Hello all,

I've been dealing with health problems for over a decade now. The trigger was when I almost drowned at the Lake. I spent 10 days under observation at the hospital, and don't remember about two weeks total. I'm starting a blog, and this experience is the first entry: Formative Experiences.

My memory faded back over about six months. I tried to build up my endurance with jogging, but pounding the pavement gave me headaches. So I didn't go running anymore. I caught up in my classes (after missing the first week), graduated from high school, and left for college at a "New Ivy" science/engineering school in upstate New York.

My health rapidly deteriorated over the next 4 months. The pain was triggered by the laptop I'd just received (an IBM Thinkpad with an eraser-shaped pointing device in the middle of the keyboard). I thought I had "carpal tunnel syndrome". Eventually I went to the health center. The Physician's Assistant tested me for carpal tunnel, and said I didn't have it. He gave me a prescription for double-strength ibuprofen and said I needed to exercise some more. I did more research - maybe I had a "Repetitive Strain Injury"...

A couple internet sites said relaxation was beneficial for just about any health problem. So I spent as much time trying to relax as I could, but was never successful. Except this one time... After a year and a half of misery, my mom set me up with a woman who did a specific type of massage. I saw her three times during my second collegiate spring break, and at the second visit I just melted into the table. Sweet, blissful relaxation! When I went back to school, my typing problems were much better. But only for a couple days, then I was worse than before.

I'm just going to gloss over the next few years... Went to the campus health center again, but saw the doctor. He said I needed to exercise more, and offered me occupational therapy (where someone would evaluate my desk/chair/etc). I wasn't interested, so I started going to different doctors. Doctor #3 said I needed to exercise (I played racquetball in college, and shoveled snow, did yoga for a semester, etc - nothing intense, but it's not like I was totally sedentary). Doctor #4 said there was a chiropractor down the street who did good work for some of their patients. Remember that I'd self-diagnosed "repetitive strain injury"....

I branched out into non-pharmaceutical medicine. I went for chiropractic adjustments, massage, cranio-sacral therapy, acupuncture. Nothing helped.

Then I found a modern day mystic in Oregon. She read me like an open book, and after a few sessions she said I'd find my own way soon. A few months after that I found a doctor who was able to release stored injuries in my body with a specific type of hands-on work.

... But after a year and a half, I still couldn't relax. So I spent the next 3 years still trying to figure myself out.

Just the other day my wife, who can be rather intuitive at times, said "maybe you had/have an auto-immune condition, not a 'repetitive strain injury'." I called up the doctor who'd done the most for me. He ordered the ANA test, and I just had the blood drawn today.

I''ve looked into Lupus a little bit, and many of the symptoms seem to fit. Joint pain, swelling, cold hands/feet, etc. I'm not nearly as bad now as I was, but it would be nice to have something that shows that I wasn't just making it all up.

James Knochel