All your unsolicited medical advice totally cured me! (J/k)

First of all, although I don’t really feel like I should have to say this, I will say it anyway: I flat-out asked my doctor if this whole crazy pain in my right ribs was related to the fact that I eat delicious bread and he looked at me like I was insane, and said, “No.”

Next, I want you to know that I actually did try going to a chiropractor. I promise. He was full of crap. He took some X-rays of my spine and then tried to tell me that I had a pinched nerve in my back (even though the pain is in my front right ribs). And if only I came to see him three times a week for six months, I would probably get better. But then, three weeks later I had an MRI of my spine, which showed absolutely no pinched nerves at all. So basically, he took advantage of the fact that I really, really want to find a cure for my pain and then he tried to sell me snake oil.

Just to be sure though, I did ask my primary care doctor at the time if I should go to a chiropractor. He said he does actually recommend them for certain situations. This is not one of them.

The pain is in my front, right ribs. Not a joint, or my back. A chiropractor cannot help me.

Also, my gall bladder is already out.

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s see here.

I want you to imagine that you are in the worst pain of your whole life. Like, seriously, picture the very worst pain of your whole entire life. Got it? Ok, now imagine that you are enduring that for weeks and weeks on end. I know, it’s hard to conceptualize, but try to stay with me.

Ok, now think about that pain. Think about how horrible it feels. How after enduring it for weeks on end you would probably want to kill yourself. Ok, now picture enduring that same pain for six months. Now seven months.

Now imagine if you were in the midst of that horrible, horrible pain, and someone proclaimed that they knew exactly what you needed to do:

Simply stop eating bread!

Ya, it’s frustrating.

I want you to know that I spend every single waking moment of my free time researching every possible cure or treatment to what I’ve been diagnosed with (intercostal neuralgia).

I promise you that going gluten free is not on that list. No matter how many celebrities swear by it.

The unsolicited medical advice I’ve received since being sick has included:

“Acupuncture.” (Do you know what “acupuncture” is? It’s corrects imbalances in the flow of qi. Ya, so basically it’s “magic.”)

“Have you thought about giving up gluten?” (Yes. I really, really did. I did bunch of research about it before anyone even really knew I was sick. You can ask my boyfriend. I was convinced that this whole problem was caused by “bread” for about 72 hours. And then I realized it wasn’t. And so, because I feel like I’m dying all the time, the last thing I want to give up is one of the few pleasures I have left — pasta).

“Hypnosis.” (Look into my eyes. No.).

“You should get your gall bladder checked” (It’s already out).

“You should get B-12 injections.” (I’ve actually had every single vitamin level checked. Also, just so you know, I’ve been tested for lime disease, I’ve had my thyroid tested and I’ve also had my kidneys tested).

“You should see a chiropractor.” (Look, I know that sometimes when you wake up your back hurts and then you go see your chiropractor and everything is better, but that’s just not the situation I’m in here folks. This is not back pain. Or joint pain. It’s a deep bone pain in my front right ribs and a chiropractor cannot fix it. And if they tell you they can, then you should run in the other direction).

(I promise what you are to read actually happened) “I’ve heard that eating feces from a healthy person can make you better.” “But I don’t have a gastrointestinal problem.” ‘Ya, but I’ve heard that it just resets everything.” (How? No. Just no. I mean, how do you even determine who is qualified to be the healthy person? Wait. No. I’m not even going to entertain the idea that much).

Here’s the thing. While I do appreciate the fact that I’ve now been sick long enough for people to actually care enough to pull up Facebook and send me a random three-sentence message telling me about some medical miracle they’ve discovered, it’s not really what I need.

What I need is compassion. I need people to call me up and say, “How are you doing today? How is the pain?”

I need logistical help. As in, I need people to take me to the doctor and the grocery story and the gas station. I need people to help me go shopping for clothes.

I need people I can call at 3 a.m. when I’m in so much pain that I literally want to kill myself. I need people to send “Get Well” cards long after the allure of me first getting sick has worn off. And I need love.

I know it makes you feel better when you press send on those texts and emails telling me about your miracle medical cure. Like somehow you’re doing your part to make me better, and it was as simple as typing out a few sentences before bed.

But it makes me feel like you think this is somehow still my fault. Like, if I really wanted to get better, I would just do the random thing you were telling me about, because obviously that’s what you would do in my situation and then you would get better and then you wouldn’t have this issue.

