When I first became sick, and no one knew what was wrong, I used to pore over internet articles and try to figure it out for myself. It's what I do anytime I want to know something--I research. This was a bad idea. A doctor would mention some possible disease, and I would stumble upon all kinds of frightening pictures complete with sad memorial music and angels--websites that are meaningful to their authors but scary. I am 35. I don't plan on packing it in anytime soon. It's bad enough to feel sick and weak, I mean I knew something was amiss, but I was scaring myself even more with things I shouldn't worry about. I promised my husband I would stop my compulsive reading until we had some kind of diagnosis. After six months or so, lo and behold, I had one I could definitely live with-Sjogren's Syndrome. Sjogren's is an automimmune disease that primarily affects the moisture-making glands of the body, so think eye, mouth. But it can be systemic and cause fatigue, arthritis and neuropathy, so think me. For about 3 years now, I have also been getting migraine and cluster headaches. (Sounds like a subscription to some messed up periodical.) There's no sweet, Christian way to describe cluster headaches. I won't even try. But I liken the pain to childbirth, that is, if the child in question was trying to burst forth from my right eye. They don't call them suicide headaches for nothing,dear. And I have a wee benign brain tumor, cystic in nature, that we (my superhero doctors and me) keep tabs on. Tumors can be tricky and all so I bribe mine with promises of free rent in my noggin in exchange for it to stick to its no-growth policy. I like slacker cysts. So I guess that qualifies me to write about living with chronic illness and pain, but by no means makes me a medical expert or authority, just a patient like you. You need to get your own superheroes for that role. And I believe nothing heals like humor, so I'll try to keep whining to a minimum. You don't have to tell me someone else has it worse out there, because believe me, I know, I saw the pictures.
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