I have dealt with reactivated Epstein – Barr virus for over a decade. I did not know what it was that I was battling for majority of that time. When I first put all the pieces together it just so happened that it was also my first year out of Naturopathic Medical school. So, all the possible diagnoses and health problems associated with CAEBV ( chronic activated Epstein – barr virus) were fresh in my mind.
I was also sick. It was very difficult to function through the day. I had respiratory infections at least once per month, fatigue that I could not manage, and brain fog that left me struggling to read a full two sentences. My CBC was normal, but I began to be growingly concerned about a large lymph node on my neck. It was the type of lymph node that I was taught in school to refer for further diagnostics. With my history of years of EBV and the correlation with lymphoma, I decided to look further into this.
My primary care provider referred me for a surgical consult. She said it would be an easy biopsy on the lymph node and then I would be able to put my mind at rest when it came to worrying about lymphoma. I was nervous, but also felt a sense of relief that I would have a full proof answer. Haaa…. Full proof answers, similar to unicorns.
When I met with the surgeon he was concerned about the location of the lymph node in my neck and the nerves present there. I appreciated that concern, but when I explained to him my concern of EBV I was confused when he did not reciprocate my thoughts. I asked him how concerned I should be about this lymph node and my history of EBV in regards to lymphoma. Maybe the biopsy would be worth the risk so I would be able to catch anything scary early on. When I asked him this, his response was: “ I don’t know, I’m just a surgeon.”
I had an array of emotions at this response, but the biggest was shock and some let down. I always thought of surgeons as such experts, which they ARE, in THEIR expertise and THEIR field. Their job is to successfully remove/biopsy something.
Similarly, your primary care provider’s job is to make sure you are up to date on wellness exams, be your first defense against health concerns, perform annual screenings, and deal with acute problems. So, what about chronic illnesses?
Chronic illnesses need a complete and a holistic approach. This takes a lot of time, sometimes it requires other labs that are not common. If your doctor did not have an answer for you on your chronic illness that is okay, it may not have been their area of expertise and none of us can be good at EVERYTHING.
I have chosen to focus a lot of my work on chronic illnesses. My background in Naturopathic medicine allows me to get to the root cause of this problem that is different for each of us and has affected so many of us. A big piece of overcoming chronic illnesses is education, empowerment, and a greater awareness of your health. If you are here I am sure you have already had a long journey. Give yourself a pat on the back for continuing to ask questions and advocate for your health. Take a deep breath. Prepare yourself for a completely different experience in this healing space.
Dr. Holland, ND