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My Struggle with Gilbert's Syndrome
In 2016 every one of my fingernails turned a deep shade of purple. Being a generally healthy person, I was naturally concerned. So I visited my doctor and she instructed me to wait it out. A few weeks later my nails were a funny shade of yellow. My doctor ordered a blood test. In a span of 2 months I had 3 blood tests conducted. The result was Gilberts Syndrome. As a competitive runner I was afraid this syndrome would effect my performance. My doctor assured me that Gilberts Syndrome is benign, with no symptoms or problems. She is wrong. After my diagnosis I finished my track season with really solid times. I hardly thought about Gilberts Syndrome. I cut out dairy from my diet and began to eat healthier, this seemed to help me until recently. At the start of this year, I began to struggle with sickness and the general feeling of being unwell. It was almost like I couldn't shake it off. I would feel so exhausted, but I thought it was from my track workouts. I knew something was up when I started to experience bad stomach pains. During one of the busiest weeks of my life (I was juggling school, track meets, dance rehearsals, and my ap tests) I started to feel very anxious and stressed. This came with the yellowing of my nails and really bad stomach aches. It kept me from performing well in track, and it was beginning to get into my head. As someone who hates being sick, the fear of being sick began to consume me. It took me a while to realize that my Gilberts Syndrome was the cause of my mysterious sickness. I did a ton of research online and found forums of people discussing their symptoms, I felt relieved (I wasn't going crazy!) Most doctors believe this syndrome to be passive, so they don't document its symptoms and effects. In reality, I've learned that only 1/3 of people with Gilberts Syndrome don't experience symptoms, the other 2/3 do! This was a surprise to me, after reading more I learned people struggle with the same symptoms as me; stomach pains, exhaustion and feeling unwell. It's relieving to know I'm not the only one going through this, but scary that there's no known treatment. As a high school student it's hard to cut stress from my life, so my Gilbert attacks never really go away. I was expected to run really well in track this year but my times have suffered from me being sick. I'm planning on changing my diet again and really trying to eliminate as much school work as I can. I'm hoping that doctors will soon realize the cost of having Gilberts Disease, because it's tough dealing with something people don't think is real. If you have any stories of your struggle with Gilbert's please share! Especially if you're an athlete. I can't figure out if running helps my syndrome or worsens it. Running is known to flush out your system (waste materials such as lactate) but it also takes a lot out of you, which is why I'm struggling to understand the concept of running with Gilbert's.
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