But that’s not reality. Reality is I woke up one random day in February, I had horrible pain on my right side, and, it never went away. And the very same thing could happen to anybody at anytime. Even you. And all the gluten-free diets, and chiropractor appointments and healthy feces in the world wouldn’t make it go away.

The only thing that makes me feel better even a little bit better is hydrocodone, and sometimes even that doesn’t work.

Also, I promise you with all my heart that I spend literally every second of my free time researching my situation, and possible cures. I really, really promise.

So unless you’re a medical professional (Hi Heather!) please think twice before you hit send on that text, email, or Facebook message. And instead, consider giving me an actual phone call, or (gasp!) coming by for a visit.

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How are you?

Everyone is always asking me, “How are you?”

And not like in the, “How are you doing today on the glorious sunny Saturday afternoon” sort of way, but more of the, “How are you feeling because you’re always posting on Facebook that you’re in pain and stuff?” sort of way.

And if they ask me in person, they always have this weird look in their eye, like they’re confused by the fact that I don’t really look sick.

Well, I feel like I’m dying pretty much all the time, that’s how I’m doing.

I feel like hell.

I wake everyday feeling like a butcher knife is in my right ribs. And the pain is so horrible that it literally wakes me up in the middle of the night, like a demon that has entered my body.

It’s awful.

I feel like sh*t.

And that’s usually what I tell people.

“I fell like hell.”

When the pain pills are working, my answer shifts to, “I’m doing alright, but it’s only because of the hydrocodone.”

I think that response kind of embaresses my boyfriend though. He’s always hushing me. Telling me to stop telling everyone I’m on drugs.

I feel like it’s important to note that though. I feel like people should understand that the only reason I’m currently able to stand upright and have a conversation with them is because I’m on a constant stream of opioids.

Lest they think I’m cured. Or they think I’m not that sick.

Or I don’t know.

I guess it doesn’t really matter what they think.

But I feel the need to tell people. To put it out there: I’m in pain. All the time. And if I’m not, it’s only because I’m on drugs.

I suppose maybe it makes people uncomfortable when I respond that way.

But maybe, one day, someone will say, “How are you?” and I will finally be able to smile and say, “Good.”

And when I say it, I will be able to mean it. And they will know I mean it.

Because I wouldn’t say “Good” if it wasn’t true.

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On turning 30

I really was dreading this day.

A year ago at this time, I was all caught up in the fact that I wasn’t married yet. That I didn’t have any kids yet. That I didn’t own a home, and I still had like a bazillion dollars in student loans, and sometimes the timing of my bills would work out so that my cable would get shut off for a few days each month.

And I was feeling like I hadn’t done nearly enough in the three decades of my life to deserve the milestone that is 30.

But then.

Then I got sick.

And everything changed.

Six months ago, I woke up feeling like I had a broken rib.

As one of my friends described it, it was if a tornado came down and destroyed everything, and I was left to pick up the pieces.

Suddenly, all the things I thought I needed didn’t matter at all anymore, and I was just trying to survive.

Suddenly, I was having days where the pain was so horrible that living through a single hour was an incredible accomplishment.

And making it through the night without killing myself was a huge win.

The new pain also came with very demanding limits.

No longer could I push my self to the brink of exhaustion to get everything done. No longer could I stay up all night to finish planning for the youth group, and then work at the church for 13 hours on a Sunday, and then wake up Monday morning, drive 1.5 hours to work, do my other job all day, drive 1.5 hours home, read a week’s worth of Bible study homework in a couple hours, and then spend 2.5 hours in Disciple class, then go home and wake up and drive 1.5 hours to work again.

Nope. Not anymore.

Now, just getting through a one-hour youth group service on Sunday mornings meant that I had to go lay on a couch for 30 minutes to re-group.

And if for some crazy reason, I did try to push myself past my body’s new limits, I would end up in bed for two or three days unable to function because of insane amounts of pain.

So everything changed.

And suddenly, so did my perspective.

As recently as last Friday, I seriously thought I was going to die. But I didn’t.

I’m here. Alive. Celebrating 30 years on this planet.

I may not have a husband, or kids or a white picket fence thingy. I may have just quit one of my jobs and moved in with mom. And, I may have only done five of the 14 things on this list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30.

But I can breathe. And, thanks to the miracle that is hydrocodone, sometimes it doesn’t even hurt that much when I do it.

So yay for 30. I’m just happy to be here.


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