How I Learned to Avoid Letting My Emotions Affect My Health
Doctors’ appointments aren’t among my favorite activities, but they are necessary when weird symptoms occur.
Before I had myasthenia gravis (MG), doctors’ appointments were rare for me. Except for physicals for school, I didn’t go that often. I could claim this was because of my sterling health record before MG, but the truth is that my infrequent trips to the doctor were mostly because of laziness.
I should have at least had annual checkups, but I always thought that if I felt OK, then everything was good. It wasn’t until I began showing signs of MG that I realized the importance of getting checked before a health problem grows out of control.
After the signs of MG began to appear, I quickly went into denial. I didn’t want to accept that something was happening inside my body that I couldn’t control. It took me almost 10 months to gather the courage to see my doctor. I spent my entire sophomore year of college steadily getting weaker while refusing to admit that I needed medical help. I spent the time either wishing my weakness would disappear or convincing myself that I wasn’t as sick as I was.
When I finally realized I wasn’t getting any better, I decided to visit my primary care doctor with a list of every symptom I was experiencing. In a strange twist, I transformed from a stubborn disbeliever into someone desperate for help. As the weakness traveled from my face to my limbs, I felt like I was running out of time. I thought I had ignored my body for too long and had missed the chance to save myself.
Fortunately, my MG diagnosis didn’t take long. By the end of summer, I had already completed my first round of intravenous immunoglobulin treatment and was on a steady combination of steroids, Mestinon (pyridostigmine), and CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil). Since then, I’ve had both minor and major hiccups in my MG journey, but I’ve been in remission for years.
Although my health is currently good, I always wonder if my experience could have been smoother if I had visited my doctor sooner. Could I have avoided a myasthenic crisis? If I had avoided that, would I still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? Would my life be dramatically different if I had been brave enough to admit something was wrong?
I’ll never know the answers to these questions, and they don’t really matter. What’s done is done. But I did learn an important lesson about listening to my body and asking for help: It’s always better to visit a doctor when symptoms appear rather than waiting. Regardless of how much fear symptoms may cause, it should never be too much for someone to ignore their health.
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