Western Letdown

Ashley - Mission Viejo, California
Entered on September 16, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: setbacks

In January of 2001, I developed an awful stomachache which simply would not let me be. I spent the next six months in both physical and emotional agony. I underwent test after test, exam after exam, only to come up empty-handed each time. At each appointment with my gastroenterologist, my doctor would remind me of his lack of faith. Without fail, he would always suggest (nearly insisting) my entire condition was psychosomatic. When we finally discovered in June of that year that I had a condition called celiac disease, I didn’t even receive so much of a “I guess there was something after all” from him. Instead, he gave me the online dictionary definition of celiac and sent me on my way to learn how to cope on my own.

When I came back to him nearly a year after my celiac symptoms first manifested themselves, I had developed another stomachache. Yet again he attempted to convince me nothing was physically wrong, that I was making myself sick. After months of more testing, we finally decided to put the search on hold indefinitely. Every single day I wake up with that stomachache and every night I fall asleep with it. It has become a part of me that perhaps will always be there.

I learned to deal and muddled through the rest of middle school just fine. It wasn’t until January (of course) of my freshman year that I went through another bout of unbearable pain for an extended period of time. By now, however, my threshold for intestinal pain was verging on superhuman status so I missed little school this time. It wasn’t until June that my new gastroenterologist discovered my stomach was severely ulcerated. I’ll never forget waking up after my endoscopy to have her tell me how stoic I was for enduring such pain. In an odd way, I felt a sense of accomplishment for coping so well.

But I shouldn’t have had to. The physical and emotional trauma I’ve endured over the years thanks to the medical industry has created in me a revile for my own body. For nearly three years I struggled with anorexia as I attempted to punish my body, as though it was an entity separate from my self.

Now, having just discovered I possess a hormone condition similar to diabetes, I feel more frustrated than ever. Beginning in January of this year, I inexplicably packed thirty pounds onto my frame in the span of a few months. At first, we simply chalked up the initial gain to hormone treatments I had been put on in attempting to solve another condition. However, the weight continued to pile on even after I went off of the treatments. As a healthy eater and active individual, it made no sense for me to have any sort of weight gain. After undergoing a three hour blood test, I had to wait until four weeks later to get my results at an appointment. I was told nonchalantly what I have (though it has yet to be officially confirmed) and was put on medicine to regulate my blood sugar that should hopefully aid in losing the weight I gained.

I love life and I thank God that I am afforded the opportunity to live, even if it means dealing with such issues. However, I believe that the medical industry has not only failed me but the American public at large. While these experiences have shaped the person I am today, made me stronger in so many ways, it has also left in me a bitter dislike for Western medicine.