Last week I talked about the beginning stages of my bout with mono. I don’t remember much from the weeks following my ER visit, except that I rested a lot and wasn’t well enough to make my evening trip to the barn to see my horse, who lives a mile down the road, for over 6 weeks. The fact that I was living with the family I work for was an incredible blessing. Most of my work being conducted on the computer, I was able to still keep up with some of the business I had been doing before I got sick. In reality though, even sitting at my desk was tiring and more time was spent on the office couch with my laptop nearby, resting and working in increments. A kind and understanding employer is not a luxury everyone has and I’m grateful, as I would have almost certainly lost my job in any other circumstance.
Time passed in a haze. I remember going back to the barn at some point and trying to spend some time with my horse. As I groomed him and his hair landed on my arms I broke out in a rash. This was unexpected. I knew I was allergic to many animals and it had gotten a bit worse with age, but in the past, so long as I kept the hair out of my eyes and away from my face, I was okay. I have always loved animals and have surrounded myself with them throughout my life. Cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, even a painted turtle. This reaction was different, I had never broken out upon simple contact before. My body was clearly on high alert.
Around this time (spring 2017) I realized I was having a hard time breathing. Actually, when I started to think about it, I had started having shortness of breath and other asthma like symptoms not long after my ER visit in January. I had asthma as a very young child but it had not been an issue for years. To compound things, I was still dealing with fatigue and my heart palpitations were persisting as were the GI symptoms that had been plaguing me since Christmas time. It was frightening. I was experiencing so many unfamiliar sensations and I was overwhelmed.
By this time I had had a number of doctors visits. One visit in particular set my blood on fire. The doctor was an older gentleman who has been practicing in the small town I live for a very long time. He took a brief look at the litany of tests I had undergone as I tried to explain all of the things I had already been through that year as well as the symptoms I was still experiencing, including the palpitations. I had written down some questions and as I started on the first one, he took the paper out of my hand, scanning it quickly while muttering under his breath.
“Hypochondriac,” he mumbled as he looked up at me. Embarrassed, I tried to explain my situation again, this time flustered and without my paper of questions he continued to withhold. He proceeded to flip over the paper I had brought along and drew out a diagram to illustrate what anxiety looked like and offered his opinion on why “most girls my age had it”. By this time I was mortified. If you’d have experienced what I have in the past few months you’d have anxiety too, I thought. I didn’t want pills and I realized very quickly that nothing I could say or do would help him understand.
I went home upset and not long after, received a $230 bill from his office, which I unsuccessfully tried my best to reverse. I resigned myself to the fact that this one would have to be chalked up to experience… after I wrote a very honest review on Google! My point in telling this story: There is always a way to make your voice heard. Keep searching.
Along with those doctors visits came a slew of tests. I think I had 5 complete blood work ups total during 2017 for various reasons. I underwent a chest x-ray, an EKG and an echo-cardiogram which showed some unexplained irregular heart beats and minor regurgitation in one of my heart valves, an apparently common occurrence but not the cause of the palpitations I was experiencing. I also had allergy testing done which confirmed I was highly allergic to many of the things I love most (animals and outdoors). Around this time I underwent a pulmonary functioning test which showed some obstruction in my lungs. I was initially put on a low dose of Flovent which was soon raised to a higher dosage of 110mcg 2 puffs twice a day along with 10mg of Singular and an Allegra, both taken once a day. It was costing me $250 a month for the inhalers alone. (I did finally learn of a way to order them through a Canadian pharmacy, which brought the price down significantly to a more reasonable $65/month.)
With new diagnoses and new medications I entered summer, feeling unsettled and anxious despite all of the “answers” I had been give.