If there were Starbucks stars for hospital bracelets, blood draws, and random side effects (like that nausea medicine that made me go blind for two days), I’d easily have one hundred free rewards by now.
Jokes aside, today’s post is inspired by all the people (including myself) who’ve told me they deal with chronic symptoms (e.g. headaches, stomachaches, acid reflux, pain while doing xyz, etc.) and do nothing about it. I ignored my GI symptoms (for basically my entire first year of law school) before I physically couldn’t schlep my body to class and then I decided it was time to figure out what was going on.
In hindsight, I spent too long making my health a non-priority, that by the time I sought help, I was an urgent care regular with incessant blood, vomit, and diarrhea (super cute, I know).
I’m one of those stubborn people who’ll endure a little (well, sometimes a lot of) discomfort if I can still muddle through my day without treating it. While this is all well and good, because that headache usually does go away and that cut will close up and stop bleeding, sometimes lingering symptoms are indicative of something else going on in the body that you can’t see (like how chronic aches and pains are textbook signs of certain types of cancer, when coupled with other symptoms).
I’m sure there are a few heads nodding along with me about ignoring pain, because it usually does go away.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
This post is for the people who act tough and why it’s okay to let down that guard sometimes.
Most people see their doctor(s) once a year for an annual check-up.
At the height of my symptoms, I was in the hospital and/or a doctor’s office every single day for months.
Right now, I ebb and flow between weekly and monthly appointments, depending on flares and/or new symptoms that have a penchant for appearing at the most inconvenient times.
The truth is, I think everyone should make their health a priority in some capacity. Whether that’s making healthier food choices (open faced sandwich instead of four pieces of bread, water instead of soda, fruit instead of ice cream), exercising, going to bed an hour earlier than normal, whatever you do, recognize that anything more than nothing is effort towards positive change.
For someone with (a) chronic illness(es), sometimes that bit of effort is overridden by things beyond one’s control. For me, I can eat SO healthy, and usually it’s “healthy” food like protein and vegetables that make me sicker than a dog. Frozen hot pockets cause zero problems, while a spinach salad with sunflower seeds and feta cheese will make me hurt for three to five days.
The last time I got on a treadmill, it triggered my IBS-D so bad, I didn’t make it to the restroom in time. (I now always carry extra yoga pants & undies in my car for this reason).
I’ve got a list as long as Santa’s of all the “healthy” choices I’ve made over the years and how they’ve backfired and/or been dead-ends to figuring out why my body’s been operating at sub-functional for years.
I guess my point is, don’t ignore your body when it’s trying to tell you something is wrong.
While I still haven’t figured out everything that’s going on (hence the really fun Instagram stories I posted today), I’m still determined to keep making the daily choice to make my health a priority.
That extra glass of water.
Those ten minutes of meditation instead of Instagram scrolling.
Whatever it may be, I’m trying to seek conventional and holistic remedies to my health issues. If you’re lucky enough to not have any yourself, then maybe this post can shed some light on what your coworker, friend, or family member is going through.
At the end of the day, we’re all going to die, some sooner than others. Some of us exist in a constant state of pain, while others hardly ever experience any kind of discomfort related to their health.
I’m not perfect. I still struggle to find a balance between living life (eat the damn ice cream!), and consciously making choices that support what healthy living looks and feels like for my body. Earlier this summer I put off taking a medication that probably would’ve helped my GI symptoms, because I got the prescription smack-dab during bar prep and I didn’t want to risk adverse symptoms. At the time, the uncertainty of new and/or exacerbated regular symptoms far outweighed my current reality of somewhat predictable flares.
It’s taken me years to suck up my pride and come to terms with the fact that it’s okay (and sometimes very necessary) to ask for help.
There’s nothing heroic about dealing with something that can be fixed (or at the very least, be treated to improve your quality of life), and at the end of the day, you’ve only got one body, so why not give it every opportunity to carry you the best it can through life?