For as long as I can remember, I’ve been sick to my stomach. Just consistent stomachaches after eating, before eating, sans eating, from anxiety, in anticipation of anxiety, when driving, on planes, prior to classes, post-graduation, when looking for a job, in fear of losing that job…literally, everything and anything gives me a stomachache. I’m prone to respiratory infections and migraines, my blood sugar, iron level and blood pressure are all too low, and I have asthma. Aches and pains (often due to clumsiness) were a constant. I’m admittedly a bit of a whiner — though I promise, I’ve toned that down considerably since childhood! — so I have no qualms with recognizing any of those issues. But for some reason, the past year has brought me to the conclusion that I am not nearly as good at acknowledging my health problems as I previously thought.
About a year and a half ago, those aches and pains started getting worse. Then, I began getting exhausted — so much so that getting out of bed was impossible. Spontaneously, my breasts would feel like their was a literal needle being driven through it; my arms and chest would experience shooting pains; my hips felt like they were sliding backwards while the rest of me was being pushed forward. For seven or so years, this bizarre squeezing pain around my diaphragm had bothered me many mornings, but now it was almost unbearable when it occurred. I started keeping a pain diary and quickly realized that I had been ignoring these hurts for so long that when I finally acknowledged it through documentation, it became obvious that it was near-constant.
Then, came the falling. My balance and spacial awareness have always been terrible — not only are my eyes -9.5 and -8.5, but I’m also pigeon-toed — so walls tend to “jump out” at me (i.e. I walk right into them). But in 2011, I started losing my balance on a regular basis, even falling into cars in parking lots three times and down the stairs multiple others. Embarrassing stumbles and their subsequent bruises became a constant.
After a particularly stressful finals week (it was my last year of college) in which I fell in the shower and had to have my then-boyfriend literally carry me out, I decided to (A) talk to my doctor and (B) get a cane.