The true joy in life is the trip. - Robert Hastings
July 13, 2009
So I was going to write about Sweet Pea's first trip to the zoo but I realized all those pictures are at home and not on this computer. So instead, maybe it's time to fill you in on what has been weighing me down...(FYI - I started this post exactly one week ago, but lost track of time and ended up running late to my grad class. Oops.)
Almost two months ago, I went to the doctor. I had been absolutely exhausted for a couple weeks. I wasn't tired from the baby. It was this all consuming, over whelming, frightening tiredness. It would hit me every morning as I sat in traffic. I would finally gain enough energy to carry on a conversation a few hours later but I struggled to stay focused and conscious for the rest of the work day. The drive home would be amazingly smooth and awake. I was usually pretty good until around 8pm. At that point my body would give up and I would fight with all my might to stay awake if there was something that needed to get done. More often than not, my husband would find me passed out, fully clothed on the couch, or on top of the covers or anywhere else in the house if I stayed still for a couple minutes.
This was particularly alarming to me when I was commuting into work. I worried that at any moment I would pass out and smash into the cars in front of me or the construction barriers that make up 95% of my commute or hit the guardrail or land in a ditch. I told my husband that it was so bad, I was tempted to pull over to the shoulder in rush hour traffic just to close my eyes. I tried blasting the radio, opening the windows, turning on freezing cold air and even snapping a rubber band on my wrist. Nothing worked. I found myself violently shaking my head back and forth to jar my eyes open. The only thing that worked, was to talk on the phone. I know, I know. There are all sorts of reasons why this is not a good idea. But here's the thing, it kept me awake, and as my two friends who now get daily calls can tell you, focused. As I complained about this person and that person and wondered aloud why every road I travel on must be under construction, I found that I could keep my eyes open and arrive safely at work.
So, on May 20th I went to the doctor. It was an awful visit. My doctor was an hour and 45 minutes late for our appointment. There were other things that I do not care to write about, but I decided in that time waiting that I would never see this doctor again. (More on this later - in a different post.) But, this doctor thought that maybe it was my thyroid that was causing the tiredness. Not the baby - as everyone else had diagnosed me. And here's the thing people, if I tell you "It's not the baby. Sweet Pea sleeps through the night. I sleep through the night. I get a ton of sleep. I'm still exhausted." Then guess what? It's not the baby. It's not when I go to bed. It's not how much sleep I get. I know something is wrong. And thankfully, this doctor caught it. In the exam she mentioned that my thyroid felt a little generous (her words...). She ordered blood work and an ultrasound.
The blood work was completed immediately but I would have to wait on those results for a couple days. The ultrasound got scheduled for the following week. I have the ultrasound with my husband in the room. It’s not that it’s that big of a test, but honestly, I wasn’t sure if the person was going to say something like “Oh my God, that’s a big tumor or whatever.” And having him there made me feel better. I call the doctor's office and ask for a copy of my blood work results and the results of the ultrasound. I don't know what the results say at this point but I know that I will be seeing a new doctor and I want to have at least this information.
I pick up the test results in a sealed envelope (after the woman at the reception desk passed by the envelope at least twice...). I walk out into the sunshine and slowly tear open the envelope. The blood results are on top. As the nurse said, nothing is abnormal with the exception of high thyroid antibodies. Basically my body is attacking my thyroid and it's fighting back. From the research I have done online...(I know, I know - self diagnosis is not a good idea but I can' thelp but looking up some things) I know that this is probably a pre-cursor for hypothyroidism.
The ultrasound test results are next. I scan them for "bad" words. I find a sentence that starts with "At least..." It has been determined that I have "at least" 2 nodules. I feel like I got punched in the stomach. I get to my car and call my husband. "What does this mean?" "What's wrong?" "Why did they find something?" "What does this sentence mean?" He calms me down and says we will take things one step at a time. I take a deep breath, start my car and head to work.
It is the recommendation of my doctor to see another doctor in the practice, who is a surgeon but also has endocrinology background. I am told this doesn't guarantee I will need surgery. This does not make me feel better. The doctor also wants me to have a thyroid scan and uptake. This test involves radioactive materials and if I decide to have the test done, I will need to go to all formula for Sweet Pea. I schedule the two day test for the first week in June. In the end, after discussion with the nurse and my husband, we decide to hold off on this test.
Two weeks after my original doctor's appointment, I am in a new doctor's office. She tells me that if these were her test results or those of her sister (high thyroid antibodies and at least 2 nodules on the large side on the left side of my thyroid), she would recommend seeing an ENT. She makes me feel comfortable, she listens, she asks questions, she repeats things. And she doesn't mind that my husband is with me. Because I have learned that I cannot be trusted to remember what the doctor tells me. (More on this later as well - again, in another post.)
I meet the ENT doctor at the end of the next week. My husband meets Sweet Pea and I there as I was working from home that day. I had been travelling for work and didn't get home from the airport until 1am. There was no way I was going to turn around 5.5 hours later to put in a hour commute while I was more exhausted than usual. We discuss the test results and what steps we should take. He recommends a FNA (fine needle aspiration - see nice technical term for biopsy, which is a nice term for stabbing you with a needle multiple times).
The biopsy sucks. The room is too small for my husband to hold my hand and with Sweet Pea there it's not really a possibility anyway. Sweet Pea fusses a little as I'm getting situated on the exam table. She gets a bottle and I can hear her happily eating away. I have my necklace with our names on it wrapped around my wrist with the pendant in my hand. I squeeze it tightly as the doctor takes three samples from my neck.
I wince with pain, hold back the tears and five very long minutes later it is over and the doctor leaves the room. The doctor says he knows it was painful and that I did great. It hurts to swallow and I am convinced that he has punctured something in my throat. I am told that the test results will be back to me by the following Wednesday at the latest. We are left with the nurse, who puts her hand on my shoulder and apologizes for the pain. She says it's okay to cry. Which I do. I'm exhausted. I slowly get up and my husband pulls me into his arms. I hug him and Sweet Pea together and try to gather myself. We take a deep breath, get Sweet Pea in her car seat, gather my things and head out.