If it looks like a duck

.. swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it still might not be a duck.

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When I wear these to the doctor and they give me a blanket, I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West.

I think this is why I’ve dealt with skeptical doctors for so long now. I look healthy, eat healthy, walk 20-30 miles a week, and I’m young. Not exactly checking off ticks on the risk factor chart.

However, I think 2017 just might be my year because after eight years of doctors, specialists, a couple endoscopies, ultrasounds, x-rays, a little ER fun, and a whole bunch of maybe, maybe, maybes – I’ve finally gotten something to go on. Well, four diagnoses to be exact. Jackpot!

If you really want to know, by all means ask away. But usually I blog about cookies and sushi, so I don’t want to shock anyone coming here for not medical details. Still, I wanted to give this public update. It really has been a struggle to find out what the heck is going on with my insides. The day before I left Fayetteville en route to my New York journey I was at the doctor. The day after I arrived in San Antonio from New York, I was at urgent care. Sometimes I got an answer, sometimes there was nothing. But never was there anything explaining whatever it was that would put me through periods of debilitation. In a way, the little things got in the way. Because while most of my tests would come back fine, the times doctors found something small wrong they would declare the case closed.

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Day 2 in San Antonio.

It got to the point that I started doubting myself. I started seeing myself as a hypochondriac. I stopped trying to find answers, I started overcommiting to responsibilities I couldn’t maintain because I convinced myself I was normal (and mostly would be most days out of the month), and I accepted that if experts weren’t finding anything then nothing must be there. After all, I looked the picture of health. And on my good days I could walk from Blue Star to the Pearl and back barely breaking a sweat (ok I sweat a lot because it’s 300 days of summer here, but it wasn’t anything leaving me sore).

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But when I quit school, again, I had to face it. Something was there, and I had to be aggressive about answers. And at 9 or so in the evening one night this January, I was shuffled out of an urgent care clinic to the ER within five minutes of arriving. The urgent care visit I almost didn’t make, not ready to waste more time and money on lack of answers. Except this time, the MRI did catch culprit #1.

This was a big moment. It sucked, yes, to be in that position in the first place – obviously. But then there was a lot of relief in finally being able to say “I told you so” to all the years of skeptical doctors and doubts. Furthermore, it was something I’d suspected having for two years – but there was never any concrete evidence.

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Then came the endoscopy. It’s been nearly a decade since my first one, and I probably should have gotten another one sooner. Again the doctor was skeptical – fairly assured that the find in the ER was case closed. After all, I look like a duck.

I cannot explain how mentally freeing and relieving it was to see my results. Me wanting nothing to be wrong didn’t change the fact that I knew something was. Yes, there was more – as I thought. And all those years of skepticism and my self doubt and even denial all the sudden was put to rest. As much as I look like a duck, I’m not.

Fortunately, all my diagnoses have good potential for management. And while that should be the reason for my relief and optimism, it’s not. Rather, I  am relieved to be able to able to cast away the years of doubt, denial, and guilt – and shame. Shame for quitting, shame for quitting when people much more ill were strong enough not to quit. Now I am casting that away.

My only regret is that I did not decide to be more aggressive sooner. It’s hard to justify putting  the time and more so, money, into something that isn’t making any progress. But I feel like a cloud has lifted, if only because I finally have a name, well names, and leads. And if I am fortunate, perhaps I can eventually be a duck.

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