About 12 years ago, I developed a painful lump on my bum. How’s that for an intro? (I don’t hold things back; if natural functions of the human body freak you out or hearing about “sensitive” areas of the body make you squeamish, you probably shouldn’t be reading this).
So, at first I first I thought it was an ingrown hair, but when the pain became unbearable, I went to the emergency room. I was told I had an abscess and was given antibiotics and painkillers and told to follow up with a general surgeon. By the time I got an appointment to see the general surgeon, the swelling had gone down immensely. The doctor seemed almost afraid to examine me and was satisfied that it had gone away. Open and shut case, so it seemed.
Until I got another abscess in the same area. This time, I went to a different surgeon, and this began my health adventure. I had a couple of painful surgeries (called fistulotomies) performed by different doctors, and then I saw a colo-rectal surgeon, who also did the same thing. The colo-rectal surgeon was kind, and said, “Some people just continue to get these, we don’t know why.” My life started revolving around this odd condition with no name: Feel OK sometimes, then get pain, go to Dr, get painkillers, have surgery or take antibiotics, or have surgery and take antibiotics, repeat.
At this point, I was on a quest to get to the bottom of this (pun intended). The colo-rectal surgeon sent me to get an MRI which revealed nothing. I went to Cleveland Clinic and got a rectal exam (that Dr had terrible bedside manner and made me cry). I had a colonoscopy. I went to University of Miami and was turned away since I didn’t have an abscess at the time (although I told them at the time I did not have one but I wanted to have some testing done). I also went to a rheumatologist to see if this condition was genetic or…something. All tests all came back normal and I had no answers. Then I got one near my vaginal area (like on the underwear line.. healing became nearly impossible because of the location since it was constantly being irritated).
I pretty much gave up. I would go to doctors and get pain meds, but that was about it. Sometimes I would go to hospitals and get surgeries. One time I was admitted for 4 days, the Dr. put something called a seton on, and would tighten it every week. That was pretty terrible. I also got an abscess on my tailbone (that’s called a pilonidal cyst); I could not sit for an entire month, and subsequently lost my job because of it.
Last year I decided to see a dermatologist for this issue. Before the Dr even examined me, she heard me say recurring absesses and immediately exclaimed, “You have hidranetis suppurativa!” (HS for short.) She gave me an anti-inflammatory shot right into the abscess which I was thrilled about, since it was only marginally as painful as an incision and drainage (I&D). I got another abscess the following month and went right back. Until I later found out HS was an auto-immune disorder, and those shots are no good for that! She also wanted to put me on Humera, which ran the risk of getting leukemia just to prevent some abscesses. Of course I didn’t take it.
I went to an internal medicine Dr after the dermatologist who ran some tests on me and Antinuclear Antibodies Direct came out as positive which freaked me out because that did indicate that I had some auto-immune issues going on. Then I went to an auto-immune Dr who tested me for all sorts of things and the only thing that came out positive was a slightly high result for Anti-dsDNA Antibodies. Apparently, antibodies to ENAs are common in patients with connective tissue diseases (systemic rheumatic diseases) including LE, MCTD, Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma (systemic sclerosis), and polymyositis/dermatomyositis. As far as I know, I don’t have any of these disorders though.
So I am back at square one again. I have had this one abscess, or cluster of abscesses, for about 3 years now. There is no test for HS.
Although I don’t have an official diagnosis of HS, or any auto-immune disorder in general, I’ve continued feeling like something is “off” for quite some time now. In addition to the abscesses, I break out in hives on my face and chest for no apparent reason. I have tummy troubles. I have allergies and sinus issues. I have sleep issues (thought it’s gotten better). And so on.
So why Healthings? My purpose of creating this is not to bitch about being a Medical Mystery. Believe it or not, I am actually a really positive person. I truly believe that health issues can be improved and/or eliminated through food and lifestyle changes. I have made so many positive changes in my life, and I know that continuing on my path is going to heal me. I didn’t get here overnight, and this won’t be solved overnight. So I wanted to create an outlet that combines two of my passions (writing + health). I also wanted a place where I could share recipes and new product reviews (and stop annoying my boyfriend, friends and family). This may evolve, grow and change over time, just like me.
Welcome to my journey, and welcome to Healthings. 🙂