Stop telling me I’m fine.

screenshot_20171128-204604665190849.pngThis was not a normal exhaustion.

I know what it’s like to be tired: I’m a college grad. I’m a writer. Heck, I’m a writer with a day job.

But about once a week, I couldn’t get out of bed. I don’t use that phrase lightly. This was like a full system shut-down. Productivity is my favorite high. Hard work is a badge of honor I wear. And yet, I could not get out of bed. 

It wasn’t a battle of wills. It wasn’t just that I’m not a morning person. It wasn’t playing hooky from work to stay home to write. (As I told my co-workers, I wish it was!) It wasn’t simply depression; I know what depression feels like too.

At its worst, I was spending 18 hours in bed.

And I was in pain too. Long-time blog readers know that I’ve battled with my wrists for over a decade. But in spite of all the extra care I was taking– ergonomics, chiropractics, occupational therapy, oils, stretching, prayers– they were getting worse, not better. My whole body would feel achy, the way you feel the day after you’ve helped a friend move. Headaches, which have never really been an issue for me, were coming more frequently and blooming into migraines. And my mind– which is the best tool I own– would sometimes feel so foggy I’d have to give up on things like how to send a text in the morning or how to make a phone call. And I was so hot— I’d be melting away on days that really shouldn’t have melted me.

But the doctors said I was fine.

I started to feel like a complainer. I wondered if maybe I was just a whiny brat who was indulging a lazy streak, even though I’ve never had a lazy streak in my life. (Before all my former roommates pipe up: yes, yes, you’re right. When it comes to cleaning, I’m the laziest.) When you hear again and again that you’re fine, you start to wonder if maybe you really are fine.

Then, three articles fell into my lap in succession, all in the course of one week. All three were stories about women whose doctors told them they were fine until they half-believed it themselves. One of these women was diagnosed years later with a disorder that medication remedied easily. Another of the women later discovered she had a very serious illness, one the doctor had never tested her for, just sending her away with a “friendly reminder” to lose weight and she’d feel better. Another of the women ended up dying from from an aggressive endometrial cancer

These women made me take a deep breath, steel myself, and set up yet another appointment where I insisted I was not fine. 

Fast forward to now. I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Blood tests and an MRI on my wrist has revealed inflammation and joint effusion. A sleep study showed that I have 45 “sleep disturbances” an hour, which is well into the severe range of sleep apnea.

I sort of get a kick out of this chart. This shows eight hours of sleep, from left to right. The yellow part is where I had the deepest type of sleep– delta sleep– during which the body heals and repairs itself.

Yup, look again. That little yellow part. I got about 5-7 minutes of the deepest sleep the whole night.

Everything is starting to make sense.

I am not fine. But I will be.


9 thoughts on “Stop telling me I’m fine.

  1. Wow glad you persevered. I’m terribly sorry you have been in pain and distress, but relieved that there has been a diagnosis for a condition that we hope is manageable. Kind of like OCD, right?

  2. I have sleep apnea too, and tried several different options, so let me tell you what work best for me. You can get a CPAP machine, which works very well, but it will take awhile to get used to. for me it took about a month and then I can sleep with it no problem. My insurance covered the CPAP machine with a humidifier built in. If you can get used to it, and I know that you are strong enough to do so, a CPAP will fix your sleep apnea.

    another option that I tried was a dental Appliance, which was custom-molded to my teeth, and it advances your jaw slightly forward as you sleep, which reduces your apnea. This device also worked, but it was not covered by my insurance, so it cost $1,500 out of pocket. I used it for almost a year, then I lost a tooth, and the appliance then became worthless, so I’d have to get another one and pay for it. This is the least favorable solution, even though I had good results with it.

    one challenge that I have is that I’m a mouth breather, and it’s very difficult for me to breathe through my nose because if it has a deviated septum, which blocks the air flow. Having said all that, I found the most fantastic thing for sleep apnea, on Amazon and they’re not that expensive. They are called nose vents. I do not see the product that I ordered called snorecare, but here is a similar item Nose vents are cool, they are a soft silicone tube that goes inside your nostrils and it will completely open the airway. They are comfortable, reusable, and can be cleaned anytime. You definitely need to try these, and have somebody critique your sleep while you’re wearing them. For me even though I’m a mouth breather, using the nose vents to open up my nasal passage, creates just enough of an air pocket so that I can sleep without snoring. I highly recommend nose vents, just make sure you order one that’s very highly rated. You won’t be disappointed, oh and make sure you order one product that has multiple sizes so you can find the ones that match your nostrils best good luck Jackie and God bless you

    • THANK YOU, ASHLEY!! I get fitted for my CPAP tomorrow morning! The doc said my apnea is too severe for the mouth guard option… I had asked about it because I wasn’t super eager about the CPAP. I did 5 hours on the machine the first night, so I’m hopeful I can get used to it!

  3. So glad you listened to yourself and declared you were not fine. Navigating the medical professionals as a woman is a minefield. I hope now that you have a diagnosis you can start feeling better soon.

  4. Pingback: The Hero is You: Thoughts on Failure & Identity | JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

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