1 week and 3 days ago I went to the doctor for what felt like the millionth time. My complaints were the same as usual, my sugar is out of control, my head hurts constantly, I am exhausted beyond words, and my stomach aches seem to control my life. I had little hope that I would leave with an answer; I have been dealing with these issues for the past 4 years. However, despite my less than optimistic outlook, my husband urged me to go get things checked out and so off to the doctor I trekked.
The nurses did the usual, weight, temp, blood pressure, describe how you feel. Then the doctor came in. I have a wonderful doctor by the way; she’s part of a great group as a whole actually. She has been seeing me for the past 2 years and she has not once written my complaints off or made me feel like the crazy person who doctors are just humoring because, “obviously there is nothing wrong with her, the poor girl just needs some attention.” She asked me the usual questions once again but then, instead of giving me the usual answer, which is to chalk all my complaints up to Hypoglycemia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, she reassured me that they would try to get to the bottom of this once and for all. So she proceeded to order a full blood workup complete with a full thyroid panel and a thyroid antibody test.
Why thyroid you ask? Well, after giving birth to Baby L and losing 33 pounds in less than 4 weeks my doctors did blood work and confirmed that I was experiencing symptoms of hyperthyroidism which they assured me would most likely subside as more time passed and my postpartum hormones returned to normal. Little did we know, we were in for a shocker with this latest blood work.
My thyroid has pretty much ceased to function. At all. My TSH levels are extremely elevated, my Free T3 and T4 are all but nonexistent, and my immune system is pumping out antibodies as if my body is preparing for an alien invasion. Except that there are no aliens, just my poor thyroid. In short, I have an extreme case of Autoimmune Hashimotos Hypothyroidism and my Vitamin D levels are dangerously low; as my husband’s primary care doctor so aptly put it, its a miracle I’m up and walking around. My answer to him was simply, “I told you I didn’t feel good.” (For those of you not familiar with what I’m referring to, hyperthyroidism is a condition where your body pumps out too much of a certain hormone, revving up your metabolism; hypothyroidism is pretty much the opposite.)
This really should have come as no surprise honestly. In the past four years, despite a fairly consistent running regimen and healthy eating habits (more recently becoming consistent) I have gained a whopping total of 75 pounds and no matter how much I work out or eat healthy that scale just does not budge. My hair falls out in clumps, my neck has swollen to twice its normal size, my joints and muscles ache constantly, I get terrible migraines 3 or more times a week, I have a debilitating case of IBS that has sent me to the E.R. writhing in pain 5 times, my blood pressure has a habit of falling rapidly which often leaves me passed out on the floor, and my hypoglycemia which is normally pretty controllable has become unmanageable.
Why, you might ask, didn’t I get help earlier? I honestly tried. I went to multiple doctors and had multiple tests done. More often than not I was told there was nothing wrong; that I had unhealthy habits, I wasn’t “taking care of myself”, I was just fat, I needed to take up yoga or learn to meditate. These answers came not only from so called health professionals but a few family members as well. Honestly, when you’re told these things often enough you start to believe them. I began to look at my health as a joke. Expecting to be sick and laughing about the excess weight in order to hide my pain and heartbreak.
Thankfully however, God pointed my doctors in the right direction and helped us find the truth. After a certain period of disappointment (and more than a few tears) over the reality of dealing with this disease and being on medication probably for the rest of my life, I can honestly say I am relieved. I have answers now. I have a great group of doctors working hard to help me feel better. I have an amazing husband who loves me skinny, fat, and everything in between. Most importantly though, I have my wonderful Abba Father and I know without a doubt that He has a plan through all of this.
A well intentioned friend of mine who has experienced all the same health problems referred me to an online Facebook support group designed to help other women dealing with this issue find support and community. At first when I looked up this page I was excited in anticipation of finding exactly what the group seemed to promise, a community of women building each other up and supporting each other in the wake of a common health condition. Well, aside from a few snarkily amusing pictures, the majority of this page is full of women complaining about the woes of their terrible disease. Its sad. This is a terrible disease, don’t get me wrong, and I’m all for venting when venting is needed. But I can’t for the life of me handle all the negativity and resignation these women seem to be feeling.
So instead of turning to online support groups I’ve decided to do something different, I’ve turned in earnest to the pages of God’s Word and I am calling out to my Abba for peace and comfort. Which He has lovingly and faithfully provided me. His word assures me in 2nd Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” So to these words I will cling from now on. Thankfully, I have a few friends and 1 family member who know exactly what I’m going through and they are overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Most important of all though, I have God.
With the peace, comfort, and strength his Holy Spirit has given me I can say with conviction, “Mountains, meet my God.” I am firmly holding onto Him and His Word to get me through this. Its a challenge for sure, but for the first time I am not afraid, I am relieved.