The story of my chronic health disorders, and why I no longer have them.
I never believed I "knew it all" like so many teens do. I knew I didn't know it all because if I did, then I wouldn't have so many problems.
That said, even as a small child I believed I should be treated like an adult, not like a child. I resented being judged by my age.
By the time I was thirteen:
I had already made my first typed attempt at a novel; over four-hundred typed pages if you include in the the side-stories and second book.
I had experienced the extreme fatigue and pain that comes with mononucleosis four times.
I knew what it was like to feel entirely alone, and helpless.
I had developed the ability to never become bored. If life on the outside was dull, then I'd be fascinating on the inside!
By the time I was sixteen:
I had fallen in love, and had my heart broken due to my own mistakes.
I had lived through the loss of many possessions and my usual way of life due to a fire.
I had been suicidal, depressed, and watched other children do what I could not for my entire life.
I was bitter and desperate.
At the age of sixteen, during my Junior year of high school, I became heavily involved with the wrong sort of boyfriend. I had always said that it wouldn't happen to me when I heard about women being abused... But I didn't understand why it happens until it happened to me.
Firstly, he was charming. He could charm anybody. All the girls in school wanted him. He was a black belt in more than one martial art and he trained daily regardless of other circumstances. I enjoyed watching him train. I enjoyed listening to the sound of his voice.
Secondly, he was a chronic liar. He told me what I wanted to hear. He told everyone what they wanted to hear. He was incredibly good at it.
But he was bad for me. The things he did that were good were things I could not share with him, and the things he did that were bad I had no choice but to participate in. Or at least, I didn't feel that I had a choice.
I couldn't begin to train with him. He was as far from me in physical capability as Earth is from Pluto. He could jump over my head, and I could barely get my feet off the ground. Every attempt to train with him just turned into us both becoming frustrated and irritable. He had no patience for my weakness. And thereby, I only watched while he trained.
I didn't get anything close to his level of exercise, but I did get in all the insane time in front of the television set. I didn't want to watch television; I wanted to draw, read and write, but I didn't dare go against what he wanted.
Worse than just watching so much television, we snacked and smoked pot as we did so. Every single day. Potato chips, french fries, "Chinese" takeout food, pot and television every single day for nearly two years of my life.
I was afraid to leave him.
What is fear? Here is one theory:
False Evidence Appearing Real
After a year with him I had slowly learned that he was a liar, a thief, a drug dealer and in a gang. That makes him sound like your stereotypical thug, but he was much more than that. He also had a split-personality disorder. And beyond that, it's my firm belief to this day that in some strange way, he did really love me. Which made things overly complicated for my sixteen-year-old self.
His Split-personality Disorder
My second love had three personalities. One of which, the dominant one, was the one that went to school with me and was usually present. Another of which was very demanding, but overall a more kind person; someone I loved more than his dominant personality. The third was incredibly violent and unpredictable.
His personalities could have been a grand performance, but I don't believe they were. One occasion that convinced me of the validity of these transitions was when he switched between one persona and another and fainted in the process while at the top of the stairs. He fell backwards and hit his head on the on the landing. Nobody falls like that on purpose, for any reason.
I forced myself to adapt.
The more I hated myself and what I was becoming, the more I drowned my self-awareness in wine coolers, weed and junk food.
Yes, in junk food. Some people don't realize they are using food as an escape. We're all addicted to something, whether it's soda, alcohol, chocolate bars, or dried goji berries. Some addictions are simply much more harmful than others.
If you're going to get addicted to something, make it kale with chopped celery on top.
Unfortunately, I was jamming doritos, fritos, lays, fried potatoes (in several different forms), and rice down my gullet as part of my "coping" with the reality I felt no escape from.
As you can imagine, I developed even more serious health issues than I had ever developed before.
Sleep Disorder & Marijuana
At the age of sixteen I discovered a new way to deal with my inability to fall asleep for hours each night. Weed.
Because my second love had weed in excess I was allowed as much as I wanted, as often as I wanted. I didn't even have to roll my own joints.
At first I limited how much I had. Just a puff here, a puff there. After a year with him my tolerance was up to an entire joint to myself. It became a crutch for two reasons:
The weed numbed me to how much I hated my relationship situation.
The weed made me tired and made it easy for me to fall asleep.
Of course, the weed didn't help me sleep forever. Like everything else, it eventually stopped working as well, although it lasted longer as a solution than anything previous. A little over a year after I began smoking nearly every day I found myself wide awake and high. It's not pleasant at all because you can't think clearly and you know you can't think clearly.
Often I got out of bed long after the entire house was asleep to watch more television I didn't even want to watch.
The first very noticeable change in my health was quite mysterious to myself and to my family. I began to have tiny little burps. This was very odd because I had never burped previously in my life that I could remember. And certainly not tiny little burps in rapid succession. It was distracting; like having the hiccups. At first I would get them every few days for several minutes, and then it became every day, and then it started to last for hours at a time.
These tiny little burps came in such fast succession that I could easily burp forty times in a minute. It was insane.
During my senior year in high school where I attended school for half a day and then went to work (as a web design intern) for the other half of the day, the burps were often continual, almost all day long. People often asked if I was all right because I looked as though I had an endless stream of hiccups. I waved it off and told people it wasn't anything, but internally I was mortified.
I started to wake up with a stomachache each and every morning. Not just an ordinary, "I don't feel so well," stomachache. These stomachaches were so intense that I often cried and huddled in bed long after I woke up. It wasn't nausea, but rather, it was an intense burning in my abdomen. The pain was so intense that it put my incredibly intense menstrual cramps to shame... And it was every morning.
