personal

Chronically Awesome

Hi, it’s me, world’s worst blogger, blogging again. It’s been two years since I did this. The bio on the side of this blog says that I’m 27, by the way. I’m not. I’m 29. The blog post before this is an apology for what a bad blogger I am, so at least that’s still true. TBH, I have a hard time writing for free, because I am — as my husband calls it — BLOWN OUT 100% of the time, because I am always working, always writing.

But at the risk of sounding self absorbed, I wanted to get back to writing about myself more. And yes, this blog is still focused a lot on my Disney adventures, but it’s also about me, too, so here’s me.

If you’ve talked to me for even 10 minutes in the last few months, you know that I am hoping to be someone’s mother in the relatively near future. I’m not going to tell you when I hope to make that happen publicly, because Women Are Not Supposed To Talk About That. I guess uteruses (uteri?) are very susceptible to the Law of Jinx or something, but I am not taking any risks. In preparing for this stage of my life, which is something I have obsessed over since I was probably born, I have taken the following steps:

Started hardcore paying off my credit cards, because shit, babies are expensive.

Began reading the entire internet — WOW, people are so negative that you’d think every piece of advice for pregnant women and new parents was about convincing people to never, ever have children.

Started taking prenatal vitamins. I am still on birth control, and yes, I am 100% looney tunes for this, but I have taken Medical Recommendations seriously and like I said before, I am taking no chances. I’m trying to create Elite Eggs that can beat all the other babies up.

Constantly asking my husband paranoid questions, like, “will you still like me when we have a baby?” and “can you teach me how to change a diaper if it’s a boy? I don’t know how that works.”

Texting my mother the data I find about maternal mortality rates. DID YOU KNOW GEORGIA HAS THE HIGHEST RATE OF WOMEN DYING IN CHILDBIRTH IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY? It’s been really nice knowing you. I’ve had a good run.

Getting my health in order, which is what I want to talk to you about today.

I’ve been open about the fact that I struggle hard with depression and anxiety, and one of the many facets of my version of mental illness is health anxiety. It hasn’t always been this way, but over the last few years, the health anxiety has come on strong. I am terribly afraid of death, and no matter what you tell me, I am scared that something is going to kill me. I don’t have many specific fears, but when I feel “off” or have a specific symptom, I’m convinced that it’s because I’m dying.

What am I dying of, exactly? The answer to that question has varied, and it usually depends on the day, but for a very long time, I’ve had super general issues that could mean almost anything. Chronic migraines are probably the issue that I deal with that has the biggest impact on my life; sometimes they take me out of commission several days out of the month. Next is the extreme exhaustion that I used to suffer from. I could fall asleep anywhere. Almost every day, after finishing my work for the day, I’d go back to bed and sleep for three or four hours, wake up, make dinner, watch TV, and then go back to bed around 9:00 p.m. I couldn’t last a long car ride without falling asleep. Me falling asleep just about anywhere became a running joke.

The rest of my symptoms have been a laundry list of embarrassing and annoying health problems that I’ve learned to ignore or work around. My stomach is always doing something inconvenient. My skin is dry. Before I was on birth control, my period was irregular, and sometimes, I would only get it four or five times a year. And on top of all of that, I’d gained 50 pounds in three years without much change to my routine — and I could not get rid of it. No matter how much I worked out and how much I dieted, it wouldn’t budge.

Along with my health anxiety came a fear of doctors. If something was wrong with me, I didn’t want to know what, because a diagnosis would make it real, and according to Google, a lot of really scary things could be wrong with me, from several different cancers to endometriosis to diabetes. During my annual visit with my gynecologist, she told me that my antidepressants probably caused the weight gain. During my next visit with my psychiatrist, she told me that my birth control probably caused the weight gain.

I kept googling. Finally, I found something that made sense to me: Hypothyroidism. But when I googled, I was always wrong; it was never cancer or a pulmonary embolism or a gallbladder attack. This was probably wrong too. So I kept ignoring it, and I kept taking four hour naps every day.

But life passed me by, and I kept getting closer and closer to the time in my life when having a baby actually became a realistic part of my future and not just this untouchable “when I’m a mom someday” dream that was so far away I couldn’t fathom it. If I wanted to have a baby soon, I had to go to the doctor. I needed to figure out what was going on with me. So last fall, I made an appointment. I found a doctor — one who wouldn’t insist that it was my depression making me tired — and went in for my very first physical.

I brought Blake with me for moral support, explained my symptoms, and nervously asked if she thought it could be my thyroid.

