The 'Chronic Conundrum' of Having a Sudden Change in Symptoms


You know that feeling when you are completing a jigsaw puzzle only to find that a piece is missing?

It’s a devastating moment. Your stomach turns just a little. All that work, all that effort, all that anticipation of a final outcome. A completed picture was the awaiting reward but it’s been snatched away from you!

Chronic and complex illness is so often like that. We are given a diagnosis, then another, then another and for some the list continues to grow with every medical appointment. Our medical team tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Good progress is made. The puzzle pieces start to fit together. Treatment plans are made and followed with great anticipation that symptoms may reduce, even if a cure is out of reach.

A feeling of hope returns as you feel you are in the driver’s seat navigating the road ahead. Nothing can stop you now.

Nothing except a missing piece of the puzzle.

A chronic conundrum. A change in symptoms, a new symptom, a worsening of symptoms. A knowing feeling that something is not right. Your stomach turns just a little. Just like finishing that jigsaw puzzle only to find a missing piece.

Living with chronic disease is often referred to as “the gift that keeps on giving.” Labeling it a gift is a stretch at best but it definitely will keep you on your toes.

I have a worsening of symptoms and new symptoms. My conundrum is: Do I “watch and wait?” Do I make an appointment to see my GP? Do I go to the ER?

It’s a chronic conundrum faced by so many in the chronic illness community. It’s something we dread. We want to keep things moving on an even keel.

We don’t want to face conundrums, neither do we want to be a conundrum to our doctors or our family and friends. We would love to focus on something other than our chronic health but when it’s all encompassing and ever-giving, we can’t escape.

The reality is we will often be in this position so we need to find ways to cope.

I don’t have all the answers; in fact I often don’t have any answers, but I do like to problem solve and find a way forward.

A way out of my chronic conundrum restores peace and hope.

So I have made a plan and taken action to deal with this latest puzzle:

1. Stay calm. I’m doing this by writing and planning. Works for me!

2. Make an appointment with my GP. Make notes for my orthopedic surgeon.

3. Get organized with x-rays and notes for my physiotherapist.

4. Don’t change anything in my current treatment plan until I’ve spoken to my GP.

5. Rest and prioritize all necessary tasks.

6. Watch and wait with some of the new symptoms that require assessing. Discuss referral options to new specialists if needed with my GP.

7. Most importantly… Go and do something relaxing knowing that while I haven’t solved the conundrum, I’m back on track and heading in the right direction.

Until the next chronic conundrum, of course.

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Thinkstock photo via BrianAJackson.

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