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Sometimes I think about things I'd like to write about, other times I want to be left alone but the words inside want out. Growing up my mother told me that there wasn't anything I could do that would make her stop loving me. At the time I thought that was a phrase she used because she was my parent and she wanted to make me feel better about something. A couple weeks ago I called her because I was in a great deal of pain. When I left work the last Wednesday in March I told my boss that I was coming down with the flu.

Driving home things changed. I put the pain in my side down to something I had eaten because ingesting gluten hurts in a certain predictable way. That night I changed my mind again. Thursday morning I felt worse so I called in sick to work. My girls were on spring break so I made them pack lunches because my appointment with the nurse practitioner was at noon. The receptionist checking me in asked me if everything was okay at home and while I appreciated the concern I wanted to yell at her because obviously I would not be at the clinic if I was stressed out or upset.

During my exam I found out that I needed two tests. One required me to drink 36 ounces of water. The other required that I not eat anything for eight hours before the test. I walked out without some lab paperwork. A woman who works at the front desk chased me down to give it to me. I was still in pain, nothing new had been revealed and all I wanted to do was go home, lie down and take a huge nap. After I had my blood drawn the plebotomist asked if I wanted to lie down. She insisted and eventually I had a whole team of people around me because someone had called a code.

My husband had to come pick me up from the hospital. Nurses watched the girls while I laid on a small cot in various states of heat, cold and consciousness. Someone told me I felt warm, I drank some apple juice and ate some of my lunch. Gradually my blood sugar started returning to normal levels. One nurse asked if I wanted to go to the emergency room. Dollar signs flashed through my eyes, the hospital lab faded into statements from different health care professionals I had seen and I knew that whatever tests I still needed would not be cheap.

Friday morning my primary care physician evaluated me and got me into radiology much more quickly than I thought he'd be able to. The technician was very nice, I went home and slept for a couple hours before calling the clinic back. They told me they had seen evidence of a ruptured ovarian cyst and I hung up without much more information. That weekend I laid around trying to stay hydrated. I didn't want anything to eat, I wanted something for the pain but I told myself I was strong and rode that out. Monday I felt well enough to go into work and quite a few people were very nice to me.

What sticks out most in my mind about that experience is the lack of support from my family and the tremendous outpouring of support from the hospital staff and my coworkers. After my primary care doctor suggested I see a GI doctor I made that appointment thinking that finally I would get some answers. He ordered more blood work, it was painful but I didn't pass out. After that I had to see a rheumatologist and since I had sailed through my GI consult I walked in thinking that the flowers were pretty and rain would help them grow.

Rheumatology sent me back to the lab with two sheets of tests. While I was there a woman walked in and asked if I was Jessica. When I said yes she told the woman drawing my blood that there were two more tests I needed to have done. The empty vials laid waiting for my blood. I was prepared for the worst but the draw went exceptionally well because she used a butterfly needle. Several of the tests came back abnormal so the rheumatologist suspects that I may have an auto immune disorder.

When I went in for my annual physical my primary care doctor discussed oral allergy syndrome with me. When I eat certain foods my mouth burns. In the past I attributed that to pesticides on the produce however after reading up on oral allergy syndrome and speaking with him I had to add that to my list of things that don't work right with my body. The good news is unlike a traditional food allergy where your airway is compromised an oral allergy reaction is usually confined to your mouth. It is extremely unlikely that you are going to die, you will be uncomfortable and may have some GI upset but unlike an anaphylactic reaction you are going to be okay after taking an antihistamine.

Because this is new to me I was unprepared for the first time it affected me at work. I was sitting around talking to one of my coworkers. We were eating peanut butter and bananas and my mouth started hurting. Before that I had eaten an apple. I hadn't felt well at lunch so I didn't eat that. I took some Benadryl, told my boss that I thought I had eaten something I was allergic to and sat there for a few minutes trying to determine what was going on with my body. Before August of 2010 I had never used an Epi-Pen on myself. In the bathroom I couldn't work the paper towel dispenser so I yelled for my boss who came in to help me.

Blood was running down my leg, she said she knew where the closest urgent care center was, told me to sit tight and left. I laid on the floor of the men's bathroom because the women's bathroom had been occupied. As I laid there I knew that I was going to be okay. I could breathe. I was cold but I was going to be okay if I could just lie still for a while. My boss came back and told me that someone had called 911. I wasn't in any shape to argue, I remember being outside and having to go back in. While I laid on the cafeteria floor I could hear people asking me questions but I couldn't answer any of them.

