Why Finally Getting a Diagnosis Didn't Vindicate Me
I spent many years trying to decipher what was wrong with me.
From the time I turned 19 until my late 20s and early 30s, I fought strange symptoms. I saw many doctors and specialists, spent a lot of time in waiting rooms with old magazines and blinding lights feeling “crazy” or simply lost.
As the years passed, I went from slightly tired all the time to suffering from debilitating fatigue, numbness and weakness, inability to tolerate heat or cold, spastic muscles and blinding head pains.
And more. So much more.
I was frustrated. I was angry. I was upset.
I was not sure if I had the right to be. I reasoned I could be overworked, stressed, anxious, shy. All the self-blaming things I’d been told over my life that contributed to my wavering health status.
It wasn’t until my first bout of optic neuritis that my doctors narrowed in on multiple sclerosis (MS). Lesions had been on my brain for years as it was, but only a few. It would be a couple more years until optic neuritis happened again and more, larger lesions showed on my MRI scan that I was finally handed the name: MS.
I was diagnosed. I was indeed sick. I was right.
I did not feel vindicated. I did not celebrate. I did not call everyone who ever told me I just needed “more fresh air” or “vitamins” or “some obscure tea only available in Chili under the full moon picked by monks.”
I was sad. I was humbled. Then I picked myself up, literally brushed myself off (I’d been on the grass) and kept going on with my life. I had to tackle how to best care for myself and the disease. I was determined to keep moving forward, and not look back on all the negative experiences that had led to my diagnosis.
I also was relieved, I’ll admit. It’s hard to fight a dragon if you think you’re fighting a bonfire. It’s hard to have the right tools, if you don’t know what you’re trying to fix.
Diagnosis may not have vindicated me or given me a sense of victory, but it did give me what I needed most: A plan for a better life.
Getty Image by OGri