I know you probably weren’t expecting a post like this. I didn’t either and this was completely unplanned, but I thought this was an important update on me and I thought this post would serve an important reminder for you. I recently had to postpone a trip I was planning on going to later this week for my birthday to early March (Hint to where I was going to go is in the Pacific Northwest and it would be my first time in that area!) and it really upset me that I had to do this because every year, I plan to go somewhere new as a birthday tradition.
However, the most logical thing to do is to put it on hold while I try to address my health issues first and get the right treatments. It’s okay to put things on hold in life if you need to take care of your health, as hard as that can be. It wouldn’t be right to go traveling knowing I’m not in the right condition and knowing a recent x-ray on my chest revealed something: There’s a lung nodule (or a growth) found in my right lung.
Why being sick is making me more anxious
In my x-ray that I had taken while I was going through pneumonia in 2019, my x-ray then compared to now didn’t show a nodule then. While I do not want to make assumptions of what this growth means until I’m properly tested and scanned, I do have to admit I’m going through high anxiety at this time. It’s easy not to be anxious when this can indicate something serious and who knows, maybe it may not be, but the finding can still scare a person one way or another. I’m still looking to book an appointment with a pulmonologist (a lung doctor) to get further examined but another thing about this that makes me anxious is just how in-demand lung doctors are right now and how short in supply they are, especially during this time of COVID.
In my “A Recap on 2020 And Being Ready for 2021” blog post, I mentioned somewhere in that post: “I learned that your health should always come first before anything else, before your work, before important events you have to attend to, and anything else that can wait. It’s always best to find out what is going on with your body when you know it doesn’t feel right. You should always listen to what your body is telling you!”
This is a reminder that I want to stress how important it is to get annual check-ups or if you can get checked up every few months. If you feel something off about your body and you truly know how your body was, please do not wait long to figure that out or until it gets worse. It’s also important to always be healthy for you, meaning eat well, exercise, and stay away from products that may be harmful to your body. Please. A few years ago, I was young and naive and had lack of guidance (and wasn’t the brightest), I was neglectful of my body for years.
What has been happening to me in the past few months, you wonder?
First time I experienced something different and off with me was really just a number of subtle things adding up. There were a few strange things I felt with my body on different occasions. And what I’m going to say in the following here is going to make me sound like a hypochondriac, but health issues are real issues.
I think I can recall the start of it occurring in June. But it opened my eyes up more by July. In July, I was taking scuba diving lessons, which I unfortunately didn’t complete due to a few fears (it’s still on my bucket list to get certified though but not at this time), and I felt extreme fatigue each time, which may be normal for physical activity. I remember going to visit my ex after a lesson and I told him “I’m physically exhausted…” like a fatigue that left me short of breath at the same time and I just couldn’t explain it.
After night swimming in Lake Pleasant, I almost fell asleep like extreme fatigue came on again while driving my friends and I told them “I think I’m tired from working so early.” I took a very short nap outside my friend’s house after dropping her off before driving back home.
I remember when I had to move out of my other house and we had mover guys that my parents hired, I felt like I physically couldn’t help that much because the fatigue came over me AGAIN.
This then led me to the suspicion that maybe this was all related to my hormones because I remember I would feel this tiredness before my time of the month would come… I went to visit urgent care a few times because I thought my period problems or PMSing was causing me this fatigue I cannot explain. I got tested for mono and COVID and it came out negative. I went to see an OBGYN and I explained my fatigue and other symptoms and told me all she can help me with was to prescribe me birth control pills.
I remember being on those BC pills and reacting horrible to it like the fatigue never went away and I felt worse. I had to quit using them as it just didn’t help at all.
By September, I remember going swimming again in Lake Pleasant during the day, this time with my parents and not with my friends. I felt this really icky feeling (you can guess which feeling that is: FATIGUE) driving back and going home. Fatigue is basically happening every day with me…
By October, I remember my parents and I went on a ski lift in Flagstaff to see the fall leaves change colors on trees and it was my first time on it, we were up to 10,000 feet high! And I had body chills as it was so cold up there. After the ride though, my chest started hurting and it hurt even more towards the night when we went out to eat in Red Lobster. I thought of it just being costochondritis or chest inflammation, which wasn’t a new feeling since I experienced that for the first time when I got dehydrated from hiking in 90 degree weather (I DO NOT recommend ever!). It went away in a few days.
Later that month, I went to California for a weekend and I decided to hike the Santa Monica Mountains. It was a hot day but it started getting so intense for me after hiking back (it wasn’t a hard or super elevated hike) that my chest started hurting so much like that chest inflammation came back. It went away the next day.
