Many of you know that I’m chronically ill. What I have, I’m not so sure. Neither are the fifty billion doctors I’ve seen all over the freaking country.
It started a little under five years ago, a week before my wedding, when I was hospitalized for a staph infection.
The doctors told my soon-to-be husband that “he should prepare himself” because I probably wouldn’t be leaving the hospital. They advised me to cancel my wedding.
I didn’t. Seven days later I walked down the aisle and married the love of my life.
The crazy-pants antibiotics that made me vomit around the clock cured the staph infection. Yay!
I thought everything was fine. Fast forward to a year later and I was seriously ill. Like ‘want to claw my throat out’ and have to take painkillers every day kinda ill.
I saw a handful of doctors who all said the same thing: get your tonsils removed.
Done. The surgeon who removed my tonsils said that my symptoms (flu-like stuff, daily fevers, severe fatigue, throat ulcers) would most likely go away.
A couple days after getting my tonsils removed, I developed pneumonia. And, it lingered worse than your Aunt’s horrible perfume after she hugs you. For five months, I had to sleep sitting up or I wouldn’t be able to sleep cause I’d cough the entire time.
Everyone was shocked when my symptoms that were supposedly gonna disappear after I got my tonsils removed didn’t.
That started the doctor to doctor shuffle. Johns Hopkins, Wake Forest, UVA plus over fifteen local doctors. Ear, nose and throat specialists, oral dermatologists, rheumatologists, infectious disease specialists, immunology specialists and more.
Everyone wanted to do invasive testing (which I did) but no one wanted to try anything to actually treat my symptoms. Every doctor I went to basically said, “I’m stumped.”
Finally, I found a doctor who wanted to try things to alleviate my symptoms. I’m currently taking medicine that has made me anemic. Before that I tried other medications that made me violently sick to my stomach.
And, at my latest university visit, I was tested for leukemia and lymphoma because “you’ve been tested for every infectious disease and your symptoms almost always fall into one of two categories: infectious disease or cancer.”
I was told this four days before my thirty-second birthday this July.
For a week while the tests were being sent to the Mayo Clinic, my entire family was freaked out. My husband had nightmares of visiting my grave. My mom was in denial. My mother-in-law cried with me.
Cancer. No one had ever mentioned cancer seriously before. One of my doctors was concerned that I might have throat cancer but he did this horrible test where he shoved a scope/light down my nose into my throat to check for anything cancer-like and didn’t find anything. It hurt like a bitch.
Thankfully, the tests revealed that I didn’t have leukemia or lymphoma.
Phew! At that point, I thought I could handle anything. As long as it wasn’t one of those very scary diseases, I could do this.
But being sick for years has worn me down. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. And, I’m so sick of being sick.
Fevers, fatigue, constant nausea, throat and stomach ulcers, severe muscle and joint pain, and more super fun symptoms have taken over my life.
It’s so true that you don’t appreciate your health until you lose it. I would do practically anything for one week of feeling healthy cause that hasn’t happened in years. Can you imagine? I know some of you who are chronically ill can.
Anyways, I’ll get to the point of today’s post.
I’m done being carted from doctor to doctor. I’m done putting all of my hopes and wishes into my next doctor’s appointment.
I can’t tell you how many times my husband or I have said, “This doctor is going to be the one. He/she is going to know what this is and he’s going to have a plan on how to combat it.”
Then I usually leave the appointment sobbing because we traveled for hours to meet with a doctor who doesn’t have a clue what to do and paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for it.
In the past five years, I’ve accumulated more than $30,000 in medical bills. And, I have health insurance! That’s insane.
When I went to Wake Forest, I met with a specialist for about an hour and then received a medical bill for $1,968.25. What the what? You’re kidding right?
I don’t really care about the money. I mean, I do when I feel like you haven’t done anything to help me and then you charge me more than what I pay to live in my house each month. But, if a doctor actually helped me, I wouldn’t care. I’d pay whatever it took.
Being disappointed over and over and over and over sucks. It’s worse than spending thousands of dollars.
So, I’m taking my health into my own hands.
I’m not going to stop seeing my doctors or taking my medications just yet, but I’m also not going to keep relying on them to figure this crap out. I’ve seen the best of the best and they don’t know what to do besides fill me with painkillers.
When my husband and I traveled to UVA in July, we decided that if that doctor didn’t have any ideas, we needed to start taking action on our own. Meaning we needed to start experimenting with holistic, more natural methods.
Don’t get me wrong. I have tried other things besides medication. I’ve done acupuncture, meditation and seen a chiropractor for months. I got myofascial therapy for months. I eat almost all organic. I’ve completely cut gluten from my diet. But, there are lots of other things I could do: eat even better, do daily yoga, try reflexology, get weekly massages, try acupuncture with a different person, get serious about meditation, try tapping. I haven’t tried it all.
So, I’ve decided to try something semi-new or completely new each month over the next year and document it to see how it makes me feel. Monthly health experiments if you will.
Because I truly believe that food is medicine, the first thing I’m going to do is focus on nutrition and improving the nutrients I put into my body each day.
I ordered a bunch of books on nutrition but the one I’m focusing on this month is Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris.
I ordered acai berry powder, spirulina, camu berry powder, goji berries and such. And each day in September, I’m going to consume a smoothie from this cookbook, either replacing a meal or having it for a snack.
I only eat one or two meals a day most days because I’m nauseous all the time. It’s hard to eat when every mouthful of food feels like it’s gonna come back up. I’m hoping that by adding these smoothies to my daily food intake, I’ll get more nutrients and eat at least three times a day. That’s gotta help things a little bit, right?
I’m hopeful. We shall see.
I thought about keeping all of this to myself, because Blacksburg Belle is about helping creative entrepreneurs build successful businesses. But, when I announced that I was struggling with my health a while ago, I was inundated with emails and comments from others who are suffering from chronic illness or constant sluggishness or unhealthiness.
Your health FOR SURE impacts your business. I know it impacts mine. When I’m feeling better, I do better work and get more done.
If you want to follow along, I’m going to post updates weekly or twice monthly (depending on how much I have to share) via written posts and videos. I won’t be posting these on Wednesdays cause I want to stick to business-related stuff on Wednesdays after this post. I’m thinking Fridays.
I won’t be sending out emails about these posts, so if you want to know when these posts get published, make sure that you’re subscribed via Bloglovin or whatever blog reader you use.
Also, I’m going to update my Instagram account every day during the month of September with a photo of that day’s smoothie along with how much I like it and how it makes me feel. If you want daily updates, follow me on Instagram.
And, lastly, if you want to get healthier, I hope that you join me for some of these challenges. Maybe try healthy smoothies for breakfast for a week next month just to see how it makes you feel? Maybe it’ll increase your energy, make your skin glow, help you drop a pound or two, or just make you feel a tad bit better.
You can look for my next update and how I feel after my first five days of smoothies on Friday, September 5th. I hope to “see” you then, in the comments of course!
I’m planning as I go, so if you have done something that has vastly improved your health, let me know about it!
Has daily meditation changed your life or helped your pain management? Has acupuncture cured you? Has yoga given you more energy and increased your happiness? I might just make a monthly experiment out of it.