My Health Journey

health

My health journey with chronic illness started when I was 18 years old.

young healthy looking girl smiling in yellow tree with bright yellow fall colors, the girl has a green sweater on and long blonde hair

I remember my senior year of high school, I started to ache all the time. Being a ballet dancer, I was used to aches and pains, but these felt different. In the fall I went to college and…got mono. I was sick with mono for about 4 months during my freshmen year of college. After that, my body was never quite the same. Tired all the time, constant stomach aches, joint pain that would leave me confined to a heating pad. For a long time I brushed it off as pain from my ballet days. But once 3 years went past since I’d seriously practiced ballet, I knew it was finally time to seek help for my health.

three young ballet dancers in time square NYC, two dancers are lifting up one dancer to create a cross

Senior year of college, I couldn’t remember anything. I’d take a test and all of the studying would just go away. I was forgetting basic words, and names of people I knew for years. I saw a neuropsychologist and he told me I have symptoms similar to dementia patients and that I should never work a full time job.

More specialists later, I finally got an answer: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowl syndrome. All in one happy package deal. And a few years later, I was also diagnosed with endometriosis. And now, almost 9 years after first feeling symptoms, I’m finally starting to accept my limits.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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For many years I slapped a band-aid on it and told myself I could do anything. And it’s true I could. But at what cost? When I worked a full time corporate job, all of my energy was put into work. I had no energy for friendships, my marriage, things I enjoy.

When I was shooting weddings all the time (aka last fall) I was behind all the time on my work and my personal life. All I had time and energy for was: shooting, sleeping and driving. So now, I’m finally taking steps towards being the person I’ve always wanted to be within my limitations.

And remembering that limitations doesn’t make me a lesser of a person.

Some steps I’m taking right now to get to the bottom of my health:

  • I had a colonoscopy done to make sure IBS was a correct diagnosis (and guess what it is) the good news is that I don’t have an IBD like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
  • For my IBS-C, I am now daily taking fiber, a stool softener, and a probiotic, and am gluten-free and have reduced my caffeine and dairy intake as well
  • For fibromyalgia, I am getting off of Cymbalta and will be trying other medicines with my doctor that work better for me (Cymbalta was making me have crazy dreams and nigh sweats)
  • I am trying to walk 30 minutes a day until I have strength regained in my muscles to do something more like yoga or go rock climbing again

So here I am – a woman trying to figure it all out. I hope you’ll stick around for my journey while I try to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for my body.

Love, Erin

a girl wearing a t-shirt and green jacket looking off into the distance with the blue ridge mountains in the distance, the t-shirt has cats on it and says "I'm feeling great right meow"

photo above by Rebecca Stone

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