By November, I found a small lump on the left side below my left boob and on my rib. I didn’t think much of it but a few days later, my sister who was visiting and who works in flea markets, decided to put up a booth for a flea market in Phoenix. I remember just walking and feeling so exhausted just walking and like this fatigue the whole time came over me and I started experiencing how bad my hot flashes were getting. After that, I went to meet my boyfriend at the time for dinner and I remember before going there that I had the fatigue come over me, almost like I could fall asleep so I had bought a peach green tea from Starbucks, and even with that, I still felt tired after that.
That November, my siblings, who were visiting for Thanksgiving, my parents, and I all went to Sedona and that’s where I had my collaboration photoshoot. I was on my time of the month and on the way, “down there” and my legs were feeling so sore with a sharp, excruciating pain. It didn’t go away unless I took Tylenol. This sharp pain on my legs would return sometime in the end of December as we were doing a family road trip to California.
In December, my boyfriend and I were just sitting in my car hanging out after doing a hike and he put his hand over my forehead and he said I felt warm and that it was like I’m going through early menopause. I told him I’ve been having hot flashes and I don’t know why. I never felt this hot though with my hot flashes, this time it was worse.
And here we are, now it’s January. I am still having all the same symptoms as I’ve mentioned (and the F word that neverrr goes away *fatigue*) plus more like being dizzy, having a dry cough, experiencing more shortness of breath, and more chest inflammation. I am now using an inhaler (which I never did before!) and I’m on antibiotics and using cough syrup. My lump has looked a bit more noticeable and more swollen. I went to an emergency room visit and the ER doctor felt it and said it’s not a lump and it’s “a part of my rib” and she couldn’t help me because ER visits are for people who are only dying… I was there because I wanted to see if they could do a test to check out my lump and I explained to them my symptoms. She looks me in the eyes and says “You’re young and healthy.” I didn’t have any answers that night.
Then this recent ER visit, which I was just going to because I was withdrawing from some meds I had to take and I always had a rash on me that I thought could be an allergic reaction from that, gave me surprising findings. They didn’t help me much with what I was going through with the withdrawal symptoms but they did do an X-ray and as I mentioned earlier in this post, they found a growth in my lung.
I followed up with my primary doctor the day after and he told me it sounds like some respiratory-related illnesses and that I need a CT scan and more blood tests done on me and to see a lung doctor.
What I’m learning with these experiences and how you can learn from it too
So, what did these past difficult months of being sick teach me? It taught me that regardless of how “healthy” I look and how I am still able to do some fun physical activities where I can be on the move, I shouldn’t ignore the pains I was experiencing but with problems that are on-and-off, it’s easy to brush it off as something else. I THOUGHT I knew the root of the problem like it was just my hormones and I’m not saying it might not be though, but it also means it may not be exactly that too.
I’m not in the medical field but I have so many family members who are like my mom was a registered nurse and my dad is a medical records coder. I have aunts and uncles who are nurses and cousins who are doctors. All my life, I grew up hearing about medical stories and all these health problems that run in our family and how they get helped for it. This isn’t going to be any medical advice I’ll give and I would never do that as I do not have the title to, but what I’m about to say is coming from a person who is dealing with something chronically yet never understanding what it is because they have to go through so much medical visits that still doesn’t give them the answer.
This is what I feel can help you open up your eyes for your own health too:
I learned that it can be a long journey to get helped and not all doctors have the right answers for you and you shouldn’t just take one doctor’s opinion. My dad told me the best advice with this and that’s: GET A SECOND OPINION. And if you still haven’t been helped because you’re still sick, then DO NOT give up. Keep looking for doctors to give you the answers by actually doing tests on you!! Do not be afraid to ask questions (as much of them too) to doctors and to insist something should be done because you feel deep down that is what is needed, even for just a peace of mind.
I also recommend that you list down every symptom you feel and if you can keep a timeline like I did of the times you felt off, DO IT. This is also useful for you to present to doctors when they ask you how long have you been feeling symptoms for.
The reasons for all of this is because of preventative measures. It’s best to detect something is wrong with you earlier than too late, obviously. The subtle pains doesn’t always mean it is something subtle and that it will heal on its own, it can be an indication something is serious there.
Now, I’m still trying to find answers and it’s gotten to that point that it has highly affected my anxiety so I’m trying to find ways on how to cope with the stress because my mind is just as fatigued as my body is about this. I’m still working full-time at my job at Facebook and I’m trying to stay positive, but some days feel really hard. Lately, I haven’t been seeing any of my friends for a while and I’m not making too many plans to explore. I’m not sure how my future will roll out in the next few months or so, but what I do know is I will continue blogging here as it’s one of the top things that makes me going in life …and the happiest.
Take care of yourself. xx