Happy Saturday and Day 51 of Another 100 Days of Hannah, y’all!
Looks like this morning gets to be another late post morning, after I spent something like 2 hours researching a disease after waking up.
Someone remind me not to do that before I put my contacts in next time so that I can mitigate this lovely headache and difficulty focusing?
In any case, now that I have spent my morning as such, I find my mind spinning.
Anyone else know this feeling?
Where foggy thoughts meld from one to another, without true definition, just loose connections?
Not gonna lie, I sort of hate this feeling, but, over the years, I’ve learned that one of the best ways for me to slow my thoughts down is to write.
So, welcome to my (slightly more organized) brain dump of the morning.
Where to begin…
If you’ve been following along here, or know me personally, you’ll probably know that I have some weird, often unexplained health things.
I feel like passing out – like, a lot – even though I have yet to do so.
I have frequent nausea.
My brain can be in a fog for what feels like months at a time with little respite.
I have weird food intolerances (like most nuts, soy, carrots, chia seeds, etc) that exacerbate all of the above symptoms.
Many of my joints are loose – like really loose.
I have an abnormally high number of vitreous floaters for someone in my 20s.
I have pretty bad visual vertigo where things moving in my peripheral vision make me really dizzy (ie trees in the woods on a walk, the stupid bathroom walls in Walmart, too many cars going too fast on the interstate, etc).
On top of general vertigo that can hit in an instant and feel like gravity is suddenly 10x stronger than normal and make me feel literally pulled toward the floor (worsened by elevators).
I’ve had arthritis-like symptoms in my feet since undergrad.
My heart rate and blood pressure are at times abnormally low.
And the list goes on.
As a rule, whenever I bring up any of these symptoms to a doctor, they dismiss them – and probably with good reason.
I mean, I do have a history of anxiety and an eating disorder.
I have historically done more cardio than weight training – that can loosen joints.
Excessive running can cause osteoarthritis.
I’m active – that lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
However, as one of my greatest mentors from residency taught me (thanks, Dr. Lee!!), all of medicine comes down to two important competing hypotheses:
Occam’s Razor: The simplest explanation is usually the right one.
Hickam’s Dictum: Patients can have as many diseases as they d*** well please.
Which can then be correlated with the common medical advice: when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.
Or, in other words: common things are common.
For my seemingly unrelated list of symptoms, Hickam’s dictum would agree with every doctor thus far – it’s just a bunch of different, unrelated disorders. You’re fine.
Occam’s razor, on the other hand, would search for a unifying diagnosis.
The unifying diagnosis that I’ve suspected on and off for several years now (and was researching again this morning) is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Type 3 (hypermobile variation).
Mainly because it explains approximately every weird symptom that I’ve ever had.
For those of you who haven’t heard of EDS, the brief synopsis is that it is a relatively rare disease with 13 currently defined sub-types with a shared component of improper connective tissue formation. As connective tissue is literally the glue that holds our bodies together, EDS can then affect every system in the body. Each sub-type has a different presentation determined on which system is most affected. Annnd, each person with EDS has a different presentation, depending on how a multitude of other factors (gender, diet, exercise, general health, access to care, etc) impact the already defective connective tissue.
Which is to say, it’s often hard to diagnose, and is routinely misdiagnosed as a host of other conditions for years before arriving on the single, unifying diagnosis of EDS.
Where am I going with this?
Great question. I don’t know.
Because, admittedly, I feel a little bit like a hypochondriac writing this all out.
And like even more of one anytime that I try to bring up any of my symptoms to a doctor.
Which is why I’ve gone the last nearly 20 years (my incredibly unstable/loose joints first became an issue in 4th grade at the age of 8 when I couldn’t hold my textbooks in front of me without both of my shoulders dislocating) without ever really doing anything about any of my symptoms.
Because, I mean, if something was really wrong, I wouldn’t be working full-time as an optometrist, right?
I guess that’s why I needed to write this out today.
Because sometimes, my body makes me feel like I’m a little bit crazy.
Like the car that’s making a really funny sound, but never makes it when you take it to the shop.
And so you keep driving it, even though you’re pretty sure something’s wrong.
But you don’t know what it is, and so you learn to ignore the problem.
Until it breaks down.
But, as my counselor keeps reminding me, avoiding things never really solves problems.
Physically or mentally.
And so, this is me trying to summon enough courage to actually do something and make a change.
And hopefully giving you some encouragement to do so too.
Letting you know that – hey, it’s hard, even as a medical professional, to be willing to talk openly and honestly about what’s going on inside my body and advocate for my own health.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.
Because it is.
Want to read more? Here’s a link to my Day 51 post from 100 Days of Hannah. Click the link to check it out!
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