2016 was a very rough year for me. As a personal trainer, it’s hard to watch your body change from strong to weak. As a Mom, its hard to have to tell your kids many days a week that you are sick. As a friend, it’s hard to act like you are fine when the truth is you feel horrible….yet you don’t want to be a burden to people. One of my biggest struggles though is sharing what I’m going through. Most my life I’ve been told I’m a “perky” person and I like that trait….but the health problems have turned me into someone else. It’s a struggle to admit what I’m going through but that’s one thing I want to change in 2017!!! I hope that my story might help someone else who is going through the same thing, to know they are not alone!
Backstory: In March 2016 I had been struggling with some health problems. Fatigue, bruising, sore muscles, nails breaking, hair falling out, etc. A visit to the doctor resulted in the discovery of a nodule on my thyroid. After a rushed trip to the hospital for an ultrasound and the discovery that I did indeed have a lovely lump growing….I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. It is an autoimmune disease that targets your thyroid and attacks it until your thyroid no longer works. Repeat attacks on the thyroid is what caused the lump to form. For those that don’t know, the thyroid stores and produces hormones that affect the function of virtually every organ in our bodies. It’s kinda like the powerhouse of the body and when it doesn’t work well you feel horrible! There is no way to cure an autoimmune disease so instead they treat the damaged thyroid.
I began thyroid replacement treatment in the hopes that would improve my symptoms as the autoimmune disease had put me into hypothyroidism which meant my thyroid wasn’t working as well anymore. The hypothyroidism can cause many harmful side effects so I also had issues with my reproductive system and now have hormone treatments plus ultrasounds. It also damaged my stomach and we discovered I have something called Barrett’s Esophagus where the lining of your esophagus has been badly damaged and you have a long term risk for esophagus cancer. I currently take a daily acid reducing medicine in the hopes of stopping the damage to my esophagus and will have another biopsy done on it in a few months to see if it has gotten worse. I’ll get to have those for life BUT luckily that put me to sleep, its over in a few minutes, and the recovery is easy!
In the beginning of August, I started having severe sinus infections. In fact, I have currently had 5 since then!!! The reasoning behind that….I’m not sure haha. I did find out I basically have no immune system right now which means I have to be very careful with who I am around as I get sick so easily. I also noticed I began gaining weight, was cold all the time, and has weird pains in my hands and feet. A return for more blood work showed that my thyroid had been damaged even worse than before and which resulted in increase in my medicine plus some more blood work and another ultrasound to see if my lovely little thyroid growth has gotten bigger.
Needless to say, 2016 has been rough! I think the hardest part for me was mentally handling all this. Waking up everyday feeling sick is a lot to handle especially with 3 kids and a husband who isn’t around very much due to his schedule. Before long, I noticed myself feeling depressed. It seemed each time I went to the doctor, they found something else wrong. It was the most frustrating situation as I’m not a big fan of going to the doctor, but now I have FIVE doctors I go to! I understood pretty quickly why many people with an autoimmune disease suffer from depression. A chronic illness is lonely. No one understands how painful it is (physically and mentally) unless they have been there. Gone is your motivation, your perkiness, your desire to socialize. You become someone different.
This has taught me so much though! I’ve learned I’m far stronger than I ever thought. I’ve learned that I have a voice, and even though I hate talking about my weaknesses, I need to! I’ve learned that simply being there for someone who is struggling, is one of the BEST things you can do. I’ve learned to relax more, stop beating myself up, and ask for help. I’ve learned to laugh as much as possible and make good memories. But most importantly, I’ve learned to be thankful. I’m thankful it’s me going through this and not my kids! I’m thankful for a job where I can work from home…if not I would be on disability at this point! I’m thankful for my wonderful tribe of supportive friends. I’m thankful that I’m a fighter!!!
2016 was a very rough year for me…..but 2017 will be amazing. I actually have a tattoo of a Phoenix I got over 12 years ago, and it applies even more now than then! Sometimes you have to be worn down and defeated in order to rise again!
For 2017, I’m taking a lot more time for me and focusing on my health. My husband is taking some time off from college to help me more. I plan to find a doctor that can handle all the issues an autoimmune disease causes, and hopefully focus more on total health. I have a great nutrition plan in place as I follow the paleo diet, and a workout plan that is not too much stress for my body to handle. I can always use extra prayers though so if you don’t mind adding my to your prayer list, I would greatly appreciate it! And if you know anyone with an autoimmune disease, I beg you to reach out to them often and let them know you are praying for them. That simple act could change their whole day. An autoimmune disease is a very depressing, lonely, and overwhelming disease and just giving someone a shoulder to lean on can truly make all the difference for them.
Here is to 2017!!! It may take a little while, but I know it will be amazing!!!