My Conditions

Buckle up, buttercup. It’s gonna be a long ride.

This is the page where I talk about all the super exciting things – aka everything that’s wrong with me. I’ll be listing the physical and mental illnesses I have been diagnosed with, including any chronic injuries (they’re super fun trust me), and giving a general background about what they are, and how they affect me personally. Big shout out to Google and WebMD in advance. I’m going to list them in alphabetical order for fun. So let’s get on the road.

Anemia (Iron and Vitamin Deficiency for me)

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : For me, I was constantly tired and had a great difficulty concentrating on school assignments. I also experienced some slight dizziness if I wasn’t properly hydrated or if I didn’t get enough sleep. I was deficient in iron and B12, two common forms of anemia. The iron deficiency was said to have occurred from years of heavy periods in combination with my eating disorder, whereas my B12 deficiency was a direct result of my eating disorder. I began to take B12 and iron supplements, and everything was going just fine. My levels were going up, and I was feeling less tired, but there was one problem. I was intolerant to the iron supplements. I ended up with an ulcer in my stomach and then an infection which left me sick with an intense-like stomach bug for over two weeks. So now I just don’t take the supplements and I get my iron elsewhere.

Bulimia Nervosa

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : I first started showing signs of disordered eating when I was 14 years old. I was an athlete who was training to play field hockey the next year in high school, and I thought I was not in “good enough shape” compared to the other girls who were going to try out for the team. On top of that, I had injured my shoulder, and no one knew how to fix it. My disordered eating began with those few stressful incidents, then it went dormant. In the fall, my father got re-diagnosed with colon cancer after being in remission for 7 years. My disordered eating returned again. Then, it disappeared. This continued for another two years, the coming and going of my disordered eating, until my dad passed away in March of 2015. My disordered eating came back at full force as a coping mechanism. I was stuck in this terrible cycle of binging, then restricting and taking diet pills which later turned into binging then purging and restricting and taking diet pills. In the heat of my eating disorder, I thought I was doing everything I could to be healthy. I could not see how sick I was because I did not fit the stereotype of a thin or emaciated woman. Little did I know, I was slowly killing myself. As I entered recovery, I was scared. My eating disorder was with me for 5 years. It had become a part of my identity. How was I supposed to let it go? It wasn’t an easy process. The first step was acknowledging that I was sick. The next was accepting it. Sometimes, I occasionally forget that I was ever able to surpass that second step, but recovery is not a straight line, and that’s okay. As I look into the past from a place of recovery, I am able to see how my eating disorder, while harmful to my health, did serve a purpose when I was in a time of stress. My eating disorder helped me get through the things I was dealing with then, and I now have new coping mechanisms to help me get through the things I am dealing with now.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : My acid reflux was considered “silent” for a while. I didn’t notice it was there as it was just coming up at night when I would lay down. I didn’t know that I had acid reflux until I hemorrhaged my vocal cord and had to have a scope done and they discovered damage surrounding my vocal chords from the acid reflux. My acid reflux remained “silent” for a year or so until I began purging. Once I began purging, the acid reflux was there 24/7. Which makes sense. Now, even in recovery, I still have terrible GERD and I take two different acid reflux medications to get through the day without heartburn. NO PEPPERONI THO UNLESS YOU TRYNA TAKE A TRIP TO HEARTBURN CITY.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What is your experience? : My anxiety manifested in two very specific ways: worry about being late for things, and catastrophizing. Every time I had to be somewhere, I always left excessively early. I would have rather been the first one there because I left 2 hours earlier than necessary. I would rather be there early than late because I was afraid of the consequences. And that’s where the catastrophic thinking comes in. What would happen if I were late?! They would probably never forgive me and this would happen and that… These types of thoughts would keep me up at night to the point where I needed medication to sleep. I would over-think and over-plan to the point of stressing myself out because I knew it would be impossible to complete those plans. I still have these moments of catastrophic thinking, but honestly they’re more attributed to the fact that I am a college student and I genuinely have too much to do now.

