It was a dark and stormy night. The wind was howling. In fact, it was a night much like tonight, when suddenly there was a loud scream. I take all that back. It was two weeks ago and it was the middle of a sunny afternoon. It was 3 days before I was set to give my TEDx Presentation when, suddenly, out of nowhere I screamed because I had massive lump in my mouth.
This random mass was not only painful; it wasn’t there the day before. Believe me, I totally would’ve noticed this thing. So why am I sharing my gross, oral mass story with all of you? After all, this isn’t an oral hygiene blog. Instead, it’s because I had a case of, what I call, “MYSTERY ILLNESS B.”
If you have anxiety or depression, you’ve most likely suffered from a bout or 6 of the famed MYSTERY ILLNESS B. You know, that random, inexplicable pain, growth, tingling, numb, lump, cough, injury, you name it, that appeared out of nowhere and the doctors have NO CLUE WHAT IT IS. Of course mine would occur in my mouth 72 hours before I was to speak before a crowd of 750 people. ARGH!
I’m not sure why, but it’s like our brains send weird signals to different parts of our bodies as an extra, added layer of “you may be dying.” How many of you have visited the doctor with something so strange that it was either misdiagnosed, dismissed, gone by the time the doc entered the room, or just plain baffled your physician. I’m sure if I could see through the computer, all your hands would be raised.
I have had “you may be dying-itis” so often, I think I’m on life number 7. I have had numbing in my face. I have had swollen lymph nodes removed and biopsied. I have had cameras shoved down my throat and into my stomach. I have been MRI’ed, CT scanned, sonogrammed, and had more blood taken that I’m surprised I have any left. The results have always been the same. “Gee, I haven’t seen that before.” “My, my. I’m just as confused as you are.” “Are you sure you really have these symptoms?” “Well, I’m just stumped.” Not impressed that your 8 years of school versus my singing degree have given us the same answer.
So why is this? Why do we tend to get strange illnesses that are either nothing or mistreated or go away suddenly? Maybe it’s our subconscious brain. Maybe it’s our brain in overload from nerves and anxiety. Maybe our brains are just trying to scare the crap out of us. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times these mystery illnesses have led to a panic attack followed by some severe OCD.
Listen brain, it’s not cool. Stop messing around with us. We are not interested in your shenanigans. It’s enough that you are misfiring our serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. We don’t need any more random brain misfirings. Got that?
Also, doctors…why have you never suggested this? Why have you never said, it could be your anxiety sending wacky signals to your cells. Is it because “wacky signals” isn’t officially a term listed in Gray’s Anatomy? Is it because you believe there’s an answer to every medical problem? Is it because you don’t want us to ignore or dismiss future medical issues that could be serious? Or is it that you don’t want us to feel like we’re making the whole thing up (believe me, had that response too.)
Either way, if you’ve suffered from some random, undiagnosable mystery illness know you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. And that bizarre mouth mass went away on the morning of my presentation. It was as if nothing had happened.