I have health anxiety. This started in late 2012, when I got Shingles, and then discovered my knee was torn, the MRI showing abnormalities in my bone marrow which a Complete Blood Count dismissed as not being leukemia, the opposite hip pain from compensating, the severely low vitamin D and low iron levels, the calcification found on my mammogram that they are "watching" despite calling it benign, the sun allergy, extreme hair loss, and why-the-hell-am-I-so-tired-all-the-time?! Where did my energy go? Exercise and lose weight and you will feel better, this is the standard advice. But I feel like I can't do now, what I was doing 2 years ago before most of this crap started. I have this horrible anxiety hanging over me, that there is something deeply wrong with me; life-changing wrong. The latest stuff with my fingernails changing is very unsettling. There are very few "normal" reasons for fingernails to change shape (menopause is the most non-threatening one), and because I still have the exhaustion, hair loss, loss of appetite and rapid weight gain, I just feel like something is amiss.
Last month I got a nasty case of bronchitis, it settled into my chest without warning, I didn't even have a cold at the time, it just fell on me like a load of bricks. I felt so bad, I was with only a sliver of a voice at work for a full 2 weeks, coughing so deep I almost couldn't catch my breath. I went to the walk-in where they told me it was just a virus and they don't give antibiotics for it unless it turns into pneumonia. So I got an inhaler and a cough syrup with codeine. The inhaler made me feel weird, in fact, there was one point after taking it that I felt like I was going to pass out and I felt like my heart was racing. I felt so weird that I stopped taking it immediately. My blood pressure has been getting increasingly higher since I've been putting more weight back on, so I am nervous about that.
Right during that illness, my coworker gave her 2-week notice. I wasn't surprised, but that meant that it was just down to me and my boss to run our two offices, no room for time off since there was no one comfortable enough in our department to cover us. Two days before that coworker was finished working for us, my boss got fired. So I am the only optician for two offices, trying to cross-train some eye care nurses/technicians how to do my job, often over the phone. UGH! The night they fired my boss, I comfort-ate, like 6 large M&M cookies, which I knew I would pay for later, because I don't typically eat much dairy. That evening, I had an extreme wave of nausea wash over me, and I got that feeling like I was going to pass out, that my lungs weren't working right, and I didn't know what was happening to me. I ate some crystallized ginger to try and calm the nausea, then spent 5 hours sitting Indian-style in my living room, because that was the only position that didn't make me feel like I was dying. I woke up feeling exactly the same, every time I stood up I felt like I would faint. I somehow got my kids ready and we headed off to school and work. I made it 1 hour before I had to go home sick. I had no voice, I was coughing my chest off and my stomach felt like there was some sort of large boulder set in it. I had a sensation that I somehow ingested Icy-Hot and it spread to my back and chest. I spent all day and evening on the couch, afraid to sit up because of how I expected it to make me feel. by 8:30 PM, when I knew my kids would be getting to bed soon, I sat up. The heat creeped into my chest and back and my entire body began trembling uncontrollably. I went to the ER. It turns out I had gastritis, swelling of the stomach lining. An anti-nausea pill made me feel good enough to eat again (I had had a total of 4 saltine crackers and 1/4 can of ginger ale in a 24 hour period). I walked out of the hospital with a prescription for antibiotics (for my lungs, even though it was confirmed that it was 'just bronchitis') and an anti-nausea pill. My stomach has been super sensitive to heartburn ever since, which sucks, because it's tough to know what is and isn't going to irritate it. I went to my doctor last Wednesday to discuss my concerns and changes. I was her last appointment of the day, and she spent 1 and 1/2 hours with me, trying to figure out what could be going on with me. Then I gave 5 tubes of blood to be tested. She is testing me for a bacterial infection (of the stomach), Celiac's disease, thyroid problems, and connective tissues diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus). I can't remember what the 5th test was for. I think I stumped her.
Of course, in my mind, when I know there is a possibility for something nasty going on inside me, I start to assume that is what it is. So in my mind, I have lupus (it is commonly linked to sun allergy) or RA i have been feeling so achy stiff, and walk around like an old lady. It's tough because I don't have distinct symptoms. Waiting for test results is torturous.
This morning I went for a walk. I was thinking about the what ifs. What if I do have a nasty disease? Of course my gut says that I would get uber-fit and kick it. But as I was walking I realized how much effort it takes me right now, just to do this basic thing. It takes effort to be aware of the bad habits I am falling into, favoring my knee and not using the muscles. I walked for 35 minutes, at easy/moderate pace, and I felt every minute of it in my muscles. How did I get so far off track? It is bittersweet; if there is something wrong with me, there is hope that I can be treated and feel better, normal, and get things back on track. But that also means I have something wrong with me. If they don't find anything wrong, that means I am just slowly losing my fitness level and have to rely on my own inner strength to rebuild what was lost. It isn't easy either way. But today I took a little bit of me back. I can't worry about how awesome things were once upon a time or how things might be tomorrow, good or bad. Today I took a step. It didn't magically heal me or make me feel energized, but I did it. At this point, I am willing to try anything.
Now, time for a little retail therapy, I have to find some shirts that fit this large body again!
Happy Mother's Day to those who celebrate!