Tuesday, November 01, 2016
I'm not certain where this story begins, it could be weeks, months or possibly more. I was diagnosed with depression 12 years ago, and have gone through many low periods where my energy felt depleted, and my light dim. The past couple of years the low periods have come more frequently and never really go away completely. The clouds may part, but just enough for me to come up for air. One weekend, probably 3 to 4 months ago, my first noticeable symptom of what I have called "something is wrong" showed up. It was the weekend, I slept in that morning, had my coffee, and decided that the first wake up didn't stick so I laid back down and promptly fell asleep. When I woke up, I did not feel rested, I just felt more fatigued so I decided that a shower might do the trick, because it always does the trick. I stood in the shower and let the water run over my body and waited for the weight to be lifted. As I washed my hair my heart began to race, my legs were suddenly weak, as if I was a toddler just learning to stand on my own and the shaking, oh the shaking. I trembled uncontrollably. I was out of breath. This scared me. Why couldn't I catch my breath? I turned off the shower and knew I had to get to my bed, I had to lay down. Was I having a heart attack? I had no idea. Stepping out of the shower took so much energy, that I didn't even take the moment to dry myself off, I stumbled to my bed, naked and wet and collapsed. I laid there frightened for a while, what if I'm dying, no one is home, am I going to die? Moments later I was asleep. Over the next few months went by and I continued to have bouts of exhaustion that I attributed to depression trying to take over. I went to the dr. and he promptly increased my dose of Sertraline from 50mg to 100mg. I began to feel a little better and assured myself that I was on the mend and my 100mg was doing the trick. Mark and I were in counseling. Everything was going to be ok. I would go to work in the morning full of energy, sometimes in excess, I would float through the day, full of energy, work a 10 hour day with a smile on my face only to come home and face what I can only describe as exhaustion. Why can I power through my day without a hint of lethargy, yet the moment I walk I the door to my home, I have nothing, absolutely nothing left? My job can be quite stressful, maybe this is how I cope with stress, I come home where I know I won't get fired and just collapse. Talking is even to much sometimes. I just need to power through dinner and then I can get my reward. BED. SLEEP. As time went by, this bouts of exhaustion could no longer be held off until I arrived at home. I began having difficulty staying focussed on tasks that I normally had no trouble getting through. Things I was actually very good at enjoyed doing at work became extremely difficult to get through. I started to notice that when I held a paper in my hand at work, the paper would shake. There was a tremor inside me that became more and more bothersome. Eventually, I would feel it on the inside even if I couldn't see it on the outside and it almost never went away. I remember being at work one morning and feeling as though I were having an out of body experience. The shaking was unbearable, the light seemed unusually bright and my vision became tunnel like. I felt like I needed to eat something immediately or I would pass out. I managed to find a few dollars in my wallet after clumsily emptying my purse out. People were talking to me, but I was not able to communicate back effectively. Words were difficult to find. I got my crackers from the vending machine and promptly devoured them. I remember telling coworker that had come to my office to ask a question to come back a little later, that I was having difficulty thinking. The crackers didn't work, I went to the vending machine again and sucked down a nutty bar. The fog lifted somewhat, but the rest of the day was a blur. The following week my CSR who runs the front desk, went on medical leave after neck surgery. The next five weeks was the most stressful time I think I have ever had at a job. For five weeks I was tasked with not only my 10-11 hour work day, but her customer facing 9-10 hour day as well. The help that I received was laughable. My symptoms got worse. My heart rate was over 100bpm in my sleep. My legs were growing weaker and weaker. Going down the front step at home was a challenge. I was emotional, tired, hungry and shaky. And the scariest of all was that I was loosing weight. About 1/2 lb per DAY. This is not normal, not at all. My already suffering marriage only began to get worse. Now my husband was checking out. I needed to figure out what was wrong with me. My CSR was back and now I had time to find out why was I so weak, tired, depressed and shaky? I finally called my GP to schedule an appointment. I told the nurse my symptoms and she got me in the same day. When I finally saw the doctor, I told him my symptoms and let him know that I wanted blood work done. He said it looked like anxiety and doubled my dose of antidepressant from 100 mg to 200 mg and reluctantly ordered blood work. I researched anxiety and yes, it fit most of my symptoms, but I couldn't accept that anxiety could make you feel this way 100% of the time. Why would I have anxiety in my sleep, and every minute of every day. I didn't feel anxious about anything but WHY this was happening to me. He sent me for blood work. Four days later and I had not heard back from my dr. and was getting very anxious to find out what was wrong with so I called the office and told the nurse that it had been four days. She said that was a bit long, but for me to just wait one more day and if they didn't call by the next afternoon to call back. She didn't even get my name. The next day while away from my desk at work I received a voicemail. Anxious to hear from my dr. I sat down at my desk to listen. "This Mary from Austin Endocrinology and Diabetes, we received your referral from your dr. and would like to schedule an appointment." My heart began to race even moreso than normal, I went on to have what I can only describe as a panic attack. Why are they calling me? What is endocrinology? Do I have diabetes? WHY HAS MY DR. NOT CALLED ME?? I called my doctors office and asked to speak with a nurse. She was not at all empathetic to my situation and told me that my results are on an online portal called MY CHART. Everyone uses it, it makes it easier for the doctors to share information with you. That's great, but WHY HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF THIS! Why didn't my doctor tell me this. Why didn't the nurse that I spoke with yesterday mention this. She was not concerned and I could tell she was irritated at me for being upset. She then told me in what took about 10 seconds that my TSH was very high and my liver count was as well. What is TSH? It has to do with your thyroid. You are producing too much thyroid and the liver test probably is related to your thyroid as well. As pissed off as I was, I was relieved. I wasn't CRAZY, I wasn't suffering from anxiety alone, something was CAUSING THIS, and that must mean there is a solution! I might be able to feel better again. And this is where my real journey began. The thyroid gland sits at the base of the throat where the neck meets the collarbone. It produces hormones called thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH) that affect every cell in the human body. But you can’t see the thyroid. And thyroid disorder symptoms can masquerade as everyday turbulent emotions (at best) or mental illnesses like depression (at worst). It’s the sort of problem you don’t know you have until you’ve lost something, like all your energy or your mind.