Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Anti-nucleic What?

Three years ago, I got sick. On a warm day in late summer, I was out shopping with Ken, and I began to feel very tired. At one point the fatigue hit me so hard that I actually sat down on the floor of the store we were in. Concerned, Ken took me home.

I got into bed as it really started to hit. Waves of pain rolled through me. My whole body ached. I felt wretched.

I took a week off work to recuperate. I didn't know what was wrong. Was it the flu? I had no runny nose, no sore throat, no tummy troubles. Had I been exposed to an allergen? Was it something more serious? I was extremely weak. My joints continued to ache. My hips were so sore that I was unable to sit up in a chair without pain, so I lay on my back for days.

Near the end of my week off, I decided to try going for a walk. I felt around 200 years old. I shuffled the block-and-a-half to the nearest little park, and sat on a wooden bench in the sun. I couldn't lean back, because of the pain when my spine pressed against the wooden back of the bench. So I hunched over instead, and wondered what was wrong with me.

By the end of the week I had improved, but not completely. I went back to work, hoping that my routine would re-energize me. It didn't. I had trouble sitting at my desk for all those hours. One afternoon, frustrated, I pushed my chair aside and kneeled on the carpet - tried typing at my computer that way, just to take the pressure off my aching hips. I don't even remember how people reacted. I was past caring.

Weeks went by. I still wasn't feeling like myself. I was chronically tired and sore. I felt inflammed all over, in my joints, and in my organs, if you can imagine it. It felt like all the soft stuff inside me from my neck down to my groin was tender and out of sorts.

I went to my doctor. He tested me for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia. He tested me for West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. He tested me for everything he could think of. The tests all came back negative. Apparently there was nothing wrong with me. Good to know!

Months went by. I started having respiratory symptoms too. Sometimes my sinuses ached for no apparent reason. Sometimes my lungs felt sore. I began to think that I wouldn't be able to carry on working full-time. I began to wonder if I would ever feel healthy again.

Finally, by the following April, I started to feel good again. Gradually, my health returned. Quite some time later, I switched to a new family doctor, and he found that my blood showed significant levels of anti-nucleic antibodies, which is indicative of auto-immune disfunction. He said that this is why I had felt ill for all those months. It was because of stress that my body had attacked itself.

That made sense to me, because I had been fighting depression for around two years before I got sick. I guess eventually it got the better of me.

Sometimes lately, the voice of my Internal Hypochondriac tries to convince me that my symptoms are coming back. If I have aches and pains, or if I'm feeling extra-tired, part of me starts to panic. There has been a lot of stress in my life in the last couple of months, and about half of it has been work stress so I haven't even been able to blog about it.

But I'm fighting the negativity. I will cling to my peace of mind and my enjoyment of life with all the willpower that I can muster. I say "Nay!" to downward spirals and self-fulfilling prophecies. I will persevere.


Nicole said...

Stay in the light, my dear!!

Our bodies are wise though.

Any chance of changing the job issue?

Warped Mind of Ron said...

When I get depressed I usually get sick too. I'm never sure if I get depressed because I'm getting sick or sick because I'm depressed. Don't give in to the dark side reduce your stress somehow.

jameil1922 said...

girl YES. throw daggers at stress!!

Karen said...

I have had bouts with "Fever of Unknown Origin" which is an autoimune thing where my body thinks I it needs to fight against an infection that doesn't exist in my body.

I have spent months in the hospital for this and it has not been fun. I have not a full blown episode in like 4 years, but when I start to feel run down, I also start freaking out. Just not fair.

Leighann said...

Right on girl, fight it off!

Sparkling Red said...

Nicole: The job issues should hopefully resolve themselves in time. It's just one of those bad spells, where a number of crises come up one after another. I still like my job. :-)

Warped Mind of Ron: Yeah, it's a chicken-and-egg problem, isn't it! I won't give into the dark side. I will use The Force!

Jameil: How could I give in? I know I'd have you on my back, telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself! ;-) Seriously though, it helps to know I'd have to publicly justify my whining. Makes me less whiney.

Karen: My mom had the same problem with fevers when she was in her 20's. The human body is so mysterious...

Leighann: *karate chop!* :-)

whatigotsofar said...

The mind is the mightest medicine in the world. You must fight the pain in your mind. Cure it there, and the body will cure itself.

Anonymous said...

You have to be the star of your own movie! You know in movies nothing bad ever happens to the star. Just fire the supporting cast!

Aurora said...

Sorry to hear things are getting to you lately. I hope you can find something that's really replenishing and life affirming... something that helps fight against the depression and stress. Summer will come back again soon.

Sparkling Red said...

whatigotsofar: It's true, the mind has a lot of influence over the body, and vice versa. The point is to be as conscious as possible in my thoughts, so I don't get overwhelmed by my feelings.

1218blog: Sweet metaphor! I like being the star.

Aurora: Thanks. I'm counting down the days until spring. :-)

Jenski said...

Those stress hormones do a number on all other things that happen in your body! They make you get sick, fat, tired, depressed. Like any of that helps you feel less stressed?!

Good attitude. Buy yourself flowers or a plant - that always helps a little bit with me!