In May of 2008 I woke up from a nap with a terrible headache. As I lay there in bed trying to figure out whether or not it would go away, I found a lump in my neck where my thyroid should be.
For months, I had been exhausted. I was sleeping at least 9 hours every night and taking a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon. I had been working out in the gym for hours on end, not eating very much, and not losing the baby weight from my third pregnancy that just seemed to stagnate. I thought I was just working too hard and eating too much. Not to mention having three young children to keep after.
That headache stayed with me at varying levels of intensity for the next nine months. After discovering the lump, my doctor sent me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeon who found I had a tumor on my thyroid. He removed it, but my headaches didn’t go away.
Six months on Imitrex and opioids only made me more dependent on Imitrex and opioids. My doctor finally sent me to a neurologist.
I was put through a number of treatments, hospitalized for a week, and finally an endocrinologist thought that treating me as hypothyroid, even though my lab numbers were “in the normal range” would be a good fix. My neurologist also put me on a short course of morphine to break the pain cycle and my endocrinologist put me on synthroid. After three months, this finally worked.
For the record, morhpine withdrawal, even from a relatively small dose, is a pretty awful experience.
I had spent the better part of a year with a constant migraine. Migraines are painful and make you sensitive to light, but there’s more to them than that. I couldn’t remember what was being said in a conversation I was in the middle of and would constantly ask people to repeat themselves. I would turn away from the stove and forget I was cooking anything and consequently burn it. This would happen multiple times while preparing a single meal. I routinely couldn’t find my car after running short errands. I constantly worried where my kids were because I couldn’t remember if it was time to pick them up from school. Talking on the phone was physically painful. I carried a notepad on a string around my neck where I constantly wrote down the things that a normal person should be able to remember. The only thing that felt good was physical exertion because it would temporarily relieve the pain.
During the course of my treatments, I was given an anti-siezure medication that causes weight loss due to loss of appetite. I tried to eat a lot early in the day before and after the gym, but just wasn’t hungry in the evenings. By September, I weighed only 115 lbs. For anyone who has seen any of my competition photos, I’m usually sitting between 145 and 165. I only got down to 143 for my figure competition.
Thyroid meds have helped my energy levels and overall health, but my blood pressure has been too high for years regardless of how much cardio I get so now I am on blood pressure medication.
I was born with hip dysplasia which I was mostly able to mitigate with strength training for a number of years, but lately, its been causing some problems with my lower back and knees. And of course, there is my IBS which has caused me to cut way back on fatty foods, alcohol, and dairy in my old age.
I have my struggles. We all do. This is not a “what’s your excuse” post. Its just an “I’ve been there too” post. I still struggle with anxiety and depression. I still have regular joint pain. And I still get the occasional migraine. That’s just the physical stuff.
This year has been tough for everyone. When you go out in the world just remember that no one is perfect, we all have our challenges, and its always better to be kind.
“I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage, or bravery, or generosity, or anything else… Kindness—that simple word. To be kind—it covers everything, to my mind. If you’re kind that’s it.” —Roald Dahl