Our health is one of those things that we all take for granted. You would think after everything I’ve been through, I would remember that. The last few weeks have been extremely stressful for me, as I watched a few tiny white marks on my shoulders quickly spread into several large white spots down my back and arms. Having no idea what was happening to me and after googling some of the different things it could be, I quickly assumed the worst. The different diseases I found online did not look very good. I tried not to worry until I spoke to my doctor, but flashbacks of me sitting in emerge being diagnosed with my last serious disease, made it really hard for me to stay positive. I had been completely confident that I would be fine back when I was diagnosed with GBS in 2011, and remember thinking I would be home in a day or two…and then I didn’t come home for 5 months. So this time around, I have been much more pessimistic that it was nothing.
Of course the one time I can’t get an appointment with my doctor for a week, had to be now. I couldn’t live with that fear for a whole week, so I decided to stop at a medi-centre on my way home from work. Memories of me being in that exact same medi-centre 4 ½ year ago came flowing back, and my fears and worries only worsened as I sat there waiting. My symptoms weren’t viewed as serious at all, so one after another, people got in before I did. As I sat crying to myself for almost 2 hours in the waiting room, I remembered how the last time I was there, the medi-centre doctor had told me I had a pinched nerve and sent me home. Less than 3 days later I was in ICU breathing on a ventilator fighting for my life. I suddenly decided I didn’t want their opinion anyways, and left. These were medi-centre doctors, used to treating cold and flus and minor emergencies, not skin conditions. Whatever they were going to tell me was wrong with me, wasn’t going to ease my worries if I couldn’t trust them.
So I chose to wait as patiently as possible for a week to see my doctor. I tried to prepare myself for the worst possible scenario and tried to imagine what my life would be like if it were some serious disease again. I cried a lot, especially when I found a new spot on my stomach.
Thankfully, my doctor thinks he knows what I have and it’s nothing serious; however, he believes I have a skin disease called Tinea Versicolor. It is a fungal infection that interferes with the pigment in your skin, resulting in discolored spots and patches. Because I am so dark skinned, these spots are extremely obvious on me. It is a disease commonly found in tropical areas of the world with high humidity, and given that I noticed the first white patch shortly after my trip to the Caribbean earlier this year, my doctor thinks that I likely developed it there. I have been given a medication to help control it and it should calm down in the next few weeks, but the pigment in my skin probably won’t return for several months. And unfortunately it is a disease, so it’s something I will likely deal with again and again, especially in summer months when it’s humid outside. And the spots will likely continue to return.
It’s hard to predict if it will progress any further right now or if I will be able to control it before it spreads. And it’s hard to predict what sort of things might aggravate it down the road. But reading about all the different lifestyle changes some people have had to make, like having to switch beauty products, avoiding exercise, changing their diets, staying out of the sun, etc., has been a little discouraging.
My first reaction was relief, that it wasn’t something serious. I’m not going to die, I won’t get sick, and it’s not painful or contagious. Things could be so much worse. But then my feelings of relief changed to anger. No, I’m not going to suffer physically at all, but it’s really fucking ugly and is already having a huge effect on my self-confidence. I would really like to be able to wear a dress or a tank top again one day without feeling like a fucking Dalmatian! And I don’t want to have to change my diet, stop going to the gym, and stay out of the sun !! And for this to be happening to ME?? Haven’t I gone through enough hell? Why should I have to deal with yet another disease in my lifetime!! Its total bullshit!! Every time I look down at my body I just want to cry. I have enough scars as it is, I don’t need anything else for people to look at. And even though I completely believe that beauty is skin deep, and that what really matters is who you are on the inside, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to still look normal.
However I do know that things always get better and I will come to terms with all of this. It’s really not the end of world and there are so much worse things I could be complaining about. I recently came back from a GBS Conference where I was surrounded by strong people that have been through so much, and it really reminded me that it’s not the situation that controls us, it’s how we choose to react to it. I will hopefully get this under control and if not, well, I will figure out how to live with it, just like I did with all the other imperfections on my body. Knowing what I have overcome in the past has given me the ability to handle anything life throws at me, and I know that I need to just breathe, and take things one day at a time. I am one of the strongest people that I know, and this is nothing compared to what I’ve been through. I totally got this 🙂