anatomy: noun the science dealing with the structure of animals and plants
I had to learn early on in life if I was going to maintain health, I was going to have to become my own body’s scientist.
Permit me to tell my story.
In my early teens (13 to be exact), we didn’t have a whole lot of money. Visits to the doctor required a trip to the local state run clinic. Back then in Florida, a physical was required each year to be eligible for school registration. In preparation for 8th Grade, I made the annual trip to the local clinic for the required physical.
One of the tests they administered was the standard 4 prong tuberculosis (TB) test. Keep in mind this was way back in the mid 70’s, so TB was something they worried about. Turns out, I tested positive to that test. Since I had been in contact with someone who had TB, the doctor said another test was needed. This test was administered under the skin. Again, that test indicated positive results.
The next step? Since TB is a lung disease, a chest x-ray was ordered.
Now this is where the fun starts. The chest x-ray came back inconclusive, or so they said. Much later in life I learned the x-ray was actually considered negative, but that is another story.
The doctor who had diagnosed the TB prescribed a very powerful medication as treatment for the supposed TB. This medication had powerful side effects, especially for children and I suffered from most of them.
The year I entered 8th grade my health took a dive.
This medication treatment plan required twice a week blood tests.
What were they testing for? Liver function. Seems this medication can pose a major hardship on the liver requiring twice a week tests and monitoring my liver’s health.
That should have been red flag number one.
About three to four months into taking this particular medication, I started developing vicious headaches including vomiting. The headaches were debilitating causing me to miss school. This was unusual because before this, I was rarely ill enough to miss school.
Off to the doctors, again. And yes, it was same clinic. This time I had a different doctor. Since my pattern for throwing up was only in the mornings, he asked my sister (while I was in the room) if I had an active sex life.
My sister saw the shock on my face that he would even ask that question and knowing I couldn’t fake that horrified expression; it convinced her that wasn’t the issue. However, she gave permission for a pregnancy test in order to prove it was out of the question and wasn’t the reason for my headaches or vomiting.
When the pregnancy test results came back negative, the only other diagnosis he provided for the headaches was migraines and there was nothing to be done for them. He told us they can appear with the onset of puberty even though he had been told my puberty started at ten and a half (over 3 years earlier). Nevertheless, he convinced us my symptoms were hormonally caused and sent us on our way.
That should have been red flag number two!
So here I am suffering, making myself go to school, dealing with getting poked and prodded twice a week for blood tests; and then, around the 6 month mark of this TB medication fiasco, allergies start making their way into my life.
Before all this, I was mostly allergy free. Suddenly, I had allergies to anything and everything. Cats, mold, dust, grass, pollen, foods, milk … you name it; I was allergic to it. My allergies manifested in two distinct ways; hives (through the skin) and miserable typical allergy reactions, most often affecting my eyes and nose.
If I walked on grass, hives would develop and feel like they were eating at my feet. If I was exposed to cats, my eyes would swell shut. If there was a rain storm? Heaven forbid. The next few days as I would be majorly congested.
Enter red flag number three!
As you can see, life during my 13th-14th year was pretty horrific. Little did I know that a medication was slowly destroying my body from the inside out.
Fortunately, there is a brighter side to this story … the saga continues next Monday in Part 2.