Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Haphazard Health History

While I will admit haphazard is not the best word to describe my health history (I like the alliteration), it is unusual. I always think of myself as a healthy person until I talk to someone else my age. Not too long ago, I caught up with an old friend on Facebook; we had not spoken in 15 years. After hearing about my past health problems, he responded, "Geez. I've never even been in the hospital."
That is when I realized that maybe I'm not "the healthiest" 37-year-old woman despite my best efforts to eat well and exercise regularly. My dad likes to say that I'm bound to lose my spleen one day since it is another organ you don't necessarily need. Forgoing all HIPPA laws, here is a brief look at my health history:
  • After being very ill and snoring like a pig for a long time, doctors removed my tonsils and adenoids when I was three years old. One of my earliest memories, I didn't understand why my underwear was removed for throat surgery. 
  • I experienced numerous fainting spells as a pre-teen. After the third one, my mother took me to see a neurologist for an EEG. Unfortunately, she initially forgot about the appointment, and I stayed up the night before at my slumber party. Even though I remember it, I slept through the EEG, which revealed that I was "brain dead." Cause of fainting: unknown.
  • I'll never forget when my aunt saw me on a national game show; she called me and said, "Something is wrong with your thyroid. Go see a doctor." (Thyroid conditions are genetic, and they run in my family.) Even though I had been feeling terrible for months and my dad had noticed that my eyes seemed buggy, I ignored the symptoms of Grave's Disease, a hyperthyroid condition characterized by anxiety, fatigue, heart palpitations, heat intolerance, and insomnia. Honestly, I thought I was going crazy. I slept two hours a night for six months, I walked around in shorts in the winter, and I felt my heart thumping outside of my chest. It wasn't until I was unable to keep down food that my friend insisted that I go to the emergency room. Lying down, my heart rate was 150bpm; I was diagnosed with Grave's Disease within 24 hours. Initially scheduled to have surgery to remove the goiter in my neck, which I thought was just fat, the doctors decided to use radiation instead.
    Fourteen years later, I must take Synthroid every day to compensate for my missing thyroid. Unfortunately, your thyroid controls the body's metabolism so my weight fluctuations throughout the years have often been a result of being prescribed the wrong dosage of medication. As part of my EMAO experiment, I need to see my doctor to evaluate my current thyroid levels. 
  • Four years after my thyroid problem was discovered, my appendix burst. Once again, I dismissed the symptoms. I thought that I had a stomachache that wouldn't go away. I didn't know that the pain from appendicitis begins in the middle of your stomach; it moves to the right side just before the appendix ruptures. I also didn't realize that a low-grade fever is common so I ignored mine even though my temperature is usually below normal so anything above 98.6 degrees should have caught my attention. I stayed in the hospital for five days, and the recovery was not easy because according to my surgeon, "You have about a two-inch layer of ab muscle, and that will take a long time to heal." At this point, I just want to be worthy of that compliment again!
  • In 2005, I started having a serious intolerance to food. My weight dropped below 110 pounds, people told me how awful I looked, and I had no energy. After some experimentation on my part and some tests by my doctor, I found out that I have food allergies—the most significant one being wheat. Did you know that wheat is in everything? At least, in everything I like to eat. I'm also allergic to dairy, but I've known for years that I am lactose intolerant so that result was no surprise. I'm slightly allergic to seafood, but not enough for me to stop eating it. However, the allergy revelation made me change some of my food habits, especially when it came to eating pasta. After figuring out my diet and eliminating regular pasta as one of my main foods (I sometimes eat brown rice pasta), my weight stabilized at 112 – 114 pounds, which was perfect.
As I have been writing this post, I have discovered a general pattern to my health problems. As a child, they occurred every ten years or so. Then after my thyroid nightmare, things sped up to approximately every five years, which means I'm due for something to happen this year. Fantastic.

AWW – XoXo

P.S. My health history pales in comparison to my 15-year-old sister Adrienne, who died from liver cancer after being sick for only 147 days.


    1 comment:

    1. don't you dare compare yourself to your sis. You are totally worthy of your own attention for all this chaos! That's like comparing cats and pandas! And, btw, you forgot to mention that you tortured and mistreated your body in a ballet studio for years. ;)
      Hang tough, woman. You've always risen above before and this time'll be no different- especially since you're on to the pattern and in control- haha!
      Mad love,
      Tracy W



    The information in this blog is not intended as a substitute for professional health care. Please consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.