After suffering from debilitating fatigue and sleepless nights for several years, I had pretty much come to the realization that my quality of life was permanently impaired, what with me in bed, unable to move from exhaustion, and in permanent doze mode. I accepted it and tried to deal with it as best I could. It was more of a shock to my husband who has been traveling on business for months now, and first saw my rapidly deteriorating condition in March.
You should know that I see my doctor regularly for this problem because it does concern me. I’m not sure which thought bothers me the most: that I might being dying, that I might live long and then die from boredom, or that I might die before having the chance to properly shave my legs.
My doctor runs blood work on me regularly, and every time all the test results are normal. If he thought I was exaggerating, it would seriously cut down on his disposable income, so he attributes my exhaustion, inability to sleep, and loss of short term memory, et al, as side effects from fibromyalgia or the pain medication he prescribes for me. Repeatedly I ask him if these symptoms could be related to anything else, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, peri-menopause, or perhaps even a brain tumor.
I think he thinks I am trying to be funny. I am not.
I tell him I am in a severe state of desperation: I can’t walk, I can’t work, I can’t stay awake, I can’t stay asleep, I can’t exercise, I can’t poop, I can barely feed myself, I can’t make plans to go anywhere, and, as a matter of fact, I can barely get myself in to his office to talk to him about it.
I also tell him about the significant addition of facial hair to my features. He stares at me as if I am talking about hirsutism and he is looking at the newest bearded lady. No, I tell him patiently, I’m talking about the growth of those unsightly, dark chin and neck hairs that have popped up like weeds, stiff enough to collect and use as hair brush bristles. He looks disappointed that there is no AMA paper potential in this symptom.
During my last three or four visits, I repeatedly asked him if I could be in peri-menopause, and he simply shook his head and told me, “No.” My ego was telling me that he probably didn’t realize how old I was, you know, because chubby people don’t get as many wrinkles unless you count double chins. He can’t see any powdery white strands of my hair because another benefit of highlighting is that it marvelously covers the gray or, as it is in my family, the white. I certainly didn’t look like I was about to embark upon that change of life phase.
Once when I asked him about being tested to see if I had started peri-menopause, he seemed to chide me about wanting to know too much unnecessary information. “Would it make a difference if you knew you were?” he asked me.Well maybe, I wanted to snap back at him. At least it would explain a few things.
Instead, he seemed hell-bent on telling me I needed to get out and exercise when I felt good, to which I responded that I’d love too, except that I never feel good anymore and I can barely move from the fatigue. He didn’t say it, but I could read in his eyes what his profession barred him from saying to me: Fatty fat lazy human. Shoulda put you on placebos.
In the midst of all this drama, I finally made an appointment for a long overdue female exam. Between our move back to Texas, another impending move, and my illness, I had been postponing this appointment. I have never had a doctor that I’ve really liked, and that only makes the situation more difficult. Sucking it up, I made an appointment with a new doctor just to get it off my To Do list.
As it turns out, I simply haven’t had the right doctor. For the first time I spoke with someone who asked me a lot of questions about my life in general, things I would never normally share with an OB-GYN simply because those things didn’t seem to have anything to do with what was happening in my nether regions.
End result: my hormones were in a full-on riot with my body. Everything from my problems sleeping through the night, my inability to function during the day because of fatigue, the headaches, the sweating, and even the abnormal growth of facial hair could all be due to the fact that I was in peri-menopause. Hormone therapy would resolve most of those problems. There are health risks, of course, but after being nearly bed-ridden for several months, the pros far outweigh the cons. In addition to hormone therapy, I was also instructed to follow a vitamin, mineral and precious stone regimen that has me ingesting 11 pills or capsules or pebbles that go down about as easily as swallowing a cantaloupe. Whole.
The best news of all, the meds I take for my fibromyalgia pain triggered my weight gain and made it nearly impossible for me to lose weight, even with exercise and a low-fat diet. The relief, to find out I wasn’t some freak of nature, was so overwhelming I began to cry. Oh yeah, crying is another symptom. By the time I left the doctor’s office, I was cradling coveted drug samples and prescriptions, along with a plan for a new life.
It’s a week later, now, and the changes are already measurable. I am inspired because it already feels like I have my life back. Just imagine how I’ll feel in a month.
Many thanks to Lisa Adams (@adamslisa on Twitter) for encouraging me and others to make regular doctor appointments (#mondaypleads) and to take meds regularly (#dailynag). Visit her website at http://lisabadams.com/