To some’s dismay, no, I am not dead! The haters will hate, as they say, although there’s more of them around lately. Oh well, no matter, they are not important. First, a bit of good news! I have really dedicated myself to my health this past month. As I’ve said before, as many do the same mistake, I had taken my health and toughness to illness for granted in my youth. That may have been a mistake but I cannot go back now.
Anyhow, after another unsuccessful hospital visit where it took 2 hours to get through triage and 8 more hours of waiting only to find out that they had dropped me to a lower importance level, I got tired of it all and simply left. Then I returned to the walk-in clinics (where in Québec you need an appointment for now but they still call it a “walk-in”, bastards…) only to bump myself upon docs that simply did not want to take the time to listen to me and since I have too much symptoms it can only be in my head. A blatant lack of respect and professionalism in my opinion but such is our “free” healthcare system. Then it hit me…
This story was very similar to my mother’s woes 25 years ago. See, she had lots of health issues when she was around the same age as I am now. Docs quickly branded her as “crazy” and “stressed out” since they could not explain her condition. She had to battle this for years until a dietitian positively diagnosed celiac disease (that gluten intolerance thing), and suddenly she was not “crazy” anymore… Fucking doctors! So I asked her what her symptoms were. They were the common ones for this disease; bloating, gas, nausea, cramps, vomiting, anemia etc. That didn’t match much of what I was experiencing so I dismissed it for a while. Then I did some internet research only to find out that the disease doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. While most will experience digestive issues, others can also suffer from neurological problems that can potentially lead to serious conditions such as epilepsy or cancers. The neural symptoms looked eerily similar to what I was experiencing for the past months. For your information here’s the complete chronological list of what I was having;
- Growing stomach pain after eating (started somewhere in 2011 and worsened over time)
- FEBRUARY 2014: Herniated disc (healed at home, didn’t go to the doc).
- JUNE: Intense thorax / rib cage pains radiating to the right shoulder blade, worse if I took a deep breath. Originally diagnosed as a costochondritis.
- JULY: Same thorax pains now radiating to the breasts region, armpits, and on the sides. Weak urination. Yellow chunks in nose mucus. Occasional dizziness and clouded vision. Tooth ache.
- AUG & SEPT: Feeling of pinched nerves in the thorax and shoulders. Occasional confusion with difficulty concentrating.
- OCT & NOV: Fatigue. Slow digestion. Worsening stomach pain after eating.
- DECEMBER: Sinus pains.
- JANUARY 2015: Worsening dizziness, clouded vision, and lack of energy. Numbness to the jaw, head, and arms.
- FEBRUARY: Frequent sinus pains. Feeling of blockage and pains behind the sternum. “Moving” pains in breasts, armpits, and shoulders. “Lightning” nerve pains that shoot up the thorax to the head causing mini blackouts. Indigestion and slight nausea. Feeling of blockage in the throat. General feeling of “being off” and overall fatigue. Sensation of “fire” in lungs when taking deep breaths. Complete and utter disappearance of hunger (I still ate though). Hard belly. Loss of weight (20 pounds in 4 weeks). Liver pains.
- MARCH: Diarrhea. High level of fatigue. Shortness of breath. Uncontrollable “shaking”. Weakness in the legs. “Pins & needles” sensation in feet. Frequent dizziness and “lightning” pains. Lack of dexterity. Memory loss. Sensibility to bright lights and strong sounds. Feeling of dehydration. General feeling of being really fucked up… so I got hospitalized. I already told you guys that story…
Of course, all of these symptoms cannot come from celiac disease alone so I did some research on my own since the normal docs wouldn’t help me and I took it upon myself to go to a private clinic. They used to be illegal until a few years ago. The prices were… very expensive to say the least, but I said to myself that since I was paying for an allotted time session that the doc would have no choice but to listen to me. In all the process I was treated with respect and professionalism. Such a change from the free public system! In my expensive 40 minute appointment, the doc took the time to listen to me without judgement or prejudice and was very forthcoming with information.
Firstly, my chest / rib cage pains may have originally been from a costochondritis but the lingering effects may have been triggered by something else. I may have not healed my herniated disc properly and may have nerve damage. I should have consulted a doctor during, he said, but this was the proof that I did not go to the doctor without a real reason. Thus, it was proof to him that it was not “all in my head” or stress related. My sinus problems are probable because of the dry environment I live and work in (we heat with wood in winter and my truck’s cab always hovers around 20% humidity when I’m on the road).
Now, some of the symptoms such as numbness in the jaw and arms and shortness of breath, I was able to diagnose myself as being a case of HVS (hyper-ventilation syndrome). Ever since I had the rib cage pains in June that worsened if I took a deep breath, I started to take control of my breathing to help control the pain on a more regular basis. This skewed the “system”. As the healing progressed, I took regular deep breaths to see if pain was still lingering in some parts of my rib cage, again adding to the HVS problem. The symptoms themselves were enough to keep me in a state of subconscious “worry” as to what was happening. The coup de grace came when a little furry friend invaded the house…
We’ve had mice before and this was no different and I caught it in one of my conTRAPtions. It was a deer mouse, very cute little fella. My fiancée wanted to keep it as a pet and I agreed. However, upon researching what we had caught, we learned that deer mice are the only breed of mice that can carry a disease that can be very deadly to humans: the hanta virus. It kills 30~40% of humans it infects by rapidly filling the lungs with secretions. We somewhat took the wrong decision that we could manage the risk to ourselves and still keep the mouse. Soooo I started to take even more frequent deep breaths to “test” if I started to show symptoms of the disease. This took HVS to a level that incapacitated me at various neurological levels. This is a very serious condition not to be taken lightly. Armed with this new knowledge, out went the mouse, and I started to try and “break the vicious circle” of deep breathing. The symptoms of HVS thus began to dwindle in but a few days. However, there were many things still unaccounted for…
Taking the celiac possibility seriously, I began a gluten free diet to see if my overall condition would improve. Let me tell you that gluten free food used to be scarce and downright disgusting when my mother first started her diet all those years ago. I used to tease her that “I love gluten” when I saw her eat that awful food. Now, there’s much products to enjoy and make a decent diet out of. However, they are still pricey. 2 to 3 times what you’d normally pay for “normal” food. Putting my health in priority over my projects, I thus started this diet myself. It may only have being the placebo effect but I did slowly start to feel better overall. Before you ask, yes, there is a way to get tested for this. Many in fact. The first step is usually a blood test although it is not very accurate. The second one is to perform a small intestine biopsy which should prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. There’s also the way my mom was diagnosed with a special diet that uses the process of elimination. I am still waiting for the diagnosis to be made as you’re reading this. The important thing is that all the potential life threatening stuff has been ruled out for now.
I have put my health on the side for too long. I may have no health insurance but neglecting my health is mistake that I won’t be doing again. I have thus started to “invest” in it with my projects “allowance”. Since a few weeks, I’ve undergone pricey dental work, eye exams, private sector blood tests, better meds, and that private doctor consultation I was telling you about. I was in there for 60 minutes but they still charged me only for the 40 that I was originally allotted. I was prescribed neural dampeners to try and douse the over-sensitization of my internals that I have accumulated over these past 9 months. I am happy to report positive effects from this treatment too.
Overall, I am happy that I spent all that money. A good investment, in my opinion. I am on my way back to recovery and hopefully I will have all the answers soon. Sure, it will affect how Wabi~Sabi’s build progresses but it will have to take the bullet for me. Fear not though, the project will continue and I’ll only have to be more resourceful and imaginative about how I go about it; more recycling, cheaper second hand stuff, more hand fabrication work, and hell, as my mental degradation continues she may become even wilder than before!