‘The Broken Road’
Allie wanted to give the relationship another shot, now that she felt free of her own issues. During a time I felt at my lowest – on the verge of a breakdown – I clung to her because she provided a safe haven. When I saw Dr Warren again, he felt I’d taken a step back from the abyss, and was content (but perhaps not happy) to see if I could continue without antidepressants.
I just wanted healing, and antidepressants couldn’t guarantee that – not after my recent experiences. Anafranil had knocked me out for two days, and although Aropax had worked, it had produced debilitating side effects which, at the time, I’d accepted as the lesser of two evils and which, to this day (four years later), I hadn’t completely recovered from. I didn’t want to compromise again. I just wanted to be me. Why was that so much to ask?
Allie recommended a faith healer, who I saw three times, chanted over me, burned incense, and hit pressure points in my body. I had improved a little, although that might’ve been that being with Allie got me outside of my own head – at least a little bit. The faith healer didn’t push more than three appointments also, and said I would want to see him again in the future. He qualified it, however, saying if I thought I wanted to see him, it wasn’t the right time – that was my ego talking. I should see him when I didn’t understand why I wanted to.
I never saw him again.
Somebody else Allie got me to see was a diabetic specialist, who examined me, and also felt I’d probably had reactive hypoglycaemia all my life, but it had gotten worse recently because of my digestive issues, and the way I’d taxed my body by starving myself. He also explained that the little blood sugar meters weren’t very accurate and could be off by a point or two. He said the meters were designed to let a diabetic know their blood sugar was around the 5s, rather than around the 15s.
He concluded with a different take on my reactive hypoglycaemia. To date, I’d been educated that my blood sugar was always ticking down – it might be slow, but it was always happening. The diabetic specialist said I just had to stay away from the wrong foods and that was it. I didn’t eat have to eat every three hours. He encouraged me to experiment, to see how my body responded.
I did one day, by skipping the snack I’d usually have at about 3.00pm, and waiting until dinner. Still, as I lay down, watching television and nervously waiting the time out, I did get swirly sensations. When I took my blood sugar at 6.30, the meter told me it was 3.5. I thought about what the diabetic specialist said, that the meters weren’t accurate, but the range of figures I’d gotten ever since I’d begun testing had always seemed representative of what I’d been feeling. No, the diabetic specialist was wrong, and that figure was right – or had to be close enough to being right. My fear and OCD overruled him.
I read books on hypoglycaemia that differed in opinion, with one being hyper-cautious, advising to check ingredients if I ever ate out, particularly in salad dressings or meat sauces, because these could often become repositories for high concentrations of sugar. Between monitoring ingredients that might affect my reactive hypoglycaemia, and which might contain fructose (and these were prevalent everywhere), I was constantly in a state of dietary paranoia.
Allie was brilliant during this time, never complaining with my obsession to eat at three-hour marks, and helping me get out and about again. One night, she came with me to the football – the first game I’d gone to since all this had began – just to provide company, and brought me sandwiches to eat on my three-hour mark.
A sudden and ongoing bout of severe nausea led to more check-ups, with everybody again thinking my anxiety was at play. An endoscopy revealed a small sliding hiatal hernia – this is where the stomach and the section of oesophagus that connects the stomach slides into the chest, resulting in reflux. It was something else that couldn’t be fixed, but had to be managed.
Throughout this all, my neck remained stiff, and the next thing to arise was a sharp pain in my back, just above the right buttock. X-rays revealed two bulging discs in the lower back, and one in the neck, the radiologist asking me if I’d been in a car accident, because my neck looked compressed in a way like I’d suffered whiplash. Nope. That was just the way it was.
Dr Warren was sympathetic when he delivered the results, telling me for years I’d come to his office fearing health issues, but in the last year every time I’d come in there’d actually been something wrong. It did nothing to alleviate my constant self-monitoring and body consciousness. It’s not paranoia or hypochondria when you’re right, is it?
I woke each morning, at a stalemate with anxiety and depression, and plodding through a labyrinth of management – manage the diet to avoid a hypoglycaemic episode or kicking off the fructose intolerance pains, manage the hernia to avoid nausea, manage my neck and back to avoid aggravating them.
By night, I was mentally exhausted, treating the day like something I had survived – because, for now, that’s what life was. Allie grew impatient and insecure again, worried I wasn’t at times paying her the right amount of attention, where I was in life, and where I was going. Whilst Allie was sympathetic, she didn’t always seem empathetic, and old arguments began to arise, sometimes regardless of how I was feeling.