For months I’ve been dealing with what the doctor referred to as vague symptoms, fatigue, sweats, headaches, numbness, and so forth. In a puzzle working backward from the symptoms, first, my doctor’s figured out that I have consistently really high platelet counts. This could signify any number of things. To figure out what was causing it, they then continued to test and discovered I have a really low iron count.
So this week I started IV infusions of iron to get my iron count up. In theory, this will also reduce my platelets to a normal level and help with all the symptoms I’ve been experiencing, but it’s a slow process. I’ll need to do this for five weeks and only after that will we know if my body absorbs it or not and if everything improves or not.
After that, I still won’t know why I have low iron or whether it’ll happen again. So I have to be patient. This is not uncommon for people with chronic conditions or illnesses. Getting a diagnosis can take a really long time and require a lot of time, effort, testing, patience, and persistence. The doctors aren’t going to follow this up without me following up. I need to make sure that I continue to make the appointments, ask for follow-ups and referrals, and just keep moving forward.
In some ways, it’s a relief to know that there is a verifiable medical reason for why I feel the way I do. Hearing my symptoms labeled “vague” makes me worry that they’re not taking me seriously, that they think I’m a hypochondriac, or wasting their time. It took me months to finally ask for help because I had been hoping that things would just resolve on their own (magical thinking at its best), and now that I have it’s good to have an idea and a way forward.
I just have to be patient and forgive myself for not being as energetic or productive as I want. I’ve been feeling really low because of my lack of productivity. Especially since this past year, I’ve spent so much time focusing on wellness and trying to improve my physical and mental health to the best of my ability, having this crop up feels like a step back. I have to remind myself that I’ve made progress, lots of it, and that taking care of this is progress too.
I’m glad I made the decision to go to the doctor when I did. If I had waited I might have made things worse and slowed down this whole process. Of course, I could have gone earlier and saved myself months of feeling like I do. It’s a trade-off. With “vague” symptoms it’s hard to know what is just side effects of medication, anxiety, my other chronic conditions, or even just the weather (all of this started in the middle of the New England winter).
But this is also part of my re-education process—learning how to listen to and actually hear my body again. For a very long time, I shut down my connection to my body to block pain and fatigue. Now it takes a lot for my body to get in touch with me and tell me what it needs or when something is wrong.
Through my wellness journey, I’ve been trying to reverse that, and I think I’m making progress. Going to the doctor a few months ago for help is progress. And it turned out something really was wrong. I’m glad I listened and I’m going to try to keep listening, even when it’s hard or I don’t want to hear my body tell me things like “slow down” or “rest more.” I’m making decisions that are hard in the short-term but will hopefully make things easier in the long-term, and hopefully, soon I’ll have more answers.
Photo by Jonas Weckschmied on Unsplash