Not what I wanted to write about

I just spent three hours trying to write a lede that involved, alternatively: brisket, laundry, medical school, Dave’s grandparents’ retirement community and a whole hell of a lot of cliches.

Needless to say, that post ended up in the trash.

The truth is, I’m not feeling so hot. I really never wanted to get into this here, because, let’s be real, I’m whiny enough without bringing my health into it. But I’ve found that my writing is at its worst – forced, flat, borderline annoying – when I’m not honest. So here’s what’s actually going on with me right now: I’m kind of sick.

I’ve had some semi-mysterious health problems on and off for about two and a half years. The hypothesis goes like this: I had a kidney stone, and developed some sort of nervous-system disorder as a result. But the truth is no one really seems to know what’s going on.

Here’s what I am sure of: sometimes, I feel ok, and sometimes I don’t. I see too many specialists. Whenever I solve one problem – find a medication that effectively targets my colon, a painkiller that masks my urological flare-ups – something else crops up. I’d rather be anywhere else besides an operating room. None of my health problems are really that serious.

That last part makes me feel awful, maybe more so than the actual pain. I know that people have real diseases and real problems and I feel terribly, terribly guilty for letting my minor health issues get to me. I think about one of my favorite people, who used to drive herself from chemotherapy to carpools to orchestra concerts to, oh yes, her full-time job, pulling over to the side of the road periodically to vomit, but getting there, always. I think of her, and I vow to suck it up and stop being a pussy and just kick this thing in the ass for once and for all and move on.

And then, I have an episode, one that prevents me from eating or walking or both. And I remember how much it hurts, each symptom in its own fun little way. And I honestly have no idea how she did it. Because I don’t even have the strength to deal with some lame-ass pain disorder.

I hit a bit of a breaking point a few weeks ago and finally consented to make an appointment with this doctor Dave has been trying to get me to see since last summer, when he supervised one of Dave’s rotations. This physician has treated a lot of women with disorders like mine and apparently has had success using an off-label drug to repair the nervous-system damage. Still, it took seven months for me to get off my “I can deal with this on my own…and by the way, fibromyalgia isn’t real” high horse and actually give the guy a try. (And no, for the record, I don’t have fibromyalgia. But I totally used to judge shit like that. Until I realized that I too have some unprovable, undiagnosable disorder, and thus decided not to throw stones in glass houses.)

Anyway, Dave and I shlepped out to the doctor’s semi-creepy, castle-like suburban Pennsylvania office a few Friday nights ago. And after loads of blood work and tests and face-time with a physician who actually seemed to think about and piece together all of my symptoms, I agreed to try the off-label drug, even though I’ve been super hesitant about taking new meds (following a few bad experiences last year.) I felt really positive about this one – the doctor seemed to listen to me! and he’s been administering the drug for years! and one of the side effects is weight loss!

Also, at this point, I feel like if someone with any sort of a health science degree (nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, witch doctor, whatevs) told me to swallow a random pill and then jump up and down three times, I would totally give it a go. Because I really, really just want this to end.

So I started taking the medicine.

It’s been nine days now and, sadly, I feel awful – much, much worse than before. Hours after I took my first dose, old symptoms that I hadn’t experienced in months immediately came back with a vengeance. By last weekend, I had trouble leaving the apartment. And I now totally see how one of the side effects is weight loss, because I feel too sick to eat anything at all. (There’s always a silver lining, kids.)

I’m really trying to suck it up for a bit longer. I’m hoping it’s one of those “has to get worse before it gets better” things. After all, this drug is definitely having some sort of an impact on my nervous system – just not the one I want.

Which is a shame. Because I’d really like to go back to writing posts about brisket.


One Response

  1. Hi Rachel!

    I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. My mother says it sounds like you have Lyme disease, but I’m assuming you’ve already been tested for that. We’re thinking about taking a day trip to Philly over my sp break (March 28-April 4). Will you be around that week? Feel free to respond via fb or email if you don’t want to share your whereabouts with the entire www. I hope you feel better!

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