Friday, April 29, 2011

My Story (part 1)

Yesterday, I read an article by Cindi S.

 Most of it could have been written by me.

I first asked my doctor to check my thyroid  function when I was not yet 20 years old.  That's nearly 30 years ago.  My symptoms then were thyroid enlargement, depression, overweight, swollen ankles, heat intolerance, low body temperature, cold hands and feet and fatigue.  My doctor at the time said he'd check, but I owed him chocolate chip cookies when it came back normal.  Which it did.

What is normal?  I don't know which test or tests my doctor used.  I suspect he used the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test.  It was still fairly new at the time and was (and is, in many circles) considered the 'gold standard' for guaging thyroid function.  Since that time, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) effectively lowered the range of 'normal', although many labs still use 5 as the upper limit of "normal" anyway.  Of course that was in the US.  I am in Canada.  But maybe I would have scored a hypothyroid lab test then, if the lower range had been in effect.  But who was I to argue with a lab test?

I got married a few years later.  All my symptoms persisted.  The births of all but one of my children were followed by post-partum depression.  My husband tends to be a go-getter...I most definitely was not.  Increasingly, I found I did not handle stress well.  In 2001, I 'finally' began taking an anti-depressant.  Eventually, I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia (joint pain, stultifying fatigue, insomnia).  My skin and hair got very dry.  My nails split and eventually my hair started falling out periodically.  I was dizzy and frequently couldn't finish a sentence I'd started.

At this point, my thyroid was tested again, and again came back 'normal'...although it was high-normal.  The resident (and this man is practicing somewhere in Ontario!) told me, in effect, that I was a bored, middle-aged housewife who needed to get out and do something to take my mind off of myself.  I was so fogged in that I was at the end of the hallway before the urge to clobber him came to me.  I wanted to cry.

Before the "fibromyalgia" struck me, I had been the volunteer queen.  I had many, perhaps too many, activities I enjoyed doing.  I had people I enjoyed seeing.  At the  point where this doctor met me, I was recovering from major surgery, and had stopped all my activities so that what energy I had I used for my family.  When you are severely fatigued, you may fall into a state of anhedonia...the inability to take pleasure in anything.  That was pretty much where I was at.  Had it not been for my family, I would not have gotten out of bed in the morning...but the condition would also have kept me from sleeping.  Oh...I was on TWO prescription sleeping pills at this point, too.

I managed to get enough thoughts together to realize that that particular doctor was a jerk. 

Around  the same time though, I had been given a chance to learn a new and interesting skill, with the potential for a good income from it.  I could do this work from home, which was an added bonus because it meant I didn't have to use my precious and scarce energy to leave the house.  It would allow me to get off of disability!

That is when I realized just how bad things had gotten.  My goldfish-memory span (three seconds!) and inability to handle stress made it impossible to handle what I saw could be a very good occupation for me.  I crashed and burned.  The coup de grace was my 'boss' telling me I'd been slow to learn a particular aspect.  If I could have bellowed, I would have.  NO ONE HAS EVER CALLED ME A SLOW LEARNER!  But he was correct.  I had been unable to figure out the task he gave me.

I had to do something.

But right now, I need to take my temperature.  More in my next post.

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