Life Altered by Multiple Chronic Illness Diagnosis
Chronic illness has completely altered my life. I went from a two sport varsity athlete in high school to a person who functions at a pain level that would leave most people bedridden. Now life has been consumed by handfuls of pills twice a day, at least one doctor’s appointment a week, constant pain, exhaustion, and more difficulties. After struggling for over a year to get an accurate diagnosis I finally ended up with several: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogrens Syndrome, Graves’ Disease, Fibromyalgia, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Seeking Sobriety and Answers
I can’t tell you when the pain started. I spent years as a full time heroin addict, and while I was using I wasn’t in pain. But every attempt to get sober left me in agony even after withdrawing from the drugs; which only lead to relapse after relapse. Every attempt at sobriety would lead me to a different doctor for an answer, but every doctor assumed it was Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. I knew in my heart there was something seriously wrong, but I couldn’t find anyone who believed me. Eventually I managed to get sober and continued my fight for an answer to my pain. Every doctor I saw just assumed I was looking for drugs, even when I told them I didn’t want any narcotics. I went from doctor to doctor looking for someone who believed me and would help me finding an answer. I finally found one, over a year after I began my search. A few months later I got my answer. It came with a laundry list of health problems.
Chronic Illness Diagnosis Too Much to Bare
A few weeks after getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis I landed in a mental hospital for a suicide attempt. I was so overwhelmed by the idea of dealing with pain everyday for the rest of my life that I assumed I couldn’t do it. I didn’t really want to die, I later realized, I was just afraid of a life of constant pain. Fear is a completely overwhelming emotion and I was terrified thinking of the kind of life I was being forced to live.
Struggling to Stay in School
Throughout all of this I struggled my way through college. I am currently studying the prerequisites to get into the nursing program. Just this past semester I developed a serious infection that was sensitive to only five antibiotics. As it turned out I was allergic to four of them. I spent weeks covered in a rash because of constant allergic reactions. I ended up with a PICC line to take the final antibiotic that would work, which was only available as an IV antibiotic. It took three weeks on that medication to heal. Thankfully it worked and I was finally free of the infection. But throughout all of that keeping up with classes wasn’t possible and one had to be dropped.
Immunosuppressant Therapy for Chronic Illness
Once I was free of the infection I could start my treatment for the Rheumatoid Arthritis- it was an immunosuppressant. This medication, which is also used in chemotherapy, makes me sick for at least one day, usually two. Once I realized this fact my mental health took another turn for the worse. This time going to the hospital was not an option. It was only a few weeks away from finals and past the date to withdraw from the class. The doctor upped the antidepressant which caused suicidal thoughts. I decided that if the next change my doctor made didn’t help I would take my parents wrath and go to the hospital for help. Thankfully the change the doctor made worked. I was no longer suicidal. The depression remained as a hard consequence of chronic pain.
Looking for Positive Side of Chronic Illness
Everyday is a struggle to keep looking for the positive when it all feels negative. Sometimes I think the light at the end of the tunnel is just a train that’s going to hit me at full speed. And sometimes that is what it feels like. But I searched for a group of people who understand the kind of struggles I have. Thankfully I found a few and began to make friends with others who have similar challenges. I began to talk to my family members who also struggle with chronic illnesses. I created a beautiful new relationship with my mother who struggles with almost the exact same situations as me. Anyone can find help through The Unchargeables Chronic Illness Support Group.
Chronic Illness Self Care
I realized that I can’t look at my whole life at once but instead I now try to take it a day at a time and go easy on myself. I can’t control what may or may not happen in the future, but I can control what I do today. And today I choose to allow my doctors to attempt to put my body back together while I focus on what I can do to better myself. I do what’s put in front of me: run the errands, study, go to appointments, and on and on. When things get overwhelming I do some self-care. It’s hard for me to do self-care because I tend to forget about it with everything else going on. I love taking baths and writing poetry and that’s what I try to do as often as possible. Life is still hard, but every day I do something, even if all I can do that day is get dressed. I’m grateful that today I have people in my life who understand my struggles and love me through them.
About the Author
Chris Thoman is 23 years old, a college student, and lives with several chronic illnesses. He loves meeting and talking to new people, especially those who struggle with similar things as him. You can follow Chris on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/foreverandalwaysarebel/