When I Realized I had a Serious Issue (Cont’d)
Find part 1 here.
One day, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I was going to do things my way. I stopped seeking medical help because I wasn’t getting any positive outcomes from the doctor’s visits and then I made it my purpose to figure out what was wrong with me by doing my own research. I would go to work during the day, handle whatever chores I needed to get done when I got home, and then late at night I would stay up studying about the symptoms I was experiencing. Thankfully I understood the concept of “hypochondria” because, otherwise, I would’ve believed I was suffering from at least three different chronic conditions. However, I initially narrowed it down to one, and felt that my symptoms were closely related to Crohn’s Disease despite the fact that doctor’s already ruled it out prior to my research. I know what you’re thinking; ‘it’s never a good idea to self-diagnose’. However, I was stubborn and needed answers or some sort of understanding of what I was going through. I desired information that could help me explain to people what I was feeling even though I was no longer dealing with a bacterial infection.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, “Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.” This was very close to what I was, and still am, facing on a daily basis. However, after diving deeper into Crohn’s Disease, I realized it was slightly different than what I was dealing with, only because I learned that Crohn’s sufferers experience more rectal bleeding. Despite it already being ruled out, I felt that this symptom was the only difference that ‘disqualified’ (for lack of a better term) me from being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, and, in a sense, I was upset about that. I wasn’t upset because I wanted the disease, but because I yearned to put a name to whatever I was going through. So of course, the research continued.
To make a long story short; I met my wife throughout this whole journey of mine and she was, and still is, a great help. Either we would both stay up late at night or she would do the research on her own time, and was just as dedicated as I was to figuring out what was wrong with me. Eventually, she suggested I continue seeing a doctor about my condition. Soon she started attending the doctor’s visits with me to help me explain the symptoms, both physical and mental, that I found hard to express and articulate. The symptoms I was facing, to some extent, were traumatic for me and talking about it was one of the hardest things for me to do, so my wife would be my voice when I didn’t have one. She was exactly what I needed throughout the whole journey.
One night we both came across irritable bowel syndrome during our time researching together. The more we read about it, the more it sounded like exactly what I was going through. We immediately made an appointment to see my doctor to discuss our findings, and he then referred us to see a GI specialist. The main struggle throughout this whole journey was trying to get a medical expert to put a name to what I was going through and treat me with the proper care. At one point, it seemed like I was just being thrown prescription pills as opposed to being provided with genuine medical advice. When we met with the GI specialist, and after explaining all of my symptoms, the severity, and all of the years I’ve dealt with it, she finally agreed that I was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. Ironically, I was kind of relieved, but because it was finally confirmed that what I was feeling was not all in my head after all.
I cannot express how important it is to have a support system while going through this journey. Whether it’s a spouse, a friend, or an online community, we need people to advocate for what we all go through. IBS isn’t easy! At one point in my life, I was starting to feel hopeless and helpless. However, my wife and other loved ones helped put strength and perseverance back into my life, and now giving up is no longer an option. Having a diagnosis helped me do the right research to understand how IBS affected my body. As much as I wish I wasn’t suffering from something, at least I know what it is, and now I act accordingly. I study my triggers and I do my best to track and manage my symptoms. Staying positive about life and understanding that some things happen for a reason is what keeps me appreciative, despite having IBS. Yeah, I never achieved a college degree and I didn’t get to have the music career I wanted (yet), but one thing’s for sure, I’m at a point in my life where I’m finally happy, and that’s all that matters.