So, like I said in my last post, I was literally falling apart. Let me back track to recap an important part of my journey–something I believe was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.
In late 2005, right after I got out of the abusive relationship, I decided to go on a doctor monitored “diet”. They called it modified starvation or something like that. Um, I wonder why I thought that was a good idea? Maybe because my struggle with my weight had gone on for so long? Maybe because back then I trusted anyone with “Dr.” in front of their name? Maybe the results just sounded so good. Well, I lost weight alright. A lot. and TOO fast. I started not feeling myself. I started feeling really disconnected, numb and anxious.
I ended up stopping the diet after about a month or so. I reintroduced some healthy carbs and more calories back into my life and thought I would feel better. I didn’t. I then started struggling with anxiety so much that I decided to try medication. And that was a band-aid that I needed for a bit.
Through all of this time I was finishing grad school, dating my now husband long distance and soon after was engaged. I felt like life was just happening around me. What I knew logically was the best time in my life didn’t “feel like it”. I just wasn’t myself. I pushed through, graduated, went to some counseling and began to deal with the first layer of trauma, and continued on medication for a bit. I moved across the country, got married and began a new job. Right before the wedding, I weened off the low dose of anti-depressants and seemed to feel about the same.
Although, it seemed that the emotional symptoms started first, my body started doing weird things as well. I remember having chest pain and a weird sensation that my pulse was beating through my neck. I could hear my pulse really loud in my ears and had problems sleeping. Until then, I had blamed stress and assumed I just needed counseling and time, but the more my body started showing symptoms, the more I couldn’t deny that my body needed help too.
One day, while I wasn’t stressed out at all, I suffered a HORRIFIC panic attack. I had no idea what it was. I thought I was sick, I felt like my mind was racing, I felt terrified, I thought I was going to vomit and then about 20-30 minutes later, I felt completely normal. I thought maybe I was just getting the stomach flu. I thought a million things, but never did I think a panic attack. I had never had one and was not in any danger or stress in the moment. In fact, friends arrived moments into the panic attack and I hid in the bathroom and told my husband to tell them I wasn’t feeling well. I will never forget that day. It was absolutely terrifying to not understand what happened.
I started by going to my family doctor who thought I should take blood pressure medication so my pulse would calm down, but I had normal blood pressure. They thought it was just anxiety or depression and offered more meds. I decided not to take them this time. I ended up in the hospital with an extremely high pulse after a glass of wine and the kind doctor (read: doctor with no compassion) asked if I was on cocaine and when I said no, he said I was probably just stressed. While I was on the monitor, they saw me move my arm and my pulse began to race. They finally saw that maybe it was more than stress. They ran labs and apologized. They saw that I had a thyroid problem. I was so relieved. This must be the answer to all of my issues.
Well, I wish it had been that easy. A few days later, I had thyroid labs run and they came back completely different from those of the hospital. I was devastated. I had so badly wanted to understand what was happening with my body, but no one had answers. I began to search for specialists, endocrinologist etc. I found one doctor whom I believe we paid $700 for the one visit (out of pocket) and he said my issue was adrenals and thyroid so he placed me on a ton of thyroid medication and steroids. Like a TON! That made me worse. It sped up my fragile body and my pulse got worse. I had to sleep sitting up because of my pulse pressure in my neck. I then visited another doctor whom we paid $1100 (out of pocket) for one visit and he thought I needed more Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin C. I tried that too. That wasn’t it. Through out all of this, I started feeling worse physically, but also very concerned emotionally. I was so sad and felt so scared.
I was in and out of the hospital, with no real answers. Finally, after many doctors, hospitals etc, I googled my symptoms and found an amazing doctor who seemed to understand. I met with him and started my LONG journey to improving. This doctor couldn’t believe what the other doctors had tried and he seemed to completely understand what was going on. ADRENAL EXHAUSTION. He started treating me with IVs, supplements, medications, taking me off the meds I had been prescribed and gave me compassion and kindness. We had his cell number and would call him sometimes every hour to try to prevent hospitalization. I will spare you some of the gross details, but its sufficient to say I was so relieved, yet so terrified. The panic attacks happened all the time too. A loud noise, a secondary infection, a weird time of day, sugar, you name it, it caused it. They didn’t feel like panic attacks because it wasn’t emotional, but it felt the same way physically. It was a surge of adrenaline and my exhausted adrenals didn’t have sufficient cortisol to balance me out. My doctor started me on Adrenal Cortex Extract and that would stop the panic attacks pretty quickly. By June 2007, less than a year into married life, I had to leave my job and couldn’t care for myself. I was so weak. My symptoms included weakness, nausea, hot flashes, problems sleeping, panic attacks and much more. My family came out to stay with me and take care of me so Anthony could work. We worked on moving back to AZ where we would have family support for my journey.
In the midst of this, we spent a lot of money, lost my income, moved back to Arizona, were hurt by friends who thought I didn’t have enough faith (or I would have been healed). Another thing that was really scary was to leave the doctor in DC that had saved my life. I had to re-establish with another doctor here in AZ. And so began a journey that was even longer than the first one as my body had developed some other issues as well.