therapy

They said writing is a kind of therapy. I never thought I could write.

But I will try.

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This, is MCO for me.

For two months 11 days now, I have been feeling soreness and a phelgm/mucus-choking sensation in my throat. One of the days I drank a glass of honey drink and so much phelgm clogged  in my throat that I felt shortness of breath which lasted for hours. I have been suffering from an unknown illness for a while now.

I was fearful to get to the doctor’s during this time. I fear being told to get covid-tested. I couldn’t bear thinking if it was covid I would have infected everyone in my family. I consulted my sister (who is a doctor) and assumed it was a post-nasal drip caused by dust mite allergy.

Then it got worse. One night I was awaken by a sharp pain in my throat radiating towards my ears. I took antibiotics, steroids, lozenges, used a nasal spray; I deep-cleaned my room, threw out stuff, nothing improved my condition. Finally I made an appointment to see the ENT, after over a month of suffering.

He did a throat scope and told me I have GERD. He suspected it’s mostly triggered by anxiety. But he did not ask about my medical history or go into details or suggest any further checks. On the doctor’s advice, I started to limit my diet to steamed dishes only, no oil, no spices, no fried or fatty food, no sugar, and also eliminating all the acidic and gas-producing food from my diet, this basically includes most fruits which didn’t fare well with my stomach. I too, like many others, want to seek comfort through tdelicious food during the pandemic, but I couldn’t.

I have also been on stomach acid-regulating medication (which messed with my digestion system) since May. I had to go back to the hospital and be referred to a gastro and he told me to just continue taking the medication.

Within these two months, I’ve seen four different doctors, made numerous trips to the clinic and hospital. Not to mention all the drama I had with my insurance company trying to claim back the hefty medical bills.

I’m not sure what is a good proper sleep anymore, I haven’t been able to lie down flat on the bed without acid/bile or gas gushing up my throat, waking up several times throughout the night seems like a new norm for me. Sometimes I would be awaken by sharp soreness in my throat, cold-sweating, bloating, heart burn and more recently, a churning stomach.

“It’s all in your mind. You’re being too anxious. You should just get out of the house. You should just try eating this. A little oil won’t harm.”

Those were advice given to me. I am not sure others would understand how it feels exactly, unless they have gone through it themselves. The suffering after eating trigger food would mean I would suffer all night. Sometimes I don’t even know what is trigger food and what is not. Everything is just uncertain. Yes, I am anxious, I am fearful. This is the reality, my reality.

I have now seek a second opinion, another gastro, and gone through another episode of nerve-wracking hospital visit. This time, it was for an endoscopy. During times like these, I do think having the physical presence or support of someone would be very helpful. But I did not have, I had to do it all on my own, well at least with the company of my meditation app. The scope shown a gastric erosion and gastritis inflammation in my stomach. Oh the suspense and anxiety before the procedure was just intense. I will now have to be on another few more weeks of medication – with no guarantee that I will recover.

These are my physical symptoms. Now try imagining what a persistent bland diet, sleep deprivation, a non-resilient body and uncertainty about your health would do to you psychological state.

Depressing, yes it’s depressing, extremely. It’s hard not to feel anxious when your guts won’t corporate, also all this while making sure I don’t lose my job while trying to fix my body. Oh, did I also mention that it was my birthday in April. On the day itself, I had a meltdown because I was just depressed. Eating a thin slice of cake just irritated my throat so much and I didn’t know what was going on. Friends got in touch (with good intention to cheer me up) but I just simply couldn’t cheer up, I only did because it would be ungrateful not to. I also had to stop my physical activities due to weakness in my core and acid reflux i.e. no yoga for me.

At the time of writing this, I still have not recovered. I am learning to live with imperfection – with an upset stomach, with a sore throat, with acid reflux, with a bland diet, with my anxiety. I am trying, every single day. I won’t lie, but some days I just felt really down, but I try. I try to pick up a book, to read a magazine I like, to turn on music, to watch a film, to cook my meals, to carry on with my job.

The silver lining:

  • I hope to walk out of this and become more resilient.
  • This experience is teaching me a lot about empathy, especially for those who are suffering from long term illness or mental health.
  • To appreciate my body more and not take advantage of it. Work should never take precedence over health/wellbeing.
  • The importance of keeping to regular meal times, healthy diet and good posture.
  • Learning so much more about mindfulness, stress management and self-love.
  • I’m sure there are more but I will leave it for the next post.

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