The “Elusive” Symptom.

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Our bodies tell us things. They tell us in big ways and in small ways, and despite the interconnectedness of the brain and the body, we find a way to ignore clear cut messages. Has anyone ever experienced this? Some people are quite in tune and aware of their symptoms, but choose to ignore them. Others make symptoms where there are none. Truly “well” folks probably fall someplace in the middle. As an individual who is always striving to improve my personal health, this past week was a tad shocking for me. I have dealt with vitamin deficiencies in the past, as well as extreme hair loss, fatigue, chronic ear and sinus infections, sluggish metabolism, and anemia, all of which I thought I had a solid handle on. It was my understanding that my deficiencies and hair loss had come from 13 year use of birth control pills, which can deplete you of many vitamins as well as damage hair follicles (hear it, ladies) and my anemia stemming from a vegan diet and a hereditary Thallasemia trait. I had a vast improvement of many symptoms with a diet change that includes organic meats and less grains. Nearly 2 years ago, I also took myself off of the pill. I have a borderline religious vitamin regimen that I stick to to fight deficiencies. My ear infections ceased, my hair is thicker than it has been in a while (though still thin) and I have not been sick in over a year. This, to me, was serious progress. So I thought.

I recently got a new primary care doctor who is unbelievable. He is incredibly thorough and really takes his time with evaluation. I cannot emphasize the importance of getting yourself a doctor who cares and takes his or her time with you. During my physical, we discussed some still lingering symptoms, which included heavy fatigue and a feeling that I can never get enough sleep, even after 10 hours of undisturbed snooze. He asked me about my lifestyle and behaviors as well as my diet, and concluded something was off. He ran a boatload of blood tests, checking important hormones and vitamin levels.

I left the appointment feeling a sense of hope and went about my business. I got my blood drawn a couple of days later. Sometime after my appointment, I realized I had left out a symptom that I’ve experienced basically forever. Something that might alarm the average person, but for me seemed normal, because it’s been going on for as long as I can remember. I was reminded by it’s occurrence yet again, after an average meal.

1-4 times a week, eating causes me to have an extremely painful stomach ache followed by other unpleasant symptoms. I’m unsure of why I’ve ignored this for so long. I guess I was thinking this was “normal” or that everyone gets an upset stomach once in a while, or that I was just sensitive to certain foods.

My doctor didn’t seem to agree. Not at all, actually. He said this is not at all normal and is causing my deficiencies. He also said there has been possible damage to my small intestine which would keep me from absorbing food and vitamins properly. This would explain why me taking vitamins all this time has been seemingly mute. I now have an appointment with a specialist set, and must say that I am rather disappointed in myself, as an aspiring “champion of health and wellness.” How could I let such an obvious symptom go? And how severely have I been cheating myself out of feeling my best?

The point of this post is really to encourage readers not to ignore what your body is telling you. More fatigue than usual, a change in body temperature, Gastro-intestinal changes, sleep difficulties, mood swings, pain, even acid reflux, these are all symptoms. Our bodily systems are an incredibly intricate and delicate and this balance is easily interrupted because of our current life styles and environmental circumstances. Things we consider to be “normal” and “everyday aches and pains” are actually our bodies screaming attempts to get our attention and let us know something isn’t right. Do your best to pay close attention, and you may be rewarded with a new and better “normal.”

-Patricia

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