WTF Happened? — Aneela K. (2022)

WTF Happened? — Aneela K. (1)

Gained, Lost, & Grew

“You are no-one if you cannot show you care. You are no-one if you cannot see they care.
”

I gained more than I estimated. Except, what was it I truly gained? You cannot find the path unless you become the path. The journey to self-discovery was substantial, strenuous, suffocating, sacrificial, and sad.

It all began on what would be considered a very typical day. Except it wasn't. An ordinary task of getting my three kids ready to visit a friend. I had performed this seemingly routine task numerous times for copious years. However, this day felt like a mountainous task. I caught myself breathing heavily, feeling very hot and quite overwhelmed. I didn't even understand what happened except that I recognized I might have had a panic attack over NOTHING.

I noticed I felt sweltering and bothered. I wasn't certain if this was a sudden hot flash that induced anxiety or vice versa. As time went on, it happened frequently and with a reduced time gap. Two-minute hot flashes were now an unwelcomed part of my life. Let's not even get into the night versions. Being the strong woman that I am, I dealt with it and kept a paper fan with me at all times, along with some water. However, I still never figured out what came first, the anxiety or the hot flash, similar to the chicken or the egg?

Surprisingly or oblivious to the fact that I could be in perimenopause at age thirty-nine, I went about my life living and being the adventurous soul I am. In July of 2018, our family visited Cancun, London & Paris. We had the most memorable trips that will forever feed our souls. I was so happy that I vowed to cover my hair and start wearing hijab as personal gratitude, (definitely a blog for another time.)

On the last day of our London trip, I noticed I could barely stand up in the underground tube. I remember passengers took all the seats. I held on to a pole, chatting with my cousin, and noticed her words tuned out as all I desired was for someone to offer me a chance to sit down. I felt old; I felt exhausted, I felt like I wasn't myself yet wasn't entirely certain what came over me. Maybe extreme chronic fatigue?

We arrived back in America, and again like the adventurous soul that I am, I requested my husband for all of us to finish our summer visiting his family in Chicago. I ended up staying there for three weeks with the kids so they can spend ample time with his family. Overall it was an enjoyable trip.

Although I must admit, my recent conviction of wearing hijab only added to my anxiety. Once again, as the crazy chick that I am, I traveled everywhere. Drove around all of Chicago to visit friends and family almost daily. It was a constant battle with my chronic fatigue and myself. I was fatigued beyond my conception, yet I was pushing and shoving my way to living the lifestyle I always did.

Three weeks later, my husband flew back to bring us home in time for the children's school year. I remember requesting him to bring some Pakistani outfits for our holiday Eid. The night before the holiday, I was trying on my outfit to match my jewelry, and it would not go past my shoulders. Call it crazy, call it absurd, I was in shock. In my 39 years, I never gained extra weight. I had ZERO inclination that I gained any weight. I don't usually go on a scale or wear tight clothes. I was baffled and in shock. The next morning I creatively dressed up for our holiday with the same color coordination, yet I was still surprised.

After a long nineteen-hour drive home, I didn't stop. Again I pushed myself to spend the second day of our holiday with my family in Long Island. So after Cancun, London, Paris, and Chicago. Here I am, unloading the car and preparing kids to see my family in long island. Too much? Hell yea! Did I notice? Nope. Still so blind-sighted, I kept going.

Like any other person, I kept ignoring the loud hints my body was experiencing. Until one final day, I made an appointment to get my bloodwork done and ascertain the reason for this chronic fatigue and hot flashes.

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To my astonishing surprise, the doctor called me the next morning as I happened to be seated already and said to me, "Sorry honey your gates are closed." I asked, 'what does that mean?' She then continued to tell me that I was in full-blown menopause and all good things would come to an end. She said, "Say hello to wrinkled thin skin, mood swings and more weight gain." I was in utter shock and hung up while experiencing complete numbness. Her choice of verbiage delivering the news had not been thought out. After the call, I continued to sit on my chair with my face in my palms, screaming, 'no way this cannot be true. I am still so young.' All of September went in denial and shock. I'm not saying I wanted to birth more children, but the choice taken away abruptly was a harder pill to swallow.

