I'm The Girl Who Always Cancels
For most of my life, I’ve been the friend who gets sick a lot. My immune system has never been great, and while in school I would tend to miss a lot of it. It even became known to the teachers that I would miss weeks at a time. Everyone started to expect it from me.
Long before I ever became sick with AS, I had social anxiety. I like to say that I was shy right out of the womb. I could barely talk to extended family members, family friends, or anyone I didn’t know well.
I was always out sick
As early as Grade 3, I can remember being “sick” a lot and missing a total of a month out of the school year. From there on, it kind of became a given that I would miss that much every year.
Then came Grade 7. I’m not sure why looking back, but it was a really hard year for me socially. I think I’ve kind of repressed a lot of the memories from that year. I ended up being so “sick” at one point that I missed an entire month. Anyone with anxiety knows that after that first day missed, your anxiety about going back only grows that.
Misunderstood because of my anxiety
Everyone would be asking me what was going on, where I was and when I was coming back. I didn’t know, and I had started to develop physical symptoms of my anxiety. I felt dizzy all of the time, generally unwell, and couldn’t even think of going back. This was at the time of the Swine Flu, and one of my teachers started asking my peers if I had it. Luckily, that didn’t spread into an untrue rumor.
No one in my life knew that social anxiety existed. I went to my family doctor, and she didn’t suggest it either. She thought I was underweight and that was the cause of my symptoms. It wasn’t until about Grade 11 that I figured out that I had social anxiety.
Experiencing symptoms of AS
Back in February of 2017 is when my symptoms of AS started showing up. For about 2 weeks I forced myself to go to work while in excruciating pain. On the last day I was ever there, my GM came up to me and told me to go see a doctor. I went the next day, and never went back to work.
That doctor's visit sprung me into a whole different life, and I kind of disappeared from everyone for a while. No one knew what was happening to me, but neither did I. I didn’t want to keep having to explain myself to everyone when I had no clue what was going on.
Coworkers were angry with me, which I didn’t find out until later, but in all honesty, I don’t care. I needed to take care of the life-changing thing that was happening to my body.
Since being diagnosed
I’ve had to cancel a lot of plans in the past 2.5 years. Whether it be due to pain, fatigue, illness, I’ve canceled a lot. It’s not something I pride myself on at all. I hate having to do it, and I hate having to be the girl who always cancels.
Always canceling plans leads to a lot of anger and disappointment directed at you. It’s not a fun feeling. I feel like, after a certain amount of times, people stop believing you. They expect you to cancel, and then after a while, they stop inviting you to things.
This disease is isolating. It’s isolating in many ways, and having to cancel most of the plans you make is definitely one of those ways. Trust me, I get it. Having the same person almost never follow through on your plans gets tiring and annoying. It just sucks when your body physically won’t allow you to follow through.
Giving an explanation
I always give an explanation as to why I have to cancel. Whether they choose to believe it or not, that’s not my responsibility. I’m always honest, and that’s all I can do.
Do you tend to have to cancel a lot of your plans? If so, what do you do to try and minimize the backlash you get from doing so?
If you do cancel plans a lot due to your health, just know that it’s not your fault. You have to take care of yourself and your body first. Overdoing it can be dangerous and lead to days in bed, feeling sick, and pain.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?