Friday, May 03, 2013

Explanations, Apologies, and Hashimoto's

This blog has lain dormant for the past four months.  It's been frustrating for me to not have the time or the energy to keep it up.  I'm not even sure I've picked up my camera much in that time either.  I needed a bit of R&R time.

Last summer, I learned that during the normal postpartum period, there are 4-6 months where a woman's thyroid goes into a slight "hyperdrive" mode... rapid weight loss, maybe a little bit of a rapid heart rate, and maybe some extra perspiration.  At about 6 or 7 months postpartum, the thyroid goes back to normal, or even occasionally dips down into an under-productive mode.  Most women don't even realize the changes in their body.

For me, it was pretty debilitating.

Every time I took a shower, I ended up with large clumps of hair in my hand.  All along my hair line, I had 1 inch-long sections that stood straight up, while the hair on the rest of my head was extremely thinned out.  I have always had thick, healthy hair.  Seeing my hair so thin and brittle was scaring me.

Confession:  I haven't cut my hair since last July.

I was keeping my hair in a cute chin-length Victoria Beckham-type bob.  I was afraid that cutting my hair would just make what was left look extremely shaggy.  Of course, maybe it could have hidden the short sections better, but I was too tired to schedule an appointment and not sure if I wanted to risk the shagginess. 
Lucas took this of me a couple days ago.  Pretty good, huh?  You can see where one of my shaggy segments is by my part.  My hair has started to grow back enough that I can usually tame those spots.
I was also extremely fatigued.  Everyone kept telling me it was part of being a new mom, and that it would get better.  I knew what being a new mom felt like.  I was a second-time mom.  When I say "extreme fatigue," I'm not talking about pulling an all-nighter... just take a nap, and you'll feel loads better.  I'm talking about sleeping constantly, and when you are awake and trying to walk, it feels like 2 people are hanging off of your shoulders and dragging you down.  Just the effort of picking up your feet a few times to go to the bathroom, and you're ready for another nap.  Every time Jack went down for a nap, I put a movie on for Lucas, and I passed out.  When my eyes were open, everything was foggy.  I couldn't understand half of what I was hearing, no matter how hard I tried to concentrate.  I used to be the mental keeper of my husband's keys or my son's favorite toy.  They'd ask me where something was, and I could remember exactly where I'd last seen it.  I can't count the number of items I misplaced last summer and fall.  I needed my husband to schedule just about every appointment (including mine).  He did just about every household chore.  I did my best to at least keep dishes going in and out of our dishwasher, but I couldn't even accomplish that every day. I was seriously considering whether or not I should keep working.  I couldn't have gotten through this without Jason's support.

The extreme fatigue was leading to depression.  I just wanted to be able to function normally.  I didn't even care about being supermom.  Actually, I was experiencing 2 extremes at one time.  I had such a hard time caring about anything, and at the same time, the apathy was creating some serious anxiety, because surely I should care about something, right?  I had some very irrational phobias...  On Tuesdays, I tried my hardest to get the trash together after the boys went to bed so that Jason wouldn't have to do it when he got home.  However, every time I took the trash cans to the end of the driveway in the dark, I would start crying.  I couldn't handle being outside in my own yard in the dark.  Thankfully, Jason saw how anxious and terrified this made me, that he insisted I leave the trash can for him to take to the road.

Other issues I was dealing with included a huge intolerance to cold.  I was so chilled all of the time that it felt like I had a fever (even though my temp was normal).  My eczema flared up, and I ended up with a staph infection because my body couldn't defend itself.  I had frequent palpitations which occasionally left me short of breath.  During one month, I had 3 separate periods.

After several months of seeing my primary physician, insisting that something was wrong, and several lab draws with a "mildly elevated" thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), one result finally jumped to a critically high level.  I was finally referred to an endocrinologist, placed on thyroid hormones, and very slowly, I've been returning back to "normal" (although I still have some bad days).  More lab tests have shown that I actually have antibodies to my own thyroid, leading to a diagnosis of Hashimoto's Disease, a type of autoimmune disorder.  My endocrinologist said that my body will continue to destroy parts of my thyroid throughout my lifetime.  I've been having to adjust to remembering to take a medicine every morning, at least a half-hour before I eat (or my body will not be able to absorb it correctly), lab draws several times a year, visits to a specialist at least yearly.  I have been having to accept the fact that the dosage of my medicine will need to be almost doubled if I even want to think about getting pregnant again, or else I could miscarry or my baby could have some sort of brain malformation.

I'm sorry to anyone who feels I have been rude or unsocial in the past 8 months.  I am only just now beginning to realize how much I have missed out on simply because I couldn't pay attention or understand.  

I'm sorry this post is so ridiculously long :).

I will try my best to catch up with everything that has happened the past few months :).

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