Friday, May 26, 2006

Very Very Long. And Self-Involved.

So one day back in the early 90's, I was sitting at my job. Which was watching the park. You know those kids who check out balls and conduct the art projects? Well, that was me. And I was actually a slacker one at that. I think I was sitting at the desk, making a poster to announce the upcoming cheerleading classes.

Suddenly, a man burst into the office, shouting that a child had fallen off the rocket. Now the rocket was one of those really old, unsafe play structures from like, the 60's that was too high and had waaaay to many openings for a kid to fall through if they weren't being careful. I'd say the top platform was a good 25-30 feet from the ground, with a slide on the second level. Turns out the child had fallen from the top of the slide.

A chill going through my heart, I ran as fast as I could to the playground where there was a little boy splayed motionless in the sand. There was already a group around him, including his parents, who were sobbing and insisting on trying to move him. From my first aid training, I knew this was the biggest mistake we could make. Despite the panic racing through me, I commanded the parents to NOT MOVE HIM NO MATTER WHAT while I ran back to the office to call the paramdedics. This was in the days before everyone and their mother had a cell. I checked his breathing, luckily he was, but he wasn't crying so this was concerning to me. So I sprinted to the office, called 911, and somehow handled the situation. He was taken away in an ambulance, and although I never heard what had happened to him, I am assuming he had only minor injuries.

But during that brief time period when I had to act like I was in charge and knew what I was doing, I was terrified. Under no circumstances could I let it show, as it would just serve to scare the parents even more than they already were. Also, representing the City that employed me, I had an obligation to be professional and competent. Anyone who observed me during that time probably thought I executed everything with calm and precision.

Except inside I was saying, "Oh shit oh shit oh shit..."

And for the three years after the birth of my beautiful son, that is exactly how I lived my life. Anyone looking at me presumably saw a self-posessed person, one who had little to no problems in life.

Except that was far from the case.

You see, hindsight and my recent diagnosis of hypothyroidism showed me that I was suffering from clinical depression, which is one of the side effects of that condition. To put it mildly, I was a raving nag to my husband practically all the time. I found fault with everything he did. I had no motivation, no energy, nada. And I'm not exaggerating, I wish I was. I would sleep seven hours and need more sleep. It was all I could do to get dressed and out of the house. I could have cared less about cleaning, cooking, doing the laundry, or working out, or anything really. A day walking around Disneyland exhausted me. I just tried to concentrate on raising my son, which was my only motivation in life for a very long time.

And during that time I was getting heavier and heavier. And I thought, oh, this must be the stress of motherhood. Briefly, I wondered why women wanted to have more children if this was the type of toll it took on them. My periods, lasting max four days pre-pregnancy, were now seven, all of them heavy. I knew it couldn't be post-partum depression because it just doesn't last that long. And goodness knows I never thought it was my thyroid malfunctioning, that is probably the last thing anyone would think of.

I knew something was wrong with me, but I had no idea what. It was such an insidious process, a gradual slide into hell, but with none of the fun. I was scared of who I had become, but powerless to change at the same time. It was one of those eerie feelings when you are sort of out-of-body and looking at yourself, saying, "Just who does that bitch think she is?"

I must now publicly proclaim my husband a living saint for putting up with the crap I put him through day in and day out. Harpy would be a gracious term. I would listen to myself, and hate myself for what I was doing, but I couldn't stop. I was completely out of control. Understandably, our marriage was not going all that well. Would you want to cozy up to a hissing viper? Well, neither did he.

When I told my doctor about my complete inablity to lose weight, in fact, gaining weight when by all rights and purposes I should have lost quite a bit, she decided to throw in a blood test for TSH, which measures your thyroid stimulalting hormone. In terms of this hormone, high is low and low is high. And my measurement was 8, which meant I wasn't producing enough of the hormone. The top of normal levels is a five. A 10 means you are so far gone you are lucky you are moving. Add to that my doctor's diagnosis of Hashimoto's Syndrome, which despite the fact that it sounds like a low-budget Japanese horror film isn't all that bad, and you have a bona fide member of the Bum Thyroid Club, of which I am now an honorary member.

But all it took to get me back to my normal self was one little pill, once a day, for the rest of my life. It's that simple. I'm more than ok with that. Actually, I'm still not that hip on the laundry, but it's going much better now. Not too long ago, my husband gave me a big hug and told me he was glad the woman he had married was back.

I'm glad too.


heidi said...

I don;t think that post was one bit self involved. That was some good information. And are you telling me my period will get HEAVIER after having a kid? UGH.

Heather said...

Oh man - sounds rough! I'm glad you had it diagnosed.

When I was in high school, my dad almost died of heart failure because he had the opposite problem - hyperthyroid. He'd been sick for years too, and nobody could figure out why. It made a pretty dramatic difference when he finally got treatment.

Ashley said...

Hey there. I was ridiculously hypothyroid for only a few months before it was caught, but I TOTALLY relate to the "slide into hell". For me the main thing was that my memory fell totally apart and I had to make lists and carry them around with me all the time. Literally I would leave the house without my wallet, my keys - I'd get to the car, realize I didn't have the keys. By the time I got back to the house, I wouldn't remember why I was there. So I'd go back to the car. Then remember the keys. In retrospect I was in no condition to DRIVE! I thought I was going crazy, and had quietly started making arrangements to see a psychiatrist because clearly I was having a nervous breakdown - like you I was totally cranky and not fun to be around. Plus the weight gain, which was ALARMING considering I was eating almost nothing and exercising an hour every day to try to take it off. It was pure craziness. I thank the universe and the gods of pharmacology every day for that little pink pill that keeps me sane.

I actively fear the apocalypse not because I might die in a theoretical disaster, but because if I lived through it and society broke down, I might lose access to synthroid. And slowly... become... a cretin. Terrifying.

Deb said...

I'm glad you got properly diagnosed. I've had problems with depression (not induced by the thyroid), and I know how rough that can be. Aren't meds wonderful -- better living through chemistry!