A year ago this month I was in a car accident that had me in physical therapy and doctors offices for 6 months, and I was exhausted and cranky all the time because of the pain, and any odd things happening in my body were chalked up to the stress and trauma.
It wasn’t until April that I started noticing issues with my body that didn’t seem associated with the accident, and a new round of doctor’s visits ensued.
The majority of my complaints were anecdotal and subjective:
I’m tired all the time
I cry alot
I have cramps all the time
I’m irritable for no reason
As I mentioned in my birthday post, those symptoms along with a few other specific ones I won’t share here for the sake of my dad and brothers who read this blog, led my doctor to decide I had endometriosis. A scary diagnosis at 35 years old.
No blood work was done, no more investigation than a simple exam occurred, and I was handed a prescription for birth control and sent on my way.
But the pill didn’t help. I was still tired, moody, and having painful cramps all the time. And I was gaining weight at an alarming rate. I looked like someone had stuck an air hose in my butt.
When I went back to ask for a different pill, I was threatened with surgery, or chemical menopause if this new pill didn’t fix me.
Chemical menopause. At 35. For real.
Well, with that kind of incentive, I was determined to have the pill fix me.
And it did, sort of. My mood swings got a little better, my cramps went away, and the weight started to come off…
Mostly because my appetite largely disappeared.
But I was still exhausted all the time. I was still generally grumpy about most things and unmotivated.
My drive that had kept me going to the gym at 5 am the year before was gone, and sometimes it was all I could do to go on a walk with Chris.
I slept a lot, but not particularly well, in part because I was plagued with crazy dreams that had me waking up confused about the separation between reality and dream states.
At work, and when I was trying to write, my brain felt foggy, cloudy, like parts of it had been shut down with out my permission.
But I ignored all of it, because I was tired of doctors, tired of threats of major interventions, and I just wanted to be left alone.
But I spent a lot of time secretly worried.
I worried something was seriously wrong with me.
I worried that Chris was going to get tired of having a slug for a girlfriend.
I worried that I’d never be me again.
Then I decided to give it one more try. I found a new doctor. A holistic doctor.
We talked about my eating habits, and how I am rarely hungry and often remember to eat only when I’m light-headed or cranky, and how I eat soup for lunch every day because it’s the only thing appealing.
He told me I had to eat more, maybe a sandwich, and I made a face. “I don’t like sandwiches lately, I can’t get myself to eat one anymore.”
And he said words that I’ve come to think of as magic. “Maybe you have a gluten allergy and your body is trying to protect you.”
Huh, well that’s an idea. We did some tests for that and some other possibilities but while waiting for the results, I just decided to try a gluten-free diet and see what happened.
What happened was AMAZING.
I literally felt improvement within 24 hours. A little more energy, a little more cheerful.
It’s now been almost 4 days with only one slip on the first day, and HOL-Y CRAP! I’m almost afraid to trust it, but…
I’ve been reborn people!
My energy level has been steadily climbing and today its off the charts. Which for most people would probably be considered a normal energy level, but since I’m starting from such a low bar, this feels super charged.
And my mood! My god, my mood. I’m cheerful! Well, cheerful for me, I’m still don’t seem myself being nice to people on the phone or anything, I mean I haven’t had a brain transplant, but I’m not mopey and resentful at being anywhere other than a bed or couch.
I’m sleeping better. I still had some crazy dreams last night, but when I woke up my heart wasn’t racing, I wasn’t confused about what was real, and I didn’t fear going back to sleep. I actually thought “hmm, that was a weird dream,” and fell back to sleep. This has never happened before.
The fog has been blown out of my brain. I can apply problem solving skills, and abstract thinking and deductive reasoning to problems again. That was the hardest symptom of my unraveling that was hardest to explain or quantify. But now its back! I have my brain back!And the energy to use it.
I can’t help but think that part of the improvement is the result of shifting from feeling like a helpless victim of my body’s whims and malfunctions to feeling hopeful and back in control, but whatever. Who cares, because I’m back baby. I’m back!
And if you haven’t been keeping track, almost all of these symptoms are the same ones used to make my diagnosis of endometriosis. My new doctor has ordered extensive blood work to make sure there isn’t anything else going on that contributed to the symptoms or the sudden development of the allergy, but so far even money is on it just being a gluten allergy.
Chemical menopause indeed.
One of the more interesting changes I’m starting to observe though, is a type of emotional re-engagement with my friends. For the last few months any emotional energy I had went to Chris and worrying about what was wrong with me, and there wasn’t much left over for other people. I’d listen to their troubles, their drama, their challenges as if from a distance. I kept quiet when I might otherwise have intervened, or if I offered advice, I drop it quickly if I felt resistance where before I would have pushed through.
But now…the fire to tell other people how to live their lives is back. I’m once again freely and passionately offering opinions and advice on things that I may or may not know anything about.
I know right? I’m sooooo BACK!
And today specifically I find myself getting reacquainted with my traditionally fierce desire to cause harm to people who hurt my friends.
I can’t get this image out of my mind of going out and rounding up all the men who’ve hurt my friends in the past year while I’ve been “away” and forcing them with cattle prods into extended rituals of public ridicule, humiliation and penance.
The phrase “feminist jihad” may or may not be running on a loop in my head. (And the political scientist in me can’t help mentioning that I know that jihad technically refers to a religiously motivated attack, but I argue that feminism IS a religion…)
I’ve got a few logistics to work out yet on that, but that’s OK, because I have nothing but energy and mental acuity to burn right now.
I think shit’s about to get real y’all…