13 Years Old – Rib Pain

Things were fairly calm aside from my foot and chest until I turned thirteen. Halfway through my first year of high school it started to become increasingly painful to sit for the entire school day -to be more specific – my ribs began hurting me too much to do so. This became steadily worse for weeks until eventually I was calling home in the middle of the day, and then eventually missing days at a time because of the pain. On a few different occasions I even went to the ER because the pain was so intense. 

At the same time I was having headaches more and more often and my sleeping patterns were causing me a lot of fatigue during the day. I was becoming worried and fed up with my situation. I was in pain daily and starting to get behind on my grades because of all of the missed school work. Eventually after having already quit the sports I loved, and losing my straight A grades during the first semester, I made the heart wrenching decision to leave public school and continue on at home where I had the freedom to move around and rest whenever the pain became too much. This broke my heart. I loved school. All of my friends were there and leaving school meant being left out of the loop and eventually left behind. And then there were the rumours. See, my brother had dropped out of high school during his first year (ironic, I know), and so whether I heard it up front or not I knew a lot of people were convinced I was making the pain up to get out of school. Rumours also began to circulate that I had dropped out because I began doing drugs. Also completely false. It didn’t help that when people asked me why I wasn’t in school I didn’t have an actual diagnosis to give them. It was more of an “uhhhh….because my ribs hurt….” type of response. Always ending awkwardly with them being insensitive and outright acting as if I was full of ‘it’ or them just becoming quiet and dropping the conversation entirely. All of this only adding insult to injury.

I finished the school year at home but unable to accept that this was to become my routine -my life- at the beginning of grade nine I enrolled back into the school. This would be the same heartbreak all over again. I only lasted a few weeks. I can remember being picked up from school by my mom and us having a conversation that solidified what I already knew -this wasn’t working. I remember the sky was grey, dull, -as was my mood. Tears slid down my cheeks as I stared out the window trying to dodge my mom’s sympathetic gaze. I knew that I had to accept the fact that whether I wanted it to or not, it just wasn’t going to work. So, shortly after beginning my high school experience, I had to come to terms with the fact that this was the end of it. This was all that I was going to get.

Eventually, after pushing for every kind of test possible and being told by many pediatricians and specialists that teenagers just don’t suffer from chronic pain – which would mean that I was a faker – we finally got an answer and a diagnosis. I was told that I had a connective tissue disorder, most likely to be and most similar to Marfan Syndrome, and that excruciating rib pain was certainly not unheard of when placed with the disorder, no matter the age. Placing my symptoms with my disorder, I was told that I was suffering from costochondritis, basically, inflammation of the cartilage of the ribs. I was also told that some of my rib pain may also be from actual tearing of the cartilage and tissue due to the faulty and weak connective tissue seen in Marfan Syndrome.

I am not a doctor and the medical definitions and descriptions do not and should not replace those of a medical professional. They are merely there to help give an idea of my situation and experiences. If you are experiencing any health issues seek proffesional medical care.

4 thoughts on “13 Years Old – Rib Pain

  1. Wow ! I just read your story, and even if it has been 6 years since you posted it, I see my daugther in everything you wrote !

    I showed her your story and can’t wait for her feedback. She is 14 yo now and struggling with exactly the same issues you had….friends not understanding (even if they were supportive in primary school and until her 2nd year in secondary school), now they are either mean to her or not understanding what it is like to be in pain 24hrs. Her grades are also droping even if she’s very intelligent, because of missing school for Doctors appointments or having to much pain, I too go fetch at school on a regular basis, and she is a very strong and resilient teenager, but sometimes, it is too much for her to deal with. As you, she has trouble getting to sleep and sleeping well on top of the pain, so as you so well pointed out, even if you are resilient, it takes a toll on your moral.

    After many years of hospitalisations, doctors and specialist appointments, etc, I finally found an amazing neurologist that is working with kinesiologists, she met with them in beginning of December and will begin a regular kine clinic. The specialist putted her on Gabapentin to block the nerve plain signal to the brain, it will take a couple of months, so far she is experiencing a lot of “attention deficit disorder” consequences because of the medication…I am also giving her Omega 3, we are more into natural medicine, than chemical one, but sometimes the pain is too strong not to take chemical ones.

    Anyway, will stop for now, and I hope you read this post. I also hope that you are much better now than 6 years ago, and as a mother of a teenager that is going through the same you had, I am more than empathising with you and your mom. I also have Marfan syndrome and even if my pain was less when I was a teenager than my daugther, I totally understand what she is going through since I also been a teenager with pains and Marfan issues (cardiac)…

    Sending hugs and kisses your way and hope to hear back from you, to also find out if you found a solution to your pain and what was it and how it turned out for you….Happy New Year to you and your loved ones ;)

    Annie xx

    Liked by 1 person

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