It started with my swollen feet (both were swollen at two different times in my adult life).
Next in line were my neck and shoulder pains.
Then the pain oozed into my jaw. This is when I learned about temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder). Persistent headaches became the norm. Thankfully, I have had only one crazy migraine that brought me to the hospital. Migraines are not cool, bro.
Stress shoved its way into depression and then full-blown anxiety.
Pain oozed into my lower back and hips. Cue for the frustrating adventure of going to specialist after specialist–none of whom could find the answer to my invisible aches and pains.
After a few weeks of digestion issues and my gastroenterologist reported that stress is impacting my digestion. Thankfully, my digestion issues did not persist enough for a diagnosis to be stamped on my stomach.
Restless leg syndrome. Aches and pains. Aches and pains. Falling asleep became an arduous undertaking. And it still is! Soreness and exhaustion travel to my wrists and fingers.
It’s not rheumatoid arthritis. It’s not Lupus. No diagnosis was yet discovered. My doctor printed out a detailed sheet of Hypochondria for me from Chronic Illness. And off he went to his next patient. No bedside manner.
Alone, confused, misunderstood, and in constant pain. I took a break from asking questions. And I saved a lot of Metrocard money from traveling to these “specialists.” Praying was different. My body and its pains were yelling for attention. “Heal me!” My mother, my aunts, uncles, my family in the Dominican Republic were all earnestly praying for my healing.
“Tenga fe. Dios te vas a sanar.” (Have faith. God will heal you.)
I didn’t have any faith. Before my aches and pains, I believed that I wasn’t good for anything. I was convinced that the domino effect of my aches and pains was God’s funny way of saying, “Since you don’t think you are good for anything, I will make sure you are no good for anything.”
This time I was committed to doing my research and advocating for my health. Sooner or later, I found my answer:
It was not until I went to my rheumatologist that I received my official diagnosis.
I am managing with yoga, analgesic creams, TENS, and a few other devices and techniques that I am grateful for, but it’s a daily battle. My body, mind, and soul experience Jesus crucified as I re-offer my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings to his Sacred Heart.
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