Prior to living the healthy life I now lead there was well over 15 years where I was sick and not thriving. On and off bouts of general unexplained un-wellness providing lots of odd looks when you appear to be perfectly healthy, and let’s not forget young, on the outside.
During episodes that I now know were auto-immune related thanks to a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease, I could go a few years feeling just OK and then wham, I was declining physically and eventually mentally.
In charting my health history everything went wonky after a high school trip through the former USSR. Numerous tests, specialists and blood draws produced nothing. The so-not-best-memory-ever was at a teaching hospital when med students were marched through to observe a lovely procedure called a barium enema which leaves nothing to the imagination. I was 17 and literally almost died of embarrassment right there on that table. Naked hinny and all. Even my X-ray felt indecent. All that they ever diagnosed was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – otherwise known as Epstein Barr, or “Roseanne Barr” as my Dad kept calling it one might say on purpose.
Oh how the mighty have fallen when I think back on that high school senior treated like a psych patient seeing doctor after doctor with no answers. And certainly no empathy.
Flash forward through binge eating, college life, bad food choices and worse life choices. I lived in an exhausted state, sustaining brain fog on copious amounts of caffeine. In a perpetual swing of weight loss to weight gain then back again my cortisol levels were off the charts and my adrenals were on the verge of quitting. I’d OD on Vitamins, go Vegan, do a hydro cleanse or guzzle green tea by the gallons yet nothing offered relief.
Being in an abusive marriage had taken its toll on my emotional health, my self-worth and my physical state. Keeping us afloat as the outgoing successful breadwinner by day then ratcheting down my personality to avoid criticism, verbal barbs and hurtful hands night after night took its toll. When I finally gathered my courage to step away from the marriage despite fearing his wrath, disappointing my parents, being called a divorcee and admitting to the world that my life wasn’t perfect after all, my health unraveled within three months of the final divorce decree. Yet I had learned not to expect more from a doctor than “get more rest” or “do more yoga” as I was still young.
Finally, in looking through more test results with a new doctor she paused at a a little blip on a blood panel. I remember taking a breath to rattle off all of my horrible feeling symptoms while repeating too many times to sound sane that I was not crazy.
“I just don’t feel right.”
“I just don’t feel like myself.”
” My quality of life is slipping away.”
“Please just tell me what to do to feel normal.”
And of course:
“I know I sound crazy, but I know crazy and this isn’t it.” I’m sure that was reassuring.
That doctor put me through several different tests for more than just the typical T4 thyroid test but T3, TSH and Vitamin D plus something that involved drinking barium this time. And no less it was on my birthday. I was jumping up and down in a flimsy hospital gown getting the gunk through my system so I could take the X-Ray and get to a celebratory dinner. Oh memories.
This doctor questioned the quality of my thyroid and adrenal system, but I truly didn’t find someone who “got me” until I went to see a naturopath doc who also held the title of M.D. Sort of waylaid my concerns of going “full hippy” for health. After meeting with this doctor I walked out feeling positive for the first time that this wasn’t normal and this could be fixed. Whatever “this” was. And also that I wasn’t nuts. Win win.
And that was the trick, finding the right person to connect all of my symptoms despite my youth. I vividly remember sitting in my wonderful doctor’s office as he said if a drive by happened everyone’s fight or flight instinct would be to hit the ground and I’d still be sitting in the chair too exhausted to move. Yes! Someone finally *got* me. My fight was gone and my flight was nonexistent. I’d have leapt up and high fived him – but my body was too worn out. Yet my resolve was back that my new unhealthy normal would not by my permanent state. Stay tuned!