Melissa’s Health Story

14From a young age, my health has been a roller coaster of sorts. I am grateful that the things I have had to deal with are what they are. I am clear that many suffer from far worse ailments. But, I do hope that my story helps me connect with others who have had similar experiences, and sheds some light on what it is like to live with multiple chronic conditions.

When I was 10, I was diagnosed with Scoliosis, curvature of the spine. My spine was and still is an S. Despite my doctor’s attempts, we couldn’t seem to slow the process, so when it degraded to a 60° curve on the bottom and a 30° curve on top, he recommended surgery. When I was 12, I underwent a surgery called Harrington rod implantation with fusion. Three rods were fused to my spine to prevent it from curving further, and to minimize the current curvature. My curvature went down to 15° and 30°.

When I was 21, I found a lump in my breast. My doctor felt it was likely benign, but recommended surgery. Prior to the surgery, during exams, another lump was found. I had one lump from each breast surgically removed  that year. Since then, I have had three surgeries and multiple needle biopsy’s. Thankfully, they were all benign. Thanks to dense breast tissue, I’ve had at least one mammogram and follow up sonogram every year since I was 21. I always tell my doctor, if I get breast cancer, it will because of how much radiation I have endured. But, better safe than sorry, so I continued to be diligent with these important exams. In late 2016, I was diagnosed with Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia Bordering on Lobular Carcinoma In-Situ. In January of 2017, I had a lumpectomy and on March 30, 2017, I had a bilateral skin-sparing mastectomy.

In 2011, when I was 36, I was diagnosed CDC-positive for Lyme disease. Due to my symptom patterns and history, my doctor determined there was a chance I’d had it since I was a child. This meant that it was possible that I’d passed it on to my two children. I underwent a year of intense treatment to reduce my symptoms, including IV antibiotics, oral antibiotics, herbal treatments and more.

When I was 38, I was hospitalized for a week when my bladder was backing into my kidneys. I was also experiencing loss of feeling in my right fingers and toes. During my stay in the hospital, I also suffered from full body muscle spasms. While there, I underwent a multitude of tests that showed that my cervical vertebrae was pressing on my spinal cord and the cord was disappearing. Essentially, my Scoliosis continued to curve above my rods and this was causing degeneration of the cord. The neurosurgeon on site recommended surgery right away, to prevent further loss of feeling and even reduced mobility, including the chance of not walking again. I saw 3 other surgeons prior to surgery. One told me: “You’ve done all you can with this spine.” I had the surgery in 2012 and now have a plate in my neck. The surgeon said it is likely I will need other similar surgeries in the future, since the Scoliosis will now be bucking against the plate as well.

When I was 40, I saw a cardiologist concerning symptoms like heart racing, pain in the chest and irregular heartbeats. The cardiologist took one look at me, and before any tests were completed, he told me that I had a thyroid problem. What he didn’t know, was that I had been trying to get that diagnosis for 10 years. Test after test and doctor after doctor telling me my thyroid was fine. Not one of them checked my antibodies. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, which is when your immune system attacks your thyroid as if it was foreign. Symptoms I have experienced throughout my lifetime as a result of Hashi’s are anxiety, temperature sensitivity, brain fog, exhaustion, muscle weakness, weight gain and depression.

These are the biggest part of my medical journey. Other challenges I have faced include asthma and allergies, leaky gut, mold exposure, and chemical sensitivity. I have had more surgeries than I have fingers and I live with chronic pain to this day.

I have handled some of these challenges better than others. But, after writing it out just now, I am reminded that I have made it through all of that and I am still standing, literally and figuratively. While still struggling with most of it on a daily basis, I am grateful to have this opportunity to share what I have learned on this journey. Because, while all of this has been going on, my life has been going on! As you surely know from your own experiences, life doesn’t stop for us to deal with what ails us. We have to work through it while maintaining work, family commitments, responsibilities at home and in our communities…we have to keep going. Sometimes, and definitely in my case, those things helped me deal with my health. From support of family and friends, to the financial benefits of work, to the motivating result of feeling productive and effective, I felt supported, appreciated and capable of withstanding the challenges I faced. Have you experienced any of these conditions or diseases? What has your health journey been like? What has worked for you? I would love to hear your story. Please comment below or email me through our Contact Page. I look forward to hearing from you!



3 thoughts on “Melissa’s Health Story

  1. Pingback: Surviving The Holidays With Health Challenges | The Sister Rap

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