I would rather not make this blog about me, but I’m a person like anyone else who may need care at some point. And as the title of this blog posts suggests and is common sense, for the most part, there is usually some hesitancy with humans and health.
I’m writing this blog in the waiting room of a local lab facility. It’s 6:30am and I was 8th in line. I prefer not to say what I am here for just yet, but this extensive test will make a lot of changes in my life.
Everyone here in the room is several decades older than myself. They are jovial and bright-eyed considering the sun will not be up for another hour. Your health is a fragile thing. Like we know with my Dad, life changes in an instant. My father is younger than the crowd here but only by a few years. Yet he’s unable to do most things they take for granted.
So what can one do to prevent future issues? Well, going to the doctor is one thing. And speaking up when something isn’t normal. This seems to be a problem with most people. Some don’t want to know something is wrong. Some don’t want to bother the doctor. Some don’t have a doctor. We usually tell someone intimately close in our life if something is different. The family joke in our house is that we discuss bowel movements. We talk poop. But talking poop with a doctor? Not going to till it’s really bad…
Advocating for your health needs to be at the forefront. Especially if people depend on you. Your health needs to come first because if you are not healthy, you cannot properly care for others. Over time, care will wear you down if you cannot stop and take care of yourself.
I’ve been ignoring some personal symptoms thinking my issues were related to a bad mattress, a geriatric dog that needs to be walked 1 to 3 times throughout the night, my work load, and previous accidents and injuries. But I had to face the facts about another issue I had which has set my current situation in motion.
I was diagnosed in February of this year with an autoimmune disease called hydrodenitis suppurtiva. In quick terms, I suffer from a body acne that affects 3 major areas of my skin that aren’t readily visible. I have been suffering from this disease since I was a teen. Over 20 years experiencing extreme pain, lesions, scarring and embarrassment that not one other doctor hinted towards or took time to say more than change soap, deodorant, lose weight, and change your diet. My first dermatologist rolled his eyes at me when I was a teen and in the early stages of my disease blaming my obesity and teenage hormones and slapped me with some topical remedies that did nothing but bleach my clothing. Because I didn’t advocate for myself and because I suffered in silence, I had painful flare-ups for over 20 years. I’m now getting treatment but my body shows the battle scars. I only went to a new dermatologist after my partner kept asking me about my lesions and scars; it made me get mad at him and myself. But I’m glad it did.
After getting diagnosed, I went back to my primary care physician and made them aware during a checkup. This led to my PCP asking a few more questions and recommended I see a specialist for something else that may be underlying my other symptoms. Now, I hesitated going to this specialist, a rheumatologist, because I associated that kind of specialist with elderly patients. The nurse at my PCP office, who is close in age to me, pulled me aside and told me she suffered from lupus and that this doctor was great. So driving home, I fumbled with the referral card in my hand. Looking at it at red lights. Feeling the texture of the paper. Asking myself, “do I want to know?” At 33, i became scared that I may be fallible. The days of youthful ignorance and idea of mortality long from my mind are here and now. Saying something and doing something are two different steps. And I made the call to the rheumatologist and booked the first available appointment.
Ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance makes the fool when answers need to be given. And just because I’m 33 and just because I could explain it away doesn’t mean it will go away. Preparing for answers can make your mind weary and add unnecessary stress but when you don’t feel well, what else can you do but ponder? I won’t know the results for another month but I have been preparing for what may come, which is to take a step back and pick priorities. Either way, positive news or negative news, I won’t be able to sustain my robust schedule forever and rest is what I need.
So if you are thinking of waiting till you hit the ER to find out what’s wrong with you, by then it may be too late. Know now. Fix it, if possible, now. Rip the proverbial band-aid off and expose your issue to the air. Wounds don’t heal covered up. It needs air. You may have no scar, or you may have a massive scar. It may change your life. But life is not fully lived if you avoid the pain.
Love and compassion,