You go through seasons of life, wondering what's going to happen next. Well, let's just say I had no idea what was coming...
It has been an interesting few months. I can't believe that it's already half way through the year. I remember January like it was yesterday, but I feel like it's also creeped along. Anyone else feel that way? I'm just looking forward to all the warm days ahead, laying out, and spending more time in the sunshine.
Okay, so I don't even know how to begin this post. I've been contemplating writing this, but I also feel like since I've shared a bit on social media, why not go into detail on my blog? I'm not writing this because I want people to feel bad for me. I'm writing this to share my story and hopefully inspire people who are going through the same thing, or have gone through it.
Okay, let's jump in. It's a long one, so be ready.
Over the course of the past three years, I thought my health has been pretty good. I was in the best shape of my life, working out all the time, was eating as healthy as I could, and wasn't obsessing over my body image. I felt great, even though there was something else going on. Right before Cory and I got married three years ago, I noticed something strange going on with my eye. My left eyelid looked like it was drooping, and it was worse when I was tired. I felt like I was tired all the time, and just thought I was doing a lot because we were preparing for the wedding. Well, it didn't go away. I'm the kind of person that hates going to the doctor. I will wait it out and just avoid it all costs (definitely have learned my lesson about that the past few months). The drooping eyelid lasted for a good two years. Sometimes it would look fine, and other days it looked like I had a serious problem. On top of that, my energy was decreasing and I was fatigued all the time.
Last summer, Cory and I had a very, very stressful couple months. We had to rethink a lot of things in our lives, and we eventually moved home to Seattle because we felt like God was telling us to go. Within a week of deciding, we moved home from being in LA for two years, and we know it was the right decision.
Last October, I had major fatigue. We were so happy to be home, and I thought I was tired all the time because of the gloomy Seattle weather. We were also recovering from a stressful summer, so I just thought I was exhausted and recovering while being home. Well, fatigue got worse, and it started to affect EVERYTHING. My workouts, my social life, and everything I did. I became depressed, started stressing over everything, and my anxiety levels went through the roof. I would sleep 10-12 hours, and still couldn't get out of bed. Sometimes, I even would turn my alarm off in my sleep- and that was definitely not me. During this time, I began to develop a weird, itchy rash on my legs. They were little red bumps, and would come and go as they pleased. I would have scratch marks on my legs and back from itching myself so much in my sleep. Cory would have to wake me up because I would be aggressively scratching my legs during the middle of the night. It would sometimes even be hard to fall asleep because of it. It was extremely uncomfortable, and that was one of the signs I knew something was wrong.
With the rash and tiredness, I began to get these little headaches and felt pressure behind my eyes. Sometimes I would randomly get pounding headaches, and I had no idea why. My eyes felt like they were straining, and I just thought it was because I needed to wear my driving glasses more (which I probably did), but that wasn't the problem. Also, my mom and other people in my life started to notice my eyes looked different. Something was off. My eyes looked larger than normal, and it looked like my eyes were popping out of my head. I also began to have super puffy eyes and nothing would get rid of them. Also during this time, my nails starting to become brittle, my hair was falling out in abnormal quantities, and I began to develop a tremor in my hands.
I was hungry ALL THE TIME. I would eat a huge meal, and an hour later I was hungry. I just thought it was because I was working out a lot. But then I noticed my workouts started to change and I couldn't push myself as hard. My heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest when I ran .5 of a mile. I used to be able to run 4 miles without stopping, and I wanted to die after 1 mile. I also noticed that I would be out of breath going up stairs, and I would randomly feel like I wasn't breathing and would have to take deep breaths all the time. I had crazy mood swings, and would have mini panic attacks. I also felt like I had a ball in the back of my throat, and sometimes it would be hard to swallow my food. My neck became larger. I had a sniffle and a "cold" for six months. All of these symptoms were changing everything I did, and I knew that something was wrong. But didn't go to the doctor until six months after feeling this way. My mom got my health insurance card out of my wallet and dialed for me and said "This is serious and you need to call. Now."
Within the week, I went to the doctor. I was nervous and wasn't sure what was coming my way, but I thought that maybe it was my thyroid. Thyroid issues are so common these days, and doctors aren't sure what exactly causes them.
Thankfully I went in that day, because my blood pressure and heart rate were extremely high. I didn't think they were because I thought that was "normal" and didn't feel anything different from the day before. I used to check my resting heart rate, and last year it was around 50-60 bpm, and my blood pressure was very normal (110/50 or 120/60). That morning, I was on the verge of having a stroke and didn't even realize it. My resting heart rate was over 100, and my blood pressure was high 150's/high 90's. NO WONDER I felt like I was having mini anxiety attacks and my heart felt like it was going to explode. Immediately, I had to be medicated and started taking Atenolol, which is a beta-blocker. The doctor couldn't exactly diagnose me with anything because he wasn't an endocrinologist, but had an idea of what it was. Which was hyperthyroidism, and an auto immune disorder called Graves' Disease.
