Hey there! Welcome to Act 2.. aka 2013 and 2014. These were my darkest and brightest years. How could I experience two extremes? Well continue reading and I’ll share how…
I remember NYE 2013 vividly. I was visiting my best friend in Denver and when the clock chimed midnight to signal the new day and new year we clinked our glass of champagne and “cheersed” a good riddance to 2013. I look back on that year and it was one for the books in so many ways. I faced professional and personal adversity that nearly broke me. I grew more than I thought I was capable. Stress was at a maximum and my body was in constant flight or fight mode. I had no idea at the time just what I was doing to my body. I recall my mom constantly telling me to go to the doctor and my dad telling me to eat better and exercise more, stress less. Well did I listen to them? No, I was 25 years old and I knew what I was doing… except I didn’t and I ended up in rough shape.
Like I mentioned in Act 1, getting a Tonsillectomy was not the solve to my poor health. Instead I started developing the following symptoms in addition to the extreme fatigue:
- Ear pain
- Pus in the folds of my ears
- Body aches
- Joint pain
- Diarrhea (yeah, I’m going there)
As I’ve mentioned before, my hope is to reach people that are facing similar experiences and hopefully shed a little light on how I managed to battle my way back to a higher quality of life.
So I want to share a little more on 2 of the symptoms above. Mostly because these were items majorly overlooked by my healthcare providers. First the ear pain and pus. When I say ear pain I don’t mean the actual ear, it was in the general area around my ear and oftentimes shot down my neck under my ears. I could never find a doctor that understood what I meant. When fall hits and it starts to get cold and breezy and you walk around outside with your ears uncovered and get that achy feeling… that is what it felt like but it wasn’t fall. I also started to notice that I had dried pus (gross) in the upper folds of my ears. Every. single. doctor. dismissed. this…. except one. The one I found four years later. I was obviously concerned and started a conversation with a coworker about the symptoms I was experiencing in addition to this weird pus coming from my ears. Now this man was married to a wonderful woman who just happened to face a myriad of her own very serious health concerns. They were both in their mid to late fifties and when I shared this info with him I saw his eyes soften and a look of concern shadow his face. While in her 20s, his wife too had these symptoms. She faced the same doctor visits that provided no relief and had lived with this for the last 30 years until the disease manifested into multiple serious diseases. To a point, I think it broke his heart to see another young lady facing these health challenges and know what kind of path I was on… unless I could find the answer. I look back now and it pains me. I was young and naive and I had no idea what was ahead. To an extent I brushed it off thinking… I’ll be different, I’ll get past this, this can’t be that serious… I wish I would have known then what I know now. I would have fought harder, longer, would have been more assertive and wouldn’t have taken no as an answer. Honestly, I question how I could have let myself down. Anyway, back to it… the pus in the ears. Clearly not normal and there is a very real reason for it. Stay tuned for a post dedicated to what I’ve learned about this ear pain and pus in the ears.
The second one I want to talk about is the diarrhea. Ok, I know talking about bowel movements in our society can be taboo but seriously… it’s so so so important to talk about important stuff! Even if it’s a little embarrassing. It’s how we learn! I won’t be shying away from talking about poo. Even if it makes you uncomfortable this is so important to read! It changed my life. So, I was experiencing diarrhea multiple times a week. To be honest, I did not pay attention to my body. I rarely did and I was so consumed with my career to notice what my body was telling me. It eventually got so bad that it started making me feel even more exhausted (didn’t know it was possible), I was having stomach pains and it wasn’t just a slight nuisance anymore. Long story short I began to notice that it was worse when I ate a lot of beef or meat in general. I did a little experiment and stopped eating all meat for 1 month. And what do you know… my diarrhea got better! By April 2014 I had become a total vegetarian. I received a lot of crap for it being from the heart of beef cattle country but it was one of the best decisions I made for myself. Fast forward to 2016 and I had a food sensitivity test done. Beef came back as my number one food to avoid, with chicken and pork on the do not eat list as well. Am I saying everyone should be a vegetarian… absolutely not! The moral of this story is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It will tell you what it wants and what it doesn’t. Don’t ignore it!
2014 was a big year for me! Remember I said I had high highs and low lows? Well the highs were traveling! I went to New Zealand (pictured above in Lake Tekapo!) in April and Ireland/London/Paris in the fall. These were my first big journeys outside the U.S. On the outside, it looked like I was living this perfect life. I was backpacking through New Zealand with my childhood best friend and roaming the countryside of Ireland with my parents. In truth, I was trying to find something to make me feel something. Anything. At this point in the battle, I was becoming depressed. The doctors weren’t listening/helping and my health was deteriorating further. As I mentioned before I was on and off antidepressants. I could barely feel joy. Sadness and anxiety were prevalent before I eventually turned numb. These trips were my silent escape from the pain. I couldn’t share this with anyone because I was embarrassed. I thought I was failing at life. By the fall I had slipped into the darkest, deepest cave. I didn’t see anyway out and eventually believed the doctors and that I was actually depressed. Getting out of bed was like trying to run through a swimming pool of molasses. Pretending to be happy for others was becoming more and more challenging. I slept through the weekends and holed myself up in my apartment, never hanging out with my friends. I had accepted defeat. I believed that I would never find out what was wrong with me. I was hopeless. I didn’t know how I could continue to work because of the pain and the exhaustion. I couldn’t call it fatigue at that point. It was beyond that point. It was unbearable. It wasn’t a life. That Christmas, I made an appointment that would lead to my first of many discoveries. A discovery that at first, gave me a ray of hope but eventually catapulted me into a downward spiral of emotions, pain and fear. That wraps up 2013 and 2014. Check back soon for 2015! I wish you health and peace!
Disclaimer: The content of this site is purely my opinion and personal experience. I am not a doctor or healthcare professional. Nothing in this post and/or site is mean to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent disease. You should consult with your medical doctor or qualified licensed healthcare professional before making any changes to your healthcare regime.