Welcome to my blog! Since this is my very first post, I thought I’d preface this post with what influenced me to start a blog in the first place. This past year has been an incredibly difficult year for me: I’ve had countless doctor visits, taken multiple medications, had three different surgeries, and essentially went around in circles trying to determine what was wrong with me. It was a bumpy ride. So many times I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I didn’t think this journey would ever come to an end. I’ve gone back and forth with deciding if I even want to share this story, because it’s so personal. But ultimately, I feel that by sharing this story I may be able to help someone else who is in a similar situation. If just one person benefits from reading my blog, then I will feel accomplished. I am no expert and will never to claim to be; I am simply speaking based on my personal experiences and if it happens to interest you, benefit you, encourage you, then wonderful!
How It All Began
As I just mentioned, I’ve suffered from health problems this past year—the last 11 months to be exact. This all started with just a simple ingrown hair that became infected (uhh I know—gross). In the beginning, I saw a primary care doctor who told me that I had an infection on my leg and gave me a 10-day course of antibiotics. After I completed the first course, my infection was still there, so my doctor gave me a second 10-day course of the same antibiotics. After initial improvement, my infection returned after I finished the course. What was this—a super bug?! I was given ANOTHER 10-day course of the SAME antibiotics (also WTF?) and was referred to see a surgeon to help. After I finished this last course, my leg still wasn’t healing. I saw a surgeon who told me that my infection was finally gone, although no culture was taken to confirm. The surgeon said the problem that I had now, was cystic tissue. I was told that I had to have surgery to remove this cyst, and that it would heal after that was removed. So I said OK and had the surgery, which was minor and completed in the doctor’s office. I asked the surgeon how long I needed to wait before returning yoga. He instructed that I should be fine to return to yoga after 2 weeks. He was wrong. I waited 3 weeks to be safe, went back to yoga…. and then my stitches broke open.
Following this, my body tried to heal the area but was not successful. After 3 months, I started thinking that something was wrong because it still hadn’t healed, and I was still in pain. At this point, these issues had persisted for a total of 5 months. I went back to see the surgeon who told me what I had now was a wound granuloma which basically is a scar tissue overgrowth. Even worse, the surgeon told me that the only way this would heal was if I had another surgery. He said that this time it would be a larger incision and I had to be put under in the OR. I was feeling pretty hopeless. Every time I went to the doctor I was given more bad news. I lost all faith and hope that I could heal. My surgery was scheduled for April, and all I was concerned with was if it would heal by summertime. “If this doesn’t heal by summer, my summer will be ruined. I won’t be able to go swimming or go to pool parties. Will I have an ugly scar?” Man I was superficial. I only wanted to heal so that my social life would not be affected. Instead of focusing on the blessings, I was focused on what I didn’t have.
Four weeks after my surgery I went to my post op appointment, only to see that half of my incision had healed perfectly while the other half—well to be frank, looked mother f***ing angry. It was red, swollen, and certainly didn’t look healed. I practically had a breakdown at the surgeon’s office. That was it, I thought, I wasn’t ever going to heal. I pushed the doctor for answers and he had none; he told me it wasn’t infected, although he did not take a culture to confirm, do you see the pattern here? When I pushed for answers, all he could say was he didn’t know why. My body just does not want to heal. Hearing a doctor say this crushed me; it made me feel hopeless and like my body was failing me. Feeling sorry for myself, I sulked for a good few days and cried my eyes out. I didn’t know what else to do.
A Shift to Optimism
After I cried so much that my whole face hurt, I decided I was done complaining and feeling sorry for myself. I wanted my life back and I wanted to be my happy self again. After some reflecting and long phone conversations with my mom, I realized that this all must be happening for a reason. Maybe I was supposed to learn from this. Maybe one of the lessons I was meant to learn was patience. Or maybe it was to stay optimistic and continue to have faith that it was going to be alright, without having any logical or intellectual evidence that it would be. So instead of thinking I wasn’t going to heal, I thought I can heal, I will heal, all healing takes time.
Fast forward a month and a half later, I still hadn’t healed yet and I was still in pain. But I chose to keep my spirits up. I decided to go see a wound care specialist because I had a feeling that maybe this actually was infected. When I saw the specialist she didn’t take a culture, but said that I definitely had an infection. Her best guess was that I had some residual bacteria that never went away after the initial infection (OMG why didn’t they culture it!!). She was very surprised to hear that I was given the same antibiotics 3 times. Apparently when antibiotics don’t work the first time, doctors will usually switch to a different kind. She prescribed me a different type of antibiotic to take for 2 weeks, and I was just SO happy, ecstatic, over the moon, to finally have an answer and to be that much closer to healing.
Just Kidding! It’s Not Over
I continued to see this wound care specialist every two weeks. When I finished my antibiotics, it seemed that my wound was on the mend and getting better. The pain had subsided and the doctor kept assuring me that this should heal in two more weeks. However, after a month and a half it still hadn’t healed (I promise you, this story does have a good ending), so she thought that maybe I still had a mild infection. She FINALLY took a culture and instructed me to come back the following week for the results.
