Early Warning System


After 37 years I have finally realized the early warning system my body has for telling me something is wrong.

Up until yesterday I always thought my body hated exercise. Everytime I would decide to start exercising I would get sick. I still remember the first time in 8th grade when I decided it would be a good idea to start running. Now I've never mentioned here that I don't run. Not even as a child. Not even if I was being chased by a person-eating bear. DO. NOT. RUN. But for some reason, at the age of 13, I decided to start. I figured I would just push through whatever discomfort I felt and keep going. Everyone told me you just had to push past the pain and then you'd get that runner's high. Not so much for me. What I got was a worsening pain in my side until I could barely walk. And two days later I got an emergency appendectomy. I have never run again.

Since then there have been more minor things. I joined a gym and tried to push through the exhaustion. You'll have more energy if you exercise everyone told me. Well, I wore myself out to the point my doctor discovered I need B12 shots. I get an urge to start doing yoga again and on day two get a sinus infection. I don't know about you but I can't do downward facing dog when someone is jamming razor blades into my sinuses. By the time I'm better I've lost the will to exercise.

So I have exercised in starts and stops for quite a few years my whole life. At the end of December, right when I was getting ready to start working a new full time job I have the overwhelming desire to start working out again. So the next morning I joined a gym down the street and paid for a three month membership (I'm nothing if not aware of my shortcomings with sticking it out.) figuring I could re-up if I managed to keep going.

A couple of days in I started waking up with lower abdominal pain. I thought I'd stressed the muscles in my lower back/abs doing nautilus so I laid off those exercises. The pain didn't go away.

By this point it was January. I was in a new job and for the first time ever, didn't have insurance. One month of no insurance. And while I willed my children and husband to not get sick or break any bones (especially bones with ski club starting) I seemed to have forgotten to put my own body on notice. My body thought it would sneak in a UTI. A dandy little infection I hadn't felt the burn of in so many years the doctor couldn't find what they had prescribed last. So yes, I couldn't hold out long enough to forgo the self-pay rates. I told her of my abdominal pain and wondered if it was an early warning of the UTI. She treated the infection and said if the other pain didn't go away to come back in February when my insurance kicked in.

Three weeks into January I gave up the gym for yoga at home hoping to bring some balance and flexibility into my workout and body. The pain got worse and I couldn't eat a cup of yogurt without feeling so full it was uncomfortable. The yoga workout got shortened and tamed. Come February I was back at the doctors. She sent me for an xray. (which, what the hell? no bones were involved.) The diagnosis was mild constipation. Miralax was prescribed and I went home. I would like to mention here that I am no stranger to constipation. I was sure this wasn't the problem but I'm always up for being wrong. I figured it wouldn't hurt so I took the medicine and took care of the mild constipation.

The pain. It was sometimes okay and sometimes worse. I was not losing weight but exercising and eating less than I have in years. Then the nausea started. Now I've heard that when some women get nauseous they don't eat. They feel sick so why would they eat. I eat nonstop. So for three days now I've been eating every salty food I can find. (Has to be salty and bread-like)

I went back to the doctor yesterday. (She's actually a PA. And she's great. I love our PA.) She checked me out and suggested an ultrasound. Then she wanted to check in with my physician. Now although I know this is fab of her, she's never done this before. She came back and said no ultrasound. You are going for a CT scan. And another xray. And have a follow-up a week later with the doctor. There were no suggestions of what might be wrong. There were no speculations of any kind. There were no assurances. Nothing. And when I walked out of that office I realized that this is the first time I have EVER left a doctor's office without some diagnosis or suggestion or speculation of what might be the problem.

Now my intuition has been buzzing very loudly since mid-January or so. I've been afraid to voice my concern because this is not a condition you talk about unless you've been diagnosed. Even then people don't like to talk about it. They are afraid of it. It's not something you throw around lightly. Of course you don't have ovarian cancer. Why would you even suggest something like that? What is wrong with you?

I must add here that I have spoken to someone at work about my symptoms (no mention of my intuition's diagnosis). She informed me yesterday that her daughter had ovarian cancer at the age of 27 (cancer free for 5 years). The symptoms were extremely similar. I can not tell you what a relief it was to be able to talk to someone about my fears without them telling me I will be fine - it's probably not that at all. Don't worry until you find out. (The words from the one well meaning friend I voiced my concerns to.) It was a relief that someone just said, "I'm so sorry you're going through this." And she also suggested I read surviver stories if I felt the need to read about it on the internet. Brilliant woman. I may have to buy her a gift.

Still, I haven't done that and I haven't done more than a preliminary search of symptoms. I've been busy telling myself that it may just be some kind of infection. It may not be this dreaded thing. But in my heart of hearts, I'm not buying it. I would totally be okay to be told I'm wrong. It has happened before. I'm up for the humiliation of being called a hypochondriac. Really, maybe it is all in my head. Maybe it's some totally innocuous thing that can be fixed with a mild laxative. Wait, not that. That didn't work. Maybe an antibiotic or a D&C or maybe it's just early menopause and I'll have to live with it for a while. I can do that. I just don't want to feel the need to exercise ever again.