*WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT*
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Meleah. She was a free-spirited, good-time-having, happy-go-lucky, kind of girl, filled with whimsical hopes and dreams. She lived to laugh. And she liked to imagine a world with endless possibilities.
Because of these annoying medical conditions, Meleah has good days. And Meleah has bad days. But as of late, Meleah has had more bad days, than good days.
And this makes Meleah really, really, really, sad.
And very, very, very, frustrated.
But mostly – really, really, really, sad.
Because Meleah can no longer enjoy a lot of the things she once loved doing. And her days of being a free-spirited, good-time-having, happy-go-lucky, kind of girl, filled with whimsical hopes and dreams, have since become a faded memory.
Meleah spent countless nights, hopelessly crying, and wallowing in self-pity. Pangs of rage filled her clenched fists and she cursed the heavens above.
Except Meleah doesn’t like to dwell in those dark places.
Mostly because, Meleah is scared of the dark. And dwelling takes up entirely too much energy.
So, Meleah searched for an outlet because she desperately needed a coping mechanism, aside from obsessively making her bed. And a coping mechanism that could provide some level of comfort and possibly even a glimmer of happiness.
At first, Meleah wasn’t sure if she could express her true feelings, or fully divulge the reality of her annoying medical conditions, because unlike some other crazy people wandering around the Internet, Meleah does not use her annoying medical conditions as a means for seeking attention, or to gain sympathy. In fact the term, “Poor, Meleah” makes her cringe.
However, wrestling with those enormously overwhelming feelings, slowly began to crush her soul. So Meleah had to do something, and she had to do something quickly, in order to stop circling the emotional drain.
One day, about a year ago, Meleah decided to try and ‘Find The Funny’ surrounding one of her health issues.
Instead of hiding in her bed, sobbing hysterically, and drowning in a sea of shame, Meleah took a chance when she posted one of her most horrifying experiences, publicly.
And even though it mostly focused on women’s issues and not necessarily her annoying medical conditions, that very post, opened one very important door for Meleah. Because something miraculous happened when Meleah realized there were so many people capable of identifying with her. But even more importantly, she realized there were so many people willing to laugh WITH her.
Especially when she received comments like these:
“There is no such thing as TMI! Our mothers never warned us what the female body is truly capable of so we are scared and ashamed of it until someone who lives the TMI lifestyle pops on the subject. Then suddenly the clouds part and everything makes sense and we are at one and embrace them. Whoever said Meleah’s posts weren’t educational AND hysterical?”
And that comment was extremely important to Meleah.
* Because it took away the power of humiliation, immediately. *
And that’s when Meleah thought, maybe, just maybe, I should do this more often? And then she thought, maybe it’s my civic duty to keep the men and women in my life well informed, about real issues, with real descriptions, no matter how embarrassing and or disgusting they might be?
And from that moment on Meleah decided she would never be too afraid, or too ashamed, to post anything online again. And that’s how she first became known as ‘The Queen’ of too much information.
Over these past few months, Meleah has been facing yet another challenging health crisis. Maybe even the toughest health crisis she’s ever had to face. And she really wasn’t sure if she should talk about it, in graphic detail, on her blog?
It’s gross. It’s depressing. And most people would probably keep these kinds of topics and these kinds of issues a private matter. And sometimes Meleah worries that people are getting sick of hearing about her being sick, because she’s certainly sick of talking about being sick. And she’s definitely sick of being sick.
* And also, she is tired of receiving unsolicited advice, from uninformed people. *
So Meleah didn’t write about what’s been happening.
At least not here.
Meleah only posted a few things on Flickr and Facebook with status updates and photos. But Meleah has a lot of blogging friends, who really care about her, that are NOT on Flickr and Facebook. And they’ve been asking a lot questions about her extended absences online. And they’ve been asking a lot of questions about her annoying medical conditions.