Just about everyone "cracks their knuckles" now and again. My mother calls this a sign that you need more calcium. Of course, it's more complicated than that, because if you don't have the magnesium to process the calcium, then calcium will not make it to your bones, but rather, the calcium will build up in the bloodstream, which can be dangerous.
I was always cracking my knuckles, and despite what my mom said, I didn't think too much of it. I had been rotating my ankles and making them 'crack' several times a day for as long as I can remember (which is back to about six years old.)
But knuckles and ankles were one thing; my jaw was another. It started to "crack" painfully almost every time I opened my mouth. It made it difficult to chew, to say the least. At times it was so painful that I couldn't talk. I recall an entire day where I couldn't open my mouth at all. I was terrified that I would die that way; that I was approaching a horrific ending to my life. My mother thought I had lock-jaw. I'm not sure how lock-jaw is defined, but my jaw was locked.
The burps started out as being annoying and distracting. Over the course of six or seven months they became successively more and more painful. I often would burp, but then the gas (or whatever) wouldn't make it up to my throat. Instead it would stick in my chest and begin to burn and burn and burn.
This pain was multiplied by the morning stomachaches because I began to wake up with a stomachache and burps, and each burp would get caught in my chest. I felt as though my insides were on fire from my navel to my chest every morning for several weeks before I finally gave in and told my mother I needed to see a doctor.
There were many times I had been to a doctor only to be told there was "nothing wrong" with me throughout my life. There was the time I was struggling with reading because reading gave me a headache and the eye doctor said my eyes were normal and the regular doctor couldn't find a cause or solution either. It was "all in my head" or perhaps I was "pretending" because I didn't want to read.
There were rashes, fevers, runny noses, the inability to sleep and countless other things that resulted in doctors saying that I was "fine" and "normal" and other infuriatingly unhelpful things.
This doctor visit was different.
I told the doctor how the burps were in the morning and also often after I ate. The doctor took me seriously and asked for me to start detailing everything I ate and how I felt after I ate it. To create a full record of all of my symptoms for a full two weeks and then return for him to analyze it.
He even explained why he needed details. He told me about how some people develop an allergy to seeds and can't track it because they don't make the connection to eating seeds on a strawberry, and eating the seeds on a bun when eating a hamburger.
Tracking What I Ate
I was delighted with this new project and took it very seriously. I typed up everything I ate and how I felt afterward without fail. It was like a little obsession to study my reactions to everything I was eating.
I noticed that the burps and stomachache was particularly bad after eating a large bowl of pasta with meatballs. I happen to know that it was Prego sauce that we used, since that was the family favorite pasta sauce. The spaghetti was standard wheat spaghetti, and the meatballs were store-bought frozen meatballs. I recorded that.
I noticed that I often felt nauseous after drinking milk, and even worse after eating cheese. Cheese in particular set my stomach on fire. I wrote that down as well.
Any sort of meat seemed to give me particularly bad stomachaches, especially my mother's meatloaf. That really pissed me off since I loved my mother meatloaf. I also recorded that, minus how much it pissed me off.
And it went on and on like that. The FUZE drinks which I thought of as a healthy alternative to soda gave me stomachaches and burps that lasted for hours. Most everything and anything I ate made me feel slow and lethargic. It felt like food was an enemy, and yet I felt constantly hungry, and so I ate most anything.
The Doctor's Conclusion
I brought the many typed pages to my doctor stapled together in the corner. It detailed everything I had eaten since I had been there last, and how I had reacted.
The doctor read the first page in full and then skimmed the rest of it. He looked up at me and then said something that no doctor has ever said to me before;
"I don't know what's wrong with you. If you avoided everything on this list, you'd be avoiding everything. It's not that nothing can be done, but that today, in the year of 2006, we don't know what this is or what to do about it."
That doctor, who I wish I knew the name of, gained my utmost respect. He had admitted to being in the dark. Instead of saying there was "nothing wrong" he admitted that there was something wrong, but that he couldn't fix it.
I turned to the internet in full.
You can't trust everything you find on the internet, especially not when the person who wrote what you're reading is trying to sell you something. The more money they are making off their website, the more they are willing to bend the truth to raise sales. Sometimes these aren't even bad people; they believe that it's better that they have the money and put it to good use. Sometimes people don't even lie so much as they just make things up, or stretch the truth, or even misremember what they've read.
I know that sometimes when I'm in a debate with someone, I often misquote or misremember something I've read. We're all fallible; it doesn't mean we're evil or bad. It does mean that you have to be careful. Outright lies, people stretching the truth, people with poor memory, people with an agenda and so on are spreading "facts" everywhere.
The other problem with internet information is statistics. Even if the statistic is not a lie, and not made up, it still may have no bearing on you. You are an individual human being; you are not a rat who is fed some processed protein extract. So many statistics and studies are based upon a very limited amount of reality. There is no common ground between you and lab animals fed a chemically processed extract of some sort of food.
However, when the study shows something really dramatic, like rats growing hair on the inside of their mouths, then it's good to heed what did that to them. At the same time, it's probably irrelevant what happens when some rats eat "reduced fat" soy proteins vs. "reduced fat" corn proteins.
I didn't understand quite to the same degree then that I do now how much information is tainted, but I knew enough to know that I wanted a lot of different opinions.
One of the first things I discovered was other people who had the same problem. One story that stuck with me was written by the mother of a twelve year old girl. The girl had been burping nonstop for three years and no doctors had been able to stop it. The story scared me, and made me feel as though finding a "cure" was urgent.
My obsessive researching had begun.
Continue Reading: Part 5
The Beginning Of My Recovery From Life-Long Chronic Issues
October 6th 2010
Added information & edited formatting.
October 12th 2010
October 29th 2010
Added information & edited formatting.
October 12th 2010
October 29th 2010