“Well you look fine.” This is a statement I hear all too often, mainly from doctors, but also from people in general. When I tell them what I’m suffering from, what my symptoms are, this is their usual response, “well you look fine.” That may be so, but it doesn’t mean everything is fine. A house can be on fire inside, but look “fine” on the outside.
I went to a doctor recently after suffering for 2 months with a flare up of what I thought was my chronic illness. His first response was a snotty, “Well you look fine.” He was just going to send me on my way, but I insisted, so he begrudgingly ran an EKG and ordered blood tests. The EKG showed that my heart was running slower than it should be. The blood tests came back: Lyme Positive. Evidently I tested very high showing a severe case of it. But I “looked fine”.
I’ve been to countless doctors over the last 6 years. Scans, X-Rays, tests, etc... Complaining of chronic pain in my neck and shoulders, digestive issues, memory issues, joint pain, etc, and then the migraines started. All to no avail. They throw medicine at you to mask the symptoms but ultimately the word was “it’s all in your head” and “I don’t understand it, you look fine to me.”
As a last resort before the suggestion of injecting poison into my neck to kill the nerves to stop the pain, I went to a chiropractor. He had an X-Ray done before adjusting me as I have 2/3 bones fused together in my neck (since birth). That’s when he found it. Arthritis. I have Osteoarthritis in my neck. He was also the one to push me to get tested for Lyme.
I finally got a positive this time around.
For the last 6 years I have suffered from Chronic pain and illness. 24/7. To the point where someone recently asked me if I can remember a time I didn’t feel pain. I can tell you the year I didn’t feel pain, but I can’t remember what it actually feels like not to. The only thing all these doctors agree on is the fact that the pain will only get worse as I age. On a scale of 1-10, my pain level on a GOOD day is always a 5/6..... on a good day.
Today I found out that I have the beginnings of rheumatoid arthritis in my hands (and possibly other joints). On top of all this, I’ve had issues with my brain lately. It’s just not working at 100%. I’ve noticed more memory issues, functioning issues, etc. I’ve developed a severe sensitivity to light and sounds. I’ve become super sensitive to flashing/moving lights, fans movement, and sounds, to the point where my brain feels weird. My doctor said I’m in danger of seizures, but alas, he can’t do anything about it until I actually have one. His advice: Try not to have one.
My chiropractor is the only doctor who I feel has actually helped me. He helps me with pain management, always willing to try new techniques, see me more often if needed, and he has also been super helpful with information on battling my symptoms naturally, with supplements and such.
My greatest concern and fear at this point is, what will my quality of life be going forward? I never thought I’d be worrying about this at 27.... Maybe down the line as old age started moving in, but not at 27. There are days now that I can barely walk, function, etc. I can’t imagine what my quality of life will be in 20, 30, 40, 50 years, and that scares me.
The moral of the story I guess is this: Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t discredit someone by how they look or act, you have no idea what’s going on inside.
Pic on the left is one I snapped (I have no idea why) several weeks ago in the middle of the Lyme battle. It was late at night, I was very ill, in a great deal of pain, tired, frustrated, and discouraged. I look awful (I toyed with even sharing this photo as it is indeed me at my worst, but I think it may need to be seen)........ but the picture on the right is me, natural hair (not straightened, but wet), no makeup, BUT smiling and trying to look like everything is perfectly normal.
The right is how I usually look to people, it’s how I present myself (plus no harsh bathroom lighting).... “I’m fine.”
Maybe that's part of the problem too.
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She also acts as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.