Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm old. But it's not as bad as I thought it was.

For the last few months, I've been feeling pretty run-down.  I've been having a much tougher time staying awake all night at my part-time job, to the point where I was trying to decide if I should put in my notice before I end up getting fired for dozing off (I decided I need the income for as long as it's available).....I was getting up at 4am to go to my full-time job, but sleeping an hour on the bus both ways (it's a 1-hour commute to the bus stop).  And I wasn't enjoying anything any more.

I know I've gained a lot of weight.  I've been telling myself "it's because I don't have time to exercise or cook healthy foods...." and I know that does contribute.  But there are people who have a crazy schedule who do much better than I do.  I have HUGE bags under my eyes, even when I've gotten 10-12 hours of sleep.  And there's nothing that's fun any more.  I figured I was middle-aged and just plain tired from doing this for so long.  I figured that not much would probably change until I was once again only working 1 job and not constantly worried about my family.

And then.....my thyroid swelled up to the size of a tennis ball.  I was at work in the Cities, and it was kind of hard to swallow.  I felt like I had a really sore throat, except nothing was sore, it was a very strange feeling.  When I looked in the mirror in the bathroom, I was shocked by this huge lump in my neck.  I've been hypothyroid for about 10 years now, so I suspected it was my thyroid.  But then I thought "well maybe my neck is always like that and I just never noticed...." so I asked a coworker I trust if my neck looked funny.  Her reaction told me "oh yes, it sure did."  She wanted me to go to the E.R. right then and there.  I waited until the next day just to make sure it wasn't going away.

The Dr. told me that "lots of people get enlarged thyroids".  He did an ultrasound, which showed no tumors, so he told me to treat it by....."taking ibuprofen".  Seriously.  "It'll reduce the inflammation."  So I did take ibuprofen (Advil) and my thyroid shrunk.  But what I didn't understand was why did it swell up like that in the first place?  I talked about this with my friend at work.  She told me that she'd been seeing a doctor for her thyroid for several years and it had made a huge difference.  I made an appointment with her doctor.

Suffice it to say, it was a very eye-opening visit.  I learned that I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which is where your immune system goes after your thyroid.  Since I already have Lupus, that makes sense.  What I didn't know, though, was that my body was not providing me with some other hormones, either.  I wasn't producing much, if any, testosterone or progesterone.  Because these levels were so out of whack, and progesterone especially can impact the thyroid, the doctor opted to treat these issues before even beginning to address the thyroid problem. 

He prescribed progesterone pills and a testosterone cream, both bioidentical (hormones that are identical in molecular structure to the hormones created by my body).  I took my first dose(s) that night and went to bed, not expecting much, because I know that things like thyroid pills and lupus treatments usually take weeks to have any recognizable effect.

When I woke up the next day, I could not believe how amazing I felt.  I honestly was "hyper" and wanted to clean the house.  And even though I knew it wasn't true, I felt like I'd lost about 500 pounds :-) (no, I'm not that overweight, LOL, but I suddenly felt really skinny and energetic).  For the first time in a long time, I felt like maybe I should exercise.  I felt like I could see again (I wasn't blind to begin with, obviously, but I guess I was paying attention to things where I wasn't before).....it was unbelievable.

Now, after about a week on these hormones, the "amazing" is starting to feel "normal".  I'm kind of forgetting that I felt bad and didn't even realize it until I felt better.  But then I look in the mirror and the bags under my eyes....well, they're still there, and still big, but they're significantly smaller than before.

And my cravings for bread and pasta?  Almost completely gone.  I've actually, for real, lost 7 pounds without even trying, just because I'm not thinking about eating all the time.  In fact, I've been hungry about 3 times a day.  And my portion sizes are much more normal.  I feel like I could really set my mind to eating less and exercising more and I could maybe even do it.  I'm excited.

I feel like I can suddenly make some positive changes that I thought were impossible.  And I'm hopeful sometimes now.   It makes me wonder what other things I could improve if I was better able to recognize that maybe I could feel better.  I'm still not sure about my thyroid.  But I'm getting impatient to learn.


Miz Kizzle said...

I'm glad you're feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Hey does it feel like you have a golf ball stuck in your throat? Because seriously, I had that last week and it was irritating. It's like right near the top of the throat? It went away after a week, but I did take some ibuprofen for a few days for my RA flare I was having. The thyroid crossed my mind because when I described what I was feeling my daughter, who has Graves (hyperthyroid), told me that's how she feels sometimes. These autoimmune things are killer.

I'm glad something good is happening for you finally.

Miss Kitty said...

Holy moly! That's amazing! I didn't know about your lupus; it makes sense that the other things would be out of whack, since lupus messes up the autoimmune system. Glad to hear you're feeling a little better. (((hugs)))

Grace. said...

I didn't know about your lupus, either. With all the other stuff on your plate, lupus seems a tad unfair! It's funny how we minimize or misunderstand our own bodies. When I often got out of breath three years ago, I attributed it to a long-ago bout of walking pneumonia, lack of exercise and generally being overweight. Hmm. The doctor, when I finally checked it out with one, thought it was more like a heart problem. One Quadruple by-pass later, I felt great! We gotta stop pretending we have medical degrees! I'm so glad you and the right doctor figured this out.