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My Journey Through Life with Multiple Chronic Illnesses

A Journey Through Life

By Johnny SixPublished 7 months ago 5 min read
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I am a 48-year-old woman soon to turn 49, and my life has been a constant battle with multiple chronic illnesses. My journey is a testament to the strength and resilience required to navigate life with conditions that many might struggle to comprehend. Since early childhood, I've faced numerous health issues, from joint pain and rashes to allergies, frequent pneumonia, kidney infections, and heart problems. Every doctor my parents took me to simply brushed off my symptoms, saying, "It's just growing pains; you're fine." The rashes, they claimed, were reactions to laundry soap or certain foods. They never ran any tests to determine the real issue, and this dismissal left a lasting impact on my perception of my own health.

Childhood: A Mysterious Ailment

My health struggles began as early as I can remember. The relentless joint pain, unexplained rashes, allergies, and frequent bouts of pneumonia marred my early years. To make matters worse, I endured kidney infections and heart problems. My parents, concerned for my well-being, sought help from numerous doctors, but their responses were frustratingly uniform – "It's just growing pains; you're fine." Those persistent rashes were attributed to allergies without any tests to confirm the cause. This routine dismissal was not only disheartening but also led me to doubt the validity of my experiences.

High School: The Perils of Ignored Pain

In high school, my condition worsened, particularly during my menstrual cycles. I would miss approximately a week of school each month due to the excruciating pain. Once again, the doctors dismissed my complaints, suggesting that it was all in my head or simply "normal." The feeling of being ignored by medical professionals intensified, and I started to believe their claims that my symptoms were psychological. By my early twenties, I had convinced myself that the pain and discomfort were normal, that everyone must experience them. Little did I know how wrong I was.

Endometriosis, PCOS, and Adenomyosis: A Long-Awaited Diagnosis

I eventually found a doctor who took my menstrual pain seriously. After conducting a series of tests, the diagnosis came as a relief: endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and adenomyosis. However, the treatment options were limited at the time since I was still relatively young. The doctor could only recommend over-the-counter pain medications and birth control as a means of managing these conditions. Moreover, I received a disheartening prognosis – I would be lucky to have just one child.

Managing Chronic Illness as a Young Mother

I continued to manage my health as best I could over the years, but my joint pain and fatigue showed no signs of improvement. I battled daily with fatigue, widespread body pain, recurring fevers, and unrelenting nausea. Still, I was met with skepticism from healthcare professionals, who continued to downplay my symptoms. It wasn't until I became pregnant at the age of 31 that my health struggles intensified.

Pregnancy Complications: A Wake-Up Call

During my pregnancy, I experienced a worrying development – my heart started racing, beating at a rate exceeding 200 beats per minute. It didn't take a medical degree to realize that this was far from normal. Seeking answers, I consulted a cardiologist who, once again, dismissed my concerns, attributing the heart issues to my pregnancy and insisting that everything would be fine if I rested more. However, with a family history of heart problems, I knew something was amiss. Just a week later, I collapsed at work, and my doctor prescribed bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. This occurred in August 2007, and I hadn't even reached the five-month mark.

An Accurate Diagnosis: Arrhythmias and Atrial Fibrillation

Terrified and far from home, I decided to return to the city where my family lived, seeking better medical care. My mother scheduled an appointment with her cardiologist, who immediately placed me on a Holter monitor for a month. Through daily recordings, my doctor confirmed that my heart issues were not merely a pregnancy-related anomaly. The diagnosis was a profound and concerning one – arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation. Although my daughter's birth brought joy, it also marked the beginning of a lifelong reliance on medications to manage my heart condition.

The Struggle Continues: Battling Fatigue and Chronic Pain

My health issues didn't subside after giving birth to my daughter. I attributed my exhaustion and pain to the challenges of being a new mother while working full-time. When my daughter turned two, my condition deteriorated significantly. At that time, I was working for a medical billing company, and my declining health didn't go unnoticed by one of the doctors. Concerned for my well-being, the doctor ordered a battery of tests, finally dispelling the notion that my problems were psychosomatic.

The Long-Awaited Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Following these tests, I received a life-changing diagnosis – severe fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Despite the diagnosis, I continued to work full-time, enduring pain and exhaustion on a daily basis. However, it became increasingly clear that I was on a path of physical and emotional decline. In December 2011, my doctor made the difficult decision to take me out of work permanently. I was confronted with a sea of emotions as I grappled with the reality of being disabled and my uncertain future. Thankfully, with the unwavering support of my family and friends, I found the strength to face this new chapter in my life.

A Ray of Hope: Discovering the Root Causes

In the years that followed, my journey continued, and my pain persisted. It wasn't until recently that I was referred to a rheumatologist who brought clarity to the underlying causes of my lifelong struggles. After multiple visits and a series of tests, I received a barrage of diagnoses that, in a way, validated my past experiences. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic Lyme disease, and chronic Epstein-Barr Virus. According to the rheumatologist, my joint pain during childhood was likely attributed to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. While the journey was filled with trial and error, I finally found medications that helped manage the pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis. My lupus symptoms are also being managed with medication. In an unexpected twist, it was revealed that the rashes I had growing up were all due to lupus, which served as a reminder that my struggles were far from imaginary.

Living with Multiple Chronic Illnesses: The Daily Challenge

Life with multiple chronic illnesses is far from easy. I have been disabled since 2011, and each day is a battle against pain and exhaustion. Despite getting what should be a full night's sleep, it never feels restful. I often wake up feeling as though I've been hit by a train. This is my new normal, and I've learned to adapt to it.

A Message of Support

To anyone else going through a similar journey of battling multiple chronic illnesses, I want you to know that you are not alone. You are far stronger than you realize. Your resilience and determination are admirable, and you have my full support. While the path may be challenging and filled with uncertainties, remember that you have the inner strength to persevere. Seek out the right medical care, build a supportive network of family and friends, and explore coping strategies that work for you. My story is a testament to the power of persistence, and I hope it can offer encouragement to others on a similar journey. You are not alone, and there is hope even in the face of chronic illness.

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About the Creator

Johnny Six

I'm a devoted stay-at-home mom, passionate about alternative education and homeschooling. My daughter is my focus, and together, we explore various hobbies,cooking, art, nature, reading, and music. https://helsprintsandthings.etsy.com

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  • Test7 months ago

    I also appreciate your message of support for others who are battling multiple chronic illnesses. It is important to remember that we are not alone, and that there is hope even in the face of chronic illness. Thank you for sharing your story, and for giving me a glimpse into your courage and determination. I wish you all the best in your journey.

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