Hi friends and happy Monday to you!
Last month I posted about my wellness struggles and some of the issues surrounding my lack of progress with my health journey. Despite being slightly apprehensive in opening up and publishing for all to see something so raw, real and personal to me, I am really glad I did because I received a lot of messages and comments. Although I do not feel joy in the fact that so many others are suffering with issues similar to mine, it certainly is nice to know that I am not alone in this struggle. So many of us either have similar symptoms or are having trouble navigating their way through the western medicine system to obtain proper care and diagnoses. And while I wish our system was different, it is not changing anytime soon so the only choice we have is to be our own advocates and to continue trudging along in our wellness journeys until we receive those clearer answers that we so desperately desire. In the meantime, I for sure will continue my morning workouts and my healthy nutrition plan because I am absolutely certain that exercise and nutrition play major roles in overall wellness. And when I am consistent with those two components, I always feel at least slightly better.
While I discussed in Part One some of my symptoms, I am going to begin to go into a little more detail here in Part Two about how my symptoms may or may not connect. One important thing to note is that I truly have no clue whether some or all of these symptoms are interrelated or if they are entirely separate issues with separate symptoms that require separate treatments. I flop back and forth as to whether I believe there are connections with my symptoms. But I mostly believe they are interrelated because I can’t shake my strong beliefs that certain ailments cause other ailments or even that certain untreated ailments cause other ailments. Even so, it is hard to know for sure if and how to treat the root problem in order to alleviate all of the other issues.
For instance, sometimes I really struggle to breathe. Not to the point where I feel like I am going to die. And not when I am doing an intense cardio workout. Sometimes I will just be sitting at my desk and all of a sudden it becomes very difficult to take a full deep breath. Sometimes I will be walking up a flight of stairs (because I am always and forever on team stairs over elevator whenever possible) and I can barely make it to the middle without feeling like I just climbed Mount Everest. I’m 34 years old, I played competitive tennis throughout my childhood, I have been exercising consistently for the entirety of my adult life, and I have never even touched a cigarette with my hands let alone my lips. There is no reason for me to have difficulty climbing stairs. Several years ago this got so bad that I went to about 10 doctors to try to figure out what was going on. After a slew of tests and treatments and prescription inhalers, I eventually was told by a very trusted (and sadly now retired) doctor that my iron and hemoglobin levels were “frighteningly low.” I needed either a full blood transfusion or several rounds of an iron infusion. I went with the latter. While those hours and hours long infusions seemed to help a little bit, my body still struggled to absorb the iron, even when it was pumped directly into me through an IV. Cut to now when it’s been several years since I have had an iron infusion treatment and I get my blood checked regularly with results showing all (mostly) normal levels. Yet I sometimes have labored breathing episodes. So does that mean it is not due to low iron? Is it from something else? Was it from something else all along? So. Many. Questions.
It is kind of hard to imagine that all of my stomach issues are somehow connected to these breathing problems. But connected or not, I know for sure that it is not something I should just accept, although the breathing problems are way more tolerable than the stomach troubles. But I just constantly feel like I am missing the answer. And even though I am always researching and attempting to learn new ways to treat or manage my symptoms, as you can see, this journey to wellness is way more of a struggle than it can seem. Aside from living in a complete bubble, I’ve yet to find a treatment plan that would allow me to feel good more often not. I will continue to live an entirely gluten-free life, I will continue to work 0ut, and I will continue to make sleep a priority. Those are the only three ways that I for sure know contribute to healthy feelings for me. And I will continue to go to doctor appointments to stay on top of my blood work and other western medicine measurements, while also continuing to seek out holistic and eastern medicine therapists in my area. Having gone through this, I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is impossible to find total and complete help when relying solely on traditional doctors. There must be some component of naturopathic medicine involved in treating the issues. That is not to say I do not trust doctors. Quite the opposite. I have one doctor and two nurse practitioners that I see regularly and that I very much like. But sadly, they have not been enough for me because there is only so much they can or are willing to do. I do caution you to carefully research any eastern medicine or naturopathic clinics prior to scheduling an appointment because unfortunately there are many places out there that unfortunately do not have the experience and credentials to actually help. There are some great ones though so just be cautious when selecting!
Next up on my list of appointments is with a local doctor who specializes in stomach issues and is known for testing and treating the symptoms more holistically, rather than with a prescription medication. I also am considering going back to my acupuncturist after taking an entire year off because I continue to read acupuncture success stories as well as hear from a couple people, like my good friend Ashley, about how much they love it.
Nearly ten years into my wellness journey, I still believe complete health is possible. As I stated in Part One, I think my biggest struggle is the lack of understanding by those around me. I do not mention this for pity. I mention this because I know there are others out there struggling with some sort of health issue, either physical or emotional, who feel completely alone and unsupported in their battle. I do not expect everyone to understand and I have come to expect the comments and judgmental questions. And that’s quite alright. Because now I am always extra appreciative when I am shown some empathy and grace when it comes to my food choices and lifestyle routines. To my friends and family out there who continue to do what they can to NOT make me feel like a complete weirdo, thank you for loving me and supporting me in spite of my struggles. I promise to continue to do everything I can to be a good lawyer, friend, daughter and family member to the best of my ability, while also staying the course with my healthy lifestyle.
So tell me, friends: do you struggle with any symptoms that have sort of become your norm because you can’t figure out the root of the issue? Do you sometimes wonder if you will ever feel entirely “normal” again?