Chronic Pain, Creative Writing, eating disorders, Favorites, My Story, psychology

Fighting a health issue without judgement, for the first time

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They say one of the worst things a blogger can do is to begin all your posts with an explanation of why it’s been so long since your last post.

Normally I’m able to stop myself from doing this, but I’m going to let myself do it this time, since it’s actually relevant to what I want to say.

The reason I haven’t been on here in so long is I had a crazy past few months dealing with the most insane dust and mold allergies.

I had been living in a super old 1700’s farmhouse that had not been well-maintained.  A good friend had been living there for years and needed a roommate, and the rent was super low.  So I moved in with him, following my return from California.

I had never really had significant allergies before, beyond suffering from pollen one or two weeks out of the year.

But this winter, it came out of nowhere.  I thought I was sick at first, and had to take antibiotics for a sinus infection, but even once that was treated, some of my symptoms never went away.

Thankfully, my primary care physician referred me to an allergist (even though I was convinced I wasn’t the kind of person who had allergies) and sure enough, I tested positive for dust and mold allergies.

By then, things had gotten so bad that I could barely sleep– I was so congested it was hard to breathe.  I’d wake up feeling like I couldn’t get enough air.  My sleep schedule got all messed up, and I started relying on things like Benadryl and Nyquil, which of course left me exhausted the next day.  And during the day, dealing with my symptoms felt like a full-time job.

In the midst of all this, I realized I had to find a new place to live– a pretty intense and financially-involved decision to make when you know you’re not in your right mind.

Somehow it worked out.  It took another month, but I finally ended up moving, and am gradually doing better (my allergy doctor said it might take a few weeks).

I’m a little upset at how much time I lost on this problem– really, I wasn’t able to be productive for much of the winter, until things finally came to a head in March.

However, if I look back, I can see that some good came out of this, in a way.

This was really the first time I experienced a health issue and pursued treatment on it without stopping to judge myself, or the way I was handling it.

***

I mentioned in a previous post that, in the past few years, I came to realize that many of the same issues that contributed to my eating disorder were also affecting the way I handled my health issues.

Specifically, in an unconscious way, I was afraid to devote too much time or effort to “fixing” something with my body, because I was afraid it would trigger the same obsession that caused me to starve myself while running 40+ miles a week, until I eventually developed compartment syndrome.

With issues such as my chronic pain, and then my SI joint issues, I only tried to fix the problem to a certain extent.  I’d go see a specialist, I’d go to PT, I’d do my exercises.  But then I wanted to stop, be a normal girl, focus on other things.

I finally identified this pattern 5 years into my SI joint problem.  I realized, you know what, this problem has completely taken over my life anyway.  It doesn’t really make sense to try to “limit” the time I spend trying to fix it, because things are so limited for me right now anyway.

So I gave myself permission to do whatever it took, and started my SI joint blog as a way to keep track of the things I researched.  And it was during my research for this blog that I first came across another patient saying constant chiropractor adjustments made her worse.  That planted the seed in my mind, and I ultimately came to realize that the same was true for me as well.

With my allergy stuff… I got right to it.  I scheduled an allergy test, and when the first office of the sprawling medical practice couldn’t fit me in for over 6 weeks, I called around until I found an opening in 2 weeks.  I made all the lifestyle changes my doctor recommended, and then some.  And then I moved.

Of course, it was a little easier to proceed without judgement from others in the context of allergies.  After all, we don’t suspect people of “making up” allergies for some kind of gain. You can’t get workers comp for it, and there aren’t any super fun drugs.

But even so, I felt that the biggest difference this time around was in my mind.

I had it in my head that I was a “normal” person, experiencing a problem, and I did what it took to get better.  I didn’t waste time on “whys” or “what ifs.”  I didn’t ask if I deserved to get better, or worry about what the doctors might think of me.  I simply had a problem, and I did what it took to find a solution.

When I first started having chronic pain at nineteen, I thought I deserved it…  I’d starved and abused my body, even though I should have known better, and that the pain and the compartment syndrome and maybe even my SI joint problems were the price I had to pay.

Now, at age 32, I never felt that way about my allergies on any level… I just saw them as a crazy fluke of biology, a random stroke of unfortunate genetic luck that was completely not my fault.

So… it’s interesting to feel this way.

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Does anyone out there know what I mean?

Have you ever come to realize that your own negative beliefs and fears about yourself were affecting the way you pursued treatment?

Don’t let them.  Believe in yourself– believe that you are normal, and that answers are out there.  Because they are.

5 thoughts on “Fighting a health issue without judgement, for the first time”

  1. Your the only other person who I’ve come across that had compartment syndrome!

    If you don’t mind me asking, where did it happen on your body?
    I didn’t personally have it, but my 14 yr old brother did.
    They have no idea what caused it- the only thing they could think that may have caused it was a mix between all the energy drinks he was chugging at the time + a basketball mildly hitting his thigh (this was 7 yrs ago, when it was alllll about energy drinks.)
    They also said the energy drinks messed up his blood work, so they couldn’t even detect what was wrong at first.
    The doctor said in another 30 min, my brother would have lost total use of his leg. He had 3 emergency surgeries in less than a week and has a 2 inch think scar going from his upper thigh down to his knee cap!

    He has something else that goes on with some of his blood vessels- it’s rare. I just don’t remember the name of it. It’s not chronic pain or anything though.

    But it does make me wonder if my brother and I share some kind of malfunction to the body.

    I have CRPS/Fibro/Chronic Gastritis, with a long and somewhat interesting past of illnesses that impact your nervous system.

    I fell like The odd’s are kinda high that there’s some kind of link where the both of us have had rare illnesses and rare diseases that effect our blood vessels/nervous system.

    Have you heard of any weird family links like that before?

    Ps: thank you for sharing everything you’ve learned through out the years. We really do become our own best health advocates!

    Hope all is well <3

    Heather Lynn

    1. Hi Heather, thanks so much for your comment! I had compartment syndrome in both of my lower legs. Mine was the chronic kind, so fortunately I was never at risk of losing a limb. In my case, it was an overuse injury– I was running 40 miles a week with extremely flat feet (I was later told never to run without orthotics). I ended up having surgery as well, which luckily fixed the problem.

      That is interesting (although unfortunate) that you and your brother have had such a wide range of health issues. I’m definitely not a doctor, but to my knowledge, I don’t think there is necessarily a link between something like compartment syndrome and nervous system issues such as CRPS. Although, as I’m sure you’re aware, there is definitely a link between nervous system-based conditions such as CRPS and fibro, however.

      I’ve actually never written about this before, but I’ve also struggled with gastritis, so we have that in common as well! Mine is definitely exacerbated by stress, so I can see how it might go in hand with chronic pain.

      Anyway, thank you for stopping by! I really appreciate your comment– yes, we really are our own best advocates!!

  2. I know what you are talking about. Not getting care has gotten me pretty sick. And then the doctor always gets miffed because I didn’t come in sooner. I have a difficult time judging when the right time is. Since I talk myself out of care so often. I finally got to a point in my life where I have to make myself a priority, and it is not being selfish, and I don’t deserve to be sick. I DO deserve to be healthy. I owe it to myself and to my family. I’m glad you found that in yourself.

    1. Thanks so much, Iggy. I’m glad you have reached a similar realization in your own life, as well. I know from my own experience with chronic pain that it can be really hard to judge when it’s time to go back to the doctor. Stopping to ask “do I really deserve to get better?” only makes things more complicated, and takes away from your ability to clearly identify what’s going on with your body. Self-blame is really just a waste of time.

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