After a month of lots of blood work, a CT scan on my chest, and an ultra sound on my neck, I met with an endocrinologist and the first doctor was correct... I have hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease. My thyroid was also three times the size as normal. If you don't know, hyperthyroidism is where your thyroid is over active, and produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. In a nutshell, my thyroid was producing too much hormone and basically attacking itself. My body was over working which makes sense due to my symptoms. With hyperthyroidism, you can develop an auto immune disorder called Graves'. Graves' Disease is where antibodies produced by your immune system stimulate your thyroid to produce too much T-4 thyroxine. With Graves', antibodies mistakenly attack your thyroid and the tissue behind your eyes, your skin, and often the legs. It all made sense after hearing that.
Since then, I've been taking a medication called Methimazole, which targets and is supposed to regulate my overactive thyroid, and I'm still taking Atenolol for my heart rate and blood pressure. Methimazole is a pretty harsh medication. When I mean harsh, I mean you can't have kids while you're on it. This was actually heart breaking because I don't know how long I have to be on this medication, and Cory and I wanted to start trying next fall to get pregnant. Once you're off the medication, it takes about 6-9 months for your body to get rid of the medicine in your body, and after that time period you can get pregnant. Our goal is for my thyroid to go into remission, and praying that it does. But, because I have an auto immune disorder, it can always come back later in your life, even when you're pregnant. So most likely we won't be having children any time soon.
Now, if it does go into remission, and my thyroid goes back to normal size, I won't have to get surgery. I could always take radioactive iodine, which basically kills part of your thyroid, but I'm still not sure yet if that's what I want to do. I've also changed my diet, and have to be very careful with what I eat. Food can be used for healing, and I'm trying my best to eat the right things for my body so I don't have to get surgury or radioactive iodine.
Thyroid problems are so common, it's almost scary. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid diseases, and are unaware of their condition. Women are five to eight more times more likely to than men to have thyroid issues. One in eight women will develop a thyroid issue at some point in their life. And the problem is still largely unknown (I personally think it's caused by stress).
One of the reasons why this has been such a confusing season of my life is because I keep thinking to myself... Why. Why is this happening. I'm finally at the point of publicly talking about it, and letting others know that I'm going to be okay.
THE NEXT STEPS
Honestly, I have no idea what is going to happen. I've been getting my blood work done for the past three months... and my body has been responding to the medicine. It's been responding so much to the medicine that now I'm hypo... I went from extreme hyperthyroidism to hypothyroidism. The most frustrating part of this whole experience is I've gained weight... I'm pretty psycho about eating heathy and working out consistently. I also struggled with my weight when I was younger, and it's always been something that I've worried about. It's stupid, I know. But it's also about how I feel and my energy levels. For the past three weeks, I've been more exhausted than usual. I've noticed my clothes aren't fitting like they used to, my face feels more swollen, I've been feeling extremely sluggish, and my mood is just down. Sometimes, I don't have the desire to do anything. I guess that's what happens when you're hypo. I'm just hoping and praying that it can get sorted out and my body can find a balance soon. Everything in my life is suffering from it. I'm just thankful that I have an amazing husband who stands by my side and has been helping me through this whole journey. I'm also thankful for my family and friends that have been an incredible support system during this process. I wouldn't know how to go through this without them.
I feel for the people who have struggled with this disease for their whole life. It's no joke, and not something that should be taken lightly. If you have thyroid problems or thyroid cancer, I'm sorry that you had to go through it. It's hard to explain to people what's going on if they haven't experienced it themselves. Sometimes it feels like a minor problem, and yes I'm thankful that I don't have anything else wrong with me. BUT if it's not taken care of, it can lead to other harmful things. I recently heard a story from someone that I'm going to share. Someone recently told me that they had a stroke, and was emitted into the hospital. They're around 24 years old, and the doctors were very concerned as to why someone who looked healthy would have a stroke like this one. Well, turned out the person had Graves' Disease and hyperthyroidism. No one wants to go through that or watch someone go through that.
If you're feeling ANY of the symptoms I have mentioned, please go see a doctor and get looked at. If anything, it will only help.
I told myself at the beginning of the year that I wasn't going to make any resolutions. The only thing I wanted to do is to learn to go with the flow, and not stress about anything I can't change. Well, having a thyroid problem is the perfect example. The only thing I can change is how I respond to this whole journey, and how I can use this in my life story. I want to be able to take this negative thing in my life, and turn it into something good. Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I hope I can inspire someone and let them know that they're not alone. It's halfway through 2018, and I've been battling with this for the past four months. Yes, thyroid problems are frustrating. But each day I wake up, I'm learning something new about this whole journey, and praying that it will go uphill from here.
I'll continue to share my journey with you as time goes on, but for right now this is all I have to say. Thank you for reading.