Tag medicine

2 posts

I don't know what to call this

I was going through the files on my laptop looking for something specific and I ran across a picture that I saved from 2007. I won’t post it here, because it makes my stomach turn, but content note: graphic descriptions of infections and medical neglect.
My parents stopped taking us to doctors before I was 10. They believed that god told them doctors were evil, to go to doctors was to not have faith in god’s ability and will to heal the sick. Along with that, came the belief that if you were sick, it likely had something to do with sin in your life. Both of these came from James 5.
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So, anytime we got sick, we did that. We’d have dad pray for us, literally anoint us with extra virgin olive oil, and then make sure we didn’t have any unconfessed sins. Ex: a cancer sore we could have because we “talked back”.
Because my parents didn’t believe in doctors, they also didn’t believe in medicine, because there is a greek word called Pharmakeia which is where the word pharmacy is derived from, but also means witchcraft. My parents made the jump to then decide that any medication, including ibuprofen and tylenol is evil, because witchcraft.
(side note: just writing this all out now is making me feel sick. First, I can’t believe I remember these arguments so well, and secondly, I just, I can’t, it’s so stupid)
We had one bottle of children’s chewable aspirin on hand, they reasoned THAT was okay because it’s from bark, not chemicals, and because one of my sisters was prone to migraines that resulted in vomiting – but that was only for dire emergencies.
My mom had “natural” remedies, like tea tree oil, oil of oregano, and wurther’s hard candies (for sore throats  << that one I’m not complaining about, actually, it was candy). Stuff that 1) doesn’t actually make sense and 2) is not located anywhere near the pharmacy area in the grocery store.
(side note: it took Alex so long to get me to take ibuprofen for migraines because of this.)
So, when I was 16 and a half, I had this horrible horrible infection on my leg. I could not move. It was swollen and oozing and painful, any movement at all was excruciating (and no painkillers), it swelled so much that my thigh didn’t look like part of my leg anymore, it was some weird mutated…thing.
My parents believed it was boils, like Job had (Job 2:7)
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So, they prayed for me, anointed me with oil, asked about my sins, which I couldn’t think of and then….the fun started.
Remember: no medicine, no doctors, nothing. My mom decided we had to keep the infection clean (makes sense), so, she would push and squeeze the abscess until puss came out of it (so. fucking. painful.), then she would put oil of oregano in and around the wound because it was a “topical pain reliever” and “antiseptic”, I’m pretty sure hydrogen peroxide happened too. Basically I just remember my siblings complaining that I smelled like spaghetti (maybe that’s why I hate it so much).
It was deep, and there was a good bit of blood – it was blue and swollen around the..head? I still have a visible scar from that first one. And the second one.
This went on from the time I was 16 and a half until I was 18 – it didn’t start fully clearing up until I left home, though it had gone down in intensity.
The second one, was right below the first, had two heads (which I think had more to do with my mom PHYSICALLY SQUEEZING THE ABSCESS than anything else) each wound was big enough you could put a pencil eraser in (I still have that scar too), and there was like, a flesh bridge between the two holes, so they were connected /open at the bottom/inside the wound, but on the top there was a little bit of skin that kept it from being a fucking gash.
After the first one though, my parents were less concerned, and I managed to move – while still in excruciating amounts of pain with no recourse – and do chores and go places and manage.
As time passed and I continued to get these and they continued to leave scars and I continued to function in large amounts of pain, my mom started commenting on how my legs looked.
Because, due to the scars – and random abscesses, they looked polka-dotted. So, I wore only jeans or ankle-length skirts (or tights) so as to hide the hideousness of my infected legs. (This continued well into my marriage, in fact I think it was around a year before I stopped wearing exclusively jeans and wore skirts/dresses that were above my knee, because of that reason.)
I walked for 10 hours in boots with an abscess on my knee (it was not fun and towards the end of the day I was having a really hard time walking/keeping up with the group, but being carried was not Teenpact Appropriate). Some of my skirts had stains from them.
I passed up an opportunity to intern with Teenpact after that trip because of my legs and knowing I wouldn’t have the stamina required to wear heels and walk all day.
They were frequent but became smaller – I started to be able to get to them before they developed into something bigger.
This whole time though, over a year and a half  – no one thought anything of it, no one thought to maybe get it checked out, this infection that didn’t go away – this thing that we’re calling boils and figure it has something to do with god, and not providing any kind of relief from the pain, I just had to suck it up and deal with it, and I did.
Our second year together, my legs and scars were healing and I was wearing shorts and short skirts and my parents would always comment on my legs – “oh, it looks like they’re clearing up!” which actually just reminded me that my legs might still be unseemly and polka dotted.
I realized, yesterday, after digging up that picture on accident, that my infection, much like my teeth, was something that they had the power to stop and chose not to. Instead they chose to shame me about it and give me the bare minimum of help (if oregano oil and being made fun of because of it counts as help) because of their religion.
The first two scars are shiny and feel weirdly smooth, but are fading.
leg
 

