Wednesday could not arrive faster. I was crossing down days, tapping my pen to the ticks of time, and daydreaming about my 3:30PM appointment.
Leading up to the day, I had thrown myself into research and had devoured endless articles and several books because I was so certain that I had found the cause of my health troubles. I was so sure I finally had an answer for the 7 years of chronic health issues.
And even though the issue I thought I had would mean a lot of work and some challenging life changes, I was ready for it. I was ready for all of it just so that I could have an answer.
I was positive and I was certain the test results would be too.
They were not.
More tests, more hope, more nothing. Again.
With the exception of a hint of anemia, the extensive blood work showed that I am in near perfect health.
So then why the absolute heck have I been so unwell for so long? Below I’ve listed some of the symptoms I’ve been bequeathed with for 7 years:
Episodes of throat tightening – neither allergy or asthma, nothing helps
Brain Fog – inability to process information, retain information, or locate information previously known, sometimes impairs my speech and ability to listen and read
Body aches – neck and shoulders
Chronic Fatigue/Exhaustion – waking up and feeling as if I didn’t go to bed, despite 10-12 hours of sleep
Dizziness – sporadic head rushes
Headaches – a near constant band of pressure around my head, that feels weighted
Loss of memory – as if someone rearranged my memories and put them all on shelves I can’t reach
Temperature issues – sometimes freezing, other times have hot flashes
I’ve had to leave jobs, put a hold on dating, cancel gobs of plans with friends, limit my life to my bedroom and my office. I had to stop drinking coffee!! For years, all my experiences have taken place in my house, on the metro, and in my cubicle. There are so many days where even that is too much and all I can do is sleep the hours in between in hopes rest will alleviate the exhaustion. But rest hardly ever comes.
We’re nearing 1 year since these symptoms clobbered me and landed me in the Emergency Room. And even after I took 5 months off from working, I feel nearly just as unwell today as I did last October.
How can that be?
I’ve meditated, I’ve changed my diet, I exercise, I left my high stress job and work at a very low stress job. I’ve been socializing more, I’ve been in therapy for eons, and I gave myself the space to believe and hope that my life could be more than this ill-health cage. I was positive.
And for most of June and part of July that hope felt realized and absolutely possible.
But when mid-July rolled in, so did those chronic symptoms and that snarky voice that exists in some cave of my mind who whispers “I told you so.”
I told you not to dream, not to hope, not to let your feelings out because now you have to put them all away.
And I should be happy to see those test results, I should be happy that all seems well. Part of me is, I definitely high fived myself internally knowing my organs aren’t failing – that’s always a good thing.
But then the doctor showed me a chart about hormones and talked to me about stress. She looked at me and asked me about that trauma I had hinted at during our first appointment.
An internal groan vibrated through me. Not that again.
I quickly shuffled through the headlines: mother with mental illness, extreme highs and lows, fear, shame, belittlement, alcoholic step-father, sacrifice, isolation, escape, freedom, illness.
I look at her and say it can’t be this, I’ve done so much therapy. I am so much happier. It has been 8 years since I walked away. I’ve done everything I’m supposed to in order to heal. I don’t ruminate obsessively any more, I rarely have nightmares, I hardly even think about my mother, and just about never think about my step-father.
But it would appear that my health is indeed still tied to that hurt, that stress, that inability to escape.
My body is still at war, because that is all it knew from the moment I was born through the 20 years I lived with my mom.
I shouldn’t be surprised by this, and in some ways I’m not because I knew there was a connection. But I resent the fact that those years still have so much power over me. I resent how lonely it has been and how little support I’ve had just to make it to this point – a point that feels like a “start all over again” alert.
I thought I had made it around the Monopoly game board, but I’ve just been sent back to start and the prison is closer than the finish line.
This weekend I’ll be doing more testing, something called the “Salivary Circadian Panel Hormone Kit”, which requires a 24 hour process. I’m still willing to do whatever it takes to get answers and whatever it takes to get well.
Tomorrow I will return to my meditation pillow, I will practice EFT (Emotional Tapping Technique), in 1.5 weeks I’ll go to a new therapist, and in a month I will likely have the results from this test which will show whatever the doctor is speculating.
The future is positive. But today I am not.
Today I am sitting with all the versions of myself, all the ages I’ve held, and we’re wondering why we’re still in pain at 28, nearly 3 decades. The younger versions can’t believe their love never earns mom’s love, the older ones are scared of how many more years it will take, and my present self, the spokesperson, can only shrug because speculating answers is too potentially hurtful for me to consider.
Be positive, I tell myself. Listen to Taylor Swift’s new album for the 88th time and just keep going. You’ve made it this far.
But goodness, my fears whisper, how much longer will it be and how much more will it take?
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