The Vicious Cycle of Symptom Treatment

With a normal illness, you have it cured and move on. With chronic illness, you can only treat symptoms, and a lot of your health choices will be less getting rid of symptoms and more like choosing new ones. Here’s a few from my life.

  • With IBS, I have a very fluctuating appetite. Usually this just means being very hungry one day and not wanting to eat a thing the next. But following an oral surgery, I found I had no appetite at all and lost a scary amount of weight. I’m already naturally petite, but my eyes sunk in and well, I actually started looking sick. So I had to force myself in to a better diet, but I also started eating on any and every impulse I had. If I ever even sort of wanted a snack, I’d eat a big one. I kept food around at all times. I got up to healthy weight after a few months, but my already failing teeth started sustaining major damage. They say that having lots of small meals and grazing is good for you, but believe me, it’s not good for your teeth! I got my healthy body back, but I got a few new fillings too.

before after unhealthy weight

  • Being active is always a healthy thing to do, but with chronic illness and specifically chronic pain, light exercise can wipe me out for the rest of the day. Does it even count as being “active” if you have to spend the rest of the day on the couch?

  • But resting is just as bad! I always try to listen to my body when it insists on resting. It helps so much with chronic pain and IBS. But resting also tends to make my back ache from cuddling up and getting comfy. Chronic pain may be at bay, but I just create new pain for later!

  • The easiest treatment for endo symptoms are prescription pain meds. I’ve always been overly very cautious about proper use and not becoming addicted or overdosing. But while medication might help me get through a day of work, I’m not doing my organs any favors in the long run. And on top of that, I recently learned that hydrocodone, my medicine, WEAKENS YOUR TEETH. My poor teeth, they just don’t stand a chance do they? I’m really not exaggerating when I say I have more fillings than actual teeth in my mouth at this point. And as a chronic pain sufferer, I have a high tolerance for pain, but tooth pain is unbearable.

  • Recently I’ve been learning all the fun facts about the two kinds of fiber. With any stomach problem, most doctors will recommend eating more fiber, but how can that help with constipation AND diarrhea? It won’t. There are two kinds of fiber, one that treats each. Ideally, one would live in a perfect balance between the two, thus reaching the poop equivalent of enlightenment. But, if you’re like me, you figured this out while already, *ahem* unbalanced. So you ate one kind of fiber. Over-corrected. Ate the other kind. Over-corrected. And now spend a very stressful tightrope walk hopping from yin to yang, so to speak. This is not fun.

Ah, geeze.ย Too much yang, not enough yin.

What about you? What vicious cycles are you running these days?

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24 thoughts on “The Vicious Cycle of Symptom Treatment

  1. Ugh… same thing here. Hsve to take pills for the side affects my other pills have. It’s a crazy roller coaster and every night I pray I will wake up to a good day… which happens occasionally but not often.

    1. Very well stated. At first I thought I’d never taken medicine specifically for other medicine but GASP it’s not true! I have to take nausea medicine a lot, and it’s almost always because of a pill that made me dizzy! I’ll just add that one to the list in my head, haha.

  2. I’m with you on the too much rest/too little rest, too much exertion/too little exertion cycle. I had a few weekends in a row where I felt I wasn’t giving myself enough downtime to get properly rested for the week (or even close), but now this weekend I did nothing but sit on the couch, basically, all day Saturday and Sunday. Lethargy is definitely self-perpetuating, so I really have no idea if I’m truly fatigued or just listless from boring myself to death and not moving.

    1. Ughh I know! It’s almost like you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s always either too much rest or too little, but I almost never feel energized. Argh! The invention of TV and the internet have not helped anything. Sooo easy to spend a whole day not moving.

  3. It is definitely hard to find a balance between the two. If I work a lot around the house, then I am over tired and don’t feel like much the next day. If I don’t do anything around the house, I don’t have any energy at all. I wish I could figure out the happy medium.

    1. If you do, let us know! Haha. My dad always jokingly asks why I don’t just load up on caffeine. That’s a last resort, and I usually don’t feel any less tired per-say, just jittery and impatient. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Oh goodness, that does not sound fun. But I can relate to the “everything causing pain” feeling. It’s very important that people realize that’s not normal! I’m looking forward to discovering something that doesn’t hurt. ๐Ÿ™‚ Because there must be something!

  4. “the poop equivalent of enlightenment”
    I just love your blog. Thank you!
    But yes, the question of balance is behind so much of managing chronic illness. And once you’re feeling balanced, then a doctors appointment will push you over the edge and you’ll spend a week as a pendulum, over and under compensating. (I love that metaphor by the way, I may borrow it!)

