Friday, June 24, 2011

The post where I talk honestly about my illness

I'm writing from a Marriott in the Portland area on a business trip. It's 2:45 a.m. and I'm experiencing a whole lot of the same - chest pains, heart palpitations, panic attacks, numbness of the extremities, hot flashes, sweating, and fatigue. I don't know what took me so long to put 2 & 2 together but I've had a lot of time to read the Internets when I'm awake while the rest of the world is slumbering - my hyperthyroidism is back with a vengeance.

I don't talk very openly about my Graves Disease because in the grand scheme of things, it's not so bad - I'm not dying. I don't have cancer, and it's highly treatable. At least that's what the literature says and what I try to keep telling myself; bur really, I'm still waiting to be cured. So there it is: I have an autoimmune disorder and for the past couple of years it's been an albatross around my neck. It started with hot flashes and me breaking out in sweats at the most unfortunate moments (my team used to joke about me going through menopause because I was the old lady of the group), then came the fainting spells, accompanied by muscle fatigue. I first went to the endocrinologist in the summer of 2009. I went in for a multi-part thyroid scan the day before we left for Ireland in November. While in Thomastown, drinking my first Irish whiskey of the trip, I received a voicemail from my doctor with my official diagnosis. I've been taking medication ever since and as recent as eight weeks ago had received a somewhat good bill of health - my levels were in the normal range (just barely, but they were encouraging) and the endocrinologist was using words like "remission" and "positive."

I'm anything but positive about how I feel right now, but at least I can objectively look at what is wrong with me. The fact that things have changed so drastically in those eight weeks has me confounded and angry. Confounded because how do you go from well to not well in such a short course of time. Angry because I thought I was finally catching a break with my health. I went from being in a fairly good place about the state of my health to feeling quite depressed about the whole thing.

Last night I wasn't in a good place emotionally; in fact, I was in a pretty dark place. I was delirious and dizzy and I could barely see straight from the exhaustion, but I couldn't sleep because the second I did I'd feel like I was in the midst of a heart attack. I know I'm not actually having a heart attack, but it's painful and it's scary and because my family has a history of death-by-heart-attack, I go nuts with "what ifs" and "oh noes!" It's not logical, but it's my reality. Also, for some strange reason I have this psychological issue where if I'm awake I am less afraid because I can be cognizant and coherent through the pain. If I'm asleep I feel less in control and that terrifies me on top of the regular garden variety fear I've been having over this situation. (For example, at 2:30 a.m. I was crying because it was unbearable. I'm sitting up, with the lights on, and while I'm still in pain I feel somewhat in control of that pain. While I know tomorrow I'll be a zombie, right now I'm not experiencing the worst of it.)

So back to last night ...While in such a state I wrote a post from my new iPad (love, btw) - it was riddled with spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors (even when I'm sick I'm ever the editor!) and truthfully, if I hadn't known me and that was the first introduction I was getting to this blog as a reader, I might get the impression that this Becky gal was a bit of a boozer. I sounded like I'd just gone on a two-week bender. I also wrote a sentence at the end that sounded disparaging of Alan. I didn't mean it to sound that way, but looking back at it ... yikes. I sounded mean. It wasn't a good representation of me, of him, or of us and so it's gone. I broke one of my blogging rules, but I think it's for the best.

I think it's hard for someone who doesn't have GERD or Graves Disease to truly understand what you're going through and I tend to lose sight of the fact that he probably knows me better than I know myself. I am a highly emotional person naturally and over the course of our 15 years together, he's had to calm me down a lot. But I can't look at it objectively in the moment. While I'm freaking out and crying and he's telling me that everything will be alright and I need to relax and there's still plenty of time for me to catch some z's, what I'm hearing is, "there'd be nothing wrong with you if you'd just relax." That's not what he's saying, but I'm unable to hear the truth of his words in the moment and so I sometimes have unkind thoughts toward him while I'm suffering and he's not. That makes me a petty person, I know. I never said I was a saint. But last night he was a saint. He stayed up with me, consoling me and helping me to calm down. He didn't have to. He has just as much work as I do and so it's a huge imposition for him to go without sleep. But he's my partner in life and so he stayed up with me and tried to make me feel better. He suffered right along with me (sometimes it's the little things in life ...).

So yeah, this realization. I'm pissed, but I can't just sit here and wallow in my anger. I need to do something about it because I can't continue on like this. I sent a note to my doctor detailing everything that has been going on with me and my realization tonight that it's actually my hyperthyroid disease. I requested an appointment with her ASAP, but she's out of the office until June 28. And then I'll be on the road again. So maybe I'll get something after the 4th of July. Her office staff is terrible. I've thought about leaving the practice a couple of times because they're just that bad. Hopefully they'll hear my plea for what it is and take mercy on me and give me an appointment when I need it. I don't have a lot of hopes that they'll be graceful about it - I may have to call and get bitchy, but I've reached the point where I can't be sunshine and unicorns anymore. If they're my impediment to getting well, I will cut a bitch (just verbally, of course).

By the way, it's now 3:25 a.m. and I don't see sleep in my future at all. I'm meeting my boss and the rest of his reports later this morning at 9 a.m. for an all-day offsite tomorrow. Wish me luck on this latest misadventure in illne. Clearly I'm going to need it.

1 comment:

  1. I figured that it was your illness.  It sounds very frightening.  I feel so bad for you.  Losing sleep is bad enough, but then to have all the other symptoms along with it would be maddening.  I hope your doctor can find the right treatment for you.  Good luck today.  You're always in my thoughts.


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