We are on Day 3 of a series called 31 Days of Surviving Chronic Illness. You can start Day 1 here.
In this chronic illness equation we all have one known common denominator: something is making us sick. But after that things can get confusing. Frustratingly confusing.
Now, I’m going to say something strange, possibly even offensive and if it applies to you please give me a chance to explain it further before you stop reading and send me hate mail. What I need to say is this: if you went to the doctor and the doctor ran some tests that came back positive with a clear diagnosis... you’re one step ahead of the rest of us.
Please don’t shoot me for saying that! Hear me out. I’m NOT saying that you are fortunate to have an illness, maybe even a terrifying illness like leukemia or MS, I’m not trying to minimize your pain or suffering. Illness is a mental and physical terrorist to everyone. Everyone.
What I mean is this: you have the one thing the rest of us bang our heads against the wall trying to come up with: you have a diagnosis. You know the enemy you are fighting against. Your doctor probably gave you a pamphlet that told you more about your disease and maybe even gave you an overview of what your treatment would look like for the next few months or years. And after dealing with the shock of hearing you have “X” you probably got on the internet and searched for more information on your particular illness, learning about the symptoms, the progression, the end result. You might have even connected with other people, in a support group or on the internet, who are suffering from the same affliction and found some comfort in knowing you aren’t alone in this pain. When loved ones ask you, “What’s wrong, what did the doctor say?” you can say “I have ‘X,” and they will nod their heads in sympathy because they know exactly what “X” is.
Not everyone shares that experience.
For the rest of us, a diagnosis is elusive. We have a laundry list of symptoms that add up to nothing at all. Our doctors run a slough of tests only to have them ALL come back “normal”. But we don’t feel “normal”. We are physically and mentally exhausted and maybe even in excruciating pain. We feel like we are slowly, painfully losing a war against an unknown invader. And when the doctor runs out of ideas, we run out of hope.
If that’s where you are at, if your doctor has run out of ideas, I want you to know that your journey doesn't end there. There IS a diagnosis for you, too. But you might have to have to fight the system to get it. You might have to fire your doctor and find one that is invested in your journey back to wellness. You might have to think outside of the box and try some tests or treatments that you've never heard of. You might have to take vitamins (gasp!).
For the rest of this week I am going to be sharing about doctors, tests and managing the medical maze. I’m going to throw a lot of ideas out there, they may not all apply to you, but hopefully you will find something that sets you in the right direction towards your personal wellness.