“Well, it looks like you’ve lost some weight, so I’m not sure that’s the problem,” she said, looking at my chart.

I had lost 10 pounds since May — but that was after four months of eating clean and taking three mile walks daily and basically making myself miserable because it was the only way I could get the scale to budge, even just a little.

She ran the thyroid panel anyway, and lo and behold, I got a call 48 hours later that confirmed it. My TSH (or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) was 32.9 — a normal TSH is usually between 0.4-4.0, with an ideal TSH being considered a 1. No wonder I felt like shit for literal years.

Getting that call was really hard for me. I hung up the phone and went upstairs to tell Blake, and I instantly burst into tears. I’d done a lot of research about hypothyroidism, and I knew that it would make it harder to get and stay pregnant. I felt so vindicated that my health concerns were finally being taken seriously and I felt relieved that finally, I knew what was making me feel so shitty, but I felt really scared at the same time.

This was also the first time that something I had googled had ever been right. It wasn’t empowering. It didn’t make me feel better. It made the anxiety worse. If I could stress out that something was wrong with me and confirm my fear, couldn’t it happen again?

But since I’m so good at research, I had to keep doing it, and fortunately, by doing that I was able to find out a lot of positive things. A woman who took her thyroid medication and was able to have a normal TSH should be able to have a totally healthy pregnancy, so getting healthy was absolutely necessary from here on out. I took my thyroid meds religiously, but at first, they made me feel worse. You have to take them first thing in the morning and then wait an hour before you can eat or drink anything, and it was hard to spend the first hour of my day without coffee or breakfast.

And then my dose had to keep getting adjusted, which made me tired, nauseous, and cranky — and I had to keep going back to the doctor to get my blood drawn. At one point, I was nauseous every day and my hair was falling out. I had to switch to the name brand of my hormone replacement, which is a little more expensive. My hair still hasn’t grown back in certain places. It was a really challenging period in my life.

Finally, in December, I got good news: My TSH was finally close enough to 1 to be considered normal, and I don’t have to go back to get it checked until June. Unless something changes, my thyroid gland — the little tiny butterfly in my neck that somehow affects EVERYTHING in my body — is behaving herself until further notice.

Then, in February, I started the next chapter of my health journey: getting my migraines under control. I started a new preventative medication that keeps me from having them at all, and the difference so far has been huge. Instead of 5 or 6 migraines per month, I have had ONE in the last four weeks, and it was much more mild than usual. I feel like I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that feeling is priceless to me.

However, I’ve also been titrating my dose up, because you can’t go full dose right away, and last week was my last dose increase. It’s been pretty rough. This is what I expected, because like I said, I Googled it, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I feel high AF most of the time. I’m nauseous, and I have no appetite. I have lost ten pounds (not complaining). I can eat a small breakfast, but then I have no interest in food until dinner. Carbonation in sodas is ruined to the point where I can’t drink them because they burn my mouth. Fast food and junk food is starting to taste “off” to me. Wendy’s nuggets? I once loved them, now they’re gross. RIP.

And my memory is working (or not working) in weird ways. I forgot who plays Catherine Avery on Grey’s (it’s Debbie Allen, a legend) the other day while writing a recap. I forgot the name of one of my favorite mom and style bloggers when I was looking for her Instagram last week (it’s Amber Fillerup, for the record, and she is goals). Last weekend when I was shopping at a mall an hour away from our house by myself, I lost my car. I went out three different exits while it was raining before I could find it, and ended up crying in the parking lot. A few days ago, I forgot I let our dog out while I was home alone. She was fine. My husband came home to find me crying on the kitchen floor because I felt like a terrible dog mother. BB could not have been more thrilled to have some extra time outside.

I work a lot slower. I think a lot slower. I constantly lose my train of thought. It takes me forever to grocery shop. I constantly feel anxious and antsy and like I am one forgetful mistake away from truly screwing up my life or messing up at work or doing something I can’t fix. I know that these side effects are temporary. It is still so difficult and so stressful.

But even if these side effects lasted for the rest of my life, I would take them all over having a migraine. That’s how bad they’ve been. But in a few weeks, my body and brain will adjust, and I will be okay… and even if I get half as many migraines as I once did, I will be so relieved. It will be worth it.

I am going to try to commit to blogging more often to use this as a creative outlet — but my past track record proves that I can’t be trusted when I make promises like this. If you’re interested in my Disney trip takes, my health journey, everything I learn while I read the internet while preparing to become a mom, pop culture, people who get way too personal about their feelings, and everything in between, maybe I’ll have something good to offer you soon.

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