As someone who has lived with autoimmune hepatitis for over 20 years, I feel completely normal most days. Often, it is not a part of my daily consciousness that I have this disease running in the background.
Where I notice wonky symptoms the most often is in times of stress, like as of late. With the current economic conditions in Calgary due to the rapid drop in oil prices, myself, along with several of my IS Consultant colleagues have been laid off.
Truthfully, earning a living and supporting myself is the least of my concerns. I have an ecommerce business and an ebay store that generate enough for me to live on. I have also found some part time consulting work to help top up any ebbs and flows in my business. I am also married, so I am not alone in this journey.
The stress comes more from change, uncertainty, and quite frankly the negativity around this whole situation. Also, even though I was not marched out of my job, I had notice and an adjustment period to (attempt to) transition, I have never, ever, in 45 years been unemployed. And I was gainfully employed, so my part time income covers everything, but very few extras compared to my previous lifestyle.
Stress for me has been constant since I found out on November 18th that my contract was ending in January. Though November, I have had that adrenaline surge of panic, accompanied by resumes going everywhere, reaching out to personal and business contacts, and long discussions with my husband about plan Bs and Cs.
Some of the symptoms that I experienced are not typical stress-type syptoms that I hear about. Most that I had were neurological, such as:
– low grade dizziness and vertigo. I had enough of this feeling that I felt uncomfortable, but not enough to keep me home and relaxing
– I felt like my hands were not connected to my body. When I was texting, I had to really look at my hands because it felt like my movements were unnatural
– I had stomach issues (which is more common with stress I believe), no appetite, trouble eating, low grade nausea, diarrhea
– I had symptoms that felt similar to postdrome silent migraine symptoms. When I do get silent migraines, I usually have that heavy foggy feeling for a day before I feel normal again. I had that feeling for well over a month, and daily.
– On December 2, 2014 I had what the doctors suspected was a TIA or a Silent Migraine. For 10 minutes my right arm became paralyzed for about 10 minutes. It was like a lightswitch. My arm turned off wtihout warning. I was so disconnected from the symptoms that when my arm hit my side, limp and lifeless, I thought my cat flopped up against the side of me. By the time the ambulance got to my house my arm was working again. I had a month of follow up tests, MRIs, cat scans, heart tests (echo) and everything came back normal. No evidence of any brewing health issues, and certainly no evidence of stroke. At 45 years old with no issues with my heart or brain, I was hardly a risk for stroke.
– Reoccuring hypertension. I had no prior history of high blood pressure, but a few trips to the doctor had me rushed to emergency for severe hypertension, and when I arrived my heart rate was normal and then sent me home.
Even though these symptoms are likely a result of stress, I wanted to document them in here, because I never know how my wonky symptoms may relate to others who have AIH. Over 20 years I have found that many other people with AIH experience thyroid issues, neurological symptoms or silent migraines as a part of having an autoimmune condition, so I don’t make any assumptions.
The good news here, is that I am functional. I am still productive, and going out, seeing friends and doing all the things I do when I feel normal. These symptoms vary in severity, and before my layoff, I still got out of bed, got ready for work and went downtown. They were debilitating. But they are happening, and running in the background during this time of stress.
I got the news November 18th, and I write this on February 6th, so this has been coming up on three months. Much like when I was diagnosed, doctors have tested me inside and out, backward and forwards and everything is normal. Yet, I feel far from it lately. The good news, like other episodes of wonkiness, this will pass. It always does!