Life always seems to be going well when the biggest boulders come across our path. This time last year I was filled with passion and fire as I had just experienced The African American Museum in Washington D.C. a few days ago. The morning that I was going to visit the African American museum, I had experienced a high amount of abdominal pain and passed it off as gas. Now, we all done had some painful gas experiences. First and foremost, LISTEN to your body. I continued my day, the pain subsided- I drank some tea and all seemed to be well. Little did I know my gallbladder had developed gallstones and I would be having gallbladder attacks for several days. Finally, after several hospital visits, I was admitted to Fairfax Hospital for surgery. I spent 2 days on dilaudid- a very strong pain medication that left me drowsy and begging for medication every 4 hours as it wore off. I was nervous.
Now, in all honesty I have had emergency surgery previously to removed my appendix. I was aware of the risks, but the nerves were still here. As the baby that I am, my mom was there for me right as I went into surgery and was waiting for me as I came out of anesthesia. The surgery was a success, I had 3 small incisions on my stomach and one incision next to the incision from my appendix located right in my belly button. The worst, the surgery, was over… or so I thought. Typically after surgery, you are tired from all the anesthesia, you move a bit slower from the painful incisions and of course your on some pretty strong drugs to help ease your body into all the trauma it just experienced. I am not entirely sure when we realized that my healing was not going as planned. I could not keep down any food and had spent every day asleep. Trash cans and toilets was all I was seeing day in and day out. At this point, I was throwing up blood and my stomach lining and no medication was working.This began the routine drives to and from the hospital. The stays in the hospital ranged from 3 days to 2 weeks, costing over 500K in hospital bills. Every test was ran to determine why the nausea and vomiting continued to persist and to no avail each surgical team and doctor came up empty handed. At some point, we were throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick. MRI of the body, MRI of the brain- if you know nothing about an MRI it is a very enclosed space where you lay still for quite some time while pictures are taken- it is scary and it is LOUD. Barium study- you give a nauseated person who frequently vomits a whole bunch of nasty milky liquid to consume and take pictures to see if there are any blockages. Endoscopy- a small camera inserted down the esophagus to take pictures as well as biopsy the stomach. These were just some of the test run, in addition to all the blood work tests and countless possible diagnosis that were just terms being shouted above my head.
Around March, I would begin using a scopolamine patch and there is a 1% chance that your vision would be impacted- guess who fell into the 1%? This chick right here. I woke up and could not see clearly. I used siri to contact a friend to take me to my eye doctor who gave me an additional pair of glasses to wear on top of my contacts but the patch was all that was keeping me from hurling my guts up everyday. Up until now, I had been out on sick leave from work for almost 3 months, I was down 30 pounds and still no idea of what this sickness could be. I was managing constant meds, seeing gastroenterologists, eating radioactive eggs( tastes just like eggs) , and ultimately going through the motions of each day without food, feeling fatigued and throwing up raw foods like salad, fruit and vegetables. These bouts of nausea and vomiting would range in its severity from everyday sickness to having an okay week or day. Life continued on around me. Work continued on and I had to find ways to cope but the mental anguish of constant sickness, inconsistent abilities to experience life, to write, to spend time with others only heightened my depression and caused me to question my faith. Being sick meant relying on others- to help walk my dog, to take me to the hospital, to help manage meds, to grocery shop, to do all the things I couldn’t do because my body had deteriorated – 40+ pounds lost at this point. Everyone had advice, change doctors, try other meds, try other remedies and it all seemed daunting and overwhelming when all I wanted was to simply be okay again. 10 months later, I began seeing a nutritionist in hopes to find foods that worked and even that was a struggle. Learning how to make bone broth, almond milk from scratch, eating the basics of life and not enjoying the things I wanted. After a complete meltdown in the office of my gastroenterologist he agreed to repeat the endoscopy which revealed a stomach bacterial infection known as helicobacter pylori. We began a triple antibiotics regiment, only to finish and reveal Lyme disease which began another regiment of antibiotics. In addition, my hemoglobin- iron count had been dropping for the entire year which led us to the office of hematologist.
Unfortunately, I can’t say much more because there are still appointments, tests and more going on. I write this because the pain of 2017 casted me into very dark shadows. So much tears, missed events, sadness, being poked with needles and anxiety around food, anxiety around appointments, anxiety around test results and its not over. I will not suggest to others that are dealing with physical ailments, mental or emotional ailments that all will be well and you will skip away. Unfortunately some of us are plagued with things that effect our every day, that makes work hard, that makes planning for the future hard, that makes getting off the couch hard and all we can do is put one foot in front of the other. Remember to just be, you don’t have to be strong, you don’t have to conquer the world, and you don’t have to always have the right feelings or words… simply be… in whatever way that means to you.