I was always one of those people who “never got sick”.
I used to say it all the time. “I’m as healthy as a horse”, “I never get sick”.
Then in October 2014 I started feeling off.
My energy levels were very low. My muscles got progressively weaker, especially in my arms. I noticed it first when I was putting my then long hair into an “updo.” My arms got exhausted very quickly, started shaking and felt weak.
As things progressed, just brushing my teeth became an effort.
I was waking during the night with rolling anxiety attacks that went on for hours.
As someone who has learned to overcome anxiety and works with clients to resolve it, this anxiety was like nothing I have ever experienced before. None of my techniques worked, I just had to do my best to ride it out and wait till it was done with me.
My heart would race. Sometimes with the anxiety, sometimes just because.
Then the anxiety started happening anywhere at any time.
Driving down the freeway in traffic.
In the midst of a session with a client.
In the middle of a movie theatre.
I never knew when the next wave would come and take me over.
I developed excruciating pain in my lower back, legs and feet. My feet began to swell and unlike normal puffiness that I had experience before with pregnancy, the swelling would not subside, even if I rested with my feet up.
It felt like the soles of my feet had been beaten with a metal bar.
Walking was incredibly painful, standing for any length of time was just not a viable option I could take.
When I walked, I constantly felt as if I was teetering slightly forward and off balance, always on the edge of falling down.
For a few months prior to “getting sick”, I had begun to gain lots of weight around my middle that I just could not explain. My whole middle felt “squishy”, like it was full of fluid.
I thought I must have injured my back so I sought help from osteopaths, chiropractors and massage therapists. It helped for a few hours but the pain returned and gradually got worse to the point that I could barely get out of bed.
I had thought over the weeks that this went on that maybe I just had a virus, a bad one that was taking a long time to shake off so I just keep resting and waiting to get better.
But it just didn’t happen.
My eyelids and face began to swell, my whole face was puffy especially around my eyes and my top eyelids were resting on my eye lashes.
I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.
I didn’t even look like “me” anymore. My whole face was changed and distorted.
I can still remember the look on my Fathers face when he came to visit and I met him at the door.
The shocked expression on his fact that he quickly tried to recover. I knew exactly how he felt because I felt the same way every time I saw my reflection.
It got to the point where all I could do was drag myself out of bed, take my son to school, then lay on the couch till it was time to drive to pick him up again.
I had a constant, loud ringing in both my ears that never stopped.
My hair began falling out and thinning.
I had a film over my eyes that made reading and seeing difficult, even with my glasses. At one point, I couldn’t watch television as the whole screen was just a blur.
And it kept getting worse.
I developed brain fog so bad that simple words eluded me. I resorted to pointing to things at times to tell the kids what I was talking about.
I began experiencing chest and heart pain, like my heart would be squeezed then released and pain in my chest, ribs and arms.
I felt like I had no energy at a cellular level which turned out later to be true.
Everything was a massive effort. Speaking exhausted me, I felt like I had to consciously breathe and my heartbeat was so slow that I was scared to go to bed at night in case I died in my sleep.
My voice totally changed. It went deeper and slurry. I was unable to work with my clients anymore and had to put working on hold as I just couldn’t focus or concentrate and I had no motivation at all. I was in survival mode.
From someone who loved to have lots of alone time, who was independent, confident and capable, I became an anxious, depressed, crying mess who could not bear to be left alone.
I felt like I was dying.
After seeing a massage therapist who adjusted my hips, I was doing a stretching exercises he recommend while lying on my back and as I drew my knee into my chest, my lower left rib suddenly went from convex to concave then sprung back with an audible “pop” and immediate pain.
I took myself off to the emergency center at the local hospital, barely able to drive let alone walk and was miraculously given a bed in under 10 minutes.
That proved to be a turning point in my journey.
The doctors could not find anything wrong with me in their assessment but they did pick up that I had high white cell count in one of the tests they did.
They asked me if I had recently experienced a kidney or urinary infection, for both of which I said “no” but that high white blood count stuck in my mind.
I knew it was time to find out what was wrong with me.
Next blog: Diagnosis.
What was your experience of “getting sick” like?
I would love to know.
[…] was just the beginning for me. You can read my story here and here but I think it’s enough to say that it was a very big, terrifying downhill slide […]