My Story (Part 1)



Many years before I was compelled to deviate from the professional path I had chosen for myself my world view was strongly influenced by scientific dogma, which left no room for anything outside its bounds. I had always possessed an innate rebellious trait, however, for a long time, my inner rebel seemed to be under the spell of the indoctri-education I had received. Until a health crisis challenged me to review my deeply held beliefs.

Let me elaborate. After obtaining a degree in Computing and Media, I decided to pursue Genetics. I was going to become a renowned scientist and make groundbreaking discoveries, unveiling the secrets of life… The Creator had other plans for me.

One day my skin broke into a terrible rash that covered my entire body with large, red, and unbearably itchy swellings. My eyes, ears, and nose swelled dangerously. My lips became twice their normal size. I was rushed to the emergency room, where I received anti-inflammatory drugs that would only provide limited and temporal relief from the inflammation. I was sent home and that night I had serious doubts I would make it to the morning. I had a high fever and my heart was beating so rapidly and forcefully that I found myself praying for it to endure, even though at the time I was neither religious nor a believer in God. I made it through the night and saw the light of day once again, but the rash persisted… for seven days straight. I returned to the ER that week but I was only offered drugs, with no further examination such as a simple blood test. On the eighth day, I woke up to find that the rash had disappeared. In its place, I had excruciating pain in my right shoulder and my arm felt so weak that I was unable to lift it at all. It felt as though I had been impaled through my shoulder, where I was hurting so much, and held down on the bed. My legs were numb, an annoying tingling sensation running through them.

The first picture was taken after the anti-inflammatories had been administered. When I arrived to the ER, my right eye was closed and the whole right side of my face was deformed due to the swelling. All the pictures here were taken on different days.

In the following weeks, I struggled to perform basic tasks such as brushing my teeth or writing, as my right arm was extremely weak, and even holding a small object would make it tired. My fine motor skills were gone. At times, I would suddenly lose my balance, feel dizzy, and once I even witnessed my hand shaking, unable to control its movement. I was often confused, my thoughts lost in a dense fog. My gut was at war. And I was exhausted, so exhausted I was barely functioning and there were moments when all I could do was lie down. I recall a time when we had to cancel our vacation plans on the very day of departure because I couldn’t stand on my feet.

The pain in my shoulder gradually spread throughout the right side of my body. Essentially, I had become two separate entities within one body: my left side felt young, strong and vital, while my right side was aged, weak and plagued by pain. The fact that my left side remained normal served as a constant reference point to assess my right side. I never got used to the dis-ease because my left body was a reminder of what my right body should feel like. This proved to be both a blessing and a curse.

I had no inkling as to the cause of my suffering neither did the numerous doctors I consulted over the years, until I gave up relying on them. On several occasions when I sought help at the emergency room, I ended up waiting for hours in the outpatient ward and didn’t get the help I needed.

I remember a particular incident that illustrates my frustration with the medical profession. I had a placement at a research laboratory in a large hospital in Valencia, my hometown. One morning I was enduring piercing pain in my right shin. Several days prior, I had noticed a purplish mark and a slight depression in that area, as if something had been pressing against my leg.

After finishing my shift, I headed straight to the outpatient waiting room from the section of the hospital where the research labs were located. I waited for hours. When it was finally my turn, I expressed my concern to a young doctor and jokingly mentioned that the mark on my leg was unlikely to be caused by my socks. To my disbelief, he responded by suggesting that the mark could indeed be attributed to my socks.

It was August.

In Valencia.

One of the warmest regions in Spain.

I hadn’t worn socks for several months.

Utterly dumbfounded, I said nothing, turned around, and left. That mark is now larger, and while it may not be immediately noticeable, upon closer inspection, it appears as if there is a depression or valley on my leg.

Over the years, I experienced a gradual recovery. The weakness in my arm was not so severe. My neurological symptoms vanished or diminished. Some days, my right side would feel only achy rather than painful. I had days when my energy levels were relatively good. It wasn’t a linear improvement. Healing is never a linear process. I would feel reasonably well for a certain period, only to suddenly crash and find myself mired in pain and exhaustion.

Since I could not rely on the medical profession to investigate the root cause of my symptoms, I embarked on my own research (I’m sure many can relate). It took a long time before I arrived at my own conclusion regarding what had most likely happened to me, which I’ll leave for another post.

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