My Health Journey - Part 1 (Where It All Started)

I'm a hot mess. Literally. I get hot flashes. But I'm the coldest person you'll ever meet. So cold, in fact, that I have to buy out our local Target's supply of Hot Hands to use in my shoes all year around. All year. I can never feel my extremities. Yet, I will randomly break out in a sweat while having a relaxed conversation over dinner. And that's not even one of my "problems" - I just thought it was worth mentioning in case you happen to be one of those people who feels better by reading about the weird misfortunes of others. Because if you are, this post is gonna do great things for your confidence!

So, this post is a brief timeline of the different symptoms I've experienced and diagnoses I've have been given as people are always asking what exact health journey I'm on anyway. And if you're not one of those people, then you really shouldn't have clicked on a post called "My Health Journey." That was kind of your bad. In the subsequent parts, I'm going to go full Monica and talk about each issue in the order that we started to tackle them and exactly what we did. Because without organization there would so much sadness and despairity in the world, and we already get our fill of that when we watch The Bachelor. And if you didn't understand the Monica reference, that's a good indication this blog may not be for you. Go forth and watch Friends. Return when task is completed. 

Apparently, not much has changed.

Apparently, not much has changed.

Historically speaking. I'm a big scaredy cat when it comes to doctors and dentists and anyone who wears glasses and a white coat and/or protective mask. I grew up a relatively healthy girl. Never broke a bone or had to be sliced up for any reason. Nothing but good ole school physicals until I almost lost my life in a car accident Junior year. The months following that incident gave me my fill of scary white coats for quite some time. After I was finally discharged with a permanent skull fracture, I did not return to any medical facility for about seven years, when it was confirmed I had a suspicious breast lump. After the biopsy, it turned out to be just a cyst. So, miracle #2. Miracle #1 being that I survived that car accident. The point to be drawn here is there's no history of chronic childhood illness... aside from a few antibiotics for sinus infections, I had been, for the most part, very fortunate. The only potent medication I was ever on was Accutane for about six months, which definitely doesn't give me any advantages in the GI area. 

College years. A few things of note: I lived in Xalapa, Mexico for about a month in my early 20s. And yes, I brushed my teeth with the water and got deathly ill. I also spent a semester in London in 2005, where I traveled frequently to Spain, Italy, and France. The following years, I had begun to notice some issues developing - mainly stomach related. I attributed most of this to constant elevated stress levels or possibly the Accutane. You know those 1-800-BAD-DRUG commercials? Yea, it was a main feature on there for awhile. Stress wise, I was walking through some form of earthly hell for a large chunk of my 20s, and stress was a continual part of my life for a long time. But that's a story for another time. Or like 25 stories. But, the struggle was real, and I'm not one who can cope with stress easily, genetically. Slowly, I began to find myself unable to bounce back from anything. I was exhausted, depressed, and sick to my stomach constantly. By the time I reached my late 20s, my health issues had culminated to a daily struggle that I was unable to manage. My symptoms at that time were: night sweats, insomnia, chronic exhaustion, joint pain, chest pains, severe GI issues of varying kinds, poor digestion, hot flashes, feeling jittery, complete inability to concentrate,  depression, lack of motivation, muscle weakness, lightheadedness. I was on zero meds of any kind.

at mayo may 2014

at mayo may 2014

Seeking help. Even when I did seek medical help, I was dissatisfied with the drug pushing and lack of general interest in finding the source of the issue, rather just to mask the symptoms. I first saw a GI Dr. in 2008 that basically told me all my issues were in my head, and prescribed me Prozac and acid reducers. Wrong answer. I never went back. And here's where I need to make it clear to you that I don't hate doctors - I appreciate conventional and holistic professionals and think they are necessary for different reasons. I wish everyone could have access to both as they navigate their health issues.

Getting somewhere. I started seeing a Chiropractor/ holistic Dr., who really wanted to get to the bottom of some nerve pain in my back, so I agreed to an extensive blood test. Best / worst decision I ever made, knowwhatimean? When I got back those blood tests, there were some pretty alarming results that resulted in a bombardment of bad news. The main set of issues initially uncovered were: severe adrenal disfunction, hypothyroidism, elevated lymphocytes (white blood cells), multiple vitamin deficiencies, hypoglycemia, food allergies, HPA axis miscommunication, viral pattern, parasitic infection (possibly related to those magical trips my early 20s?). In 2015, we find out I actually have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) as well.  Isn't that just a nice cluster of what the heck are you talking about. This cycle of bad news went on for awhile as I sought out medical doctors, holistic doctors, naturopaths, and even Mayo Clinic. I had almost every organ in my body examined, MRI'd, or ultra sounded to pinpoint exactly what is the source of my various health problems, as there has to be a central cause. I had so much blood taken I can't believe I am still alive (gag city). And it seems with every test, the more discouraged I became. They would always find something wrong, but it was never the answer. Side note: never go to Mayo Clinic unless you want to be made aware of every solitary malfunction in your body and experience a lot of anxiety from trying to navigate underground tunnels. Secondary side note: hunt down xanax before committing to an hour long MRI.

VIew from the Gonda Building, Mayo campus

VIew from the Gonda Building, Mayo campus

Unrelated problems that were discovered along the path to discover what was actually causing my issues: bicuspid Aortic valve (there should be three, I have two), blockage in left kidney, gastric fundic stomach polyps (not cancerous at this time), two benign liver growths, and a congenital deformity in one of my major organs that I can't even talk about yet. GREAT!

To be honest, which is my favorite pastime, I got to the point where I felt like my body had just turned on me and there was no possible way to dig myself out. The doctors had no answers. Research took over my life. It's a hopeless feeling I can't even describe. You get bad news with every new test, and that's just what you start to expect. Did that sound depressing? Well, it was.

Here are the other parts to this series: 

My Health Journey - Part 1 (Overview)  // My Health Journey - Part 2 (GI)  // My Health Journey - Part 3 (Adrenals) // My Health Journey - Part 4 (Thyroid)

Wondering who's the mysterious wordy genius behind these posts? Follow this little rabbit trail to read more About Me! The use of the term genius is open to interpretation.