When I began this blog, I was frustrated by the phrase "Maybe it's just stress..." The doctors seemed to use it randomly, as a fall back, meaningless phrase to excuse the fact that they didn't know the answer. It was a way to withdraw pressure from them and place blame back on the patient. Not only do you feel awful, it's your own fault you feel awful. You're too stressed and should have spent your copay on a good yoga class instead of this doctor visit.
For awhile, I believed them and strove for a more stress free life. (I felt awful. I alternated between worried I was dying and hoping for it. Not because I wanted to die, mind you, simply because the pain and discomfort was really and truly THAT bad. And all the doctors could do for me was say "Maybe it's just stress...") What kept me looking for an answer was the fact that, although life was stressful, I always felt like I was handling it. The most stressful moments came from my physical symptoms and the way they interfered with my real life.
And I found answers. I discovered that corn derivatives are evil for my body. I discovered that my immune system was attacking anything that remotely resembled a corn protein (or sugar) and was so smart that it didn't care what a label said. If there was corn in there, my stomach found it and attacked me for it. I discovered that gluten made my body fight back, too, though maybe not quite so hard. I developed, fought and recovered from H Pylori. I gained weight (in a good way).
Today, I'm actually functional.
I'm also under tremendous stress. Everywhere I turn with my daughter there are dollar signs. Or doctors saying that she needs things that cost more money (I'm sorry, but material items that will be disposed of in the short term are NOT needs. Classes that I don't even expect her to attend and have to drag her to kicking and screaming are NOT needs. Soda, candy, and single serving packages of junk food are NOT needs. Nutritional drinks masked as milkshakes might justifiably make the list if they didn't end up smashed against the wall because I've already gone and laid the groundwork of good nutrition over the first 8 or 9 years of her life.) The depression hit us hard. (I think the history books will consider the last 5 years a depression, even if there wasn't a specific defining day of beginning) I have a child with Anxiety (and depression, who acts out because we took too long to find her the labels and help she needed) and one with specific health conditions that need time, patience and treatment. I have a household to run, temper tantrums to clean up after, interesting neighbors in the neighborhood, food to prepare and spend so much time holding things together for others that I can't wedge in a few hours for a regular job, even if I were to find one that would take me, faults and all.
To call that stress sometimes seems like an understatement.
But I'm not losing weight. I'm not vomiting, or doubled over in pain. I get occasional tension headaches that I'm not thrilled with...but with my specially compounded pure over the counter strength acetaminophen, I can handle those.
And still, there are a few people (mostly doctors) who when asking about my history want to blow off the corn allergy as 'probably stress related symptoms'. I don't want to be bitter, or jaded, but it's my body. What I do or don't put in it should be my choice. I shouldn't need a doctors okay. But to take medication that doesn't attack me I need them to stay on my side. To get a note stating that I'm not being unreasonable when I bring my own food to an amusement park, or an airplane, or wherever they'd rather you buy food there, I need them on my side. To reduce my stress level...so that I can trust them to BE on my side if I ever do get to a point when I need some help that doesn't come from inner strength or a homegrown garden...I need them on my side.
The dismissive hand in the air when I remind them of the corn/dextrose allergy is NOT reassuring.