I Wasn’t A Hypochondriac Afterall

I almost hugged the doctor the day he have me a diagnosis. I couldn’t pronounce ‘Endometriosis’, and I barely knew anything about it, but it was a diagnosis, and it somewhat explained the pain I’d been feeling. Also, in retrospect, I don’t think that the Doctor would have appreciated the hugs as much as I would have.

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After years of being labelled a hypochondriac and sickly child, it was so refreshing to hear someone finally give a name to the condition I’d been facing. Granted that no one likes to hear they are sick or get a diagnosis they can’t pronounce, but after years of crying in fetal position in pain, getting a diagnosis was music to my ears.

I felt validated , like someone understood me and my pain. I didn’t understand the intricate details, but I understood this:

a) someone believed me

b) the pain was not all in my head

c) we could try to manage it

I had been trying to tell the world for six years that periods this painful were not normal. I struggled with feelings of guilt and depression when getting out of bed seemed like a task too big for me.

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Invisible illness is sometimes very difficult to diagnose. It’s possible to get several misdiagnosis especially when the symptoms are similar to other illnesses.

When the doctor mentioned surgery, I was just like ‘bring it on!!!’. My fear of going under the knife was less than my fear of living in this pain. If this surgery could help, then I wanted it, I needed it stat. Prior to this, I had a surgery that I didn’t need and got an inconclusive diagnosis because the Endometriosis symptoms had manifested in my bladder.

I wasn’t a hypochondriac after all.

Have you been labelled a hypochondriac? Don’t give up on looking for a diagnosis.

‘Big Sis’

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I Was Labelled A Hypochondriac

Hypochondria

“It’s all in your head!” is a phrase I heard one too many times. Looking back, I somewhat see where these people were coming from. I mean the symptoms I was experiencing were just all over the place-painful periods, severe bloating, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, recurrent urinary tract infections, backaches, the list is quite long. I was constantly in pain. My period had turned into a monster. Rearing it’s head at every point of my cycle. It wasn’t really a cycle, the length kept changing every month. While most of my girlfriends bragged about being regular, I was as irregular as it got. Anywhere from 24-37 days. So much for being able to predict when I’d be rolling.

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I saw several doctors but they weren’t quite sure what was wrong with me. In fact I became a regular at the clinics, the doctors could almost predict what I was going to complain about. They’d heard it all. There is something about hospital waiting rooms that makes you feel sicker than you actually are.

The most deflating moment is when the doc would say “I can’t seem to find anything wrong with you.” One even went ahead to add, “I think you are imagining the pain. It’s all in your head.” In addition to the swollen belly and physical pain, I left his office, with medicine he wasn’t  sure I needed and dampened spirits. Most times I would just go home and cry. I was that girl crying in the lift, not because I had received a diagnosis, but because the professional was trying to make me believe that I had brought the pain upon myself. How I hoped I could just wish it away, or sleep and it would all be over.

 

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My journey taught me to trust my inner voice. To keep searching for an answer; a diagnosis. To never give up on myself, even though others dismissed me. Tough times show us who we really are, we find reserves of strength we knew nothing about.

Have you been labelled a hypochondriac? Have you given up looking for a diagnosis?

In part 2 I will talk about the day I got vindicated; when I finally received a diagnosis. It was the beginning of a difficult chapter, but it was far much better than not knowing what was wrong with me.

‘Big sis’

 

How I Became A Rookie Pharmacist

Up until a couple of years ago, I was a self-proclaimed, self-medicating, rookie pharmacist.

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Let me explain how it came about. A few months into my period, I started experiencing painful cramps. Every time I brought up the issue, I was told that the pain was normal. Though deep within me, I knew that pain that intense was everything but normal. In fact, I had monthly visit to the high school nurse, where I could predict the order of the day. She would quickly draw a picture of my uterus, explain that it was shedding its lining and hand me two Paracetamols as she sent me back to class.

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The emergency room was not very helpful initially, a painful period is not on the top of the ’emergency conditions’ list. I  remember ever so vividly rushing to hospital because of painful periods but being kept waiting for over two hours because it ‘wasn’t an emergency enough’. That is until my blood pressure would spike and the doctors would wonder how I was walking with all that pain.

To avoid the inconvenience of the hospital, I would self medicate when the pain would get intense. The method was simple: I would mix up all the remaining stock that I had. One Buscopan Plus, One Ponstan , One…. you get the drift. I was self prescribing a cocktail that left me in a happy place; read: pain free, albeit for a few hours. Then I would need a repeat dosage.