Normally, Meleah does not feel compelled to explain any of her absences to anyone. However, because she loves and respects her friends so very much, she’s going to dive right in, and give up all the gory details.
* Because it takes away the power of humiliation, immediately. *
A few months ago, Meleah was sent for all kind of tests and all kinds of exams. And that’s when Meleah learned several new medical terms, most of which she couldn’t pronounce, let alone spell. And then she was introduced to an extensive team of special doctors, working round the clock, in order to get a handle on these issues.
Luckily, she found the worlds greatest General Practitioner, who oversees the other specialists while doling out Urgent Care and Vitamin Injections on a weekly basis. Meleah also has a Rheumatologist for Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome, a Gastroenterologist for Crohns/Colitis flair ups, an Endocrinologist for Hashimoto Thyroiditis, and an Immunologist/Allergist for her intense anaphylaxis reactions to food.
Meleah knows that was a whole lot of information in the paragraph above. And it probably requires at least one more punctuational period somewhere in there. Meleah also knows it’s a whole lot of information which probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, to people without autoimmune diseases. But that’s okay. Because that’s not entirely why she brought you here today. Except that it kind of is.
And speaking of autoimmune diseases, unfortunately, because of the severity of Meleah’s annoying medical conditions, she is typically scheduled for 2-5 different doctor appointments, every single week. Which doesn’t leave very much time for anything else, like writing or reading blog posts, or replying to emails, or even answering text messages. Autoimmune diseases are not like having a cold, where once it’s over, you get better.
There are no cures.
There are only treatments and medications.
Lots, and lots, and lots of medications.
Which work. Sometimes.
Except when they don’t.
And some of those medications are immune suppressants, which only puts Meleah at a much higher risk for getting infections, such as strep throat, the flu, bronchitis, etcetera. And since she spends most of her time inside doctor offices WITH ALL OF THE OTHER SICK PEOPLE, she is forever suffering from some kind of aliment.
So when December rolled around, Meleah just thought she had some type of stomach virus, which is totally plausible, considering she’s always in doctor offices WITH ALL OF THE OTHER SICK PEOPLE. And because she hadn’t experienced an episode with Crohns in over eighteen months, it was the furthest thing from her mind.
Meleah wants you to know that she temporarily freaked out after posting her saga and that photo on Flickr for the whole wide world to see. And then Meleah considered deleting it altogether. But then, she received this email from one of her friends:
“You may be poor in health, but you’re definitely rich with friends. And you reward them with the sort of openness and complete honesty that people can’t help but admire…and be in awe of, frankly. Your mind, as it always was, is sharp as a knife and powerful as a jet engine, your body will catch back up soon.”
And that made Meleah cry, happy tears, for the first time in weeks, because even after she revealed the most disgusting details surrounding a chronic attack of colitis, she was magically freed from the shackles of shame.
* Because it took away the power of humiliation, again. *
A few short days later and still suffering from severe intestinal issues, Meleah had to face yet another degrading act, all in the name of her annoying health issues.
But this time…
She decided to be bolder, and braver, than she’d ever been.
And she went ahead and posted this on Facebook.
For a very brief moment, Meleah worried she may have pushed the TMI envelope a little too far, even for her. But she was wrong. And she knew she was wrong when she saw these comments:
“You just made my morning with that comment and picture, even though I was reading it while having my breakfast.”
“I know I am not suppose to be laughing but how you worded everything is a trip.”
“I don’t know how you hold on to your sense of humor. You’re amazing.”
“This just made my day and I really needed the laugh. Also, I totally would take one for the team and trade you for a day. I’m such a giver.”
“Vagina sweating? I have been there. Tell it to stop being such a pussy.”
And with that, Meleah was able to carry her own bag of shit, into that hospital, with her head held high, and a smile on her face.
* Because posting in on the Internet took away the power of humiliation, again. *
And not only that, but Meleah discovered she had amazing friends willing trade lives for a day. And she also discovered she is lucky enough to have friends that are willing to admit really embarrassing things about themselves too.
