Pushing Through

Elin Wahlstedt is from Sweden. Here she shares another part of her story about her rare medical condition that makes her dependent on TPN.

One year ago I suffered from really bad stomach problems. I had pains, I had nausea, it felt like my entire stomach was a washing machine from time to time and I went to my doctor for help. Unfortunately my doctor is quite old fashioned and he started the whole investigation with blood test that showed nothing new. After that, he didn’t really want to continue because according to the blood tests I was ‘okay’.

But I kept pushing because I had tried to wait it out and that didn’t really work. I needed help. Eventually he got me an appointment for a gastroscopy. For those of you who have never done one, be happy. It’s one of the most horrible things. In short, it’s a tube they slide down your throat into your esophagus and through this tube they insert a little wire with a camera on it so they can see what you look like from the inside. It wouldn’t be all that bad if the tube wasn’t the size of a garden hose and you’re wide awake the entire time.

After the procedure I sat up on the table and the doctor told me that he couldn’t see anything new, nothing that could be causing my described problems. He asked me “how bad is it?” I told him “It’s pretty bad. It’s almost every day and it causes me not just physical problems but also anxiety from always feeling ill.”

And then came the question that I’ll never forget… “Can you live with it?” For a long moment I just stared at him, trying to comprehend what he had just said. The words sounded so strange to me. I had never been asked that question before and I had never even had that thought.

I didn’t know how to answer him, because I was so stunned by what he had said. You see, there is a good reason to why I have never asked myself that question before. I answered him with “I don’t really have much choice.” The way I see it is there is no other alternative. Should I just lay down and give up though? What good will that do anyone? I push through because that is the only way. I push through despite the obstacles in my way, just like everyone else. We all have difficult things to deal with and just because my situation isn’t ‘ordinary’ it doesn’t mean I’m stronger than anyone else.

I really dislike the word ‘strong’. I’ve heard it my entire life. Nurses, friends, parents have all told me I’m so strong and it upsets me because I don’t see it that way. I’m just surviving. I’m doing what it takes to get by another day. That’s not being strong, that’s being human.

“Can you live with it?” I will always wonder what had happened if I had told him “No.”

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