Sunday, April 24, 2016

Living with Hypothyroidism: What It's Like For Me Anyway

First, let me say that I am not writing this post so anyone feels sorry for me. I know plenty of people who have much more to bear than I do, I know many people who are actively sick and struggle with things much bigger, badder and scarier than the things that I face. Having said that, I am a strong believer in the idea that we all have our baggage to carry, and your baggage can become quite a burden to you, if you don't talk about it and let people in.

I have Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism. This is a form of hypothyroidism that is actually an autoimmune disorder. In a sense, my own body is attacking my thyroid gland and thus, killing it. The thing is though, it doesn't happen in a nice, slow, measurable decline like regular hypothyroidism, this kind happens in undulating waves of ups and downs of the thyroid hormones in my bloodstream. A person suffering from Hashimoto's though, gets the same regulated dose of medication daily. This means that when I have a bad day, the medication dose I have may just not be enough to help boost my body up to the levels I need. On a medium day, I can maybe squeak by. On a good day- I'm good. At least this is how I have come to understand how this thing is playing around in my body.

What this looks like in my daily life is this: I am fatigued, almost every day of my life, in almost every minute. Things that I used to be able to do with no effort take a Herculean amount of effort at this point in my life. Going to the grocery store can wipe me out completely to the point where I need a complete day to recover. On a really bad day, I can't even manage a shower. On a bad day I feel like I am slogging through wet cement or quick sand to get every single task completed. I nap -a lot, yet I never feel quite rested enough. My personality has suffered for this because when you are this fatigued this much, you just can't be your best, you are not afforded the luxury of being yourself. You are a prisoner to that one small, butterfly shaped gland in your neck and what havoc it is wreaking inside your body. Let me explain here, fatigue is different from being tired. When you are tired, you can sleep and feel better, not so with fatigue, it just goes on and on and on, but you still need the sleep.

I sometimes can't concentrate or finish my sentences anymore. This is the brain fog that comes along with hypothyroidism. This is no laughing matter. I used to think it was just the meds I was on for my migraines but I have since learned that it is related to my thyroid. I can just phase out in the middle of a sentence and not even care that I don't remember. To say that this is frustrating is an understatement. Multi-tasking is a thing of the past. I rely heavily on lists and my 11 year old daughter's brain now.

I have lost the outer ⅔ of my eyebrows. I have thin patches of hair on my scalp. My skin on my legs is dry. My feet swell. I have high cholesterol that is NOT related to my diet, thank you very much.

The biggest issues of all though is that I struggle with depression. The lack of thyroid hormones circulating in the bloodstream directly affect the human brain and one of those affects? Depression. This is something else I feel that takes me away from my family, that makes me something less than I used to be, that stops me from showing them how much I love them, how precious they are. It is so hard to fight this day in and day out. When you are fatigued to the point of tears and also feeling depressed, every problem becomes bigger and every victory becomes smaller.

As you all know, I also suffer from migraines and as my thyroid hormones get lowered, That sets off migraines. I came to this realization myself, thought I was nuts, then came across several medical articles that backed up my guy feelings on this. My migraine maintenance meds also enhance some of these issues: feelings of fatigue, mental slowness, weight gain, fatigue. Then, I get shit hammered by the migraines themselves- that's fun.

I am just writing this because I have read several articles and blog entries written by people who suffer from these things and they help me to understand that I am not alone. They help to educate people who may not have these diseases but know someone who does, so they might be able to be a more understanding friend or spouse or sibling or parent. I am writing this also, to let myself know that it's ok to nap because...damn.
I struggled with whether to post this or not because I really don't want pity. I want the people in my life to just know what it's like to be me so they get it when I say, "I just can't do that today" or when I lay down for yet another nap. I went for three years with my thyroid being under-treated and I am feeling better month by month now but I think it will be awhile before I can say that I am where I need to be.

It is very difficult to find a Doc that truly gets how to treat thyroid disfunction, they all think it's as easy as going by a few simple lab results but we are learning that it is actually so much more than that. There is a Doc in Europe that is doing complete thyroidectomies for Hashimoto's as a trial right now but this is what I have been wanting for myself for years. I take other supplements to help boost my thyroid function. I see all of my doctors when I should. I take my meds as prescribed. I am holding up my end of things.

I am trying. I have a family that loves me and supports me. My husband is my rock. Without that man, I would be lost. He is there every single time I need him. He fills in for me, he is a wonderful father, a husband that surpasses my wildest dreams as a partner in crime. I can't even begin to list the times he has saved my bacon. How he is with the kids just turns me to goo- he is absolutely a wonderful person. He gives this little family everything he has.

And finally, my children. There is nothing in this world as precious and wonderful as they are. I have talked to them about why things with me are like they are. They get it. They understand and while, sometimes it makes them sad, they don't judge me. They still cuddle me and tell me I'm the best Mama ever. They laugh and sing and bring light into every moment of every single day.

So, my thyroid may suck. I may be tired and my head might hurt. But my life is wonderful and full of love and joy and light and for those things I will take the horrible thyroid and the migraines because in the end, the joke is on the Universe. I got the deal of the century. And in the words of Bruce Springsteen, I want all the time that heaven will allow.