Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Public Service Announcement

You’re going to get these every now and again because it’s something I’m so passionate about. If I can help anyone else avoid the grief we’ve been through, it will be worth the occasional post.

Last year, Billy got sick. He was cold all the time and had mental fog, exhaustion, constant severe muscle pain, emotional stress, weight gain, and a host of other symptoms. The thing is that these symptoms were vague enough or common enough that they might have been caused by any number of things. All he knew is that something was very, very wrong. When he went to the doctor, he discovered that he suffered from hypothyroidism. Three different medications and seven dosages later, he was a changed guy.

Unfortunately, his thyroid issues caused an even bigger problem that took more serious measures to remedy. All the motrin he’d taken for the pain had perforated his colon (who knew that could happen?) and he ended up with emergency surgery and six days in the hospital, plus months of recovery. Afterward I realized how close I came to losing him. Hypothyroidism literally almost took his life.

My memory has been bad ever since I got pregnant with Elizabeth, and I’ve had low energy since then too. I was excessively emotional. I chalked it up to mommy brain and being up with babies several times a night. That’s what my doctor said too. Billy kept telling me that I had thyroid problems, so I had my thyroid tested, but it came back “normal”. He said something was wrong. I said he was crazy.

Then last winter it got insane, or maybe I got insane. I felt like I was losing my mind—literally, not figuratively. Through the fog I wondered it this was what it felt like to be mentally ill. I couldn’t think. I read thoughtful writing by other people and cried, because once upon a time I could write those things too, and now I could barely get through the day, much less articulate a meaningful sentence.

Since I’d had my thyroid tested already, I felt sure it wasn’t that. It had to be post-partum depression that I just hadn’t dealt with. I was scared to talk to my doctor because I figured he’d just want to put me on Prozac. That’s exactly what he said. I declined.

Billy finally made me go to the doctor in January. A friend recommended a woman doctor. Although she was all business, she was willing to listen to me and consider my family history along with my symptoms. Only out of submission to my husband (whom I still thought was wrong, wrong, wrong) I asked if I could try a small dose of natural Armour if my blood work came in even close to borderline. She said yes, and she kept her word.

Oh. My. Life hasn’t been this good in a very, very long time. I’ve eaten a lot of humble pie because my husband was RIGHT. I can think again. We actually have a relationship of equals instead one that feels like a parent/child relationship—because now I can think clearly and communicate effectively. Plus Billy does not always have to check behind me, second guess me , and worry when I leave the house that my cloudy brain will prevent me from using good judgment. I’m functioning as an adult, probably for the first time ever. I feel like I’m actually a help to him in ministry rather than a hindrance.

It’s still not perfect, but I see improvement weekly. It took us a long time to get to the point we were in our health, and consequently we fell behind in every area. It’s taking awhile to dig out, both physically and in our day-to-day existence. But I’m so excited that finally I can get up at a normal hour for days at a time, function with less than 9 hours’ sleep, exercise (because I have the time and energy), write (because I have the time and mental wherewithal), have a meaningful conversation with my husband, and take care of my babies without dissolving into a puddle of tears. I told Billy the other day that he and I will be younger for the next ten years than we’ve been for the last ten (which is saying a lot when you’re talking about a couple youngsters like ourselves).

It might seem coincidental that two married people end up with the same malady. Actually, hypothyroidism is epidemic in our country, and massively under-diagnosed. No one knows for sure why, but it seems to have something to do with environmental exposure to things like fluoride and soy.

If you even remotely suspect that you could have thyroid issues, don’t delay in getting it checked out. Billy and I recommend Mary Shomon’s book Living Well With Hypothyroidism . Get it, read it, learn it. You have to be your own advocate. Shop for doctors until you find one who will listen to you. Be armed with the facts and don’t let up until you get answers. It’s not worth losing your health and your mind.

1 comment:

TulipGirl said...

*huuuug*

Thank you for posting his. Hubby, too, has thyroid issues. And it made a WORLD of difference when it was identified and treated.