I’ve been going back and forth on writing this post. It’s about an issue that effects me everyday and it’s changed my life. I have amazing readers and supporters, and in the end, I’m hoping someone can relate, or that I can let a sufferer know that they are not alone. I’ve written personal posts before, such as my chronic pain post, and the outpouring of support was incredible. I love all you guys! Anyways…
In August 2013 (August 3rd, to be exact) I became very ill. It literally happened over night, or at least I thought so at the time. I had just moved into my house with Matt a week prior and we were about to start our life together. Well, Matt was in California packing up some final things to bring to our new home in Arizona, and he rushed home when I called him for eight hours straight over night (his phone was on silent!).
I was at the doctor’s office three times that week. Severe abdominal pain, joint pain, weakness, fatigue, fever. It was bad. I couldn’t even get out of bed. After a few ideas of what my illness “could possibly be,” it ended up being diagnosed as an aggressive kidney infection. Okay – that explains this horrendous back pain at least…ouch. They shot me in the butt with some antibiotics and sent me on my way. A week later, I was in the hospital.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a horrible time in my life. I felt SO guilty that Matt and I were about to start this amazing journey then I get sick! What is that all about?! On top of that, my job didn’t want to offer me medical leave so they fired me. That was so nice of them…
The month of August felt like death to me. I spent a majority of it in bed. I was feeling bad for putting Matt through the process, and I was stressing out about losing my job. Since I was cooped up in the house with extreme pain, I put my time to good use and ended up finding a good work-at-home job. I was actually pretty excited. I always wanted to work from home, so this gave me a reason to really do it. And let’s face it – I HAD to do it. I had bills to pay but I could not physically function.
I started my new job on September 9, 2013. Much to my surprise, I really liked it (it wasn’t my typical line of work). I was working 40 hours a week but it was low stress and I could drink tea in my pajamas all day. Not to mention that fact that I could spend a lot more time with my animals.
It took about three months for me to start feeling good again, but I never fully regained my great health. I was always feeling tired. I was lacking energy and I would get fatigued so easily. My back was always hurting and I’d struggle to sleep at night. Something wasn’t right.
I’ll never forget telling my doctor “Ever since I got so sick, my health hasn’t been the same. Something isn’t right.” She ignored me. I moved on, thinking that perhaps I was still recovering. By December I went from working full time to part time but it was going well and I was still loving it. Since I was working less, I wanted a new hobby that I could enjoy in my free time. Dog Mom Days was born on December 19, 2013. What a great day 🙂
In January 2014, my company’s project was cancelled and I was laid off. I managed to get another work-at-home job as I continued to work on my blog and take advantage of my time at home. I was still feeling horrible a majority of my days, yet my doctor continued to ignore me.
Fast forward to November 2014. In 11 months, I had four very severe kidney infections that landed me in the hospital. Nausea, sometimes vomiting, excruciating pain, fever, weakness…the whole bit every single time I got an infection. The worst part? They’d last anywhere from 2-3 weeks. Every time I’d see a hospital doctor they’d tell me “It’s not normal for someone your age to be getting kidney infections like this!” Yes…I know.
By then I had adjusted to a life at home, and a life of feeling weak and tired everyday. It sunk me into a depression, thinking that “my doctor keeps telling me it’s nothing, so it must all be in my head.” My brother came home for Christmas (he’s serving in the US Army) and I went to visit him for his basic training graduation at Ft. Benning, GA in January of this year. When I returned home, my depression got worse. I cried everyday. I felt sick and I was hurting because I was missing my brother so badly. The physical and mental pain was extremely hard to deal with. (Below is a video of me greeting my brother in the airport on 12/19/14. I hadn’t seen him in several months).
I slowly crawled my way out of the deep, dark depression hole and I had a great next few months. Wonderful things happened with my blog, and I was nominated for 2015 BlogPaws Best New Pet Blog. I had several media honors and I was focusing all of my attention on my animals and my blog. It took my mind off my health, and it made me so incredibly happy.
In April I hit a road block again when I got my first kidney infection of the year. It was another really bad one, and I was in the hospital at 4:30am on a Saturday. It lasted a couple weeks but I felt pretty good when it came time to travel to Nashville for BlogPaws 2015.
