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My Diagnosis Journey: Part 1

My period

At age 11, my period began. It was devastating to me because none of my friends were experiencing it yet. I felt alone and embarrassed. Granny panties and pads big enough to be a pool float were my monthly norm. But, my life did seem normal.

Besides the monthly heavy bleeding and painful cramps, nothing ever seemed out of whack. I was athletic, hung out with friends, and was able to do normal activities with no problems. My period was exactly how they explained it would be in health class when I was in 5th grade.

Of course, I was always sick with some sort of head cold or flu. But what child isn’t? When I got to high school, things seemed to start to change in my life. I was sick a lot more often, period cramps were stronger, issues with my bowels began and I noticed depression and anxiety start to kick in. Many doctors brushed it off as “typical high school issues”.

Ovarian cysts

My family would usually agree, due to high school being a brutal four years for me. From heartaches, deaths in the family, and being bullied, it explained a lot of why I was never feeling well. At the age of 16, my mom finally decided to take me to the gynecologist. As nervous as I was, I was also hopeful they would be able to help me. After my checkup, the doctor explained I had cysts on my ovaries, which was causing all the pain I was experiencing. I thought my questions were finally answered.

The doctor put me on birth control, to help keep the cysts from growing. My periods became light to almost nonexistent once I started the pill. But, in all honesty, I wasn’t feeling better. In fact, I was only getting worse. I was in and out of the hospital a lot with stomach pains. CT scans and ultrasounds were constantly given to me, trying to figure out why I was in so much pain. When doctors saw it wasn’t my appendix, they would send me home. Many times they would say, “Maybe, you passed a kidney stone” or “It is most likely just Irritable Bowel Syndrome”.

My first colonoscopy

I become furious with these answers as I knew something was just not right with my body. My family and I decided to try a GI specialist, in hopes they could lay this IBS theory to rest. As I prepped for my first colonoscopy, at age 19, I thought about how no one else my age was going through this. The doctors made that very clear the morning of my procedure. As the nurse prepped me she said, “You are way too young for a colonoscopy”. As I woke up from my procedure, my mom was there with a tired look of ‘Sorry, they still didn’t find anything“.

My new “diet”

Defeated, we went back to my doctors. He told me it was probably just my diet. He told me to stop solid foods and only do liquids. Chicken broth and ice pops were to be my new diet. My doctor said I could also have lettuce, crackers, apple sauce, and light toast. At this point in my life, I had become pretty sick. I was not receiving proper nutrients and was losing extreme amounts of weight. My skin started to turn a weird color and my hair was falling out. How can a doctor recommend something so unsafe to their patient?

And so, my journey for a new doctor began.

Read Part 2 here

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.