Saturday, May 25, 2013

Handling the curveballs

I've been having a medical issue lately that I have not posted much on here.  It's not because I don't want to talk about it, but because it is of a highly personal nature and TMI for the average reader.  So I'm going to try to describe it without going into all the details (you're welcome!) because it's not necessarily in the specific details that I want to focus on.  I have had a spot on my body for years, probably the better part of ten years, but it didn't hurt so I didn't focus on it.  I think I had the same attitude about this spot as I did when I found the mole on my back had turned into melanoma ... it was with me for years so, at the time, it didn't cause too much worry, especially because I couldn't see it.  So the spot that hasn't been too concerning to me started to really hurt, intensely.  In a moment of sheer panic, I remembered the pain I felt with the cancerous mole.  Given two years have now passed since I was diagnosed with melanoma, I'm always on alert when it comes to unusual spots, moles, etc. 

On May 7th, I went in to see a doctor to have the spot looked at.  Lo and behold, there was a problem.  She didn't believe it to be cancerous, so she wanted to start treatment by giving me some medicine first.  Of course we were going to monitor it because skin cancer patients are very likely to getting it again.  I started using the medication that day.  All the paperwork said to call the doctor's office again in a week if it wasn't better.  Ten days later, it hadn't improved so I called and spoke with my doctor's nurse since she was out of the office.  She advised me to give it another week, to still do what I was doing in addition to some other things and, if it still wasn't better in a week, to call to make a follow-up appointment. On Thursday night, a little voice inside of me told me it was time to go in to see the doctor again.

I called first thing Friday morning and insisted on a same-day appointment.  I guess I got forceful because I had cancer before and, believe me, I did not want to live through the emotional pain of that again.  I was able to get in, but had to see a different doctor, which was fine by me.  I am still going through physical therapy for my work injuries so I saw the doctor about the spot after working with the physical therapist in the morning.  PT does cause a lot of pain when you're really trying to work through injuries.  By the time I got in the room to see the spot-doctor, I already felt beat up.  We went over my history and we started talking about the problem I am having.  Optifast reared its head into this conversation.  It is amazing the amount of doctors that really do not support the program, even when their own company has clinics for it.  I do realize that a LOT of people read my blog because of my experience with losing 190 pounds with the program.  Losing the weight, at the time, was the only thing I was focused on and I can imagine this is the same experience other people are having reading this.  I can't sit here and say you should do it or you shouldn't.  I think that if you are perfectly healthy and have no concerns other than excess weight, you are going to have a very different experience than the person that has other things going on.  I fit into the latter category. 

I know I have just digressed from my story ... I do that sometimes.  I just don't want to give the impression that Optifast is the right choice for most people.  I don't believe it is, but, again, each person will have a different experience.  When a person is obese, morbidly obese or whatever lovely category the medical profession has decided to label us with, perhaps the only thing to worry about in the moment is getting weight off our bodies. So, anyway, back to the doctor's exam ... Armed with information about my medical history over the past several years, the doctor began the physical exam to determine if my spot was any better or worse.  As soon as she probed further, her next response was, "You need to see a specialist as soon as possible."  That spot that had given me no problems before now was leaving me in excruciating pain.  In addition, through the course of the conversation, it appears that I likely have Celiac disease.  We talked about all the symptoms of that and when they appeared to start.  Again, Optifast was brought into the conversation.  Perhaps I had the symptoms before, but I really noticed them while on the products.  I just was losing weight so freakin fast that I just didn't want to rock the boat.  The doctor ordered more tests for me and told me the specialist's office would be calling me within three days to schedule the appointment.

Like a zombie, I walked out of the doctor's office and down to the laboratory to have some blood drawn.  There were probably 100 people waiting in line for the same thing so I decided to go to another Kaiser clinic closer to work.  They usually don't have a lot of people there.  As I was driving down the freeway, I think the depth of the conversation I had with the doctor hit me.  A spot that now left me in excruciating pain, the fact that I might have Celiac disease ... I just got hit with a ton of bricks in my face.  The tears started to flow and I remember asking God why He was challenging me so much.  I think about the last year, let alone the last several, and it has been a lot to wade through, especially as I continue to work full time and have gone to school during all of it.  Celiac disease is definitely manageable through having the proper diet (although it is a huge challenge) and it would certainly explain a lot of the pain I have had in the last couple of years.  When I leaned on the shoulder of a friend and started getting really upset as I told her what was going on, she reminded me that sometimes what feels like it's a lot to take on is not necessarily about the person carrying that load but, rather, God using that person as a vessel of His love.  Others are always watching how we handle a crisis, how perhaps we cling to our faith or walk away from it.  What will I do?

As I wait for the blood test results, the doctor suggested that I start incorporating gluten free eating now (for the Celiac disease).  A couple of friends at work eat gluten free so they are really helping me with diving into this new world.  If anything, it is a very clean way of eating and could be beneficial for any person that wants to be healthier.  And in terms of seeing the specialist, I have to wait on that, too.  I'm scared what the next exam will bring, but this sort of pain is not okay.  I do mask it pretty well.  You can't see I'm going through pain on the outside.  It's only when I start talking about it that others are realizing I am a good cover-up artist.  I did that all of the time when I was kid as I was being abused and I suppose those characteristics pop up as a way of protecting myself.  I am at the point where I don't care if I have to have yet another biopsy (I had six with the melanoma) or something cut out of my body.  Sorry if that's too graphic - I've been trying hard not to get too gory here in describing what's going on.  In the meantime, I have been doing the best I can to relax, to get some sleep and to let God take away any fear I may be having. 

Someone asked me today, who doesn't always see me in person, how things are going with my weight loss.  It's odd how things really get thrown into perspective in the weirdest moments, isn't it?  Of course weight loss is always a concern for me, but, right now, finding out why I'm in pain and whatever else is going on has to take priority.  That doesn't mean I'm giving myself license to eat whatever I want, but just need to be kind and gentle towards myself right now.


Martha Kaiser said...

Hey Kathy. I'm sorry to read about this latest curveball but, actually, my first reaction was happiness for you. The celiac disease diagnosis might be the answer to many of your issues and changing to a gluten free diet might relieve your joint pain. I'm actually surprised that a doctor has not made the connection before. Have you done a ogle search on it? (I'm guessing yes)...
I can totally relate to the melanoma thing having had 2 giant wide excision a done for my 2 melanomas. I need to get my skin check scheduled soon too. Anyway, maybe God is pointing you in the right direction with this and is getting you some healing relief instead of yet another issue. I pray that maybe this could turn things around. Hugs.

Kathy said...

Hi Martha ;-)

I actually felt the same way - Celiac may be an answer to so much. I think my first reaction was just, "why are you give me so much God" but then it turned into peace. If it will make me feel better and alleviate a lot of the pain, I really am willing to do absolutely anything. I'll check out the link, but of course I have been obsessively checking out things online. But you probably already knew that!!

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