Desperate, and in need of help

It’s worth mentioning, in 2010, my parents all but disowned me and I spent 2 weeks crying, in my room, with the lights out, dealing with an amount of intense pain that I had only dealt with once before – in 2008 when my parents told me that I couldn’t see or talk to my husband anymore. This time, they cut off my relationship with my siblings. I came out stronger on the other end, but that reminded me, acutely, of my previous bout with near suicidal depression and thankfully, I wasn’t suicidal this time, because I was (for the first time) in a loving relationship with someone who cared.

 

After getting off the pill (health reasons) in 2011, my hormones started raging and I had horribly debilitating bouts of depression every 2 weeks (thanks, ovaries). I was angry and volatile and mean (which I’m not usually) – it started affecting every detail of my life and how I interacted with the people I most cared about. I tried every herbal supplement I heard helped with PMS and hormones. I eventually came to the conclusion that I had PMDD (like PMS but with depression and on steroids) which, upon thinking about it, and my relationship with myself – especially my menstruating self – made sense.

 

I struggled for a year, taking herbal supplements every day with no help. I talked to self-proclaimed herbal experts who said progesterone was a good bet – it wasn’t (but I did get one lotion that smelled nice and helped on that level).

 

Last August I’d had enough. It was hard – working up the nerve to talk to my doctor about this weird phenomenon was really hard, I was terrified. I’d been told my entire life that doctors were evil and that they just handed out antidepressants like candy, and also, those were bad. But I couldn’t keep living with that, every two weeks being trapped within myself, being a shell, and trying to not hurt the people I loved because of things I couldn’t control.

 

So I talked to my nurse, I told her about how debilitating my periods were, how I hated myself, how I felt it hurting my relationships, and she suggested wellbutrin, she said it may be a drastic step and I said, no, I’m ready to try medication.

 

Shortly after that talk with my nurse, Wil Wheaton wrote about his depression on his blog – which really helped normalize it for me. Because for the first few weeks following the start of my medication I felt a little afraid and a little ashamed because of the stigma that comes from treating depression/mental illness and having it. The shame from my past because I was one of “those” people now.

 

Wil Wheaton’s story helped me feel better about it, then Hyperbole and a Half’s Adventures In Depression was so spot on (so is part two), I realized that I wasn’t alone. That it’s a real thing (not a spiritual one) and that it’s okay, and that also, I don’t have to live in suffering like I thought for so long.

 

I didn’t realize that I had been depressed since puberty, with bouts of really really bad rounds of it, until I started taking antidepressants and was introduced to actual emotions and feelings. It was overwhelming at first – I had so many emotions, all of them, I didn’t know what they were, how to name them, or how to deal with them. I just had to sit there and wait and learn what they were.

 

I feel things now.

 

People think that if you’re depressed you just feel sad all the time. But what happens is you just eventually feel numb, melancholy – you miss the actual feelings, and negative ones stick and make homes in your brain and never go away.

 

Now I know, when I feel sad, angry, or depressed even (yes, I still feel depressed sometimes) that they are only emotions and they. will. pass. I will feel happy – actual happiness, and then I’ll feel normal – which is not melancholy, but a perfectly okay everything is fine feeling.

 

The difference between my emotional and mental state now, a year later, and last year is huge. I can’t start to describe how many ways it’s changed, helped, and made me feel more in control. It’s just so nice to be able to live outside of my head, to not feel trapped inside of my brain, or inside of my body.

 

Help is worth getting because you matter. intrinsically.