Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In My Shoes

I’ve introduced myself and some of my symptoms to give you all an idea why my path to health is so important. I definitely underlined the fatigue part. Without going into too much detail of why exactly I am the way I am (and that would only be speculation based on my limited medical knowledge), there’s obviously something fundamentally wrong with my body. Originally, about two years ago, I was finally able to get a doctor to run enough tests to realize I had out of whack hormones and some weird looking follicle build up in my ovaries. This was something. I could attribute my feeling awful to something that had a name, but more and more I realize there must be more to it. This is not an invite to diagnose, criticize, or give me advice. I'm on my own path, but understanding from those around me could possibly help the journey.

Recently my mother has been going through a medical rollercoaster of problems with doctors diagnosing her with multiple autoimmune diseases. It could all be one, but maybe my mother’s body is legitimately fighting itself. My mom has honestly been the only one to understand me through all of this. It kills me to see her suffering so much. For awhile there, I was the one who seemed to have it the worst. Something very scary inside my body is happening, and doctors won’t push to find the main cause, because it’s probably not even a medical capability at this point. I’m not dying (although sometimes I wonder), so I should be fine. What scares me is the symptoms are piling on. I got rid of nausea (for the most part) and seem a little more functional than I was in college. Recently I’ve been having a lot of soreness, which I was attributing to me being out of shape or sleeping wrong. The fact that my back pain has not stopped in the year since it started is also disheartening, considering my attempt at both physical therapy and chiropractic care. I have started to have this chest pain that seems to originate in my diaphragm most times. This particular pain has gone from occasionally to all the time. I’ve had X-rays and blood tests taken, so no one call 911 on me. The joint pain I experience would make you think I’m a 60yo woman. On top of this, some weird things have been going on down there. It seems like some form of cervicitis, and I haven’t had my period in awhile. So, here I am thinking: “I wasn’t ready for this to get worse. I’m still trying to figure out how to get out of bed in the morning.”

I went to a couple doctors recently. I’ve learned to go see the same doctors my mother sees. They listen because they have had to deal with her for awhile and take me seriously. I wrote a long list of all my symptoms to read off to him. While in the office (actually ready to fall asleep right there), I found myself reading off this list and everything sounded so disconnected that any doctor would just think: “This girl sure does complain a lot.” I didn’t even read all of it because I was slightly embarrassed and figured after awhile he’d just lose interest. He wisely asked me some personal questions to evaluate if the symptoms are severe enough to affect my actual day-to-day activities and work. He asked others to rule out depression. Nonetheless, this well intentioned doctor with nothing else to do, gives me a prescription for an anti-depressant. He asks if I’m willing to try it, to which I respond: “I’ll try anything that might get me through grad school at this point.”

I will write a post later about my tests results. I’m waiting for them all to come in. I will tell you now that they’re never eye-opening or conclusive. On paper, I seem like a healthy 24yo woman. So without trying to get even more depressing and whiny, I want to walk you through my day. Maybe next time I will try this with a doctor…Skip this paragraph if you want to.