October came with extensive questions, curiosity, deliberations, anxiety, pains, research, and endless doctor appointments ascertaining zero results. I made numerous calls venting to friends. The most challenging verdict was how I wish to move forward. Do I go through with this uncertainty naturally, or do I go on prescribed medication? Natural remedies versus prescription meds. I began digging deep into side effects and probable cause of cardiac arrest with or without medication. The research was vast, with infinite forums and opinions. Day in and day out, I was all over google looking for answers. The stress from this decision, plus my recent hijab conviction, eventually caught up with my body, and ultimately I crashed.

One day I tried to reach for my car door handle, and I noticed an odd shrieking pain from my shoulder to my wrist. It was not very comforting. I disregarded it, considering maybe I slept the wrong way. However, it started haunting me. Suddenly, I could not reach my hangers in my closet; literally, I could not lift my arms. I arrived at the point where I couldn't even shampoo my hair without shrieking pain. I couldn't do my makeup without excruciating pain. And finally, one day, I broke down crying because I could not hold an empty shopping bag without pain. My head was full of paranoia and thoughts of what the fuck is going on?

I began asking questions everywhere, Facebook, Google forums, friends, doctor friends, nurse friends, and even friends of friends. There were unlimited answers like the rotator cuffs, rheumatoid, split tendonitis, carpal tunnel, lupus, MS, lyme disease, and more.

Not knowing the cause after many appointments daily throughout the tri-state area was fucking with my mind. I couldn't concentrate on anything like driving, cooking, or taking care of my kids, besides the fact that I could barely move my arms.

One early morning, I prayed at 6:30 am, begging God to withdraw this pain instantly and that I couldn't take it anymore. As soon as I concluded the prayer, I immediately collapsed and was paralyzed. I was terrified. My body had gone into shock. My husband rushed me to an emergency orthopedic, and the doctor prescribed prednisone immediately. It took an entire week and some days to get mobility back. Except now, my arms were far worse, as well as my feet, right thigh, and my knees. The steroid was too potent and induced me to tingle from head to toe non-stop for a week. It was disconcerting. I didn't regain my strength. The steroid had now made it troublesome to stand for lengthier than thirty seconds. I could not cross my legs anymore or even sleep without a pillow between my legs. I could not lift or touch any muscle; all of me was sensitive to the touch. I spent days, weeks, months crying alone and downright fearful if this was the new me forever.

I came across a functional doctor who advised weekly injections in my myofascial areas except wouldn't share my diagnosis. He always replied, 'you are fine, don't worry.' Yet, he continued to call me weekly for the injections. I stopped seeing him the day he charged me thrice for one appointment. I attempted to dispute it and provided evidence of extra charges; however, I recognized it wasn't worth the added frustration. That was the day I visited his clinic with a special dinner I made for him and his wife, regardless of my arm pain. Seriously WTF? I was losing faith in doctors and their integrity altogether.

October now, and I saw and visited 17 doctors numerous times each. Like a speed dating app, it felt futile, and I was indeed giving up crying, 'Where in the world is there a good doctor?'

I saw four Rheumatologists for my arm pains, two Gynecologists for my menopause, a Neurologist for the nerve pains, a Skeletal Doctor for my shoulders, the awkward functional doctor, and a Physical Therapist for my shoulder and arm area. I was continually checking in with my primary as well. Two to three appointments weekly with all these doctors felt like a part-time job.

I saw four separate Rheumatologists, and none of them grasped my diagnosis and kept prescribing incorrect medication or sending me for repeated x-rays, MRI, CT scan, and more. The skeletal, muscular doctor then sent me to more x-rays saying we are looking at different areas. After a while, my bank account kept declining from deductibles, co-pays, and all the traveling. Not to mention I dragged a four-year-old with me to every single appointment because I had zero assistance and no one to watch her.

I began researching results of cupping. It looked frightening, however the reviews were convincing. I met a lovely woman who owns Mashallah Cupping Therapy. She was kind to my soul and showed me love and light. Alas my pains were beyond the hopes of cupping. I continued to look for answers.

