Fighting My Own 'End-of-the-Year Blues' as a Person With Chronic Illness

It’s safe to say that after May 15th, 2017, my whole world tipped upside down. And now that I’ve made it all the way to the end of 2017, it doesn’t seem like I’ve accomplished much or even what I anticipated. I found out I’m allergic to more medications with dangerously severe reactions, turned 22, slept on a couch for pretty much the whole summer because I couldn’t walk to my room and was in so much pain anyways that I couldn’t even tell I was sleeping on a couch.

But despite all the physical stress and pain, I was hunting down information. At the same time, my body was throwing its worst punches. I was desperately trying to find answers as to why my body felt like hell. Worse than it had been feeling before. My mom helped me a lot, but she’s not a doctor. And the doctors she drove me to didn’t seem to know any more than my mom did.

After typing all my symptoms into Google, it came up with endometriosis. Could that be causing my stomach and bowel problems? All of my geneticists before told me it was just an Ehlers-Danlos syndrome symptom. Could that be it? Four months after my second GYN appointment, the doctor walked into my room after surgery and told me I had been right. I had endometriosis, and it had caused part of my bowel to move into my pelvis, which was extremely painful. I was searching for a missing piece of my health, and I’d found it.

black and white photo of a woman lying in a hospital bed

As time goes on, I’m sure there will be more things about my health that step into the light and are finally recognized and seen. But the disease and the hunt for answers in 2017 took so much out of me, as I look back on it now, I don’t see myself in time. I see myself on a merry-go-round that never stops, until finally, after months of nausea and feeling like my whole body will explode, someone finally walks up to the amusement ride, or in this case, me, and says, “Oh, I think that person needs help.” And actually helps!

I’m constantly fighting unanswered questions about myself. Always wondering what I would have done if I hadn’t been throwing up or unable to eat or go to the bathroom without being in so much pain. What would I have been able to accomplish if I hadn’t been playing doctor, trying to find the answers myself?

In the end, being right or not being right doesn’t matter. What matters is taking your health seriously enough you’ll put everything on hold until you figure it out. My end of the year blues consist of feeling like I’ve been gone, away from my mind and body for a very long time. And seeing how everything’s changed, I change with it. I don’t remember who I was before. And maybe the next time something like this happens, I won’t remember the person I am now. If I fall down 10 times, I’ll get up 11. And yes, it feels blue. Very, very blue. But I know I would feel worse if I stood down. If I hadn’t looked for answers.

Maybe I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to. I didn’t help my mom redo the kitchen or paint the den or walk my dog enough. I didn’t get my credits done or my projects. But I followed through in the hunt. I looked for answers, and I found them. A big part of me did change, but my kitchen, den, dog and books didn’t. Maybe I won’t perfectly pick up my life this year, or the next. With chronic pain, how can I go back to feeling normal? But maybe I can go back to feeling OK. I’ll take OK any day!

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