à votre santé

two weeks ago, i had a rough day. i was at the hospital, i had an allergic reaction to some bloodwork, and i could. not. stop. crying.

i cried to the nurses. big fat pitiful tears that wouldn't quit. i cried to the chair.  i cried to the needles in my arms. i cried to everything in the room like i was doing a guest appearance in Goodnight Moon and then i cried to my internist, who thankfully was two floors below the hematologist's office. i couldn't take the thought anymore that i don't remember a time of equilibrium in my health - never a day where i'm not thinking, oh is this normal? is this okay? how was it yesterday? what's the trade-off if i see one doctor over another? which calcium supplement do i need? am i getting enough copper in my system?

my internist helped me deal in the moment, i was so shocked that this was the thing that did me in. i was unhinged, like the couple of panic attacks i had before my duodenal switch surgery in 2008 - only then i felt like i needed to pause and take a breath, whereas this time i was drowning. i said, i can't believe an iron infusion - just an hour with an IV needle - is throwing me off. i've faced much more bigger shit than this.

my doctor looked at me, shook her head, and said honey, this is about the fifth thing you've faced in the last two years. and she was right - two years ago was the big surgery, and since then i've dealt with a kidney stone, the anemia, a few funerals, and a demanding job. while trying to have a life, while getting some relief work done in brazil, while just getting up in the morning and going about my day.

on one hand, this is the deal with chronic conditions. they never die, they only shift and mutate. if it's not one thing, it's another; such is life.

on the OTHER HAND, there's a punch line...

i found out a week after my crying episode that the thing that was wrong with my blood in the first place can cause mental instability. you think either my hematologist or internist might have wanted to mention it.

so now. three iron infusion treatments later (with a kind i'm not allergic to), the thing that was literally driving me crazy is taken care of. i'm not overwhelmed anymore, i'm back to my old self. still a little tired but i have my old focus and strength of character back. feeling good about the future, and realizing now more than ever that my health and my future are in my hands.

and please indulge me this soapbox for a moment, i hate the word "should" because i believe in people finding their path - but no matter what your health looks like,  YOU SHOULD DO THE FOLLOWING:

start a binder for yourself.
start a binder especially for your kids.

keep track of your health with the following components:
- contact list of all doctors and specialists
- chronological medical history of all significant events, across all doctors
- copies of all medical records and labs
- list of abnormalities, or even things you want to keep an eye on

NO ONE is looking at the entire picture of your health but you, and it's on you to make yourself healthy.