It was exhausting, nerve-racking, and much much more. The one Rheumatologist who works in Queens assured me that I would die pretty soon if I didn't take her prescribed medicine. NEWSFLASH, it's been two years, and I am better—the nerve of these people. They put the name and loyalty of doctrine to shame. One doctor was at Columbia Presbyterian in NYC; I held high hopes with her and took many trips with my little one to the city, looking for parking, walking in the cold with my toddler; she ran 30 tests on me came up with Zilch. Seriously WTF?

The sorriest part is we go to these doctors with much faith, and they crush it with business opportunities for prescriptions and scans. Always hearing, 'just in case you never know.' I often think they forget we bleed through similar veins. Ironic being that they are doctors.

A ray of Sunshine finally glimmered through with a fantastic podiatrist, Dr. Kassaris. Although he was treating my severe foot pain, the empathy and understanding he showed, along with his skillful experience, gave me a sign of first hope.

With a stroke of more luck, I finally found a highly recommended doctor I loved in mid-October. After various lengthy meetings and thorough explanations, he encouraged me to reach my decisions. He never coerced me and displayed extreme patience with an endearing smile. I felt as if this could be the beginning of an end to the daunting experience. I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. He took such good care of me. I never once felt rushed. He stuck by my side the entire process with more than proper care and concern. Truly the best in his field. If you need a Reproductive Endocrinologist, Dr. Collins is exceptional.

And eventually, I decided to go back to one of the Rheumatologists who conveyed to me that he believes I am undergoing much anxiety from my new pains, and maybe at this time, I should revisit my hijab conviction a later time in my life when I am healthier. After tough deliberation, I took his advice and quit wearing a hijab. As shameful as this sounds, it alleviated so much stress. We cannot be someone who we are not until we are that from the inside out. My intent was pure; I was not as ready as I presumed. Yet, I still experienced severe arm, knee, thigh, shoulder, and feet pain.

I was exhausted and needed an escape from all these appointments and responsibilities. My very intimate friend from Pakistan suggested, "why don't you forget everything and visit Pakistan, I will take care of you and show you all around Pakistan." I agreed, and although I enjoyed a fantastic time with her, we are no longer friends. If I must guess, I believe it's because I was grieving from so many pains, and it was remarkably stressful not knowing what was going on inside my body. I couldn't sleep at night, craving for answers. At one point, we were in Mcdonald's drive-thru, and I ordered ice cream. One lick of the ice cream, and my back paralyzed. I started screaming in the car, and my friend, in fear, started screaming too. It was another scary moment. I threw the ice cream out and tried to regain myself.

The anxiety was too much for me, let alone my friend. The only thing that diverted me was my passion, my Aneela K. career. That is exclusively a time I can put the pain aside. To be pain-free, I unintentionally dominated and focused on passion for alleviating my anxiety. I suppose she was too young to hold enough empathy, examine past experiences, and perverse situations with menopause and all these unknown ailments. I had yet and continued to find the sources. I met with a few homeopaths in Pakistan. Alas, they made me much worse. The entire experience was testing as I invested significant time and money. Nevertheless, lesson learned.

When I retreated from Pakistan, I elected to exercise the menopause medication recommended by the reproductive endocrinologist I met in mid-October. Additionally, I accepted the muscle relaxer suggested by the Rheumatologist. I then randomly discovered an excellent supplement for my feet pain. I sensed I was ultimately leaving the self-pity party I unintentionally conceived.

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One day, while dropping the kids off to school wooing in pain, my eldest daughter said the words, 'You are the youngest mom from all my friends, but because you are so sick all the time, it feels like you are the oldest.' Suddenly slapped with reality, those words hurt me tremendously because I recognized I was inadvertently injuring all those around me. Even though I was suffering from the anguish and curiosity killed me daily, all my family and friends were also feeling debilitated.

That's when I decided to take life into my own hands. I let go of all the previous pressure from all the absurd doctor appointments that went astray. I suspended researching any more doctors than the three I was happy with—one for my menopause, one for my feet, and rheumatologist doctor who advised me rethink the hijab for a later time. I began researching alternative ways to feel better at home. I spent days and weeks in prayer, training my mind, meditating, and focusing back on my immediate family.

