Here I was going about my daily life. The sun was shining. The grass was green. Everyone was healthy. I had scheduled my annual appointment with my general practioner. It’s about 45 minutes driving from my home to the doctor office and I really wasn’t in a hurry.
The appointment started out like any other. The nurse took my vitals and then started the questions… “Are you in pain?”, “Any concerns that you want to discuss?”, etc. I answered “No” to everything and waited patiently for my doctor to arrive. She did within a few minutes.
“Hey Brande, how are things going? Gosh it’s been awhile. That’s good. Feeling healthy? What’s new?” This was our normal discourse. Only, I wasn’t feeling so pleasant anymore. It was a switch or something that took my pleasant persona and replaced it with major anger. I could hardly answer her questions.
She sensed the sudden shift and asked to check my vitals again. The blood pressure that had been normal less than five minutes earlier was now dangerously high. I started sweating and shaking. This wasn’t the first time and I was embarrassed. We followed up the appointment with some blood work and I was done. It wasn’t until I was outside again that I felt normal. Actually I felt bad about being grumpy with everyone in the office.
Two days later I got a phone call saying that my blood work was normal, but the doctor wanted to see me again within the week. I instantly became surly and demanded to know why. Turns out she was concerned about my blood pressure and heart.
I went back and ended up on blood pressure meds. Another line of questioning began and ended with some mood stabilizing meds too.
Three months later and I went back, but I was experiencing the mood swings almost regularly now. Family history questions came into play now. “Any history of mental illness?, “Male or female?”, “Any family history of illegal drug use /addiction?”, etc. This time I answered “Yes”. More blood work.
Years came and went, refills were followed up on, blood work was ordered and drawn; but no one could give me a definitive answer to why I was getting noticeably worse. I was gaining weight, feeling exhausted 24/7, moody, feeling depressed and anxious at the same time, my headaches were getting worse and my hair wasn’t cooperating. My heat sensitivity was managing my desire to even step outside. I just wasn’t “Me” anymore. I wanted to sleep constantly. Which I did.
It wasn’t until I had a full blown panic/anxiety attack which led to thoughts of suicide and a case of pneumonia that my doctor sent me to specialists: endocrinologists, psychologists, and a gynecologist. Finally! Some real help! Yay!
Boo! They diagnosed me as being hypothyroid with a side of Hashimoto’s Disease. If I took Armour (thyroid medication) I should start feeling better. Within six months I was 100% Hashimoto’s with Hypothyroidism and Autoimmune deficiency. Turned out that this combo is deadly. There is no cure. There is no relief. “…We can offer band-aid medications to keep you comfortable, but your ability to function normally is severely altered… You can eat like a bird and not lose weight… Take breaks and rest as often as possible, if you don’t it will take you longer to recover from everything… Stay out of environments which are germy or frustrating… Listen to your body, more than you ever did before… See you in a year.”
WHAT?! My mind went into overdrive. Am I dying? Everyone is dying -stupid question. What am I going to say to a classroom of 30 teenagers? –Ummm, hi. I’m having a particularly bad decade, could you please not stuff ______ into a trash can? Oh and ______ if you would stop being so cruel to your “friends”, you might feel better about yourself… Please do not breathe on or near me. I know it is -4*, but I need fresh air so the windows are staying open, bring a coat to class.
How was I going to explain this to my husband, family, colleagues, friends, etc?
Yesterday I was visiting one of my specialists and was asked, “…have you ever been tested for bi-polar?” My response, “Yes, until they found out I was Hashimoto’s, why?” Her, “…bi-polar is easier to treat. You’d be better off bi-polar than Hashimoto’s, you poor thing.” And this is where a letter is supposed to drop from the sky, attach itself to my dog’s collar to be brought to me, saying “You are free of any/all disease! Go on a wonderful all-inclusive vacation and when you arrive home, your bills will be paid forever. We apologize that you went through this, it was an error on our part. Thank you!” there would be fairy dust everywhere and I would feel genuinely happy for more than 7.5 minutes.