I wrote this in my dairy the week before I went to the ICU.
I was already getting sick, because the allergy I had was the kind that builds up over time.
Diareha and vomiting had become so routine that I went christmas shopping the day before I was admitted to the ICU.
I was born sick, and I was never going to be the child to get the perfect attentence award in school. In fact an award for being healthy didn’t make much sense to me, because I never had the chance to be that healthy.
Being born sick, I learned at a very young age, that self talk can make you feel sicker or better, and telling yourself you aren’t that sick, gives you more time and energy to play.
With that in mind, 6 days before I went to the ICU, I wrote the following in my diary:
Am I really sick?
Am I making it up because I identify as being the “sick” one?
Am I dying?
Can I control it by thinking “I”m not sick”, to make myself less sick or “I’m sick to make myself more sick?”
Can I make it better by measuring?
Can I make it better by eating 3 meals a day, getting regular exercise, using my apple watch, taking all of my medications all of the time, and fixing my sleep schedule?
Could it be depression?
And maybe if I just tell myself I”m not sick I can just go on without being sick?
I’m thinking that won’t work. That’s been my approach till now, but it’s not working.
So what will work?
And then I go on to list the things I can control, and question if they will make me better.
6 days later, I was rushed to hospital by ambulance, wasn’t breathing by the time the ambulance got to the hospital, was operated on, and admitted to the ICU.
I crashed on Christmas day. When I woke up, I was told I got as close to death as one can get without dying.
The kind of allergy I had, apparently builds up over time, and then presents itself as an emergency.
I wasn’t faking it. I was sick. Very sick. But I didn’t know that all the symptoms I had were indicative that I was sick.
I remember very clearly, being 5 or 6 years old, and realizing that if I said to myself “I’m so sick”, that I could make myself feel worse.
If I said to myself “I’m not sick”, I could have more energy and health to go play with my brother. I could make the pain go away, by not concentrating on it.
And it’s something I’ve kept with me since I was a child.
When I was in university, I had surgery during christmas break, and went back to school when christmas was over.
That first week of school, I was so sick, that each time I walked to my car after school, I wondered if I could make it.
I wanted to sit in the snow, and rest, but I knew I’d get cold and might not be able to get up again.
Finally, one day I phoned my mother for emotional support, and she said “Just come home”.
I said “I’m not that sick. I can do it”, (I can’t remember the exact words)
She said “You are sick. You just had surgery. Come home and miss a couple of days”. I went home. But even then I wondered if I was sick enough to miss school.
This is my life, and for the most part always has been.
I’m telling you this because I know mostly doctors and hospital staff read this.
If you have a patient who knows how to be sick, they may not tell you how sick they are. To them being sick is normal. They don’t know how to be healthy. If they stayed home every time they felt under the weather they would never go out.
Regular scales of 1 to 10 for pain, don’t work for them, because they have felt pain most people haven’t felt. They are used to ignoring pain and symptoms, and might not notice them when you ask them about it.
Do not rely on personal histories, because they will not give complete personal histories.
If I gave a complete personal history each time I saw a new doctor, I would use up my 5 minutes of exam time, telling lengthy stories.
Besides, I just don’t remember it all, and neither do my parents.
I’m so used to telling myself I’m not sick, that telling you how sick I am, isn’t always possible.
Please remember that next time you see somebody who has been sick since childhood?
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Thank you for reading.