My poor body. What I didn’t know then was that this cocktail could have adverse effects on my health. I was young and foolish, I didn’t bother to read the pamphlets. I thought  I was being a good steward of my time, studying for exams instead of reading pamphlets in font 2 [ I understand that they are trying to fit a lot of information on a small piece of paper, BUT, how does that font size motivate the target audience to read it?]

Also, I foolishly believed that I wouldn’t have any allergic reactions, I always prayed that I fell in the percentage that did not display any reaction to the drug. The desire to be pain free overshadowed every form of good sense in me. I was desperate, I needed relief; ever so urgently.

 

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I am now reformed. I get a proper prescription from a certified professional and religiously read the medicine pamphlets; in fact, I get very irritated when I’m sold a few tablets in an envelope without a pamphlet. I could be slowly poisoning myself for all I know. I read on the internet and make an informed decision when I take medicine and know what to look out for in terms of allergic reactions.

Are you a rookie pharmacist? Do you take time to read medicine pamphlets? Have you experienced any allergic reactions to the cocktail of meds?

‘Big Sis’

 

I Call Her Red

My little toddler found a packet of pads a few days ago. I told her they are called ‘pads’; for some reason she thought they were diapers for her toys.

I had the option of telling her a coloured lie, BUT, I am trying to make our home a truth zone. Also, the fact that I believed pads were mkate/bread, is rather bewildering. When my husband read my first post he called me laughing, wondering how now brown cow I was told they were bread; better yet, how I believed it. Oh the folly of youth. I’m yet to understand it myself.

When I got my period, I wasn’t sure what to refer to it as. Was it a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ or just an ‘it’? I rejected the nickname that was introduced to me, ‘kunyesha’ which means to rain.

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Also, I’ve always wondered why some people call it period and other periods. Does the pluralism indicate severity? Just food for thought.

When I asked my peers, I learned there was a better nickname, ‘Rolling’, you know, like the stone that gathers no moss. And so it stuck, until this rolling felt like tumbling down under. The pain was something else.

I then decided that my period was a she with the prefix ‘Red’. At some point it was so painful, all I could think of calling her was ‘Red Devil’ because the pain was outta this world. Now she is just Red. Red signifies her color, the fact that she stands..er..seeps out and finally the fact, that my vagina is a no go zone while she is in town.

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Other nicknames I have come across are:

  • Shark week
  • Aunty Flo is in town
  • Red Robot
  • TOM {Time of the month} is here

What do you call your period? Does it live up to it’s name?

You can find other interesting nicknames here and here.

‘Big Sis’

My Period Is A Part Of My Life

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After weeks of waiting and wondering how the first monthly sighting would be, my period finally came. They were not what I expected. On one hand I expected to feel different, I felt different in a gross kind of way, not a,’I am now a woman’ kind of way. On the other hand, I knew this was IT. The beginning of the end of my innocence. Remember my introduction to periods conversation? I felt as though a part of me was dying. Seeing blood supported this line of thought. I had been conditioned to believe that, seeing blood meant you should rush to a hospital immediately; yet, now I expected to sit tight and wait for it to pass.

whats a periodMy first period was weird. The theory had not prepared me for the practical. I wasn’t prepared me for the sensation, duration, color, flow or the pain. I had to acquaint myself with adhesive matters, because as women, we all know, that in matters pads, the glue matters. And wings too. You are only bothered by the quality of chicken wings, until you wear a pad without wings and have to walk around with your thighs touching each other on purpose. Then, you appreciate the genius behind pads with wings.

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NOTHING prepared me for the leaks, stubborn stains got a whole new meaning. To wash with hot water or cold water? that was the question of the week. Incase, you are wondering, cold water any day.

Periods are and can be beautiful.

For the longest time, I just never thought of them like that. The truth is, I didn’t quite understand them. I thought I did, but beyond the ‘monthly shedding of my uterus wall’ I was as clueless as they come. I didn’t understand what was really happening in my body, the hormones et al, and how genetics, the food I ate, the chemicals I exposed myself to could play a part in all; after all, it was just the ‘monthly shedding of my uterus wall’. I’ll talk more about this in my next post.

What was your first period like? Did it live up to your expectations, if you had any?

‘Big Sis’