Remember when I told you that I didn’t notice I was sick in The Chronic Illness Paradox? I’m glad I did, it was true at the time. Now though, I want to draw attention to the flip side of this phenomenon.
As I mentioned previously, this stomach bug started out as something I didn’t even notice. My co-worker definitely noticed, but for her and the kids I work with it was a 24-48 hr thing. It went as quickly and fiercely as it came. For me, it came on slowly (at least this is how I perceived it) enough that I just assumed that it was a part of the symptoms I live with everyday, but now IT HAS MY FULL ATTENTION. This is because for people with chronic illness getting “normal” sick isn’t just annoying or inconvenient (although it often starts this way, like it did for me), it can be life changing. Germs hang on longer than they should. Our immune systems get all revved up and our bodies get caught in the crossfire.
I will start by honestly admitting that I was having some nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain before this bug got me. Since then things have intensified, and they don’t show any sign of getting better soon. I have difficulty eating more than a few bites at once, and even drinking large quantities or taking my meds all at once is making me sick. This is problematic for a few reasons:
1) Human beings require food and liquids, and this particular human requires a lot of medication to make it day to day.
2) Not eating and drinking adequate amounts is causing an increase in the intensity of my migraine pain.
3) When my migraines intensify the last thing I want is to eat food. My muscles also tighten in response to the pain, which eventually yields more pain which is referred back to my head. It can also cause a Fibromyalgia flare which means even more pain (think flu aches, but worse) and fatigue.
Can you see how this becomes a wicked cycle? I got this virus one week ago, and not only am I still sick, I’m in worse shape than before because my other conditions have been talked into joining the party. This is the price we pay for being so good at being sick, for not noticing it when it comes on. We have PLENTY of time to notice later when our bodies refuse to recover. All of the healthy people who noticed this thing right away? They are better now, and I’m waiting patiently to see my gastroenterologist while I manage to consume less and less food each day. If I had to guess, I’m betting the virus itself is actually gone, but still I’m stuck in a downward spiral, dealing with its aftermath.