My Autoimmune System Can Kiss My Ass


    Its no secret to those who are familiar with autoimmune disorders that they come in clusters- type 1 diabetes, thyroid problems, lupus, MS, celiac disease, asthma and alleries, various skin disorders and a number of disorders that are rare and relatively unheard of. I myself have type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroid disease (low thyroid hormone levels), asthma/allergies, some of the related skin issues. The problem with autoimmune issues is when you get a flare-up of symptoms, everything seems to go to hell. Most of my flare-ups are caused by other illnesses (viruses like colds & flu or other infections), or stress. Lately stress has been pretty constant with work issues, divorce issues and money problems, so the shitty feelings have been pretty bad. When I get a flare up, my allergies and asthma kick in hard core leading to a recent sinus infection that sent me to immediate care last week. General fatigue, body aches, swollen glands and headaches/foggy headed feeling seem to be the major ones that I experience.

   I was feeling all of these symptoms and so I went to immediate care last Wednesday thinking that I had a virus or make a respiratory infection because I felt chest congestion and asthma symptoms that were intensified. It turned out however, that my sinuses were 100% blocked and infected, causing the head symptoms and the fatigue, etc. The Dr there gave me a note saying I had to be off work the next two days; which I was reluctant to do because they are not very forgiving about sick days where I work, but really didn’t feel well and so I had no choice.

   The next night my back pain flared up. I’ve had low back problems before which have been treated with anti-inflammatories (which I can no longer take because of another med) and physical therapy. It would still occur on and off but was tolerable. That night however it turned into a sharp, shooting pain down my lower back/spine and down my legs and feet, where it became tingly and numb. I wasn’t able to sleep. I tried taking Norco which I had been prescribed before and a muscle relaxer with little relief. So I decided, fuck it, I’m concerned about the shooting down the legs and I need something for pain. Plus, I wanted to make sure it was nothing serious, so I went to the ER.

   The people at this particularly special ER were of NO FUCKING HELP. After reading several reviews online it seems that this standard of shitty care is status quo over there (sad because they used to be decent) and was treated like a drug seeker, despite the fact that I have never been to the ER for pain issues and was not there to seek anything for “fun”, I just wanted to be out of pain. After ignoring me for several hours and treating me like an idiot, they gave me the smallest amount of pain medication possible and sent me on my way, still in pain (it was at 4 instead of a 7 at least).



Me, I guess?


I had hoped to come into writing this with some semblance of a theme around which this blog would be centered. Instead, after weeks of tossing around ideas and asking friends for feedback, I come here with nothing but my own personal story. I suppose that is sort of a theme in and of itself, especially after you come to understand what a clusterfuck of a story it is. Oh don’t get me wrong, there are good parts of the clusterfuck, its not all negative, there’s just a lot to it and I suppose rather than trying to unwind my life’s journey into separate strands, just starting at the beginning is the best way to go about this. The blog is entitled “Searching for the American Dream” in part because I often wonder if this life I’m living is the ‘american dream’ that my ancestors came here to find and if so,  what the fuck were they thinking?, and also because “American Dreams” is one of my favorite tv shows. So here we go.

To get the basics out of the way- my name is Lauren. I’m 31 years old and I live in a suburb of a major metropolitan area. I have two kids- a son and a daughter who are 8 and 6 respectively, and I have 4 cats. I work as a nurse in the surgical department of a large, level 1 trauma hospital near my home. Those are the basics… what about relationship status you ask? Well…that’s where it starts to get complicated. Technically, I am married. I tell people I am married. But the man I consider to be and who acts as my husband is not the same person who is legally my husband. (The background of why this situation occurred as it did will come later). I was married for 7 years to the father of my children. We had been together since high school, were together in college and got married when were 22. We had the children, and started growing apart.  Me more than him, really. I have mental health problems and my marital situation was having a negative effect on my mental well-being. Meanwhile I had reconnected with someone I knew in high school,  someone I had been lab partners with and had a crush on since Freshman year. We grew very close and, although I’m not unashamed to admit it, we started a relationship and fell in love.  Long story short, he left his wife and I left my husband and filed for divorce. Sadly two years later, my divorce is still pending because my ex is being a jackass and dragging things on as long as possible. For the purposes of this blog, my “husband” will refer to my boyfriend/fiancee/partner whatever he would technically be called (to me, in my mind and heart, he is my husband) and my ex-husband/father of my children will be referred to as “my ex”.

In addition to the ongoing divorce drama, I suffer from multiple chronic and mental illnesses. I have had type 1 diabetes since I was 7 years old and require insulin everyday to survive. As a result of having diabetes for so long (24 years now), I have developed gastroparesis, a stomach disorder which is a complication of diabetes. GP, as it is referred to online, means the vagus nerve which controls digestion is partially paralyzed and the digestion of food is severely (meaning hours) delayed. This results in nausea, stomach pain and lack of appetite on a daily basis. I limit the amount and types of foods I eat in order to lessen the symptoms, but this as well as the delayed digestion, makes it difficult to control my blood sugars. I also have your garden variety of disorders- asthma, hypothyroidism, hyperlipidemia, and back pain as a result of damage to the sciatic nerve. Basically I tell people that if I was a horse, they would have shot me by now.

If I wasn’t lucky enough to have all of that, you can add on a small stack of mental health problems. They say that people with chronic illness, especially those diagnosed young, are prone to developing depression and related disorders but what I have is more than just depression and I’m fairly certain it is partially inherited and partially due to other life events, so I probably would have been screwed anyway. Basically I seem to have either Bipolar II disorder or Borderline Personality disorder, or some sort of combination of the two. I also have severe anxiety, some of which seems to stem from childhood trauma, a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder if you will. I have also been diagnosed with ADHD, which I question the validity of, but the medication I take for it gives me energy so I don’t fight it.

In future blogs I will delve more into the events of my life which have unfolded and led me to the point in my life. I’ll touch on subjects such as childhood abuse, my illnesses, my love of the arts and dance, education, the general shit pool that is humanity, parenting, living in poverty and various other and sundry topics, but frankly, and my hands are tired and my ass is going numb so I will stop here.