How I Was Diagnosed with PANS When I Was 19

After weeks of waiting and hoping and worrying, the time had finally come for my appointment with the mysterious expert neurologist. My parents and I arrived half an hour early to a spartan waiting room with an almost-eery quiet. A single tub of building blocks and several stuffed panda bears made me wonder if the staff really understood that they had allowed an appointment for an adult.

Forty-five minutes later, this concern was allayed when the doctor emerged to call me back without batting an eye when she saw my nineteen-year-old self. But all at once, I felt my stomach do a somersault as it occurred to me that she could be my last hope. Eight years of misdiagnoses had led here. Could this surprisingly soft-spoken woman finally be the one to help?

Continue reading “How I Was Diagnosed with PANS When I Was 19”

My 6-Year Blogversary, My Greatest Hope, & What’s Next

Ten days ago, on my actual blogversary, I had a nice 6-year anniversary post planned—the usual reflection on how I started blogging and how much it means to me. And I still stand by my belief that making this website and chronicling my journey through neuroimmune conditions and their psychiatric consequences has been one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done.

But I somehow could not bring this post in for a landing, which tends to happen when I feel like I have to post something rather than feeling inspired. So I stepped back and thought about what was going on. And now it’s time to be honest… Continue reading “My 6-Year Blogversary, My Greatest Hope, & What’s Next”

My Disastrous Symptom Flare & How I Plan to Get Out of It

Before I’d even opened my eyes, I knew something was terribly wrong. Every muscle in my body hurt. I was drenched in sweat. My heart was racing. I had an 101º fever.

As I lay there trying to will myself out of bed, my heart-monitor watch went off, warning of a high heart rate. I didn’t think much of it because I had a fever, so of course my heart would be above 100.

But then it kept going off. Again. And again.

Not having it, I rolled over and slapped on my blood pressure cuff. My pulse was 166. Crap crap crap! This was really happening again.

Continue reading “My Disastrous Symptom Flare & How I Plan to Get Out of It”

Why I’m Getting Better Even When I Think I’m Not

“Ups and downs are better than straight down.”

The other day, I found this cryptic message scrawled on a sticky note inside my desk. I had completely forgotten that this used to be one of my favorite sayings in the years when I was still fighting through the brain inflammation from PANS. But now, it’s taken on a whole other level of meaning with my new challenges…

I remember clearly the day I was diagnosed with PANS, and my neurologist said I needed IVIG treatment urgently. It would be an infusion of antibodies from thousands of human donors in an attempt to stop my own autoimmune antibodies from attacking my brain.

Continue reading “Why I’m Getting Better Even When I Think I’m Not”

When Good Memories Torment You

The other night, a horrifying realization jolted me awake: I haven’t rode my bike in over two years.

Suddenly, the memories came rushing back, and I imagined myself biking like I once did. I remembered how, in college, I would bike to errands and class. I remembered zipping around town with the wind in my hair. I remembered the long rides in the bike lanes and on the greenway, and my riding buddy’s incredulousness when I’d already run ten miles that morning and still was hard to catch.

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Home from Partial Hospitalization

Last I wrote, I had resolved to do whatever it took to stay in the Partial Hospitalization program. And guess what happened? I left the program. 😬

Part of it is that my insurance only approved a certain number of days. I could have fought for more. However, the more I thought about the whole program, the more I began to realize why it was time to go home.

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PHP Day 7: “It’s Rehab for Your GI System.”

After finishing an entire week in a Partial Hospitalization Program for eating disorders, I am both more optimistic and more pessimistic about moving forward. As expected, I had a big ME/CFS crash on Saturday, the day after the week of PHP finishes. It’s pushing my body past its limit. I’m willing to put up with the worsened symptoms as long as I’m not causing long-term harm, but it’s a fine line. Continue reading “PHP Day 7: “It’s Rehab for Your GI System.””

PHP Day 3: “You Didn’t Fail.”

Today makes my third day of Partial Hospitalization, and I already know I need to stay more than a week—and I’m mostly okay with that, but not sure whether my body will allow it.

Looking back at the last few months, I’m starting to see that, as usual, my psychiatrist has been right in saying I need to be here. As it turns out, it doesn’t much matter why I’ve lost this much weight below my healthy place because I’ve ended up with the same physiological consequences and even some of the distorted thinking of anyone with an eating disorder… My hair was starting to fall out. Continue reading “PHP Day 3: “You Didn’t Fail.””