When I met my rheumatologist for the first time, he asked me this question…”When was the last time you felt normal?”. I had to think about that for a few minutes, and feeling pressed for an answer I blurted out “Probably about 6 years ago.”. But the more I got to thinking about it a few weeks later, I think it was probably closer to 7 or 8 years ago.
In late 2008, I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis. It was quite painful and led to my partial hysterectomy in October 2009 (partial = just my uterus and cervix because at 31 I was too young to go into surgical menopause). However, even with a partial hysterectomy, my hormones had changed.
After my hysterectomy is when things started changing for me. I had always just assumed that it was because I no longer had a uterus balancing out my hormones, but now looking back, I feel like it was more than that. I never felt the same after that day.
Fatigue slowly started hitting me at weird and random times. Nothing major; I would just get tired doing things that normally wouldn’t tire me. Random bouts of nausea and/or diarrhea would make me miserable, sometimes for nights and weeks on end. Heartburn would make sleeping so difficult. And then there would be the random pain. No rhyme or reason for it; it would just be there and some days it would linger and some days it would go away.
I dealt with these seemingly small issues for years (from approximately mid 2009-December 2014). They were all minor for the most part and didn’t seem to be connected, so I didn’t really think much of it, until December 2014 when I saw a doctor for some headaches that started happening more frequently. It turned out my blood pressure had gone back up (I had severe pre-eclampsia with both pregnancies). During this visit, she gave me a lab slip for some routine stuff as well as an arthritis panel and she also wanted to check my rheumatoid factor (as I had complained of some of my pain). I was to come back in 2 weeks for follow up.
When I went back for my follow up appointment, it was determined that I did, in fact, have a very high ANA (auto-nuclear antibody) level, but my rheumatoid factor was negative so far (thank goodness!). So this started the process of finding me a rheumatologist. Who knows how long the ANA had been high, and to what extent my body had already taken an internal beating (so to speak).
My point in all of this is this, if you don’t feel well, and something doesn’t feel quite right, listen to your body. Only you know you best. And if you’re concerned, make the appointment for that physical that you’ve been putting off. Give yourself some peace of mind.