The great comedic writer Erma Bombeck once wrote that her husband thought she should have come with a "Buyer Beware" sticker on her forehead because as soon as they got married she fell apart. Whenever I read that line I have to smile, because I am sure Bill feels exactly the same way as Erma's husband. You see, I get sick a lot.
That's not to say Bill didn't have fair warning. While we were still dating, Bill visited me in the hospital several times. There were a couple of falls which required a brace on my wrist or ankle. Then there was the biggie, my jaw surgery. The other ER visits were usually due to my typical mystery illness.
Nobody knows what it is. Nervous stomach? Ovarian cysts? I have had just about every test done to me over the years to try to figure out what it is. CT scans, endoscopies, tons of ultrasounds, urine and blood analysis, MRIs...and more often than not they all turn out completely normal. Doctors usually can't figure out the reason for the very real pain that I feel in my belly, so they usually send me home with an anti-inflammatory or an antacid and tell me to stay away from fatty foods. I realize that this mystery illness - which I am pretty sure stems from stress - will probably be part of my life forever, and since I hate spending money in unnecessary medical tests I try to stay away from the doctor's office as much as possible. There are times, however, when I can't take it anymore and must seek medical help.
Sometimes it pays off, like two years ago when I awoke in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain and Bill drove me to the ER. After a slew of tests doctors determined I had a ovarian cyst and were about to discharge me when one of them suggested that they still hadn't done a CT scan and - if I really wanted to - I could have one done before I left. The pain was unlike anything I had ever felt and since I was already there I decided to go ahead and get the CT. It turned out I had appendicitis. Within an hour I was whisked away to the operating table.
Other times, there is no payoff in going to the doctor. When we were in the middle of Dylan's adoption process, I began to experience serious chest pains. Because of my family history of heart disease, I panicked. I went to several doctors, none of which could determine the cause for my pain. EKGs were normal. Blood tests were fine. Everything seemed to be functioning the way it was supposed to, yet this pain would become so severe that it was hard to breathe sometimes. One doctor finally determined I had costochondritis, inflammation in the ribcage (or as my doctor friend called it, the general diagnosis for "I can't figure this one out so we'll just give it this name"). He prescribed me some anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers and sent me home.
It didn't get any better. After a week, I was desperate. I began looking at non-medical options and determined my choices were between going to a chiropractor or getting acupuncture. The thought of someone twisting my neck around like a rag doll gives me the shivers, so I opted for acupuncture first. It was the best decision I could have ever made.
From my very first visit to the acupuncturist, I felt significant relief. After going twice a week for about a month, my pain was completely gone. I was sold.
About a week before Dylan's birthday last month, I began having pains all along the right side of my torso. It didn't go away, so after a week or two, I decided to rule out any medical issues. I went to my doctor and again got a slew of tests - blood, urine, ultrasounds, X-Rays - which all came out normal. She gave me the usual antacid and anti-inflammatory cocktail and sent me home. The pain got just a little better but didn't go away completely. Yet another week passed, and back to the doctor I went. More tests revealed...nothing. My doctor was stumped. She diagnosed me with costochondritis.
That's when I decided to go back to my acupuncturist. Just like last time, after just ONE session, I felt significant relief. After weeks of pain on my side, I could almost feel normal again. Eureka! I plan on going again next week and honestly can't wait for my next session.
I am still taking the medication my doctor gave me and I am still following her instructions to stay off fatty foods and abstain from alcohol. I am not endorsing acupuncture or any kind of other healing methods over traditional medical practices - notice I always go to the doctor FIRST to rule out any real medical issues. I am just saying, it works for me. And I am SOOOOO glad I found something to treat my mystery illness!