As the week went on things started to get worse. I started having pain, but pain in a new place. It wasn’t pain on my actual wound but it was spreading to my groin. I wondered, well maybe I do have an infection and it’s starting to spread? By the time I went to my appointment, my pain level was a 7. I couldn’t even walk normally. I was hoping to have an answer when I saw the specialist but to everyone’s surprise, my culture came back negative.
My mom came with me to my appointment, so we could ask the doctor some questions. Given that it had been 10 months, we were concerned there was a bigger underlying issue that had been causing all of these problems. My mom asked her if we could do blood tests, just to make sure that all my levels were normal. The doctor said we could, but interjected that she didn’t think that would tell us anything. She still believed that I did have an infection, even though the culture came back negative! She thought I had a pocket of infection, like a cyst, not visible on the outside but actually inside my leg. She said that I would need to have another surgery.
My mom asked the doctor if we could get some kind of imaging done, just to rule out that there wasn’t anything serious causing this such as a lymph node obstruction. The doctor dismissed these questions, claiming that the test was expensive and probably wouldn’t tell us anything. I didn’t go back to this doctor after this visit.
Finally Some Clarity
I happened to have my yearly exam scheduled with a gynecologist a few days later. She ended up giving me a referral to a surgeon and I was able to see him the following day. When we saw the new surgeon, my heart soared with hope. I explained to the surgeon all of the events that had taken place the previous 10 months and I noticed that he was deeply listening to me. I could tell that he was really present and not thinking about the next patient or focusing on how he would respond to me. After explaining my whole story and how we wanted to get some sort of imaging done, his response was “oh absolutely. That would have been my evaluation even if you hadn’t suggested it.” I felt relief rush over me, this was so validating. I wasn’t crazy, the DOCTOR even wanted a test done! The surgeon advised that this could be a number of things but that he didn’t know what it was and wouldn’t know until we got a CAT scan done.
I think the worst part of the entire 10 months was waiting for that test. I do go through bouts of anxiety from time to time and this situation posed as anxious person’s worst nightmare. I was in pain, had been given the run around from doctors for 10 months, and was told that something was wrong but wouldn’t know what until I got my CAT scan done. My mind raced and thought of all the possibilities, all the various outcomes. But every time I felt I was going to lose control and break down, I reminded myself that it would be alright in the end; this was all happening for a reason. I had faith.
Once I had my CAT scan done, we had the results the next day. The scan showed that I actually had a small mass within the subcutaneous tissues of my groin, no fluid or cyst was present, and no signs of anything deep underneath the muscle. Who would have thought?! The surgeon said that he didn’t think it was cancer because I didn’t have any other symptoms, but assured us that when he performed the surgery he would send the mass to pathology to do a biopsy. He believed that this mass was present at my previous surgery, and was the reason why I still hadn’t been able to heal after the antibiotics. I was so relieved that it wasn’t anything worse or more serious. It was also comforting to finally have an answer after all this time.
Healing at Last
On the day of my last surgery I had zero anxiety, I actually felt elated. It was exciting, it was a big day for me; an end to a chapter. I truly believed that I would heal from this procedure, I had faith. And I am so happy to say that the surgery went great. The doctor even came to see me afterwards, which is not always the case after surgery. Just the fact that he came to see me after the surgery made me feel calm and at ease. It truly displayed his kindness and compassion.
My apologies for this story being so long-winded, but I didn’t think I’d do the story justice without sharing the entire journey, which was a pretty gnarly ride. I’ve always been the epitome of good health, and I got a taste of what it’s like to lose that. It was a nightmare to go through but I’ve changed into a more thankful, positive, spiritual person from it. I’ve learned a lot too. Don’t always take what doctors say at face value, they can be wrong too. Always ask questions, get second opinions, and listen to your intuition. If you want to get a test done, push for it.
While yes, there was clearly a problem that wasn’t addressed in my previous surgeries; being the new optimist that I am now, I personally like to believe that my positivity and faith helped manifest my healing. I was able to finally heal because I believed I would heal. Once there was a shift in my perspective, everything slowly began to fall into place. The wonderful surgeon who performed my last surgery even warned me that this problem may not be resolved or it could come back. But I chose to believe this surgery would mark the end of this journey for me. And only 2 weeks after the surgery, 11 months after it all started, I was healed. Completely healed with only a scar left to remind me of the tale.
Have any of you struggled with long-term health issues? Stay positive, keep your head high, even when you’re at your lowest. Don’t give up –you will find a doctor, a treatment, a path to healing.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for my next post, I’m sharing my secret to fast hair growth! Please share with your friends/family if you found my blog interesting or helpful. I appreciate all of your support!
Dallas’s Modern Day Hippie