I felt completely stupid when I got to the emergency room however the paramedics had been nice and I would rather be alive and feel idiotic than dead and free of embarrassment. Concern for my job was one of my primary thoughts during my lucid moments. The guy who had called 911 was legitimately worried but he also told me that some anonymous coworker in a position of power had told him to get rid of me since my health limitations were a liability to the company. Thursday I felt okay. I was tired but I made myself pick up the phone and talk to some people.

After lunch I went to ask a coworker if he thought someone in charge would let me go home. I knew I couldn't drive myself and I'm not sure how I made it down the hall without passing out. The afternoon dragged with me laying on the couch at work drinking apple juice and a coworker of mine who was a nurse told me that my blood pressure was 80 over 42 and if I needed help I should yell for it. I couldn't go to the bathroom by myself and once again I had to call to get someone to pick me up. Good Friday I felt better but after I ate lunch I could feel the heat, the dizziness and I laid down again until that passed.

A woman I just love told me that my health was important. I've been seeing a psychologist to help address some of my anxiety and mental health issues. That has helped although I am not looking forward to explaining this past week to her. Stress plays an unknown role in people's lives. Yesterday I made it through the day without a nap which felt like a victory to me. Easter Sunday my entire family went to church together which was huge to me because all of these recent events have taken a toll on quality family time.

Today my husband and I had a long discussion about love, our children and the future. He has a friend that I think he likes more than he is willing to admit. Before he couldn't wait for me to leave. Now he tells me that he wants me to stay and we can try to work things out. Eight years ago I went to the same therapist I'm seeing now. Issues that linger for that long are not going away without major interventions, compromise and communication and I told my husband that I need to see if I can live by myself for a while.

March has been my January since 2006 which is when I started writing for fun. My blog has primarily replaced E2 as a place for me to hang out and it is amazing how much I have written recently. I no longer care if anyone likes what I've done. I'm proud of the things I produce and know that getting things out of your system is sometimes more important than well meaning sentiments like node for the ages. Currently I'm on a high fat, high protein diet. Some of my dietary restrictions have been relaxed, the other day I ate a container of cottage cheese and felt like celebrating.

Health is a journey that excites me because I can look back and see progress. Maybe in the past I viewed my body as undesirable or unattractive. Now I view it much as I view things I've written. What I've been through has shaped and changed me. I don't really care if no one finds me attractive as long as the people I care about think that the person I am is beautiful. I've heard that from people who mean it in a non-traditional yet more meaningful way and I've said no to people who think that my life would be better if I spent more time alone with them.

My rheumatologist is on vacation until some time in May. In the meantime I have tried to let the unknown go as much as possible. Whatever is wrong I am still me and once I find out if I have something I didn't know about before I can start working on a treatment plan. Without reviewing lab work the rheumatologist said her best guess was Scleroderma or Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder which is the diagnosis she is leaning towards. There is a family history of Lupus on my mother's side. I could have Rheumatoid Arthritis and none of these are fun but they are treatable and that's what I have to focus on now.

Without further testing and another consult I don't know what I'm dealing with so I have tried to manage that stress as best as I can. I don't exercise the way I should however I walk with my girlfriends at lunch, eat reasonably well and am overall much stronger physically than I had been previously. Obviously I wonder if my children could have any of these things. So far they seem like active healthy girls but they both had rough starts in life which could have been the result of poor nutrition because they were born to a mother with absorption issues.

The good news is I probably don't have ovarian cancer. No one has discussed the possibility of cancer with me and for that I am grateful and thankful. My body hurts, I have to be careful because even something small will have repercussions but I've lived with this body for 36 years so I am starting to learn some of my limitations and working to strengthen what I can. My weight has come up to 115 from 108 which might sound like it is headed in the wrong direction but the GI doctor wants me to have more body fat than I did when I last saw him.

Going forward I am pursuing therapy and making the most of little things like taking my girls shopping for some spring clothes. We had fun trying on outfits at REI. I found out my oldest daughter has expensive taste however she picked out a jacket that I am going to go back for, how could I resist a black trench coat that my daughter said I could wear during covert spy operations? Listening to that come out of her mouth made me laugh since I will never be a spy of any type but I love her imagination, her spirit and her spunk.

I love how my youngest wears perfume and wants pink ponytail holders and wears her sister's red basketball shoes because they match her red hat. Both of my children are prima donnas in their own way, some of that they get from me. I haven't always been the mother they wanted or needed but like it or not they are my daughters that are blossoming into young women. A lot of my problem is I take myself and life too seriously. I need to work on that but I need help. I want peace, healing, love, compassion, empathy and respect. If those are things you want start giving them out to others. You might be surprised at what comes back to you.

Love,

j

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