And that makes me Meleah feel like she’s not alone.
And that makes Meleah a lot less sad.
After three weeks of non-stop diarrhea, and losing 16 pounds, Meleah was scheduled for her colonoscopy.
She knew exactly what she was going to have to deal with. And she knew exactly what the outcome would be when the results came back. Nevertheless, drinking that god-awful prep the night before a colonoscopy is NEVER a good time, for anyone.
So once again, Meleah called upon her beloved Internet, to see her through another horrible procedure.
Without fail, Meleah’s friends managed to make her laugh when they said things like…
“I just read that as “Super Bowl Party Prep Kit.”
“I’ve been thinking about maybe having a Super Bowl party. Could be one hell of a game day margarita!”
“Good thing I usually take time to read the label twice… This doesn’t sound nearly as fun as a Super Bowl party.”
“I don’t see Doritos or onion dip on the package?”
“New nickname for your toilet. Super Bowl.”
And then Meleah took things just a little bit further, when she posted a video of herself drinking the actual colonoscopy prep, mostly because she wanted to keep her promise to her dear friend Kathy.
And also because, why the hell not?
Meleah wasn’t exactly sure how Kathy would respond. But she was totally super happy when she read her reply.
“OMG, Mel!!!!! You are my hero! I said “Oh my God” just before you did, when you poured all that shit in a cup. Loved this!!!! Thank you and wishing you the very best colonoscopy tomorrow. You know, a fun one.”
And even though Meleah was riddled with anxiety the day of her procedure, complete with pit stains and vaginal sweat, at least Meleah had Kathy’s comment, “you’re my hero,” to think about about, right before they knocked her out with propofol.
When Meleah returned home from her colonoscopy, she slept, and slept, and slept, like she hadn’t slept in years.
But when she awoke the following day, her face felt very strange. As if she’d been punched in the mouth. And when she ran over to the mirror, she was greeted with an unpleasant reflection.
It was the very same reflection she saw the day after she was released from the hospital.
Luckily, this happened on a Friday, and Meleah was already scheduled for her weekly Vitamin Injections. After she received a healthy dose of Vitamin B12 they gave her two more injections of Prednisone and Benadryl. And even though Meleah is completely terrified of needles, she was never so happy to get shot in the ass, because her symptoms subsided within a few hours.
Through all of this, the absolute worst thing for Meleah has been the feeling of utter powerlessness. Because there is nothing she can do about any of this. It’s completely out of her control. It doesn’t matter what she eats, or what she doesn’t eat, or how careful she is, or how many nights she stays at home and no longer socializes in real life for fear of getting sick, or how after being poked with so many needles, and prodded with so many Medical Devices, the last thing she wants is to be touched by another human being.
Because even when she IS totally-super-careful, and stays locked inside her own personal bubble, also known as her purple paradise, sometimes she still wakes up in the morning, with a cold, and bronchitis, and a sinus infection, and swollen joints, and an anaphylaxis allergic reaction, for no fucking reason whatsoever.
The only thing Meleah has any control over, is her mental state and her emotional reactions to these situations. Except when she doesn’t. And that’s when her family, and friends, and the Internet comes in.
Because through all of this?
The BEST PART has been learning just how lucky she is to have people in her life to help ‘Find The Funny’ even when she can’t.
And even more people to hold her hand, and tell her everything will be okay, when she needs it the most.
Meleah will continue to share entirely too much information.
And she will continue to post disgusting photos.
* Because it continues to take away the power of humiliation *
And also… because it makes her laugh. And laughter really is the best medicine.
Thank you, Internet.
For loving me unconditionally.
I love you too.
I would never be able to handle this without all of your friendships.
Lastly, now that you’ve been completely informed with respects to Meleah’s annoying medical conditions, she worked really hard to put together this Video Montage of what it’s really like, Living With Autoimmune Diseases, accompanied by a kick-ass soundtrack.
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