Thirty-Something Problems: The Return of Chronic Conditions

I’ll be honest. I’ve never had a great body. Thank you Type 1 diabetes for giving me enough hope in my teenage years to believe that I was on the path to averaging a 4.0 GPA in health and then squash my dreams in my 20s. It’s all been downhill (or maybe uphill?) from there. 

The diabetes diagnosis was enough. But then I had chronic bouts of interstitial cystitis, urinary tract infections, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), iliotibial band syndrome, distal bicep tendonitis, and a brief scare of Hashimoto’s disease (thank goodness for second expert opinions), all before I hit my peak at 30. Or maybe that was supposed to be where my life ended? Maybe my body thinks I’m living in the early Middle Ages, so my peak was really at 12?

What was I doing at 12? Oh right, attempting to beat my record of an 11-minute mile in physical education (PE) class, so I wouldn’t be laughed off the track. Middle school was fun. So yeah, not my peak.

Thirty-Something Problems

But given my 20s were replete of nothing but let down after let down and insane financial debt that prevented me from hoping for a better existence, I thought maybe my 30s would turn this boat upright again?

And while I was finally hitting my financial stride and tolerating this existence with diabetes, my body was like nah, your 30s is not going to be your peak, because we’re tired and burnt out, and we just don’t have the resilience or stamina we used to. You can thank your 20s for that. 

So, hangovers are going to be rough, exercising is going to require more, sleep will be near to impossible, you’re going to sweat through every shirt you own, your hormones and skin will no longer get along, and you can’t digest sugar after 9pm unless you want to be up all night. Oh, and we’re taking away some of your energy reserves, so you won’t be able to accomplish as much as you did before in a day, and progress will be small.

And… remember those chronic conditions you thought you had overcome in your 20s? Well, they’re all going to come back with a vengeance. It will be worse this time because your body isn’t what it used to be (sorry), and you won’t expect it either. They’ll just show up, and completely debilitate you for days on end. Good luck. 

A Resurgence of Chronic Conditions

Add on to that an unending pandemic with increased levels of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. And that’s pretty much been my 30s. Those of you in your 40s and above are probably laughing at this because I imagine it only gets worse from here (though people are now telling me my 40s will be better). My papaw once told me he felt pretty young until he hit 80, so enjoy these years while you can. Sometimes, it’s all about perspective. 

And sure enough, I am coming off another bout of BPPV – just woke up one day, and the world was spinning. I couldn’t do anything for two days straight (even with physical therapy and dramamine) minus staring at a computer screen or the TV trying not to move my head. The nausea was the worst part, so I feel for my pregnant peeps. I don’t know how you survive morning sickness. But I guess that’s just it – we do survive. 

So, after two days of being a couch potato, I woke up one morning and was able to get a shower and make my bed without feeling like I was going to vomit. I still can’t bend over without feeling unbalanced, but this was considerable progress, and a moment to rejoice. 

That’s the one downside (well, maybe not one) about chronic pain conditions like vertigo and cystitis is that they really take away your reason for living. I can even tolerate the diabetes more than I can chronic pain, because with chronic pain, sometimes, you just can’t function. And you feel so useless. It’s frustrating, especially if you live on your own and you depend on that function to survive. Or others depend on you. 

A Potential Cure for Type 1 Diabetes

But there is an upside to this misery. Just last week, there was a huge breakthrough in Type 1 diabetes research. We still have a ways to go before a cure, but progress is being made. And for the first time since my diagnosis, I actually have hope that maybe, just maybe, in my lifetime, I may experience a normal functioning body again, and my whole life will not be dependent on how well I track my blood sugar levels every second of every minute of every day. 

That would be something, wouldn’t it? My body is all for it. 


One thought on “Thirty-Something Problems: The Return of Chronic Conditions

  1. Hang in there, Tracy!!! You have a lot to deal with and your family is rooting for you and you have our support.Good news about Type1. We are always here and available if you want to talk. Sometimes getting things out helps.
    GP Kelleher

    Liked by 2 people

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