and explained where it had come from. He emailed her back calling her a liar, saying she must have taken that picture of something else. Christine was fuming, but she was also wondering if she WAS a hysterical housewife. She was starting to wonder about her sanity.
Another two weeks passed when the exact same thing happened… only she wasn’t taking a bath. A metal piece started oozing out of her incision. But this time, she grabbed her phone and put it on video. Now she had a recording of it.
But instead of dealing with that nasty surgeon again, she called on the kind man who examined her at the New Year’s Eve party. She arrived there with her husband, and a quick x-ray was done on her arm. When the doctor came back in with the x-ray, his face was white as a ghost. He asked Christine if her previous doctor even took an x-ray over the last several months or gave her a blood test. She responded no to both. He then told her to prepare for surgery immediately; that all the bones in her wrist were broken and had fallen into a pile at the bottom of her wrist. He was going to have to scoop them all out and attach a line to her heart for antibiotics to get rid of a massive infection. It was an infection that had been building up ever since her surgery. The infection had basically destroyed her arm, and a cadaver bone had to be put into her to replace it. It was quite an intense surgery.
During her six-week checkup, Christine discovered a lump in her breast. A few days later, it was determined that she, indeed, had breast cancer.
Christine tried to stay upbeat for her kids. She couldn’t tell her friends and family. Her mom had just lost a good friend from breast cancer. The bullying from the arm doctor was terrible. But this… this was just too much. Christine knew her normal, happy, carefree life was gone. She would never be able to get it back.
Her oncologist said she would be doing 28 rounds of chemotherapy because the cancer was aggressive. At this point, Christine wondered why even bother… her life was so messed up now because of a doctor who didn’t know what he was doing. And aggressive cancer now?
But she finally told all her friends and family about it. And they all gave her so much support. And Christine started to believed in herself again. Months went by and the chemo got harder and harder… 15 months to be exact. Sometimes she wondered if she would be waking up the next morning. Through it all, though, she put her faith in God.
Says Christine: “The truth is, pain can have a real purpose in others’ lives if we are vulnerable enough to share it. My life and my pain is a testament to the God who made me and to the people God placed in my life to carry me until I could carry myself. We are meant to love and give back. My friends and family showed me how and now I have the privilege of doing it.”
Christine is now 6 years cancer free, and a movie is in the works on her experiences.