Illness Anxiety Disorder (formally known as hypochondria)

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : I STILL struggle with this and I think a major reason why is the fact that I genuinely am still sick and at a predisposition for serious disease. One major reason why I think I may have developed this was the fact that I spent my entire childhood watching my dad sick with a serious disease until he eventually died. Despite how confusing that experience was for a child, I knew that I did not want to be sick. When I was 11, I was told that I would have to have my first test for cancer in my 20s. What child understands what it means to be told they might get cancer at a young age because their dad died from it? Not me. I just knew that I did not want cancer. However, if I did have cancer, I wanted to know about it. So, Google and WebMD Symptom Checker became my new best friend. Now, don’t let me fool you. This isn’t solely rooted in cancer. I Googled everything you could think of. Had a headache? It was a brain tumor. There was definitely a part of my general anxiety rooted in this, but this is where my anxiety first showed.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Mixed (IBS-M)

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : I can’t begin to tell you exactly when it began, but I can tell you that it only got worse when I was beginning my recovery journey for my bulimia. It was like everything started to feel out of sorts when I was trying my best to put the puzzle pieces back together. There’s nothing I can really do about it. At least in my case, anyway. It doesn’t bother me too much anymore. It just makes getting a stomach virus much worse.

Major Depressive Disorder

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : I started to feel these feelings of hopelessness around the same time as my disordered eating habits. The doctors couldn’t fix my shoulder, I couldn’t play the sports I loved because of that, and my dad was re-diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t until the day that my dad went in for his surgery that same fall that I felt I was really hitting rock bottom. As they moved him into his room from recovery, he was crying and saying “I don’t want to do this anymore”.  That’s when I realized how serious his illness was, and how hard this was for him. He didn’t want to fight anymore, and that broke me. After my one and only event of self – harm, I began seeing a psychologist. I was feeling okay again for awhile until my dad had passed away. Then, those feelings of sadness and guilt and hopelessness came back. I am thankful that my depression was never as so serious that I have had thoughts of suicide or any suicide attempts. However, the negative thoughts continued to stick around as I battled my various health conditions, and they still do today.

POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : This is my newest diagnosis so I don’t have as much to comment on! I first started feeling dizzy and lightheaded in the fall, but thats when I first found out I was anemic, so we attributed the symptoms to that, but when the symptoms progressively got worse this January, my doctor and I reevaluated. We did a fake tilt table test (taking orthostatics while lying, sitting, and standing), and my results showed that my heart rate would jump from 65bpm to nearly 100bpm when I would go from lying down to standing, yet my blood pressure would stay the same, and I would get insanely dizzy. Pitt also has a lot of hills, and if I tried to walk up them while I was symptomatic, I would feel really faint. So far, I’ve fainted a bunch in the mornings in my apartment after I wake up, but thats all thats really happened. I was warned by my cardiologist to look out for worsening symptoms in the future during marching band and while I’m in Africa for study abroad.

Scapulothoracic Syndrome (Snapping Scapula Syndrome)

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : This was the beautiful, yet ~ mysterious ~ shoulder injury that I got when I was 14. I was practicing field hockey one day and when I got home I noticed that I could pop my shoulder blade up and out of place. For awhile, it didn’t hurt and I just thought it was this super cool thing I could show people. But after a couple of weeks of forcing it to pop out of place, it began to hurt. The first two doctors had no idea what was causing it. The one doctor worked with olympians and all he had to say was that my scans looked funny. So they sent me to physical therapy. I went to doctor number 3 and she did the same. Sent me to PT. And so did doctors 4 and 5. It wasn’t until doctor number 5 realized that physical therapy wasn’t working that I needed to try something else. He didn’t think surgery was the right thing either. All of my scans were normal, so why should I be cut open? So, I went to doctor number 6: a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist. This dude was the shit. He gave me cortisone shots and sent me to the only doctor in Pittsburgh who can perform surgery on this condition. This brings us to doctor number 7. I’m currently still seeing doctors 5, 6, and 7, but doctor number 7 doesn’t realize how desperate I am for this surgery. At what point is 6 years of pain enough? I understood when I was younger that no surgeon would consider a surgical procedure because they didn’t know exactly what to do, and there was a high risk of reversing the procedure, but now that I’m older, I am having a hard time conveying how much this impacts my quality of life as a musician and a young person.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

  • What is it and what are the general symptoms?
  • What was your experience? : As part of my shoulder injury, I have an elevated first rib so thats what plays a part in this diagnosis. I started noticing that when I played the baritone or clarinet, instruments that rest on the right thumb, my thumb and pointer finger would go numb into my wrist. Also, if I turn my head to the left and stick out my right hand, the same numbness feeling occurs and I get a weakened pulse. Its not a terrible condition, but I get a lot of muscle tightness in my chest and around my collarbone.

ATTENTION PASSENGERS: We have now reached our final destination of Chronic City™. Thanks for hanging on with me for this wild ride that is the ups and downs of my life! Did I get any information wrong? Send me a message or leave a comment! Want to share your story? Send me a message or leave a comment!