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I think that I have a friend or two who genuinely care about me and my illnesses. I believe that I have some acquaintances who would be certain to talk to me if we were in the same place, coincidently.
Like this… “It makes planning nearly impossible. Many humans take for granted that they will wake up feeling “normal”, go to work, go see friends, go to their child’s sports game – same as always. 🌅👩🏻🏫👩🏼⚕️👨🏼💻👩🏻🏫👩🎤👮🏻👯♂️
For someone battling a chronic illness, you just don’t know. Instead of “planning”, it’s more like “hoping”. You “hope” you wake up feeling ok, you “hope” you can make it through work, you “hope” you can make it through your child’s play…..and each event takes its toll on your energy and health.
She goes on to write, “It is not because you no longer care or because the event is not important to you or the person is not important to you. You are missing out because your body has given out.
In fact, your body may be 4 or 5 events PAST too many by the time you just give out. It’s like driving a car that is running out of gas….you lasted on fumes, but finally despite all your efforts, the fumes have run out. The gas pedal is all the way to the floor, but she’s not going any further.”
My doctor had requested some blood work from me…, which, upon return, explained a plethora of my health problems. She was speaking another language (Greek? Latin? Dr. Speak?), regardless I needed Google. And here I am. 🌎.
Meghan O’Rourke has an essay called “I had Autoimmune Disease and then it had me.” It was printed in The New Yorker Magazine, Aug. 26, 2013. It came up in a Google Search for Hypothyroidism. She was speaking my language.
💩. I don’t even like me when I’m on fumes. 👺
I get to navigate through a whole new experience. I tread lightly because I really don’t know where this is going to take me.
I’ve always cheered for the home team or underdog. It’s just part of my nature. I found my calling in the field of Education just after my sophomore year in high school. I delved and dug. I asked Veteran Teachers. I asked Academic Advisers. Everything just seemed to fall into place and point me in the direction of teaching high school English.
Folks already in the field told me that their profession was anything but easy. They warned of late nights grading and weekends spent in the school building making copies and writing lesson plans. God forbid the evenings of writing sub plans with Kleenex in one hand and a pen in the other. It really is easier to suffer through work with the flu than writing Sub-Plans- no lie. Public schools are full of sniffles, coughs and germs looking for new hosts.
All mentors conceded to “…tenure status being the saving grace in the stress of high school teaching”. That was in 1994.
I graduated college with a double major in Extended-English and Secondary Education. Somehow my first “real” job was in 1998, teaching Kindergarten… talk about runny noses and sticky hands. This lasted for five years. Note, this assignment was not high school nor English specific. However it was a nice introduction to the field and I am forever grateful. Those kids taught me a lot!
By 2003, I was ready for the student loans to pay off -so to speak. It’s now 2016, half way through the academic calendar and I am still fulfilling my calling. Shakespeare, Poe, Prepositions, Diagraming Sentences, College Application Essays, Harper Lee… sigh, thump of my heart, breathe. Yet, I fear that it may be time to stop. Gasp! Nooooooooooo!
Things are changing. I am changing. I struggle with being “myself”. Simple add on to teaching duties are becoming chores and more difficult this year. Is it age? Is it menopause?
You see, three years ago I sought the advice of my local practitioner regarding the following symptoms: fatigue, headaches, depression, anxiety, temperature hypersensitivity, lack of desire for anyone/thing. I had a nasty run-in with hives on my upper torso and random food allergies. She ordered the tests and my blood was drawn.
My blood work came back to say “Help Needed!” I was forwarded to a Endocrinologist, Psychiatrist, and Gynecologist. But I was busy teaching, broadcasting sports events, working with students on the school yearbook and trying to be a decent daughter, wife, community member and tutor. Something would have to give.
On the day before Winter Break 2014, I had my first, full-scale, anxiety attack. I was a mess. My principal found me climbing into my desk and sobbing. He needed to hand me a copy of my disciplinary letter. You know. The kind they put into a personnel folder because you screwed up.
I’ve NEVER, EVER gotten a reprimand before! This was nuts. I was losing “it” and hating myself more than usual. My husband knew it and my students were catching “wind” of it through the daily interactions. I had to do something. My world was falling apart. Why?!
Angry and cruel internal dialogue put me in a very dark place. You know, the kind of place. I made appointments and started my journey into understanding my body.
Hashimotos disease with hypothyroidism seemed to be the one diagnosis that everyone in the medical field could agree on. Having Autoimmune Deficiency allowed Hashimotos to hold hands with Hypothyroidism and all sorts of vitamin deficiencies. The psychiatrist did away with my current medications and started a whole new regimen. The Gynecologist offered ablation to help with the hormonal fluctuations and pain in being a female. Keep in mind, this started in January of 2015. I had to manage it all while staying committed to my teaching duties. I did! I was. At least I thought I was. I’m not. I wasn’t.
Instead, I am forgetful, exhausted, moody, overwhelmed, panicky, awful and lonely. I’m afraid that I’m losing “it” and won’t be able to get “it” back. My name is the same, but my demeanor is a whole different story. Every blog, magazine article, medical journal, and website says the same thing…
This is going to hurt and it is NOT going away.
Teaching, in and of itself, is difficult. The stressors with the ever changing habits of teens, scoring/grading, mounting pressures from administrators, curricula, professional development, directives and testing are enough to have a perfectly healthy individual experience stress eating as well as sleep deprivation. Imagine what it does to a person with Hashimotos Disease, Hypothyroidism plus Autoimmune Deficiency syndrome.
It is painful -both emotionally and physically. Frustration and humiliation are running amok.
I am at a loss. I am too distraught to be sad. I am too tired to fight. I have lost touch with friends and hobbies. My weight or physical size has grown in the wrong direction. My patience is at an all time low.
I look forward to sleep (the good, deep, relaxing kind) and quiet time. I have changed my daily diet only to change it back. My hair is falling out and my skin is dry like paper. I order a special vitamin for that. I even forget words or ideas within moments of mentally drumming them up.
I get seizures now. Those are surreal. I seldom remember them unless reminded by another person (i.e. my husband who held me through it). They scare us both. I have a pill for those now. My medications are tweaked every three weeks to three months. Better living through chemistry, right?
(Yes, Sheldon, that was sarcasm.)
Reality isn’t really fun right now…
I’m worried that my disease has become a real disability. It’s affecting my home, work and social life. I have qualified for FMLA due to my increasing sick days. The Amercian Disabilities Act has a section just for Thyroid issues. There are work place accommodations listed that (before 2014) I would have never needed. It’s a good start, but my system needs so much more attention, understanding and help. A “scheduled potty break” in the afternoon just isn’t going to cut it for me.
Obviously Hashimotos doesn’t seem to bode well with High School -right now.
Flare-ups, seizures, high anxiety levels, pressure, stress, fatigue, mystery body aches and mood swings are not conducive to the classroom environment. I struggle with all of these things DAILY. I feel like my body is at war within itself. OH! Wait! IT IS !
So, do I redial my calling or what? Hashimotos and High School… (sigh).