Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone

I didn’t realize just how little energy I had as a result of my malfunctioning thyroid until I started taking thyroid medication—it was the kinetic equivalent of putting on a pair of eyeglasses for the first time. Everything was sharper, clearer, more focused.

It was a whole new world. Can you relate?

I didn’t realize just how awful (sluggish, congested, weak) I felt when I ate foods containing gluten until I stopped eating them, and immediately ditched the sinus headaches and malaise. Similarly, I didn’t see just how foggy and gross I felt eating foods with sugar (wine, fruit, vinegar, etc in my world) while on suppressive antibiotics until I eliminated all sugars from my diet and no longer got spacey or clammy or had palpitations.

Five years apart, these experiences opened up “whole new worlds” on their own—not without sacrifice, but totally worth it. Have you been there, too?

And of course, I couldn’t tell just how much the muck festering in my lungs clouded over everything and constantly made me feel awful until I started treatments that actually addressed it—postural drainage, chest physiotherapy, etc—instead of just throwing steroids at it and hoping the infections would subside.

It was a whole new world, one that didn’t automatically include multiple weeks in the hospital every year. Have you experienced that type of profound relief?

Sometimes you just don’t realize how bad things were until you do something to correct it, until things are different. When it comes to medical stuff, this isn’t always a bad thing. After all, if we can look back and compare a “before” and “after” favorably, then we’re doing something right; we’re treating the right thing or implementing the right therapy or making the right lifestyle choices.

And right now, I’m experiencing a related type of gratitude. It has been two months and change since I was acutely ill. That’s right, 10 weeks of relative normalcy, a huge step given that for the past year or two my stretch for bad infections had been about two weeks at the most. The few infections I’ve had have been much more minor than normal, so beyond the daily coughing/wheezing and maintenance, my various conditions have been really stable. Part of it is because my “bad” season is over (September-May), part of it is because I am out in public less during the summer (no commuting to germy college campuses), and I know a huge part of it is because of the very aggressive treatment I’ve almost completed.

Whatever the constellation of factors is, I’ll take it.

I forgot what it was like to be able to accomplish a lot of the things I want to do every day, or to make plans without hesitation or fear I’d just have to cancel, or to go to gym and know my lungs and body will hold up their end of the bargain. I forgot just how great and necessary it is to see friends in person, and be part of family functions, or leave the house and do fun things with my husband on the weekends.

Only now that the vortex of that long, awful winter has finally released me can I say that I didn’t realize what an effort simply getting through the routine of daily life was until it was no longer an effort.

And I love this feeling. It’s a whole new world.

Can you relate?


VAF said...

Definitely can relate! My most recent example is realizing how deaf I'd been for a few months after my ENT put new tubes in my ears--it was like, wow, I can hear now!

Lyrehca said...

So glad you're feeling well. May it last as long as possible.

ChronicBabe - Jenni Grover said...

oh my gosh, i DEFINITELY can relate. i had the same experience after i started taking a new medication last year...my fibromyalgia symptoms eased up so much i was suddenly able to do many more things than i could do before. it was incredible! i treasure any moment i can do what i planned to do.

Aviva said...

Yay for you feeling better and being able to do more! I hope it lasts a long, long, long time! (Like, forever would be nice. :-)

For me, I've had the opposite experience mostly. I had a car accident and developed chronic back pain and felt like it had taken over my life. Then I got sick with my Mystery Illness, and I discovered how good I'd had it when I only had back and neck pain to deal with. I heartily look forward to having reverse issues, like you, as I start feeling better! (May it please happen soon! ;-)

Enjoy the feeling, Laurie!! You certainly deserve it!!

Kairol Rosenthal said...

I felt like crap for a good few years leading up to my cancer diagnosis. And for a few years during treatment. But after recovering from treatment it was incredible how great I felt. Having energy is a big damn deal. Hope you have lots more of it.

Blog: Everythingchangesbook.com

Emerald Arts said...

Definitely can relate. Everyone kept telling me how sorry they felt for me that I can't eat wheat/gluten anymore, how scary an epipen must be, which is lovely.... but... I can't help thinking how much better off I am now than I was then. No more nights of scaredness and pain, no idea what was going on, sooooo much better off.

Funny you should use the glasses anology too. My Mum still gets a bit teary when she recalls our drive home with my new glasses. I could see everything... made her realise how much had been a blur before.


Ps. I heart your blog :)

Laurie said...

Thanks for the feedback--nice to hear many of you have had similar experiences. When things are treatable but not curable it is sometimes hard to remember there *is* room for improvement, even temporarily.

And VAF--umpteen sets of tubes later, I can SO relate to hearing issue. It's like coming up from underwater.

And Aviva, I too hope you get some reversals soon! You are due some answers, and some relief.

Miss Waxie aka A Comic Life, Indeed said...

Laurie, I don't know if you've checked out my latest comic, but BOY can I relate.

I've just started treatment for what is now believed to be the true underlying cause of all of my illnesses - a rare genetic pediatric rheumatic disease that should've been caught 23 years ago. I started injection therapy this week and feel like a whole new person, it's crazy.

Whoever body this is - cause surely it can't be mine!! - I'm lovin' it and hope it only continues to get better! I hope you continue to feel well too!!

Oh - and do check out my comic on all this!:

- Miss Waxie

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