Thursday, July 16, 2015

And the diagnosis is...

A few days ago, I finally received my test results of the blood work I had done, over a month ago. I had went to my doctor with the explicit purpose of getting myself tested for hypothyroidism.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and arthritis at the tender age of 28. I have always managed to keep my fibro at bay, for the most part by, exercising and eating well. Then, I was derailed straight into hell...

In the past, I had loved winter. As a substitute teacher, I love snow days! I loved getting out in the snow and playing with my kids. I didn't love it as much as Summer, but it still was enjoyable. That all changed 3 winters ago when I began having problems.

One winter I began to get depressed. Depressed enough I knew I needed help and went and got put on Zoloft, an antidepressant. That seemed to help the "winter blues" I was having. The next winter, I had to go have my dosage of Zoloft increased.  I also began avoiding going outside because of the cold. Cold was painful.  Not just normal painful, but painful enough that it caused me to avoid it at all costs. I lived in a mobile home that was near impossible to regulate temperature, and there were days were I would lay in bed, because I could not function if the house was too cold.  This last winter was more of the same. I bought a "Happy light-" A light that gives off full spectrum light to increase your bodies production of vitamin D.  I also started putting full spectrum light bulbs in the lamps around the house. It helped slightly, but I had to up my dosage of Zoloft again.

I also started losing my hair.  I have exceptionally thick hair, but I was losing it by the handfuls. My skin became irritably dry and itchy. There were nights I couldn't sleep and lay in bed slathering myself in Aveeno anti-itch lotion.  I didn't know why this all was happening to me, but at times I thought I was losing my mind.

All of this I blamed on fibromyalgia. I had been doing very well dealing with my fibro, but all the sudden the symptoms changed and came at me full force. I still had arthritis. I still had achiness occasionally, but the fatigue is what was really getting me. I have to nap quite often, and I can literally sleep a huge part of the day away if I didn't have kids who kept me going.  This was new.  I attributed it to my use of Zoloft. A big side effect of Zoloft is sleepiness. However, this went way beyond being tired, but I just didn't see it. This was fatigue.

There were some people in my life, who just didn't see my suffering. To them I was lazy...."You sleep more than anyone I know!" "Get up and do something, you will feel better!" "There is nothing wrong with you." "You feel bad everyday." If you have to say that to someone close to you, take a step back and look at the situation with new eyes, because something is NOT right. 

The sad truth is I felt lazy. I didn't understand why I had to sleep...why I had to literally hide from the cold (Even a super cool air conditioner is painful), why I felt crazy...why did my skin itch so bad?  Why was I depressed? What is wrong with me that I am so miserable?  I am worthless.

In desperation to manage my life, I abused caffeine. Caffeine is my drug.  I am not even sure how much I ingest a day, but I think it's the equivalent to 8 cups of coffee. I drink Crystal light energy...all. day. long.  I do this just to function. Despite this, I still am not functioning well, and still need naps.

During a nasty sinus infection I discovered real Sudafed-not the over-the-counter-stuff... the good stuff they hide behind the counter- will give you a good dose of all day energy.  I hate to admit it, but there are days where I will take the 24 hour Sudafed just so I can focus and have energy to clean my house.

I work as a Substitute teacher. If I had to work that day, I was in bed by 6:00 PM. I literally had nothing left to give my husband and my children.

I felt like a failure.

So this brings me to a few months ago, while I was sitting in my chiropractor's office reading one of the little magazines they give out for free. I began reading an article about hypothyroidism. My niece had been diagnosed with it a year ago, and so I thought I would read and get to know more about it.

The moment I saw the symptom list it was like a light went off above me and all the Heaven's sang out in unison...

  • Fatigue YES!
  • Increased sensitivity to cold HORRIBLY SO!
  • Constipation OCCASIONALLY
  • Dry skin YES! To the point I was having to buy special dry skin-itch lotions!!
  • Unexplained weight gain YES!
  • Puffy face  Uhh...YEAH!
  • Hoarseness Sometimes.
  • Muscle weakness Sometimes.
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level NO.
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffnessYES!
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints YES!
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods YES!
  • Thinning hair Oh YEAH!
  • Slowed heart rate Not sure.
  • Depression YES!!
  • Impaired memory YES!!
I had 14 of the 16 symptoms. It wasn't fibro making me miserable. It was my thyroid!!

You would have thought I would have ran to the doctor immediately.  However, I didn't. I researched and read.  I learned that most hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disease. Those run in my family, so I was concerned. However, I do not yet know if that is the case with me. I also learned that hypothyroidism is a rampant disease in this country.  It shouldn't be due to our abundance of iodine containing foods. Makes me wonder what is in the water? 

So I went to the doctor and she ordered my blood work. She also ordered labs to test my vitamin D levels, (which I suspected were low), and my cholesterol.

The tests came back just as I suspected. Low Vitamin D levels, and a broken thyroid. I upped my daily intake of Vitamin D3 to 5000 IU's a day and the Doc started me on Levothyroxin. ($4 at Wal-Mart! SCORE!) I will continue to use my happy light, even though it is Summer, and I will try to spend more time outdoors.  I need to lose weight so I will go on walks and try to eat better.

I am optimistic that this will give me some relief from the fatigue, and hair loss, and cold sensitivity, and dry skin!  I am just thankful to know I am not  crazy, I am not lazy, I am not a wimp...what has been affecting me has name, and it's manageable! 

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