I was sweating my ass off on the way to my third doctor appointment this month. I decided to take the time from work and travel halfway downtown (plus another 15-minute walk from the metro) to see a specialist about my recent lab results – results my former endocrinologist said showed I had another autoimmune disorder.
I wasn’t so sure. For one, I didn’t have any symptoms. For two, only one result came back abnormal, and the level was barely below the normal range. And for three, I couldn’t handle the idea of having another autoimmune disorder, even if it only meant taking a pill every day for the rest of my life.
But in the past week since I learned of these results and made this follow-up visit, I started questioning myself. Had I gained weight in the past few months? Wasn’t I feeling more tired lately? Hadn’t I been more depressed than usual? Didn’t I feel thirsty all the time? Didn’t it feel like I had a sore throat even though I knew that was impossible?
I’ve never been nervous about a doctor visit, but today, I felt the butterflies in my stomach and the sweat on my palms. I thought I knew my body, but it’s possible I didn’t know it that well. And just like I had masked my diabetes symptoms prior to diagnosis with other possible causes, I had also masked these symptoms. Besides cancer, I never consider that my body might continue to shut down on itself, and that I could have another autoimmune disease.
I thought one was enough, and that was my curse. Wasn’t it unfair that I would have to deal with not only one chronic condition but now three? It seemed a little unjustified, but then I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, and anything can happen in the cosmos of events. So yes, it was possible I had another autoimmune disease, and that thought sent me spiraling into the darkest parts of my mind.
But maybe dealing with diabetes has made me stronger? Because after a day of wallowing last week with this newfound truth, I felt better. I felt like I could live with three chronic conditions and two autoimmune diseases, that at least I would have an answer for all my struggles. And another potential scapegoat.
So even though I was nervous about today’s meeting, I was ready. I was ready to accept my fate. And then something unexpected happened. As I sat in the doctor’s office (not an exam room) and discussed my recent lab results as well as my diabetes management, she said frankly, “I thought I was going to have to convince you that you don’t have this disease.”
“What? I came here because my previous endocrinologist said that I did, but I wasn’t so sure so yeah no convincing necessary,” I said with a startled smile.
We’re going to meet in a few months and do another round of lab tests just to make sure, but as far as she’s concerned and as far as I’m concerned, my body is functioning the way it should be (minus the diabetes). It hasn’t shut down on me yet.
When I left the air-conditioned office and re-entered the 90-degree heat, I no longer minded the sweat running down my back and the many stoplights on my way back to the metro. I was okay. My body was okay. And I started to trust myself again to know my body and be aware of its everyday processes. Because I had been right.
So when I reached a construction zone with the sidewalk closed, I merely crossed the street and took a different route home.