Stress? Why it isn’t always to blame for that strange illness

So this past week I stayed home all week trying to rest and recover from oesophageal pain (the name I chose to give the ailment since no doctor or test could tell me what was wrong lol). Everyone except my doctor and I blamed it on stress. But why? I have been resting well and didn’t have a stressful time at least 4 days before this problem started. Before then I have tried not to dwell on the many things I cannot change so why blame stress? Poor stress.

About 10 days ago, we went on mid-term break at the school I run (owned by my mum, but I forced myself to run it because it needed a change). In addition, I am involved with other small projects so yes technically I do not have time for myself. I leave home 7:30am every morning for the school and leave the school at 6pm when the last set of kids head home. I stay till 6pm because my office is there and it also allows me spend time on my projects while I am there. 6pm is a decent enough time to leave work and face life.

The first few hours of my day are spent meeting with the headteacher, doing spot checks, observing teachers and working out stuff with the admin and bursar. By noon, I take a break then give attention to my blog and personal projects except on rare occasions where I have to deal with parents and enquiries that need my attention. 3 times a week, I head to the park with my sisters for our exercise class. On exercise days, I get home latest 7:10pm and most of the time I leave my laptop in my office so I don’t do serious work at home. Of course my iPad comes home with me and I use it to check and reply emails and do minor updates on my websites – I currently manage 4 of them. Adding a mini one to the list this week which is going to be strictly a paid membership site.

Last week, I sent an email to my subscribers explaining a little bit about my life and projects. I mentioned I have many skills some of which I still use.

  1. I sew clothes (a skill I learnt many years ago when I was in the UK and needed something to do with my weekends). I use it on rare occasions for repairs and adjustments.
  2. I can weave/fix hair (I used this to make some money in my first year at Uni in the UK – you just had to have a means of income as an international student. No more hairdressing as it is a physically demanding job and I suffered RSIs alot at the time).
  3. I can create websites (a skill I learned all by myself over 4years ago when I started my first business and didn’t have money to pay for a good enough website). I started with Joomla before making the switch to WordPress. So yes I have both Joomla and WordPress skills and have made at least 8 – 10 websites for myself, family and friends. I just never thought of going commercial with it because I lack coding skills and I wasn’t and still not willing to learn it. Too busy but then I have come to realise I can get the website of my dreams without coding. If I need any special effects that requires coding, I know how to go about it without paying a fortune. U see? U want to know more right? Join my workshop coming up on Saturday 2nd & 9th April 2016.
  4. I consult. I have worked with 6 startups/small businesses in the last 18months mainly as a business consultant. Helping with processes, creating policies, website reviews, general advice on getting their businesses online and a few other stuff.

The latter 2 skills I make use of everyday. So yes I should be stressed and I am stressed. Why have I gone into much details though? Just so you get a clear picture of what my daily life looks like. Some have asked do you have time for a man in your life? You are probably wondering the same thing? To kill your curiosity, yes I do have a man and yes we do have our challenges but he supports what I do fully and thinks I don’t charge you guys enough 😉

Well as I mentioned earlier, I battled with pain in my oesophagus for nearly a week! Yes oesophagus. When swallowing I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I was referred to some posh diagnostic lab to have some tests – Clinix Healthcare to be precise and mehn! I was impressed. Never imagined anything like that in Lagos not to talk of Nigeria. Everything done nicely and professionally. Their branding? Top notch! Their processes? Easy and aimed at making life bearable. Unlike many Nigerian service providers! Well heard it is owned by Indians so why should I be surprised? Clearly they don’t think like Nigerians. No pun intended dear Nigerians but most of our processes are designed to frustrate. Now this is in no way an advert. I am not an affiliate of Clinix Healthcare neither have I been paid to write this – I wish I was though. But there is no way I see something cool and pretend it ain’t there. Will probably write a detailed post on them soon.

Clinix Healthcare Waiting room (taken from the internet)

Clinix Healthcare Waiting room (taken from the internet). Cool, right?

You need to rest more, everyone says. They all blame stress. Just like when someone does something totally evil and they blame the devil. Why must it always be the devil? Did devil put a gun to your head and force you to commit evil? Poor devil. My wonderful new found doctor says he can’t really blame stress. I support him. Now I am not one to hide it when I am stressed. I think it’s a normal part of life but I know in my heart stress isn’t to blame.

3 full days before the pain started, I was home sleeping, eating and watching TV. School was on mid-term break. I only spent a couple of hours completing this article on Zika Virus for this blog. Infact day 4 of my break, I had just woken up around 5pm and made Amala to have with the soup my sister-in-law made which wasn’t stressful at all. I just swallowed the second lump when the pain started somewhere close to my left cleavage. I drank water thinking the Amala was stuck there lol and wow the pain! I pushed the food aside and asked to be taken to the hospital.

Amala and Ewedu - Irresistible! Photo credit -

Amala and Ewedu – Irresistible!
Photo credit –

At first everyone was surprised. I have a high threshold when it comes to pain so when I complain about pain, my people know to take me serious. Luckily it was a full house. The pain was weird and unbearable. Didn’t look like a heart attack to me but I knew it was serious. Infact my blood pressure has never gone up so I knew it wasn’t high BP – always at about 110/70  which I consider too good for a highly stressed out person like me.

Well I got my blood pressure (BP) and pulse checked – with all the panic and tears, my BP was 120/78 and pulse 92 which they considered ok but high for my BP and was expected given the way I was feeling. According to the doctor, I was palpitating and he asked me to calm down. After routine questions and all, I got sent home with Diclofenac to ease the pain.

Pain never got better so 2 days later I got sent to do some tests. The lab declared me fit and healthy! Infact they were impressed with my stress ECG as I just kept going and my BP never went beyond 145/90 during the stress test. For those who don’t know what a stress ECG entails – you are wired up (like the image below), go on a threadmill attached to some computer that reads your heartrate. Every 3 minutes your BP is checked and entered into the system while you keep walking “on a gradient” by stage 6 it becomes a run on a hill (the stage where I asked to stop immediately it started lol). You ask them to stop the threadmill when you can no longer go on.

Stress ECG - I couldn't get one of me taken but here is one I got off their website.

Stress ECG – I couldn’t get one of me taken but here is one I got off their website.

In all, I did a full blood count, lipid profile to check my cholesterol level, resting and stress ECG and my greatest nightmare – Barium swallow Xray. All my results came out smiling. No problems at all. Well cholesterol level nearly at borderline and not yet a problem but I have to watch what I eat. Thinking….now what do I eat that could be so bad? Feigning ignorance 😉 . Rice! I eat it nearly everyday! It’s just quick and easy. Now I have to cut down on it (sobs).

So no significant finding? Then why was I having this pain. I might never know the cause but deep in my heart and sometimes vocally, I had been praying and returning the pain to sender 😉 and declaring my body is God’s temple and no sickness can dwell therein. I seriously needed to get back to normal so I can eat everything I haven’t been able to eat this past week 🙂 I was on liquids as that the only thing that goes down without totally trying to kill me. Yesterday, I felt 95% as I had yam and I ate it all with just a tiny little bit of discomfort. Today I am totally back to normal! Yay!

Dear friends, when medical fails, when rest fails, panic not and just get on with life, pray if you must and you will see everything go back to normal in no time. One more thing I learned is not to take things like walking, sleeping and waking, eating and drinking for granted but rather be always thankful for these gifts.

Peace out!