So often we assume that if we get sick, we can go to the doctor, get treatment, and then move on with our lives. We reason that since doctors have spent years studying, they must have the knowledge and skills to help. But sometimes, despite all the advancements of modern medicine, doctors can be stumped by our medical problems, too.
My Personal Medical Mystery
When I was a teenager I started realizing just how limited doctors can be. I was a very active girl. I exercised daily and spent every spare moment outdoors. Then one morning, I awoke and felt like I had the flu. I was achy and exhausted. Soon after, I started having a terrible time sleeping.
My doctor ran some tests but found nothing, so he prescribed me sleeping pills. He thought perhaps I had simply overworked myself and needed some rest. However, every sleeping medication he prescribed made my problems worse. Vivid nightmares greeted me every night, and even though I was now sleeping until the afternoon, I woke up more exhausted than ever. My doctor grew more puzzled. Then, just as quickly as the symptoms appeared, they vanished.
Throughout the rest of my teens, these mysterious symptoms would come and go. Finally, my doctor grew suspicious and became convinced that maybe I was over exaggerating or even making up my symptoms altogether. He brushed my health issues off as a simple cry for attention. He stopped listening, so I stopped complaining about my symptoms.
My Search For Answers
When I was 25, though, these mysterious symptoms returned again but with an intensity that I had never imagined. Along with the pain, exhaustion, and insomnia, I started experiencing a constant headache, muscle cramps, muscle twitches, rashes, nausea, dizziness, and a tingling feeling throughout my body. These symptoms got so intense that I actually went to the ER a couple times and was frequently going to see my doctor.
I was lucky enough to have a doctor that knew me well. He knew that I wasn’t a fan of doctor’s visits. When I started making appointments more and more often he realized that something was very wrong. But he wasn’t sure what since a variety of conditions can produce such symptoms.
I endured a multitude of tests over the next 6 months, but still my doctor couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. Finally, with all tests exhausted, my doctor sat me down and explained that he thought I had fibromyalgia, a condition that can cause widespread pain and many of my other symptoms. Since there are currently no tests for fibromyalgia, he referred me to a rheumatologist for a second opinion. Within 15 minutes of skimming through all my test results and poking around on my body, she confirmed that I had fibromyalia.
My Advice to Others With a Mystery Diagnosis
If you, too, are struggling with a mystery diagnosis, I encourage you to stay strong and not give up. Don’t allow your doctor to dismiss your symptoms or insist that it’s all in your head. Keep making appointments until he listens. And if he still refuses to take you seriously, get a second opinion. It is your body. You know that something is wrong. Plus, it’s your right to switch doctors if it isn’t working out.
I also recommend that you build up a strong support system of friends and relatives that believe in you. A mystery illness can be a long, difficult road, so you are going to need companions to help along the way. Finally, don’t forget that you are your own best advocate. Actively seek for answers from doctors and reputable medical websites. Do your research and come prepared with questions/suggestions to every appointment. You may never find answers unless you stay determined and focused.