I solemnly committed to meditation. Each morning I meditated immediately after breakfast. I used Sanskrit; the sound and ritual were incredibly soothing. I listened to the Quran daily, morning and night. I prayed on holy water (Zam Zam) and would drink it in faith. I provided tons of charity benefiting the hungry, the orphanage, kids without parents, parents without jobs, kids with cancer, and more. All the prayers, meditation, and giving started to shift my focus from despair and crying to strength and smiling. And for those who know me, I upped my game within my business, executing it more successfully than ever. After the pain I experienced, I promised myself that no woman who comes to me as a client shall ever leave with nothing less than a genuine smile. My tumultuous pain brought about insightful wisdom and incredible love to all those who currently choose to be present in my life; friends or clients. I thought I knew what happiness was, yet I was far from understanding the true meaning. Absolute bliss is genuinely in giving. My pains diminished from me giving to others rather than giving up!

Additionally, feeling promising initiates feeling like living long and eating healthy. I changed my diet and started eating healthy food, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free. I began exercising daily. I coerced myself to focus on my kids, especially my youngest child, who went with me to every single dr appointment in the tri-state area for 18 months. By February of 2019 my youngest and I were the best of friends.

After months and months of research, I eventually figured it out. I developed an autoimmune deficiency. The fact that I wasn't cognizant of me undergoing menopause till it was a higher risk, my estrogen levels fell extremely low. In summary, muscle weakness ensues with age, and in women, estrogen production and progesterone decline at menopause. This acceleratedmuscle weaknessis linked to the loss of sexhormonesbecause HT helps preserve strength. Ergo I felt brittle and weak. Hence the chronic fatigue symptoms. The stress from the hijab conviction and the shock of menopause, along with life's focus, in general, caused a considerable nerve shock and provoked fibromyalgia. Because my sed rate was insanely high, inflammation was my nemesis. Accordingly, I developed food sensitivities. All in all, I was fucked and had to change my entire lifestyle.

Nevertheless, guess what? As disturbing as these two years of my life were, most testing and challenging, I lost many intimate friends along the way; in the end, I figured it out, and I am both more robust and more desirable for it.

HUGE Shout out to my friends Yasmeen & Julia. No matter what, these women never gave up. Weekly calls were ascertaining diagnosis and diverse understanding of possibilities. They never once stated they are exhausted from me depressing or complaining. They stuck it out with me all the way.

And today, they are the closest people in my life because they saw me at rock bottom, kneeled beside me as a soft cushion to my fall, and a pillar of a plane to strike me back up.

The entire time I was in Pakistan, I held no concept I gained much weight. Even after the outfit in Chicago didn't fit, it still didn't occur to me. I was wholly engrossed in ascertaining my diagnosis; I missed seeing what was going on with my body size overall. The difference in the main blog photo is only six months. But boy or boy, those six months were my life's powerful lesson and learning experience.

Today I have a sexier body than in years. I hold friends whom I can count on, despite difficulties I experience. Today I have both a healthy gut and a mighty grit to withstand all hardships. The ailments were the most harrowing experience of my life, yet I came out a winner. I learned a great deal about the mind, body, and soul. True happiness. The value of life and living. I regret none of it, well, maybe the shitty doctors; however, they made the good ones look even better ;)

WTF Happened? — Aneela K. (3)

WTF Happened? — Aneela K. (4)

WTF Happened? — Aneela K. (5)

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Overall I expanded my business, tightened my relationships, increased my social circle, traveled more, and most of all, my smile outshines it all with its authenticity.

A heartfelt thank you to the people who stuck it out with me!

Zishan Ahmad, Zara Ahmad, Aliyah Ahmad, Faaria Safa Ahmad (My Doctor Partner), Yasmeen Khan, Julia Batal, Regine Valbrun, Adriana Liberatore, Chanda Noble, Sofia Sandolo, Melissa Rodrigues, Cori Sanogueira, Danielle Fornasier, Rameez Saeed, Arsalla Baig, Komal Qasim, Rahila Sarwat, Tabassum Ilahi, Asif Sattar, Qudsia Malik, Salman Tahir, Naila Usmani, Zain Malik, Anitha Nair, Awais Ehsan, Majid Munir, Mehtab Ahmad, and Freha Shezad.

Genuine Highly recommended doctors

Healthy & Happily Yours,

ANEELA K.

Health and Fitness

Aneela Ahmad

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