For years I thought everyone felt like me. I mean, isn’t everyone tired? Yeah, I fell asleep at the stop sign driving the kids home from school, but I woke up. I got us home, helped with homework, cooked dinner, just gotta keep moving.
So my head hurts and I’ll get dizzy and fall down. But I live in Central Texas and allergies are bad.
Ok, I can only hang up half of my clean clothes before my arms give out. So weird, guess I need to get back to the gym.
Ouch, my back and legs feel like fire is running up and down through my veins. Getting older is hard.
It’s crazy how much of my hair is falling out. Goodness, thankful I have more!
So many excuses.
I don’t know if I was naïve or just simply obtuse, but none of my symptoms sent me seeking answers from a physician. Wanna know what did? My vanity! Ha! I had gained weight and nothing I tried would take it off. So THAT is why I finally made a doctor’s appointment. A simple blood test showed I had severe Hashimoto’s Disease and adrenal fatigue. WHAT?! The doctor starts asking me if I’m tired, sluggish, have a hard time remembering things, experiencing aches? Yes to all of the above. Who would have thought that was a problem??? 🤦♀️ But in my defense, I was a working mother with a husband and a home to care for, like so many others, and I just thought this was the result of life. It is not.
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes hypothyroidism, or under-active thyroid. With this disease, your immune system attacks your thyroid, and since the thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and produces hormones that coordinate many of the body’s functions, it’s kind of a big deal when it doesn’t work. Add to that my adrenals being drained of cortisol leading to brain fog, low energy, depressive moods, salt and sweet cravings (hey, at least I have a good excuse!), lightheadedness, and other vague symptoms, and well, I’m a whole party. 😉 Also, I haven’t lost the weight hahahaha.
Since my initial diagnosis in 2014, I have also discovered I get to survive Fibromyalgia, as well. WOOHOO! waaahhhh! 😭 What’s that saying about things making you stronger? 🙂 Fibro is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal issues accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. My husband is one lucky man! HAHAHA!
In addition to the above side effects, each of these conditions also cause pain. Sometimes it’s just a nuisance, sometimes it’s more, and even more times it’s debilitating. There’s an estimated 50M Americans suffering from chronic pain, according to the CDC. For 8 percent of those (I’ll do the math — that’s 19.6 million adults), the pain is bad enough to frequently limit their daily life or work activities. That is certainly the case for me. I no longer work full-time. I have to manage my activities and regulate my energy output. That has not always been easy to admit. It’s taken me yeeeaaarrrsss to come to terms with my reality. I’m an honest person and I hope you take me at my word regarding my health journey. My family and friends have been so completely wonderful and supportive. But that’s not everyone’s situation. Often those living with chronic pain aren’t believed. Since it’s an invisible illness, out of sight, out of mind, I guess? Which is why we need things like September as Pain Awareness Month.
Raising awareness about invisible illnesses is one of the best things you can do for your friends who suffer. Help them (or yourself!) accept that it’s not “just in their head” and that there are resources that can help. No one should simply be left to suffer.
Everyone experiences pain differently, so each individual’s regimen to treat and manage that pain should be personal, too. The US Pain Foundation has created a survey tool to help those in need discover a personal pain management plan at mypainplan.org.
Because there’s not a test to determine level of pain, developing a strong relationship with your care providers is key. I adore my medical team and through lots of trial and error I am on a very manageable path.
Come back next week when I post about what I do to create and maintain a high quality of living despite my chronic illnesses.
How’s that for a tease?!
Peace & hugs,