Always the Sick Girl

I first just want to put out there that this is not a post created to get sympathy from people - I just want to write about some of my (pretty minor) personal struggles and hopefully can connect with others in similar situations. Also I talk about kind of gross things, maybe don't read while eating. And I am sorry this is so long.

Yep, I am always the sick girl. Even as a baby I had colic and would cry and cry from stomach distress. Then I went through a phase where I seemed to constantly have a cold, I was tested for every allergy (I had nothing major) and given lots of nasal sprays. But it wasn't till the summer after 6th grade that things went really down hill. That summer I went to sleep-away camp and got extremely sick from food poisoning. Actually the whole camp did, it was disgusting. Not to get graphic but I threw up so much that I tore my esophagus (took a while to figure this out). After camp I started getting nauseated all the time, it was really scary because I had never experienced anything like it before. I would get panic attacks thinking I couldn't breathe because I was so fearful that I would have to throw up again.  

I started seeing a specialist and was taking every test under the sun. They couldn't figure it out for awhile - finally they realized I was experiencing acid reflux and it was really triggering the tear in my esophagus. My 7th grade year I dropped 20 pounds (and I was not big to begin with), I was just bones and skin. I had to miss school a lot. All my teachers thought I was anorexic. There were lots of concerned phone calls to my parents. I felt terrible all the time, the only thing I enjoyed eating was sourdough bread. It was a weird year because we were living in a small apartment while our house was being re-modeled. I was also studying for my Bat Mitzvah. It was also 7th grade and that is just an unbelievably awkward time. Luckily after they discovered the acid reflux I was prescribed tons of anti-acids and slowly but surely I started to feel better.

Unfortunately though the acid reflux never really left. While I could manage it somewhat with anti-acids I would (and still) go through phases where it really seems to perk up. Throughout high school I would go through these phases and was still going in for more tests but just really couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. 

The summer after my Freshman year of college I started getting really sick again. I was working at Urban Outfitters and one day I almost fainted and had a panic attack while working the dressing room. My family and I were all scared that my 7th grade year had come to haunt me again. But this time it was different. I felt nauseated all the time but I was also constantly tired. It really seemed like I had mono - I got tested and turns out I already had symptom-less mono at another time and was a carrier (sorry Josh for your case of Mono!). We went on a trip to London that summer and I slept almost the whole time. At the Tower of London I fell asleep in the cafeteria and on a park bench. It was scary. 

When I returned I started getting lots of tests and it was discovered that my liver was FAILING. I literally had jaundice, my eyes were all yellow. My body was breaking down and we did not know why. At the time I was just taking birth control and occasionally taking anti-acids. My doctors asked me to stop taking both and within a week I started to feel so much better. We are pretty sure it was the birth control pills that were causing my symptoms - after a few weeks off of them my liver went back to normal. Yep, I am that unlucky girl that their birth control pills almost killed her.

Since that summer I have continued to have slight nausea pretty much every day. It was determined that it is chronic and no doctor really knows how to deal with it. I have tried gluten-free diet, allergy tests, I even had a biopsy - so far nothing conclusive. My nausea is kind of strange, it is all in my upper esophagus - it kind of feels like your throat is closing up - there is this tightness that makes me nauseated and a bit panicked. The crazy thing is I have only vomited one time since that 7th grade summer. I have actually developed quite a deep fear of it - and this fear has really impacted my life. 

In recent years the anxiety grouped with my nausea has gotten worse. I think the stress and pressures of adult life are a big part of it. When I feel less stressed - I also tend to feel better, like when I am on vacation, or at home relaxing with Netflix. One of my reasons for pursuing freelance was in order to be able to control my environment when stressed. I know the stress isn't going to go away - but at least I can be in the comfort of my home - which greatly helps things. 

I wish I didn't have this nausea. It is almost painful when people compliment me on being thin and tiny - I would much rather gain weight and not feel sick. The nausea has seeped into my personality, making me more introverted and fearful of new/different experiences. My mom told me once that before that 7th grade summer I was down to try everything and was much more outgoing. Hearing that really made me sad - would I be a different person if I never developed this nausea?

But luckily despite the chronic nausea I have built a really wonderful life. I have an amazing husband, good friends, loving family, and a career that I love. And I am so lucky that while nausea is annoying it is certainly not life-threatening, and I could have it so much worse. It is always good to keep things in perspective and appreciate what you do have! Thank you for reading this post, feels good to get some of my feelings out there!

Xo Jess