Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chornically Ill, Perpetually Hoepful

I've been thinking of making a post like this for a while. Kind of an "evolution of disease" with me being the only case study, lol. I have two chronic conditions. One which is mostly evolved and could have been taken care of when I was a lot younger, the other which is a bit of a contributing factor. The one that is evolved is surgical menopause caused by Adenomyosis and PCOS. The second is Hashimoto's which is a thyroid disorder.

Lets get some background here, for those who do not know what this is. Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and (eventually) death of the thyroid glad. Your thyroid is located in your neck and is responsible for secreting hormones that are essential for body function. Without it your body cannot function normally. Thyroid disorders (Hashimoto's, general hypo or hyper thyroid, and Grave's) tend to run in families. Typically Hashimoto's, Celiac, and PCOS go hand in hand as they are mostly the result of dysfunction of the autoimmune system. Symptoms of Hashimoto's include fatigue, depression, weight gain, overall aches and pains, intolerance to cold, puffy face and extremities, goiters, and a few others. My mom has hypothyroid. My sister has Grave's disease.

Adenomyosis is similar to endometriosis. It causes the uterine wall to become basically filled with blood. It causes horrible, painful, periods. It's a contributor of miscarriages. I've had symptoms of this since I started my period. I used to think it was normal to bleed through two tampons and a pad in an hour. I would sit in class with pain so bad my hands would shake. All of this I though was normal because my father and stepmother told me it was. My dad even refused to buy me pads because my step mom didn't use them. IDK what I would have done with out friends who would bring me pads and pain pills at school.

I've always been a bit on the heavier side. This is no secret. When I was 15ish I had my thyroid levels tested because of my mom and my sister's issues. At the time I was borderline hyper. This didn't make any sense to me. It makes sense now. In many cases, with Hashimoto's, thyroid levels go up and then crash down. This process of the thyroid dying can take years. Because of all of the rampant thyroid issues in my family I have had my levels checked regularly. They have never been cause for concern.

In 2009 I was running when I felt a sharp pain in my side. I couldn't run anymore and was in severe pain. I could barely walk. I went to the ER but they didn't do shit, just gave me morphine and told me to go on. I eventually wound up at a gyno's office. I had a diagnostic surgery which found that my ovaries were riddled with cysts and my uterus was boggy. This is when I first learned why I had horrible periods and was given a choice: hysterectomy or get pregnant. I planned hysterectomy but a little intruder snuck her way in before the date. I spent my pregnancy on bed rest, the Adeno aggravated by the pregnancy. Maggie was born 6 weeks early and within a few weeks I was in so much pain I could barely get out of bed. I had an abdominal hysterectomy with bisingual oophorectomy in June 2010. I thought this was the end of my troubles. I have done well with being in surgical menopause with the caveat that I was unable to get back down to the size that I was previous to my pregnancy with Maggie. I've also had some chronic pain that I've been working on with a pain specialist. But that's too much of a story to get into.

Later in 2010 I started having some bowel issues. Let's just leave it at that. I had a endoscopy  and colonoscopy that showed damage to the cilia of my small intestine.  It was determined that I had celiac disease and I have been attempting to be gluten free ever since. I thought that was that. I was wrong.

In 2012 the residual pain that I had from my hysterectomy increased significantly. I went back to my gyno and had some of the adhesions (scar tissue) from my stomach removed. The adhesions were binding my organs and internal skin lining together. The surgery didn't help and my gyno referred me to a surgeon. After an extensive physical the surgeon became worried regarding a lump he felt on my thyroid. He also berated me because of my weight. I had gained a lot of weight in the past few months and didn't know why. At the time he suggested an ultra sound and blood work. He then decided that we would take a wait and see approach to it. I wasn't satisfied with that and looked high and low for a second opinion. After driving 2 hours with my blood work that's when I got the original diagnosis of Hashimoto's. Unfortunately I was unable to drive back down there as the doctor stopped taking appointments on Fridays (my day off).

Fast forward to August 2013 during another appointment with the surgeon for the adhesions (which were also on a wait and see approach), the Dr. ordered another ultrasound on my thyroid, this time with a biopsy. The biopsy came back as malignant and it was decided that I would have the tumor (that had doubled at this point) taken out. In October that is just what happened. The cancer was found to be encapsulated. Phew. Didn't help the other symptoms I was having, though. Fatigue, weight gain, puffy face...

I finally was able to get into my regular doctor within the last few days and am now on levothyroixine. I'm hoping that will help. During the course of this physical and blood work it looks like my creatine levels (waste in bloodstream) was high indicating low kidney function as well. We're trying to figure out why but I'm sure it's all interrelated.

Some days I feel great, full of energy, bouncing out of bed. And other days I am so tired I can barely move. Some days I go and walk and walk and walk, try to make it to an exercise class, stay active. I work full time, go to school full time... I'm active. And yet lately I've been dragging. I'll be sitting at my desk and my body decides that it's time for a nap. Those times that I am powerless to stop it I go to my car and take a snooze or dab my face with cold water.

Honestly, IDGAF who you are or why your body looks the way you do but I get sooooo irritated when people tell me "Sure, you have a glandular disorder all fat people do". I want to bash them over the head and take them for a walk in a day of my life. I  know things will get better eventually. I'm just hoping that eventually is sooner rather than later.

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