I wake up groggy to an alarm and hit snooze. I hit snooze every nine minutes for about the next hour and a half (I will tell you, lately I’ve been ok at waking up at six thirty; I think the spring helps). I planned on getting up at 6 or 7 to get up and get ready for work at 8:30. This seems like a reasonable time to go to the office. I usually end up finally getting out of bed around 8 or 8:30. I know this sounds ridiculous to most people and you may be thinking “lazy”, but I can tell you it’s so much more than not liking your job. What I feel in the morning is similar to how you would feel if you had just stayed up all night. No amount of sleep makes me feel rested. Yet I crave it with every part of my being. At least it’s the only time I’m not tired. I get out of bed to eat a quick breakfast. I don’t have the energy to make anything that takes more than two minutes: usually oatmeal, cereal with fruit, or just fruit and some peanut butter. I drink smoothies when I’m in the mood, but the cold has turned me away from them most of the time. After breakfast, I usually sit in bed for awhile or actually go back to sleep. Eventually I get up to actually get ready to go outside. If I have a bit of energy to spare, I walk my dog for 10-15 minutes. I think that breaks my heart the most: the fact that I can’t even find enough energy to walk my precious baby. It becomes slightly more understandable when I describe my walk to work. It takes me 30 minutes to walk to work. My knees start aching ten minutes in; my back comes shortly after. At some point my chest pain starts if I hadn’t already had it from earlier in the morning. I’m lucky if I don’t experience at least a little twinge of nausea (it was bad this morning). The pain will continue throughout the day, including hip pain. By the time I’m at work, I’m already ready for a nap. I try to start my day nonetheless and write a to-do list. I get through about one or two of those things before lunch(especially if caffeine has aided me) already fighting a headache and having gone to the bathroom way too many times for one person in a three hour time span. I will tell you, those will be my most productive time of the day: from about 9-11. I actually have clear thoughts for about an hour and everything. At lunch, I usually have a big salad, or I steal food from my generous friend when I just can’t stomach salad. I continue my day doing tasks as much as I can focus for at a time. I’m usually helped by listening to podcasts to keep me somewhat engaged. I tend to not stay at work too late in the day, because I am craving a nap beyond belief around two, and when three or four rolls around I can literally not think straight. I walk home (trying not to hobble because my knees are killing me) usually trying to plan some ingenious way to be productive when I’m there. I eat dinner (I’m starving by four) or at least grab whatever’s available. I usually cook for my boyfriend as well, which is probably the only reason I find energy for that because I have someone else to do it for. Now that sunset comes later I try to walk my dog again, or at least think about it. If not I try to make sure he gets as much yard time as is possible. Today, I actually just sat on the porch outside and watched him, that was all I could muster. My night is pretty bad after that. If I’m with my boyfriend or with friends and family, I can usually engage in some form of light socializing. If I’m alone, I tend to just sit and do nothing much. I try to study, but am usually too tired to read and I’m cold which makes me even more attracted to my bed. If I’m lucky I can get about an hour worth of productive things a night. But evenings are really the worst for me. I think my body is just exhausted from being alive that day. I go to bed early hoping I will get up early and be more productive. Mornings offer at least a small window of clarity, but if you go back to the beginning of this very non-sensical, boring story, you’ll realize that doesn’t really happen.

I guess it would have been easier to sum up everything saying “I’m fatigued all the time and can’t do anything.” Diet has not seemed to make it better. There are other little things that can happen, but that’s really all that affect me. I realize some people have it worse and I’m not in debilitating pain, just annoying and definitely keeps me from running. Even this morning I wanted to go to yoga and decided not to because my joints were already sore. There’s always so much I want to do and so much I could be. The point is, I am not a healthy 24yo. Even so, I try to keep in mind that I still have a job, food, a roof over my head, and a support system. Most people in the United States, not to mention outside of it, could claim such opportunities. If you were to see me, you would not think I have anything wrong with me. I’m very amicable and tend to engage in the conversation as much as I can. I’m glad a lot of people don’t notice. I try really hard to not show how much I struggle. Being social is actually the only thing that gets me through most times. I like being around people, it’s relaxing and it doesn’t take much effort on my part to interact with others. Only people who really know me and my wonderful boss in college that allowed a ridiculous amount of sick days, know how much I struggle. I let my mom see how tired I am. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend still hasn’t fully grasped it. He does realize I don’t get all the studying done that I constantly tell him I need to do. I guess when I don’t show people how tired I am, they assume I’m not and say things such as: “Don’t take any naps this time.”, “Go home and be productive!”, and “Just focus.” I promise you I am not lazy. In fact, it may be my overachieving self that brought my demise by working long hours, eating poorly, and raising my cortisol levels through the roof in my pre-20 years. The worst part, is I don’t think my attempt at telling you how I feel every day really even helps. The best way to imagine it would be to think of yourself after having done a pretty hard workout the previous day to then pull an all nighter to study for an important final. The feeling you get when you walk into that test room, exhausted, sore, and completely unable to focus because you just want to get out of there and go to bed to make up for lost sleep; that’s how I feel every day. 

Saturday Brunch: Veggies Benedict and Rosemary potatoes :)

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away! :( You are a fighter, Dani. I have always admired that about you. I know it's hard and far from over but don't give up! Eat my food, take a nap, do whatever you need to do because you have great things to accomplish in this life. You know I'm always there for you and I love you girl. <3