I started having chronic pain when I was in high school and it never really occurred to me that anything could be wrong with me; I thought I was just tired, maybe even sick, or just a teenager. What I didn't know is that I was just at the beginning of a long battle with my own body, something I'm still fighting to this day.
One day during gym class, I just didn't feel like myself; I felt odd. I didn't feel dizzy or sick which is to be expected during gym class, I felt weak. It was a weird feeling, I rested my arms in my lap and I remember feeling the struggle of trying to lift them up. It didn't seem real, how could I have been a perfectly healthy kid and then all of sudden not be able to lift my arms? I went to a doctor for a blood test, because my family and I were convinced I had anemia and that I could take some iron pills and be normal, but much to our surprise that wasn't the case. My blood test came back normal, and I realized that getting to the real problem would be a lot harder than I bargained for.
After a failed self-diagnosis, I continued on like I normally would, but this time things got weird. It wasn't just my energy that was off, my whole body seemed to begin falling apart. I began having the worst pain in my side and stomach, I didn't know what to do; I finally went to a specialist who tested me for Crohn's disease. Big surprise, those tests came back perfectly fine too. I felt like I was losing my mind, my parents were almost convinced that I was a hypochondriac and I was still in pain. We couldn't understand how I could possibly be "sick" if everything that could have been a problem was ruled out.
Then, one day, I was fine. No pain, no symptoms. By the time I had convinced my family that I needed to seek help elsewhere, I was cured. My body was finally getting back to normal and I felt fine. I moved out and began college and still kept a check on everything, I was doing well.
I was doing fine until one day, I wasn't. During my first semester, I stayed pretty busy, I had a job, about ten classes and I was constantly practicing. I didn't leave much room for eating, sleeping, or taking care of myself. I was completely oblivious as to how bad I really was until my RC stopped me one day and talked to me, she was the only person who seemed to notice that I wasn't okay. She noticed that my hands shook a lot and that I always seemed tired. I had myself convinced I was crazy until she told me about her own experiences with an autoimmune disease. I took everything she said and compared it to how I felt and realized that she really did understand how I felt, but like me, there wasn't much she could do besides go to different doctors and explore her options. Still, I kept on normally until I had another flare up.
The moment finally came, nearing the end of first semester, I got bronchitis and was out for about a week, and I didn't think I was ever going to fully recover. What happened next was a series of old symptoms that had resurfaced and I was again, in pain. In early January I decided to go to the doctor on campus and see what was wrong. She did a lot of poking and suggested that I get an ultrasound done, just to check everything.
The day of my ultrasound I was told that it would take a few days to get my results back, so after it was done, I went to work and forgot about it. I got a call less than an hour after I had left, it was the doctor from the infirmary, she told me that the radiologists asked if I would come back to discuss my results because they found something on the scan.
Long story short, my gallbladder was filled with gallbladder grossness and I had to have it removed. I was actually really excited because I had read that many people felt amazing after their surgery and they had so much more energy. I was finally going to feel normal again. It wasn't the quick fix I had hoped for though, it actually didn't fix much at all. It just showed me how easily my body was prone to inflammation. After my surgery my body seemed to stop hating me and let up, until there were complications from the surgery (I'll spare the lovely details, but trust me, you're better off not knowing), and less than a year later my tonsils and adenoids started swelling, I would constantly get sick and being a voice major, it was constantly affecting my singing. So, after a quick trip to an ENT, I decided to have them both removed after my tonsils blocked my airway while I was sleeping.
I wrote this hoping that it would help someone who doesn't realize that they need help, and I've included some signs that you might need to start seeing a doctor.
1. Sensitivity to cold/ temperature changes: This is a telltale sign, especially if you feel physical pain as the result of being too cold
2. Aches and pain: Most likely you wake up with muscle aches that seem to last all day and don't really seem to have a cause.
3. "Flare-ups": A cute term that simply means, the times that your body doesn't behave. These can last for months at a time, or only occasionally. These patterns might seem unpredictable and very in severity.
4.Shaking: Sometimes your hands, legs, and muscles just spasm or shake.
5. Sensitive to touch: The parts of your body that usually are affected by muscle aches are very sensitive. Sometimes, a pat on the back or even any type of contact at all hurts.
These are just a few of the symptoms that seem to coincide with any autoimmune disorder, some people may have more, less, or even none of these. The bottom line is to pay very close attention to your body and what it's trying to tell you.
If there is anyone going through this you're not crazy, it's your body and you know when something isn't right. Don't ignore any signs it's giving you and if you don't find an agreeable doctor, leave and get a different one. Seriously, if your whole body seems to be the problem, then you're most likely going to have many less than ideal conversations with your physician, make sure you two are on the same page. It's like dating. Find a doctor you're compatible with, because this is not easy, especially when you have no idea where to start.
Good luck and Stay Healthy,