I've been sick for a very long time.
It probably started back in childhood, just small things here and there that didn't seem important.
In high school, I didn't play sports, and I dreaded that one-mile run in P.E. I just thought I was a wimp.
My "wimpiness" continued into college. For my required P.E. courses there I chose ice-skating and sailing. I went to a strict, conservative school where you couldn't skip classes, or church, or chapel, or even the small group session at 10 p.m. Some nights I was so exhausted I'd fall into bed at 8 in the evening and have to wake up again before 10.
And every winter I'd get some kind of cold or flu that would last 2 weeks. I'd take lots of meds, sleep a lot, lose some weight from not eating, and eventually get better and move on.
Then one winter during college I got my regular "bug" and it turned into bronchitis. I went back to classes and work sooner than I should have (feeling guilty for not keeping up), which didn't help.
It was around that time that my mom noticed I could go from being excited and energetic one minute to withdrawn and ...well, crabby the next. She said I needed to get my blood sugar checked. Diabetes runs in my family, which is high blood sugar, but I got diagnosed with hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar.
Low blood sugar--I also had low blood pressure, low body temperature, low thyroid symptoms, and other low stuff. Sometimes with all these lows, I wonder if I'm only half a person and the other half is wandering around somewhere (I bet she's tired, too!).
For the past nearly 15 years, I've learned how to keep my blood sugar as stable as possible by getting on a strict eating regime of eating every 3 hours, with specific protein amounts and carb amounts and no sweets. At all.
This created some problems, as you can imagine. For one, having to eat at very specific times (I start having symptoms if I'm about 15 minutes late) can be a problem when you're at someone else's house for dinner, or the scheduled meal at an event gets delayed (this was a big problem in Asia). For another, having to eat high protein, low carb was an issue in Asia as well. I remember in Indonesia we'd go to weddings and the protocol was to eat a large portion of rice and tiny amount of meat. I had to do the opposite, which made me look greedy because meat is the expensive part. (There weren't protein bars or other convenient solutions available there, so I'd have to make tuna fish sandwiches and scarf them down before weddings--not too appealing but it sort of worked).
Not getting to eat sugar, well I don't have to explain why that's a problem!
The biggest problem, however, was that, no matter how good I got my schedule or my diet, every year or two my symptoms would get significantly worse even though my blood sugar levels were staying the same.
Something else had to be wrong. We went to doctor after doctor, even to specialists. After several years, I started to feel like the woman in the Bible who had used up all her money and was no better, only worse. It was so discouraging going through another round of testing, getting my hopes up, then having the doctor look puzzled and tell me I was a very confusing case. (It's nice being unique, but this was taking it too far!)
For awhile I tried to figure things out myself. I've done probably at least 100 hours of research on the internet. I've followed all sorts of rabbit trails, looking for that one thing that would pull it all together somehow. I even did a heap of testing overseas, where you can go to a dinky side-of-the-road clinic and order whatever blood tests you want.
Still no answers. Lots of leads, but no conclusion.
Meanwhile my life was being dictated by my elusive, ever-present health problem. I didn't look sick, so people didn't understand, and it was hard admitting I was having a tough time when I couldn't even tell people what the problem actually was.
So I kept pushing and trying and often pretending I was fine when I wasn't.
Then finally, I went to see an unusual sort of doctor, who gave me an answer. An answer that was thrilling at first, but then brought it's own set of difficulties--one that ended with me in ICU . . .