There’s nothing like realizing something shouldn’t be normal to make you notice that your definition of “I’m doing great!” has problems.
Case in point: I am regularly ill in spring, as plants come back to life after the winter. (I’m allergic to grass, trees, flowers, shrubs, and cacti.) The allergies tax my body and my immune system, which means I get things like ear infections and the flu and similarly unpleasant issues.
And then, right when I’m recovering from that, strawberries* abound in the grocery stores.
For those who haven’t heard yet: I’m highly allergic to strawberries. And when I say “highly”, I mean “insanely”—and when I say “insanely”, I mean “walking past them in the grocery store can result in breathing difficulty”. Note to self: try living in a different climate.
This year has been no exception in that pattern of springtime allergies and illness. That pattern also brings with it more adrenal fatigue and such, from my messed-up endocrine system and other some things (the latter of which I’m sure most of y’all can guess correctly—and the rest of you can jump on that to reinforce whatever assumptions and misconceptions you like).
But my definition of “I’m feeling great!”?
“I can complete a housework task without needing any breaks, and I don’t feel exhausted afterwards or ill the next day!”
Don’t get me wrong—I’m still very happy when that happens, but it’s not as normal as it should be. I usually pause every so often, count my spoons, and try to figure out the balance between keeping enough spoons to last the day and using all spoons before they expire.
I also spent much of June homebound next to a HEPA filter, due to malfunctioning adrenal glands (and the resultant worsening of allergies) and intermittent tactile sensation in my legs (and the related difficulty keeping them warm).
The saddest thing? My legs’ issues started about two weeks before I realized what was wrong. I just had a sense of “I need to keep them warm.” I didn’t even process, “Wait, my legs aren’t feeling heat, cold, or air flow properly—and sometimes that’s affecting both of them, sometimes just one, sometimes the foot and leg and not the ankle, sometimes the front of the leg and not the back…” etc. I didn’t even process that it was happening sometimes to my arms, too.
I’ve seen a neurologist about tactile issues before, and from what she said, the weirdness to the sensation stuff means it’s probably hormonal; the irregularity fits how my “I’m cold” sensation likes to altogether vanish or return from time to time, but that’s my whole body. The “I’m cold” thing seems to have resolved with getting some pancreas treatment, so I guess insulin issues could be causing this, too. I know I have the insulin resistance that can lead to type II diabetes.
With how bad my allergies are and what I’m allergic to, going to the doctor can be dangerous for me. Even if I can get to the doctor’s office—which isn’t always possible; depends on what I’m exposed to on the way—the doctor’s non-latex gloves? Allergic to those. Tylenol? Allergic. Any scented air freshener or cleaner? Probably allergic. Since some of my other allergies have spontaneously worsened to strawberry levels (hopefully temporarily), I haven’t dared test to see if those other ones have stayed comparably benign, but I am adapting to allergens where I’m living and have been reacting less, in general (except for the kiwi I tried a few months ago, but I kind of expected that, since it’s on the “avoid me” list for more than one of my allergies).
And then there’s the fact that I’ve gone to doctors for odd sensation issues, before. I lost my “I’m cold” sensation for years before it came back, and I’ve even experienced loss of all tactile sensation before—from the dye used for a CT scan, which freaked the nurses out. (They kinda panicked. I just looked at them and pointed out that it was just the topmost level of sensation—my somatic sensation was unaffected—and was more odd than anything else. It came back in about 30 minutes.)
My leg thing has been more annoying than anything else, except…
I was also getting pain spiking through my legs, sometimes.
It was distracting at best—okay, so “at best” actually is that it’s character fodder for the future, but you get what I mean.
And to be honest, even with that leg thing, I was healthier and able to get more done, overall, than I was able to two years ago. Which says something about how ill I’ve been for years.
Acknowledging and accepting such things is the first step needed to work at improving them, though, and I started feeling much better emotionally, upon doing that.
That improved mood helped me also focus and evaluate on potential home remedies to help things. One thing I did was try devil’s claw, an herb that I bought a few years ago for my mother, who refused to take it, then made a tincture with more recently to see if it helped a friend who suspects she has arthritis. Well, ginger actually works better for that friend, but I figured that I could try the devil’s claw, myself, just to see if it did anything.
And both the pain and the tactile sensation issues with my legs (and arms) went away.
I do have to take the devil’s claw regularly, to keep the benefits, but the longer I take it, the better I feel even when it wears off—and the more I notice that other pains I hadn’t realized I’ve been living with are being assuaged when I’m taking that herb. I can only assume I’m experiencing the benefit of its anti-inflammatory effects, since that’s what it’s most known for. (It’s been found effective for some cases of osteoarthritis, for instance.)
Devil’s claw is also sometimes recommended by herbalists for a condition really hope I don’t have but that would fit many symptoms I’ve always thought of as myriad little things. (I pray I don’t have it. If I do, I should’ve been diagnosed as a child—but having it would explain a lot, including how I tend to feel worse if I take echinacea.)
Also, more and more sensations that I always thought of as “sickliness” are actually hunger, and I’m making progress in that mental redefinition.
In any event, it is what it is. I’m also better able to concentrate and get things done while on the devil’s claw, which could simply be a side effect of the pain reduction. (Hey, pain’s distracting. Especially when you’re experiencing twelve different types of pain from nine different spots on your body.)
Am I 100% pain-free? No. Am I experiencing far less pain than I have for the past however many years? Yes.
How are y’all doing?