I have some very weird allergies, some of which quite a few people don’t actually believe are real.
One of them has developed a new symptom, but I need to do some research to make sure that it is a change that is NOT related to any of the medications I am taking. Just like with everything else regarding to medical/physical issues, I need to take the experience slow and measured. I need to research it with the same protocols as any scientist, but with only a single experimental subject.
I’m not looking for something that affects everyone, or even a significant portion of humanity. This is simply more of a way that I can gain control of my body, and can feel empowered with my physical self.
In many ways, this is part of what the body acceptance movement is about for me. It isn’t just about encouraging everyone to be accepting of their selves, including their physical selves. It, for me, is also about knowing exactly how my body works and what physical limitations I may or may not have.
This is actually a fascinating subject to me. It started originally as a frustration with the medical community. In many ways, the doctors of my youth were taught that it was required to have not only medical objectivity, but to build their own self-confidence to the levels of arrogance in order to ensure that every patient could feel assured of the competence of their medical staff (including doctors).
More recently, medical school teaches effective communication between doctor and patient. It’s a struggle, because there are a plethora of patients who have been used to that “God complex” that many doctors in the past developed. These patients expect to put the entire responsibility for their health on the shoulders of their medical staff.
Unfortunately for those of us who actually WANT to be a partner in our own health, until recently doctors would define us as non-compliant patients because we questioned their authority when it came to our own bodies. They, in the past, were just not used to patients who were willing to say, “Wait a second, doc. MY body doesn’t react like that!”
I have had to learn my body’s signals. Not just to maintain a healthy diet, but because since I injured myself during my freshman year of high school I have had to actually monitor my pain levels and to be aware of what made that pain worse or better. I had to learn not to ignore my body. Of course, for a lot of time that meant I also had the emotional frustration of having a body-machine that was clearly broken and inefficient. To often I let myself live in my head, because I felt my body betrayed me.
That meant, too, that much of my research into medical issues, herbal and other alternative support methodologies and any other form of physical support was focused on making my body work more efficiently. It also taught me that current allopathic medicine methodology is frustrating, because all too often it does not pay attention to the fact that in any body ALL processes are interconnected. It is one of the reasons I have happily found out about functional medicine. Body processes and illnesses do NOT happen in a vacuum.
Stress on the body, for example, can cause many different physical symptoms, not all of which are actually considered related by your average allopathic doctor. For example, my high blood pressure (diagnosed in 2003) was not caused by my weight, as every single part of my medical support network assumed. But it required me leaving my ex to actually prove that to my medical professionals. Here I am, more than a decade later, with a completely healthy blood pressure – even on the low end of healthy. The fact that I experience a slightly elevated blood pressure only when I go see my doctor (my last blood pressure was 128/80 〈systolic being in the pre-hypertension state〉, but my blood pressure when visiting the optician was a perfect 90/60 〈as low as you can go before being diagnosed with low blood pressure〉), simply shows that because of my past history of difficult relationships with my doctors I am under stress when I am in a clinic. I can hope, eventually, I will be able to overcome that stress especially if I stay with my current doctor.
OK, back to my allergies. One of the allergies I was diagnosed with in my childhood was a mild form of allergy to the extremes of hot and cold. I say mild, because I don’t experience life-threatening effects. What I do experience is primarily itching, rashes and eventually hives. It shows up when the weather is below 0°F or above 80°F (below -17.77778ºC or above 26.66667ºC).
I have experienced a slight sensitivity to light, which I find amusing because I also have fairly crappy night-vision (not bad enough to affect night-time driving, just enough to make me clumsy walking around at night). But, today, while enjoying the fact that it is mid-March in Wisconsin and we’re well above 60°F, I started to experience the first signs of allergic reaction to heat – and it was only on the body parts that were in the sun.
I joke with my family that I’m a vampire, mostly because my preferred sleeping schedule is usually fairly late at night (after midnight for going to sleep, and rarely awake before 10 am at least). Dusk/Twilight is actually one of my favorite times of day (sunrise, honestly, doesn’t even compare for me).
In order to make sure that I am ascribing the correct cause to this effect, I have to eliminate the other options. The simplest is to start researching the side-effects of my medications. This is something I tend to do whenever I start a new medication, but I rarely actually look at the more rare side-effects unless I start to show a new symptom. I ended up realizing that I am one of the people who experience a rare side effect of Lisinopril (rare enough that I only find it on the prescription paperwork rather than on any online information) — that side-effect being that it lowers the efficiency of my immune response. Learning that information, I now take supplements to raise that response. I also tried Wellbutrin in an attempt to stop smoking. Unfortunately, I am also one of those people who experience rage as a side effect of it.
Sadly, this awareness of my body also means that I am considered a hypochondriac by most psychological tests. It’s why those with chronic pain consistently test as invalid using the MMPI-2. There is no understanding that someone can be quite aware of their body, but NOT inclined to paranoia about it. Personally, I always assume it is a simple issue rather than a dangerous or life-threatening one. It’s one of the reasons I developed an abscess above my top teeth – I simply assumed that my mouth pain was due to getting older. I don’t run to the ER when I have pain or issues, and sometimes I even have to be forced to go. Back in 2001, I developed pneumonia during Thanksgiving. But I pretty much reported it to my family as just a bad cold. When my father figured out I was greying-out when I coughed, he forced me to go to the Urgent Care clinic. I ended up in the hospital for a few days with oxygen up my nose.
And the fact that I research my diagnoses to make sure I am doing everything I can to support optimum health is also considered a symptom of hypochondriasis. When I research, I discount anything that has not been peer-reviewed or that has no experimental data to support its hypotheses. Just because it is on the Internet, does not mean it is actually true or that it can be scientifically proven.
I may believe in things that are not supported by current scientific thought, but not when it comes to my health. If it has no actual experimental support, it has to be pretty damned impressive for me to actually believe in it medically.