After that, I got some information about an oximetry test I'd have to do, and then headed home to collapse in bed. I was exhausted, but I didn't feel quite as bad as I'd expected. This is largely because we took advantage of the wheelchairs at the airport and all throughout Mayo Clinic. Throughout the week, Mom wheeled me around the nineteen floor, multi-building complex instead of having me walk.
Then it was back to bed.
I checked in with my general doctor after that, and she told me to stop most of my supplements and that was confident that the appointments I had on Monday would give me most of the information I was looking for. So that was the end of that day.
Saturday and Sunday, Mayo Clinic is closed, so I went to visit the county fair! I don't know if I've ever been to one before, but apparently they're a big thing in the Midwest. Now, I'm sick enough that I could only handle visiting the baby animal center, so that's what I did.
It wasn't as dramatic an answer as I'd expected, but I was happy! I had some new things to try at last.
After that, and after a lot of stress trying to get transportation to a different Mayo Clinic building, I had a fibromyalgia consult, where they checked me over and confirmed that diagnosis. They told me that I also have chronic fatigue syndrome, the sister syndrome to fibromyalgia, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. Then the doctor walked us through a presentation about central sensitization, which is the mechanism behind fibro/CFS and a part of the cause for all my other conditions, too.
In basis, central sensitization tends to happens in susceptible individuals (often due to genetics and excessive stress) after they experience some sort of physical or mental trauma. A "switch" gets flipped in the brain that messes up the functioning, creating a permanent state of "flight-or-flight" compounded by steadily increasing pain signals. The longer a patient is in pain, and the more they focus on it, often the worse it becomes, because more and more parts of the nervous system become devoted to pain processing. This is a potential explanation for my tremors; sometimes, in worse cases, even the motor neurons will begin sending the pain message, which causes a lot of confusing signals and can lead to muscle spasms and the like.
In my case, I've gone through two of these traumas: first, in October 2009 when I developed fibromyalgia after having H1N1/bronchitis/strep, and then again in May 2014 when I had an unknown abdominal infection and then reacted badly to a medication I was given to treat that infection. After the first trauma, I was able to get my fibromyalgia under control and reach a level of functioning that I was happy with. However, the second trauma sent my fibro spiraling out of control again and caused me to develop many more related conditions.
Now the challenge is to work my way back up to the level of functioning that I can be happy with. Slowly.
Once we know what that level is, then we add onto it very, very gradually, little by little, using the methods that they discussed in the clinic. Eventually, as we push ourselves forward, our brain readjusts enough that we can make it to our desired functioning level. The symptoms are still there, of course--only in rare cases are people cured of these conditions--but they're reduced enough that the patient can live their life again.
It was a lot of information, and a little overwhelming, but it really clarified things for me. The most important thing I realized is that I've actually been exercising too much. Because you often hear that exercise is good for these conditions (and it is), I've been trying to stay at the exercise level I was at before my second trauma, even while everything else in my life has fallen apart. But that's only made everything else all the harder. What I need to do now is back off on that, find my true functioning level, and then work my way up, like I said, very slowly.
Overall, my Mayo Clinic experience was good, informative, and important. I'm really glad I went, even though it was a wee bit less dramatic than I thought it would be. Now I know what all I'm dealing with, and I have a whole packet of information on how to overcome it. It's going to be a slow process, but as I improve, I'll let you know how it's going. Someday in the future, I'll post more details about what I learned at the fibromyalgia/CFS clinic in particular, so that any of you who are stuck in limbo like I've been, trapped by your sickness, can better find your way free.
In the meantime, I will continue doing what writing I can manage, and hopefully, by this time next year, I'll be able to resume my writerly career as before.
In conclusion, MAYO CLINIC DOES NOT HAVE A THIRTEENTH FLOOR!!!