Sep 19, 2010
A not so small victory for me.
For the last decade, I slowly slipped into becoming a bit of a mysophobe, or germaphobe. I am still the mom with the hand sanitizer, and Lysol can in her purse. If you coughed, I would leave the area. If I could not leave the area, then I would make an invisible six foot perimeter which you would not be allowed to enter. Being diagnosed with bronchitis, pneumonia every year, sometimes multiple times a year will do that to a person. Intermittent bouts of vertigo, tinnitus, migraines and other types of illness drove me to fear many things.
If my children got sick...I knew I had two, maybe three days at best before it would soon envelop me. After I had my last baby, I had to have my gallbladder removed. My last pregnancy ended, in a miscarriage. My husband fought cancer, while I cheered him on, after a year long battle, he won. I'm the sole bread winner for our family while he fights to regain his health. We soon realized our two year old son was showing language delays, some are asking if he is Autistic. By now my teenage daughter loathes my very presence, is skipping school and smoking pot daily. During this same time, I lose my sweet grandmother, and I slip slowly into a nervous breakdown.
I felt as if I was falling apart, and some how, no one but me could see it. Doctors always just patched me up, and sent me home. Antibiotics were my salvation. I was judged by so many. Well you should eat better, exercise more, do this less, more of that...you should take better care of yourself. Judged even by the doctor who scoffed at my blood test and said, "Wow you blood counts were so bad I would think you to be a cancer patient." I was sent home with a nice antibiotic Z pack for 10 days. A few months later, I'd be back again, sick again...
I honestly thought I was dying a very slow unacknowledged death. I thought only when my autopsy is done will they know what killed me, and only then will I be released from their judgment. Finally, I will gain some acknowledgment that I was sick, not lazy, weak, or insane.
I moved my children across country to where they had an abundance of family. I knew my little family would be safe, loved and well taken care of in the event of my demise. There wasn't a day that passed, and I would think maybe I am crazy. I'm such a sissy, so emo-drama. Get over yourself. I begin to loath myself. Always sick and tired.
One night I heard my grandmother's voice, "Dena get up honey...do not give up."
I thought maybe I need to see yet another doctor. Is it really pointless to yet another doctor again? I went every time I was sick, and every year for my physical like clock work. All my labs were always perfect. I even thought maybe it is all in my head. Maybe I am not sick, and tired...but just sick of it all. Maybe all the abuse I sustained growing up, maybe it had finally taken it's toll, and I had finally lost it. Spiraling slowly into a dark well of self pity, and depression. Maybe everyone else can see my "illness" and I am the blind one.
Finally, I decide to write down EVERY last single symptom. I decide I will find a doctor who will listen to me, and not just look at lab results. I decide I will give it one last fight, before I admit defeat.
It took almost a year, and two failed attempts before I found the him. The doctor who saved me...he spent almost two hours listening, reviewing, questioning me that day. Even when all my labs came back normal, he pushed for more, and in less than a months time ...I had over 23 blood tests. Finally, the day came and I was told you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis an auto immune disorder. I felt so relieved! Eight weeks later, the diagnosis of thyroid cancer was scary, but also in a way my salvation.
I am vindicated after ten long years. I am not crazy. It wasn't in my head. I was dying. And now...I am so very alive, and so very free.
I still cringe when someone coughs. I reach into my bag for my Lysol. My eyes dart to see if they are feverish, or looking pale. Are they in that contagious stage? The difference is now that my thyroid and my tumor are gone...I remind myself, I don't get sick. My immune system is functioning properly, so I am quick to dismiss my fears and relax.
It's a small, but proud victory for me.