In 1998 Bella was severely injured during childbirth. Her doctor accidentally stepped on the pedal to raise the table she was strapped to during a C-section, causing her feet to raise and neck to lower. She immediately complained of extreme neck pain, but was sent home in a disassociated state after delivery. Bella continued to seek care for debilitating symptoms including vomiting, difficulty using her arms, visual disturbances, flu-like symptoms and constant neck pain, all while struggling to care for her newborn child. For 5 years doctors of multiple types completely ignored or brushed off these complaints, either throwing pills at her or saying this was just her milk coming in. Eventually she lost the pulse in both arms, while losing control of her fingers. A doctor did an X-ray of her neck and shoulders, discovering that her vascular arteries on either side were being clipped because her muscles were so swollen. He diagnosed her with thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) and recommended immediate surgery. During the procedure this doctor discovered that her neck muscles were three times the normal size, so he took it upon himself to shave them down without consent. Although this surgery corrected Bella’s TOS, she began to experience extreme decline from the rest of her symptoms.

In this episode of the Major Pain podcast, Bella shares her first-hand account of surviving an ordeal that has been written up in the medical textbook titled “Handbook of Pain and Palliative Care”. She eventually found a doctor willing to listen to the extreme symptoms she was experiencing, who performed a flexion/extension MRI. He discovered a cervical fracture and rushed her into emergency surgery to correct the issue, in awe that Bella had survived for 5 years with an injury that easily could have resulted in paralysis or even death. The previously discovered swelling in her neck muscles had been caused by her body attempting to build a brace to protect this fracture. Bella describes her horrific treatment by multiple doctors as “a chess game of psychological warfare,” and still experiences complex PTSD from the injuries and misdiagnoses she received. Unfortunately, this is one of several extreme medical incidents in Bella’s life, also having survived a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that required her to re-learn to walk, talk, chew and swallow. Through everything she has survived, Bella says, “the hardest pain has been the 30 years of gaslighting (and) abuse by every facet of the medical system.”

Find Bella’s artwork at

The December bonus episode of Major Pain is now available to our community of listeners on Patreon. It features Andi and Jesse discussing their recent trip to Disneyland, where Jesse navigated the park in a wheelchair for the first time. Click HERE to listen.



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