Taking Care of Yourself: Advocate For Your Own Health

Taking Care of Yourself: Advocate For Your Own Health

The experience of giving birth is something that a mother will never forget. However, a woman’s body is never the same after having a child.parenting, health, advocating

With my first pregnancy, I started to develop a pain in my lower back. It was a numbing pain and would travel into my legs and buttocks. I was told by my OBGYN that this was because of the pressure the baby was causing.  

After my son was born, the diagnosis was given that I had sciatica. Some people develop sciatic pain when pregnant because of how a woman’s body responds to pregnancy. So, when I became pregnant with my second child, it didn’t take long for the pain start again. But again, the pain subsided after childbirth.

Fast forward a few years and I was pregnant again with my daughter. The pain was back with a vengeance. Within a few months after she was born, and the pain hadn’t subsided, I had a moment where I knew that I needed to advocate for my own health for once. I’d been a big advocate for my kids and their health issues but neglected mine.

One morning as I was getting out of bed, the pain was so bad that I had no control of my leg and I fell on the floor screaming. I decided that enough was enough – I was going to get an MRI. After years of arguing with every single doctor, I was finally successful. The result: I had a bulging disk in my back, but that disc was now blown out from my spine and was sitting on my nerve endings, crushing them and causing my nerves to suffocate.  

It’s been two and a half years since my back surgery. It was the only option I had to get the disc off my nerves, then another surgery to replace the disc (called a spinal fusion). I now have 4 large screws in the lowest part of my spine and probably couldn’t hula-hoop if I tried. But I’m not in any pain anymore. What I learned was that if I would have been able to advocate better for myself and push my doctors more, I could have had an MRI earlier. I probably shouldn’t have had my last child, as that was the straw that literally broke my back.

Since this has happened to me, I’ve helped several others in the community with back problems advocate for themselves. As parents, we will fight until our very last breath for our children, our parents, and our families, but we tend to put ourselves last. We are strong parents but we are not invincible. We need to advocate for ourselves when we know that there is something that, in our gut, tells us that something more is going on. Let’s not be afraid to challenge the process, ask for multiple opinions, and take care of ourselves – our kids need us!   

About the Author

Brianne Fitzgerald (or Volunteer Bri as many like to call her) is the Communications & Engagement Officer for Volunteer Iowa. She is the guru behind B Greater Consulting, a nonprofit consulting company where she helps “fill in the gaps” in communications, fundraising, volunteer management, and much more. She is a married mother of three kids and is an avid community volunteer.
Twitter: @volunteerbri

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