Today I did what I haven't done in awhile, I sought out another opinion/doctor. Here's where it gets a bit complicated - I am being treated by a naturopathic doctor in Phoenix, and I currently live in Wisconsin. First, since I too am an ND, I actually dread the term, "naturopathic" doctor - it seems to qualify the care I am getting. There are often two camps - the one that feels this is a brilliant choice, and the others who think I must be crazy, and also this is why I must still be sick, b/c I don't see a "real" doctor.
I remember the exact day I first developed symptoms of some sort of illness. I don't remember the date, nor what I was wearing - but I remember the exact moment that I realized something was very wrong. It was I believe in my third year in Phoenix, I had moved there to attend Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and despite dreading the heat the move to Portland or Seattle seemed too far away, thus I chose the school in Phoenix for its direct 3 and 1/2 hour flight. My friend Sandy and I had started walking together. We had been doing the "Biltmore Loop" which is a circle in Scottsdale with all these crazy huge homes next to the resort for a few months. There is also a canal next to the circle, and we had started adding that in to our walks too. I at the time appeared in great shape, I was 5'7" and 120 lbs, despite never being some all star athlete, in my mid twenties I was a regular at the gym - at my best I could run seven miles, or bike for an hour and then do a thirty minute swim. I entered school at age 28 and with the demands of the program had gotten off a regular routine. I remember when I was in such good shape thinking to myself, "how do people consider walking exercise? I could walk for days" I would soon feel otherwise.
Anyways, this loop including the canal was no more than 2 miles. I really didn't like walking the canal as much, and didn't know why. Like I said, I don't remember the date, and at the time I really didn't understand the significance, but Sandy and I had been walking and I began to notice that I was so exhausted when we were done. I didn't want to mention it to her because it seemed so ridiculous, I would get in my car, and just sit there and tell myself a million excuses why I was so tired. But on this specific day, we had reached the end of the canal, and I looked at her and said Sandy, I don't know if I can walk back - I am exhausted, I feel weak and my calfs are killing me. That was the beginning, I just didn't know it yet. Like most CFS patients, I looked for all the reasons that a otherwise healthy 31ish year old would be exhausted from a stroll. It took me back in my memory to when I was eleven, and my mom, best friend Kim and I were at the State Fair (which I despised), I could barely walk through the Fair, and the next day was the exhibition Packer game, and that time I remember exactly what I was wearing - gray bermuda shorts, and a forest green ralph lauren sweater with a bright pink polo, it was a new outfit my mom had gotten me for not feeling well and a soon to be back to school clothes. The stairway to our seats and Milwaukee County Stadium felt like Everest - that Monday, I was diagnosed with mono. This canal walk felt like Everest all over again, however this time, 6 weeks of bed rest wasn't going to do the trick.
The doctor appointment today emotionally drained me, it brought me back to the beginning of this journey, where I searched and searched and searched for the magic pill - the gold at the end of the rainbow, the perfect doctor, with all the answers. However, this time, I wasn't searching for the Golden Ticket, I just need some support here in Wisconsin, so I don't feel like a fish flailing in the ocean when I am not in Arizona. He's an MD that has gone to the other side so to speak, and is quite the smarty pants, Yale undergrad, which I was going to make a joke when the diploma on the wall, all in Latin says "Yaleness" or something like that - but didn't think he would find it funny- but it kind of is, using Yale as an adjective - and then John Hopkins for Med School. Tired of not getting people better, he's like a kid on their first halloween, he's so excited with all the possibilites that go with "alternative" "complementary" etc.. approaches, and he is humble enough to work with my ND in Arizona. So while I gave any doctor a difficult task, to "kind of" be their patient, he appears kind enough, open minded enough, to possibly fit the bill. And besides, one of his clocks said 2pm, the other 9:30, when it was actually three o'clock, so yaleness and hopkiness aside, there was something about that observation that made me feel like he was my kind of guy.
Despite it being an extremely positive experience, I left feeling overwhelmed - perhaps that's why its one in the morning and my head is spinning, and I can't sleep - its hard not to constantly question your decisions and he had lots of solutions that a first year ND student has, vitamin D, lots of it, Fish Oil, tumeric, all that exuberance left me a bit deflated, b/c if it was as easy as taking a gallons of Vitamin D and Fish Oil, the treatments I learned about 10 years ago, don't you think I would have swallowed that pill.
Leaving for Phoenix on Saturday - fingers crossed.
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