When a Hypothyroid Mom reader contacted me with this letter that she wrote to her family (and she asked me to share but keep it anonymous), I thought wow she hit the nail on the head. She expressed the frustration we feel living with an invisible illness so perfectly. We may look “normal” on the outside but struggle in ways no one understands, not even our loved ones.
I think it is time that we come to some understanding, some realization of the reality of my life, and how that affects your lives. You see, I fear that if something were to happen to me, and you had to call an ambulance and they asked you if I had any medical conditions, what would you say?
“Yeah, she has some kind of thing, don’t remember what it’s called.”
Why? Why wouldn’t you remember? Because you didn’t take the time to learn about it, to embrace and to learn how it would affect you as much as it does me.
You see, I am a Hypothyroid Mom. I have Hashimoto’s disease.
What is that? In layman’s terms, my thyroid no longer functions (nor has it functioned for many years). Hashimoto’s is the number one cause of hypothyroidism but it rarely gets tested and most people don’t even know they have it. One tiny little pill keeps my thyroid working, supplementing what your body has, but mine does not, and ultimately keeps me alive.
What is the big deal you ask?
Many, many people suffer from hypothyroidism. It’s quite common in fact. Hashimoto’s is also rather common, but it’s a game changer. It is an autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to basically attack itself, eating away at this essential gland until there is nothing left.
So what does your thyroid do?
Well, it does so many incredible things in your body, that is, when it works. It stores and produces hormones that affect the function of virtually every organ in our bodies and regulates our metabolic rate (how the body absorbs nutrients from the foods and vitamins that we ingest). In a nutshell, when the thyroid shuts down completely, the body shuts down. But you didn’t know this because you didn’t take the time to listen, to do the research that I asked you to do.
Hashimoto’s is largely hereditary. There is no warning, it just manifests one day until you cannot function any longer, drag yourself to the doctor and find out that you will be poked, prodded and pilled for the rest of your life. Along with Hashimoto’s, comes many other ailments – arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and a plethora of other good stuff. In my case, arthritis appears to be slowly setting in (this is just self diagnosed at this point), and a confirmed additional autoimmune disease of the gastrointestinal system (positive IgG4 antibodies).
So, what are the signs, the symptoms? You’ve seen them all – extreme weight loss (while gain is more typical), hair loss, moodiness and mood swings, chills, exhaustion, constant napping coupled with insomnia (makes sense right?), pain, aches, foggy brain, dry, flaky skin (you know, when you say “Mommy has furry skin”), and general malaise.
Treatment? Constant monitoring of blood levels, a cocktail of pills for thyroid supplements, vitamins, anxiety and pain.
Is there a cure? Nope.
Does it suck? You bet it does.
There are however two ways to attack this disease. You can be a hypothyroidism warrior as I like to champion myself, or you can stay in bed for days on end without lifting your head from the pillow (and trust me, there are many a day that I would love nothing more than to do just that).
Me, well, instead I choose to be a warrior.
I get up at 6:30am, spend an hour waking up this foggy and tired brain, wake you up, get you ready for and off to school, go to work myself and do my best to keep these eyes open until the end of the work day and the drive home looms ahead. I get home, and plunk. Down goes my things, and down I go. You see, by this point, I am both mentally and physically exhausted – not in any way that you could possibly understand. This is a constant lifelong sentence of exhaustion. So I close my eyes for a few minutes to give myself a little boost before I wake up to do household chores, pay bills, do homework checks, help with studying, laundry, refereeing squabbles, and anything else that may come up in between. Then, well, then I run off to my second job – a much more physical job. Perhaps physically easy to everyone else, but by the time I get there, there truly isn’t much left in the tank. After a short stint, I return home to finish up what is left of the household duties (and yes, they have to be done) before the tank reaches completely empty and the engine shuts down – again – both mentally and physically.
So, call me lazy, whiny, negative, miserable, but you know what? I AM a warrior!
I have not given up or given in. Yes, some days are more difficult than others, but I fight and do my best not to let anyone see this, albeit, this is becoming more and more difficult to hide. Please do not take offense if I need some quiet time, some help and most importantly, some love.
I walk in the door every day and the first thing I do before plunking everything down, is ask each of you how your day was. When was the last time anyone asked me how my day was?
I’m not whining, I’m winning,
I’m not lazy, I’m tired.
I’m not grumpy, I’m in pain.
So on those good days, I love to celebrate – a day with no nap in the car, a day with minimal pain, a day where I actually accomplished everything I set out to do, a day when I shared love with my family. The bad days, I promise myself that tomorrow will be better. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, but do you even notice?
It’s time to notice that your wife, your mother, IS a hypothyroid warrior and will not give up, ever.
However I need the support and love of a hypothyroid husband and children more than ever. This disease is also your disease, like it or not I’m afraid.
Tomorrow when I walk in that door and before I plunk, look at me, look into my eyes, my soul, and you will know exactly what I am feeling. Do this every day, and you won’t even have to ask me how my day was, you will see how my day was.
Your loving Hypothyroid Wife & Mommy
Bio: Happily married for nearly 18 years, with two amazing little men now 12 and 14. I am an incredibly busy Mom, career woman, and a Hypothyroid Warrior! Just over 3 years ago, at the age of 41, I found myself napping constantly, dropping weight by the hour it seemed, lagging and dragging and I knew that something just wasn’t right, and I certainly was right about that. I was officially diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism in July 2013. Today, while I certainly feel better than I did 3 years ago, I fight every day. Every day I fight to find my old self again and I will not stop until I do, because somewhere in this body is the real me.