    1. Hahahaha thank you, my husband just about died laughing at that one. I don’t always make poop jokes, but when I do… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Balance is so hard and you make a VERY good point that could be a blog post all it’s own – having a doctor visit push you over the edge! So counterproductive, you’re going there for your health but the trip’s bad for your health! Dealing with traffic, travel, waiting – it’s a lot! Plus I’m pretty nervous about Dr appts (with good reason – he once told me I have an incurable illness, so who knows what’ll come next!), anxiety alone can be exhausting! The hardest thing for me is whenever they need a blood sample. I get pretty worked up over it, plus I loose blood, so I’m a shaky mess afterwards.

  5. TRYING TO STAY ON A NATURAL CANCER TREATMENT PROTOCOL & STILL READ MY BODY IF IT IS MCS SYMPTOMS—–OR FIBROMYALGIA– SYMPTOMS– OR PAIN FROM THE TUMORS– TRYING TO KEEP MY BODY MORE ALKALINE INSTEAD OF ACID– TRYING NOT TO EAT ANY ACID FOODS OR FOODS THAT CAUSE MY BODY TO BECOME ACID– NO SUGAR– SUGAR FEEDS CANCER– NO GLUTEN– NO MEAT–NO PROCESSED FOODS– THE NATURAL CANCER PROTOCOL — HAS PUT ME IN A HEALING CRISES — OR IS IT A HEALING CRISES– OR OTHER SYMPTOMS– YES A 4 HOUR NAP BECAUSE I COULD NO LONGER FUNCTION— IS READING MY PH REALLY ENOUGH TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON IN MY BODY– IS THIS PROTOCOL REALLY EFFECTING THE TUMORS???????? THE SYMPTOMS I HAVE — ARE THEY MCS– NATURAL CANCER PROTOCOL HEALING SYMPTOMS– OR FIBROMYALGIA SYMPTOMS– WHAT IS THE PAIN– IT SEEMS TO BE ALL OVER– EXACTLY WHERE IS IT COMING FROM–HOW DO I READ IT???? AND I TAKE NO CHEMICAL DRUGS AT ALL– SO NO SIDE EFFECTS– FROM DRUGS– CAN I EAT THAT– IS IT ACID OR ALKALINE– I NEED TO GET OUT IN THE FRESH AIR– BUT DON’T FEEL LIKE IT– HAVE TO FORCE MYSELF TO DO EVERYTHING—- BUT I’LL GET OUT & HELP MY NEIGHBOR WHO NEEDS HELP– INSTEAD OF BITCHING ABOUT MY OWN PROBLEMS– ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I can TOTALLY relate to forcing yourself to do anything! I have to force myself to eat, sleep, everything! I don’t want to do anything, but I don’t want to do nothing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Reminds me of the book “The Phantom Toll Booth” – Milo always wanted to be where he wasn’t!

    1. I got a very bad tooth infection and I had a walnut-sized lump in my neck. It was an emergency surgery to repair the tooth and drain my neck so that it didn’t close my throat. I had incisions in my mouth and outside on my neck – not fun! But it was the antibiotics that made me sick. They fought off my infection, but they also fought away all of my good digestive bacteria.

  6. I’m doing the pain cycle. I have a day when I feel good; I overdo it trying to get more done than my muscles can handle. Of course, everything aches again for the next few days while I try to rest, and do the barest minimum. Then I feel good, work hard to catch up then back to being sore and tired again for another 2-3 days; and repeat. I try to pace myself, but there are times I fail miserably.

  7. I possibly exercise too much. Even when I’m too tired, I do it and swear it helps with energy levels later. But then there are days when I can barely do anything but rest and recover. Pain meds are only good for a window of time and then, as you say about your organs, they are counterproductive. My worst cycle is to do too many things at once then find myself overwhelmed at the tasks I have; but this is a good thing because I’m learning that I work better if I’m focused on one thing. Nearly have my diploma, only two more subjects so I’m still a the point where i have to juggle things.

    PS: the perfect balance of protein, carbs (from grain or veggies) and healthy fats = perfect poop. Each person’s perfect balance is different.

    1. I agree that exercise usually helps me feel more energized and even eases pain. So I tend to exercise even if I’m in pain, which means it gets pretty hard to read where the “you need to stop” line is. Best of luck with your studies!

      P.S. – I wish science could just be an exact science. The fact that we’re all unique makes it infinitely more difficult.

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