Those four words kept gnawing at me, but I refused to listen. “I don’t have time right now!” was always my rebuttal.
You better slow down.
I heard it over and over but I just kept going. I had to, I told myself. Things needed to be done. Arrangements needed to be made. People needed to be taken care of. Boxes weren’t going to pack themselves.
There was no time to slow down.
So I kept going and going and going until I found myself laying on a gurney with needles in my arms, sick to my stomach from drinking the chemical chalky shake they said I needed. “Take a deep breath in and hold it,” the computer voice told me as the gurney moved my body into the machine that would take photos of my insides to help determine what was going on with my (lack of) health.
You better slow down.
I didn’t listen until I had no choice. It works that way, you know. You can ignore it for only so long before forces outside or maybe inside make you slow down. At that point it was too late to slow down, it was more of a complete stop.
So I stopped.
I stepped away from writing, didn’t get on social media and stayed home to binge-watched every show about Gypsy Rose Blanchard I could find. I was obsessed with her story.
When there wasn’t anything else I could find on her I started watching shows about medical diagnosis. I found several programs illustrating the different treatment women receive compared to our male counterparts. I even learned that medicine in general studies male bodies, as if the female body is the same.
The words I started hearing changed from “You better slow down” to “You are in charge of your health”.
I will admit I went through some anger before I got to that conclusion. My sister was told she needed a heart valve repaired, but they sent her home to “rest for a month” first. I cried when I wondered if they would have said the same thing to a man. Perhaps she didn’t need to die at home alone of heart failure?
I made the decision that it was time to get a proper diagnosis for myself. A few years back, when I was experiencing the same issues with pain in my gut, my doctor pushed on my abdomen and said I most likely had diverticulitis.
I had no direction, no guidance and no definitive diagnosis.
This time, after two weeks of pain and trying to follow the suggestions WebMD advised, I ended up in Urgent Care on a Sunday morning. I received two shots and was sent home with two different antibiotics.
By Tuesday morning I had had enough. The drugs made me feel worse and I still had no idea exactly what was going on. I called my primary doctor and insisted on tests to determine exactly what I had.
Acute Sigmoid Diverticulitis was the official diagnosis.
The good news is all other systems are functioning at 100%. Other than some tiny pockets that have formed in my intestines that literally brought me to my knees in pain, I am one healthy 60-year old.
You are in charge of your own health.
Those are the words I am listening to now. I have an appointment next week with a nutritionist and I am going to do what it takes to heal my gut and get my life back.
Because in all honesty, I don’t want to slow down. I’ve got too many introspective adventures ahead to slow down.