Today marks a year since I noticed significant changes in my body that led to a full-on chronic illness lasting for around 4 months. Feel free to read the full story starting here if you haven’t already.
My life has changed completely since last year, especially considering who I have become as a person. I learned the hard way that people with an MD, PhD, or PharmD do not know everything in their field and that I shouldn’t put all my trust in someone with a degree. We are all human and we are learning something new or different every day.
I learned that everything can fall apart and that there is a rock bottom to rock bottom. My mental health is something I’ve struggled with since I was 12 and therefore I had grown accustomed to thinking that everything is “all in my mind.” Many times, it was. This was not and having some doctors request I see a therapist when all my basic test results came up normal made me question the medical field where I had not questioned it before.
I love the medical field. I always have. When I was 2 and a half, my baby brother Evan was born and even then I was fascinated by doctors. My very first memory was that day when my dad took me to the gift shop to buy me a toy stethoscope while we were waiting to see my mom and new baby brother. To this day, I don’t remember ever being more excited (and my little bro is one of my best friends).
I used to watch any and all medical shows on TV, starting around age 5. Even though I was in elementary school, my country folk family would find college textbooks on Biology and Anatomy at thrift stores to give me on my birthday. I read everything, even when all I could do at first was examine the photos. I still have those books somewhere…
After going through what I went through, I know now that those books are garbage. Whoa. What? Yeah, I said it. GARBAGE. They’re trash, not because of the subject or my “newfound hatred for the medical field (I don’t hate it)” but because all of it is outdated. The medical field, like technology and many other fields (everything, actually), progresses rapidly. It’s a progressive subject, constantly growing with new research and new procedures. Testing, vaccines, and so many other things are different now than they were when I was a fascinated five-year-old.
Going through this made me rethink everything. When I lost my ability to walk and spent nearly all my time in bed or crawling to the bathroom, I realized three things:
- I do not want to be/die here (in that house, in Los Angeles).
- I do not want to work in the film industry.
- I can’t believe I didn’t publish a book before I died.
I knew these things, but I couldn’t bring myself to change them. After spending about 6 years working on a career in the film industry (I know, how did I wind up there? I also had a passion for writing, wanted to change the world, decided screenwriting was the best way to do it. . .This is a long story), I couldn’t bring myself to leave all of it. I tried changing departments, working on different types of film/tv, and although I liked working on YouTube videos and commercials, I knew that this still wasn’t what I wanted to do. That and I didn’t have the money. I had to keep working in the exact same field with the same company or I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent. My coworkers knew that I was miserable. . .they would comment on my resting bitch face that I seemed to only wear at work.
This was the time to change everything I hated about my life, but I was so weak that I couldn’t leave bed. I rested, hung out in the hospital for a couple days, and once I was strong enough, I knew I had to go home. Why? To see better doctors and get better care, to be around people who I knew gave a shit if I lived or died (apparently not too many people in LA did?), and to recognize something familiar.
To make a long story that I’ve already told short, I ended up moving back home and since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what the fuck are my next steps.
I tried med school, but it didn’t seem to fit, at least not then. I applied to one of the best pre-med post bac programs in the country (pre-med for people who already have a BA/BS) and got in, but not until after I visited and spoke to the head of the program. She took a long look at me and asked me why I wanted to be a doctor after medicine had totally failed me, pretty much. I questioned that myself, but knew that if I took a very specific direction, I could be happy working in a field that I deemed totally corrupt and that I could make it better. I explained this to her and we both agreed that picking a specific path is dangerous, considering that’s not really how becoming a doctor works. You need to go through med school rotations, which have and probably will totally change your mind about what field you want to go in. Then, post-grad, you need to be accepted into a residency in that field. I wanted to do functional internal medicine and I wanted to travel. Medicine needs primary care physicians so badly that I wouldn’t have a problem getting into a residency, but I would be spread so thin. I also “needed” to do functional medicine, I wanted extra education in nutrition/genetics, I “needed” to have my own practice somewhere near a ski mountain, and I wanted another degree – either a PhD or an MBA. I wasn’t sure.
For that much money and time, including the time spent in residency where I would be vastly underpaid for 3~ years during residency, working 60+ hour weeks like I did in LA, did this seem like a good option? Despite wanting to be a doctor (specifically a trauma surgeon actually) for 15~ years and having someone hand me this opportunity, I couldn’t take it.
I don’t know why. Maybe I needed more time to think about it. Maybe it’s because I hated 12 out of the 15 doctors I saw for my illness and thought all 12 of them were idiots (but I thought the other 3 were amazing). Maybe I didn’t want to fight with insurance companies for the rest of my life, shell out $10,000~/month for malpractice insurance, never have a social life, and work around people who were afraid to try something new, who stuck to very strict guidelines, watching patients die in the process. Maybe I didn’t want to work in a hospital, where many people contract antibiotic-resistant infections and die from that just because they came in for a flu shot or something. Maybe I wanted to change so much about the medical field, but even with all of the avenues I could take with an MD, I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to change much. Maybe I didn’t want to live my life struggling to make something better that may never become better. Maybe there’s another way.
Maybe it’s just post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which I’ve found that I have, hardcore, from being sick. I know, for many other floxies who read my blog for hope, that this seems like a sad ending, but it’s not sad and it’s not an ending.
One of my biggest fears about starting something new was that I was too weak or that I would get very sick again and that I wouldn’t be able to pay extreme student loans. In reality, from November 2016 to April 2017, I had been working full time as a ski instructor. I was hiking again on a regular basis. I climbed a mountain and I skied down it (no joke).
My health is okay and even though now I am a hypochondriac, I still think I’m dying all the time, I have anxiety attacks for no reason, I have angry episodes for no reason, I’m mad bitter about everything, and I have been pushing everyone away from me for no reason, I know that there is hope.
I have plans to see a therapist for my PTSD and I’m going to try eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatments. I’ll totally blog about this when it happens, too. Lucky for me, the very center for research using this type of hypnotism-like treatment is in the Berkshires, where I currently live. I have hope it will work, especially considering I’ve worked through other types of PTSD before along with my dysthymia and other stuff with good results.
So what else have I been up to?
I’m currently working with plants at my co-op, learning about different types. One of my hobbies now is to identify plants as I walk down the street. I also guerrilla plant bee-friendly organic seeds in various cities. 😉
I started a beehive, as my faithful readers already know since I started a series on it. I’m SO EXCITED.
My dog died and for the first time ever, I was grateful for her death? More on that later.
I want to study metalwork. I’ve just always wanted to know how to weld and make stuff out of metal. I think it’s really cool.
So, in learning new skills, building up my strength and confidence again, I truly think that I will eventually dig myself out of this hole. If you guys have any ideas for possible career paths, let me know, because I’m still at a loss here.
Thanks for reading. You’ll notice I didn’t talk much about how I feel physically, but I do still have minor tendon pains every now and then. I don’t lift weights yet, but I will. I’m slowly building up to working out again. I do still have a pins and needles neuropathy that occurs on my head about once a month that I’m trying to figure out as well. It hasn’t progressed at all, so I may just leave it be unless new symptoms develop. Again, hypochondriac now.
- Are You Going to Heal? on Floxie Hope
- Wait, What? I Still Have PTSD
- The Amazing Healing Power of Love
Photo Credit: Michelle Polacinski