Two months ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder.
The diagnosis came to me in a roundabout way, as these things seem to do. There were ailments and illness for years that doctors were never able to put together. When it didn’t add up, it was attributed to being a mother and the sleep deprivation and hormonal chaos that comes with it. For years, I took motherhood as a diagnosis, thinking things were just more challenging for me than they were for other people and I just needed to get it together. Things evolved, took different forms, but it never really went away.
This isn’t right. This isn’t me. I’m doing things right, I should be healthier. Life just isn’t this hard.
After Pearl was born in 2011, things got crazy. And my doctors had another excuse to write me off, because having a preschooler, a newborn and running your own business is a lot for anyone to take. For me, it was too much. Bouts of stress lead to a list of physical ailments that eventually developed a pattern. I became my own detective, finding research and forums and anything that could possibly piece these symptoms together. And I went back to the doctors for more tests and more questions.
Test results that came back normal to doctors already eager to dismiss me. Again.
“Lose some weight, get some sleep.”
Well, shit. Why didn’t I think of that?
“Probably hormones. Stop breastfeeding.”
So I did. And it got so much worse.
After a particularly bad day, I went back to the Doctor Who Dismisses Me and told her I needed more tests. This time, an “almost low” thyroid came back. She wanted to wait and see. I asked to see an endocrinologist, and was referred to an amazing doctor I had seen years ago. I was hopeful.
I talked to him for 45 minutes, and when he asked if I was depressed, tears came. Of course I was depressed. My life was eroding and nobody could tell me why.
This isn’t me. But it’s been like this for so long that I can’t tell you who I used to be. Please don’t tell me I’m crazy.
He sent me for an ultrasound. There was a bump. And a biopsy. And a quiet week of waiting to find out that I did not have cancer.
Thank God. Breathe. Thank God.
And at long last: A diagnosis. Hashimoto’s. That is what I have. It had been there all along, wreaking havoc on my life hiding behind the screen of normal blood tests.
Nice to meet you, Hashimoto’s. And fuck you very much. I’ll be taking my life back now.
Except it’s not that easy. Of course it’s not.
I started thyroid meds, elimination diet, supplements. It got better. Then Atlas and I get the flu. A week later, I have a flare. A week after that, an upper respiratory infection. Then another flare. A month of sickness. The regimen slowly stops working. It all falls apart before it even comes together.
This road to recovery is crooked as hell.
It would be really easy for me to sit here and complain about what I’ve been through. I could talk about that last year before my diagnosis, the fear and the uncertainty that goes along with an unexplained illness. I could mourn the loss of memories that weren’t made on days when I was too sick to partake. Or the ones I lived but couldn’t manage to store in my long term memory. Because those things happened, and they all sucked.
But that’s not what I’m going to do here. I can’t live like that. Instead, I am going to celebrate the life that Hashimoto’s has given me. It is not the one I had planned, but it’s the only one I’ve got. And you bet your ass I’m going to be thankful for it.
I’m not sure where this blog will go, but I do know that it is a critical part of my recovery. Sleep, eat well, slow down, laugh, breathe, write. In my own voice. The one that flows out of my fingertips and doesn’t get edited.
Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here.