Not the best Christmas of my life

It was December and it was freezing cold. I had been feeling like seasonal flu was right about to strike me in the previous days. Plus, I had been working like a mule all year long. I was put in charge of a team right before summer for the first time of my life and this – together with some pride and greater responsibilities – mainly brought longer working hours, lots of tensions and some bitterness coming from older colleagues reluctant to be guided by a younger and less experienced girl.

Hanging Ball by Stefan InsamI was counting the days to Christmas vacation, to enjoy my two weeks off and try to recharge before the new year.

Some friends of mine had recently started off a new adventure: they were trying to organize a short movie festival and I had proposed to provide my help.

We had spent last evening and part of the night setting up the layout for the festival’s website. Once the meeting was over I gave my best friend’s a ride and then got back home by 2 AM.

The clock alarm rang 5 hours later that morning; I hadn’t slept much the previous night, but I still managed to lead the conference call with French guys quite well.

The few hours of sleep started to take their toll on me by late morning, a headache surfaced and joined all the other flu symptoms.

I had a coffee and some chit-chat and then I got back to my desk waiting for lunch. That’s when I started feeling weird: my headache was growing and my heart beat was getting faster. Ok, either caffeine was kicking in too fast and too strong or my temperature was going up and flu had finally come.

I decided I’d have a pizza for lunch with my colleagues, then I’d reach the sick room and have my temperature checked. Instead, once I reached the car to go to the restaurant, it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to eat. I probably wouldn’t even be able to hold my vomit till we got back to the office.

The following hour seemed to be the longest lunch break of my life. I couldn’t wait for the half pizza laying in front of me to be taken away by some waiter. I just wanted to get back to the office, collect my things and head home to my bed. But before heading home, I had to reach the sick room anyway. The nurse confirmed that my fever was rising. She handed me a Paracetamol pill and I rushed home. I needed some solid sleep under my duvet; I’d have the day after off and the weekend to get well again for my last working week before Christmas vacation.

My weekend passed by with no big news. My fever went up and down, my stomach still hurt, my intestines were not working properly; they had actually been giving me troubles pretty often in those last weeks. Anyway, I needed to go back to work for my last week and, after all, I had felt worse in my life. “The last five days of work before my two weeks break won’t kill me” I thought.

On Monday morning I woke up at 7 AM as usual; I hadn’t been sleeping that well lately, but who cares, I’d have plenty of time for sleep in few days.

I wasn’t feeling great, but I wasn’t feeling terrible either. I drove to work and realized that something was getting weird again when I got a couple of miles away from the office. I was stuck at the traffic light when my heartbeat accelerated again and I instantly started feeling sick.

“That’s clearly not flu.”

I was sick at the idea of getting back to work, but I didn’t know why. I kept driving anyway.

I reached the office wondering what was going on in my body and why the hell it was happening. I sat down; I was sick and almost panicking now. “I have to get out as soon as possible.”

I pretended I was feeling flu symptoms coming back again and I headed to my car to drive back home. Once again, “it’s clearly not flu”. Something weird was going on in my body and I still couldn’t figure out what.

While I sat in my doctor’s waiting room I forced myself not to throw up. The nerves in my thighs were shaking, my heart beat had gone crazy and breathing kept getting harder.

My doctor sent me home with one-week sick leave, a box of milk enzymes for my intestines and some homeopathic drops to calm me down.

I would have been home for the next 3 weeks, joining the sick leave and Christmas vacation. But my Christmas leave turned out to be very different from the relaxing time I had been looking forward to. Several symptoms followed one another, overlapped and got mixed together: they affected my head, my throat, my ears, my heart, my stomach, my intestines, my nerves.

In the following weeks, I winded up spending most of my time trying to understand what was going wrong with my body. I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart running at 130 beats per minute and then rushed to ER, I had my blood tested for thyroid hormones, for kidney functionality and for coeliac disease, I had my urine and feces tested for almost every plausible virus and bacterium, I visited two gastroenterologists, a cardiologist and a neurologist, I had an ECG, a gastroscopy, an abdominal and intestinal ultrasound.

The medical verdict would always be the same: “Everything is going fine, you just need to patiently wait for this stressful moment to pass by and your anxiety (yes, it is anxiety) will go away.”


If you’ve stumbled upon this page and reached the bottom of it, you’ve just made me happy, but if you really wish to make me thrilled and proud, please feel free to leave a comment here below. I’d love to read your feedback, suggestions, opinions of any kind (and I’d love to reply to them too). Come on, just scroll down a little bit… 🙂

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