Treat the Symptoms, BUT Look for the Cause

On Tuesday night, April 2nd, I was getting ready for bed & noticed that my right eye looked soft – when I moved my eye, it would gather on the side almost like an accordion. After many phone calls & texts, I went to the ER around 11pm not knowing what was causing this. ER Doctor: “it’s an infection or allergies.” Gives me antibiotics & visine. The next day, I went to my Optometrist: Takes images & does eye exam. “Your eye is inflamed. It’s definitely allergies, but visine is bad for you.” Gives me antihistamine & lubricating eye drops. 2 weeks go by, and my eye doesn’t improve. Instead the soft part of my eye now looks like a bump, the white part of my eye is getting more and more red, and the other white part of my eyes are starting to turn yellow. {This whole time I’m praying!} I returned back to the hospital on the 18th to see a Nurse Practitioner: takes eye swab. “You definitely need to see an ophthalmologist.” Gives me antibiotic eye ointment, and tells me to ice for the pain.

For 2 1/2 weeks I dealt with the frustration of not knowing what was causing my eye to react this way, and what was causing my face to break out. Doctors kept going straight to me eye, but something kept telling me it wasn’t my eye. The inflammation was just a symptom of something else, and thanks to my always watching the show House when it was on, I learned that the yellowing of my eyes meant my liver was being affected. I remembered how on 5 separate occasions in my life (wrote them down), after numerous visits, it was discovered that the pain I was experiencing wasn’t the source, but simply referred for another irritated area. For instance, doctors kept treating my knee pain before it took 1 physical therapist appointment for the PT to discover that my hip was weak and it was causing pain in my knee. He gave me hip strengthening exercises & the pain went away. Another time, I had sharp stabbing pain on the side of my head. After running tests/thinking they were migraines, come to find out I had a horrible knot in my shoulder that was radiating to my head. So with the knowledge of my medical history, I dug deeper in prayer. If it’s allergies & nothing I’m using is helping, then it must be something I’m still exposed to.

On Thursday night the 18th, I remembered how sensitive my skin is. I’ve been using a Neutrogena face sunscreen off and on for a long time. When I discovered Sun Bum sunscreen last year, I was excited to see that it didn’t turn my skin white or purple like most sunscreens do on black people. With all their labelings, I thought Sun Bum would be more natural than Neutrogena. I trusted, but didn’t verify.😔When my Neutrogena sunscreen finished last month, I naturally switched over to the Sun Bum sunscreen I already had at home. So on this night, I looked up the ingredients. I noticed that homosalate was 4% in Neutrogena and 10% in Sun Bum. I started doing research on homosalate and learned that it is a chemical that absorbs UV light, and is known to disrupt hormonal levels in men and women, affecting sperm count and ovulation cycles. It’s also known to cause vitamin A toxicity, which can lead to outbreaks, affects the liver, and can cause reddening and yellowing of the eyes. 😱

Vitamin A toxicity? I was simultaneously in shock and excited! Could this be it? I kept praying, immediately stopped using the sunscreen, and within 24 hours, my eye pain was gone and my breakout/acne finally started shrinking. It took 5 days for all my symptoms to go away, and I still kept my appointment with the ophthalmologist on the 26th to make sure I was in the clear. The Ophthalmologist numbed my eyes, checked my eye pressure, and diagnosed me with pingueculitis, which is caused by high exposure to UV Rays. (If you know me, you know how much I hide from the sun and stay in the shade. So this made no sense.)  I tried to explain to him that my irritation went away after I stopped using my sunscreen, but he immediately dismissed it and gave me new medicine. 4 doctors & 25 days of this ordeal, and this whole time I was poisoning myself. Non of the anti-inflammatory eye drops worked because I continued to expose myself to the very thing that was making my symptoms worse. 🤦🏾‍♀️I’m so grateful that God revealed the cause before the symptoms got way worse! I’m also grateful for everyone who prayed & sacrificed for my wellbeing! 🙌🏾

Sidebar: Many of us have been taught to focus on the symptom without realizing it’s actually a symptom. If someone’s angry, they need anger management or we simply say “stop being angry”. If a person is addicted, they need rehab, or we say “just stop doing xyz”. Anger and addiction are symptoms of a deeper problem, and if we fail to discover the cause, and only treat the symptom, we’re left with a chronic dependency that only mildly helps, but doesn’t bring freedom. It’s like putting ice on a finger because it hurts, but not going further to find what’s causing the hurt.

All this to say:

  1. Pray, pray, pray – for wisdom, direction, and insight. The answer might not come right away, but keep praying.
  2. The source of the pain might not actually be the problem, and if we keep our focus only on the (physical & emotional) symptom, we might miss the source.
  3. Pay attention to your body, and seek medical attention (including therapy) immediately when you know something’s wrong.
  4. Read ingredients & research – especially if you’re dealing with anything chronic.

Take care! 💙

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