It’s May 12, 1998. I am once again in the office of my primary care doctor, only this time my husband and mom are with me. The doctor is reviewing the scads of notes and tests results. He shakes his head. The specialists have been unable to find anything. I look at him disbelievingly. For weeks, I have been suffering with muscle and joint pain, blinding headaches, heart palpitations, irritable bowel syndrome, and insomnia. I am in so much pain; I have decided that I have some rare terminal disease that will be discovered once I am dead. You know, one of those things where the doctors say, “Oh my, if we’d only known”.
My primary care doctor looks at me and says, “You know what this means?” I do not comprehend. My mind is such a blur. I can hardly form a thought. He proceeds to tell me that I am suffering from depression. What! That is impossible. I have nothing to be depressed about.
He gives me a prescription for Prozac and sends me home telling me to get some rest. A week later, I am back in his office. I have not slept and have barely eaten. He tells me that I must also be suffering from anxiety and that I must see a psychiatrist who specializes in medicating these types of disorders.
Fast forward to December 2000, a few days before Christmas. I am sitting in the stark intake room of an inpatient facility. I have told the nurse that I believe I am going to hurt myself. For two and a half years I have suffered through repeated cycles of slight improvement and debilitating depression. This latest bout is the worst yet. For months, my mother has arrived at 7:00 A.M. to take care of my children and run the household until my husband arrives home from work in the evening. I am incapacitated. The hopelessness has finally won and I am unable to go on.
I am admitted and the following day a psychiatrist sees me. She tells me that the medications I have been taking are not right for my condition. She wants to start over with drugs that fall into a family known as “mood stabilizers”. She believes that I am suffering from a bipolar II disorder. I begin taking the new drugs and am home in time for Christmas.
It’s April 2005 and my husband just phoned from work. He tells me that I have to turn on the radio. He says that there is a doctor describing my symptoms and women calling in to discuss the same issues that I am experiencing. I quickly turn on the radio to hear women talking about fibromyalgia, foggy brains, fatigue, weight gain, painful periods, hot flashes, migraines, depression and anxiety. That’s me!
I call the Wellness Center to schedule an appointment. The night before I am to go in, I tell my husband that I am scared. I am afraid that they can’t help me anymore than my primary care doctor, psychiatrist, gynecologist, or nutritionist has been able to. I prepare myself for disappointment.
I am surprised when I walk into the center. A cheerful lady who calls me by name and looks me in the eye as she speaks greets me. I am assigned a nurse who will spend the better part of the day with me. We begin by weighing in. I am sitting at a whopping 216 pounds. With blood work out of the way I am able to have a snack. I then undergo allergy testing. As I sip coffee, Dr. Sheridan arrives to spend the next 45 minutes discussing my history, physical and treatment plan. He tells me that he can help. I am still skeptical.
I agree to begin the yeast free diet, allergy drops, vitamins, supplements, and hormones following the detailed outline of instructions supplied by the nurse. That was 9 months ago. It seems like a lifetime.
Today, I weigh in at 165 pounds. My mind is clear; I can remember why I went into the closet when I get there. I no longer need 2-3 hour naps each day. I recently began to sleep through the night. I have normal periods and rarely suffer headaches anymore. My muscle and joint pain have subsided. My recovery hasn’t been an overnight miracle. It has been incremental. I first noticed increased stamina, and then I realized that I didn’t need as many lists to remember things. I begin to have a sense of well-being.
Recently, I discovered a medication instruction list dated back to 2000. I was amazed to discover that I had been on no less than 8 different drugs simultaneously. I barely remember that period in my life. And now, it seems more distant than ever. I am so looking forward to my visit this April. I know that I will continue to improve. I am so confident in this that I am now looking for a job! I am so thankful for that phone call from my husband and to the Wellness Center for their support. This was my last chance for health and as it turns out, all that I needed.
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