In the meantime, I was physically hurting. My back was still killing me everyday and I was always fatigued. I do a really great job of hiding it, because I don’t want to be labeled by my illness and I felt that if I tried to act like I was okay, maybe I would feel good. That strategy has never worked.
This past June I got another kidney infection. Sigh. Luckily, however, I caught it early and went into Urgent Care when I felt kidney pain coming on. How sad is that?! I can differentiate between my daily back pain and my kidney infection back pain. Pretty ridiculous.
That day, I saw an osteopathic doctor, Dr. Randall. Osteopathic doctors specialize in diagnosing diseases and evaluating injury. Dr. Randall, although very stern and straight forward, changed my life. He’s been in practice for over 30 years and who knew his simple question “have you had your thyroid checked?” would change everything.
For two years I was seeking answers. Why was I feeling so crappy all the time? Why wasn’t my doctor listening to me and what could possibly be going on if all of my blood tests came back “normal?”
Three days after I had my thyroid tested at the local Urgent Care, I got the phone call about my results. “Your thyroid function is very poor and Dr. Randall thinks you need to get in for a thyroid ultrasound immediately.” Um….wow. Okay. What just happened?! Did one blood test really just give me all of the answers I need? I had a lot of research to do – I knew nothing about the thyroid.
The next morning I went in for my thyroid ultrasound and within days I got another phone call with results. The woman on the other end of the line explained that I have a cyst on the right lobe of my thyroid. You can imagine my disbelief. After I visited the doctor for a follow up on my tests and ultrasound, I was officially diagnosed with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease.
Although I was shocked, I was also relieved. I thought “Wow, it’s not all in my head. Something really is wrong.” Now I could get on the track to feeling better.
So here we are. It’s almost exactly two years after I became really sick and I finally have answers. That first severe kidney infection in August 2013 triggered something in me and I’ve never been the same. But you know what? That’s okay because at least now I have a plan!
I still have chronic back pain. I still feel weak and fatigued a majority of the time. I don’t sleep well and I lost 15lbs in a matter of 6 weeks this spring (which at 5’9 and 145lbs, is not normal. I’m down to 130lbs). I now have 3,486 doctors. Or so it seems. I’m seeing an endocrinologist, which is a thyroid specialist. She is going to determine whether or not my cyst needs to be removed, although right now it’s leaning toward surgery. I recently started on thyroid medication, which I was really excited about because I want to feel great again, but the medication made me even more sick. I also started seeing a urologist, and she thinks that my kidney infections are due to my poor thyroid function. It’s not normal for a 27 year old woman who’s never had kids to have this many infections, and to such severity.
Getting sick two years ago was a blessing and a curse. Yes I feel awful a lot of days, but it gave me the chance to pursue my dream of working from home. I was able to grow my blog and become somewhat successful with it. Now I can say I’m a full time pet blogger and stay at home dog mom! But in return I don’t feel well. I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it too.
The Arizona heat has been really hard on me this year. With my messed up thyroid, my body temperature is so out of whack. I’ve been doing as much I can with my dogs indoors. I can’t wait until the weather cools down so we can get back into agility and the outdoor activities we love. I haven’t given up the hobbies that I enjoy, but now I have to do them in moderation and really pay attention to my health. If I overdo it one day, I really pay for it the next.
I do my best to live a “normal” life. Some days it’s harder than others. I’ve had a really hard time facing the fact that I have a health condition that I will live with for the rest of my life. My doctor flat out looked me in the eye and said “There is no cure for this. You will have it for the rest of your life.”
This doesn’t mean I have to suffer and play the victim, though. I realize that there are things I can do to help myself feel better, alongside the thyroid medication I need to take. I’ve recently adopted a better diet for my blood type (which includes a lot of fish, plums, blueberries, Greek yogurt, etc.) I have also started making the transition into a gluten free lifestyle, which was a professional recommendation. At first I thought all of these changes were absurd, but it hasn’t been as difficult as I thought and I’m willing to do whatever I need it takes to feel great again.
I couldn’t do it without Matt. I still feel guilty at times for dragging him with me through all of this, but he’s been nothing but supportive. I try to maintain my independence, but it’s hard at times because I sometimes need help with physical house chores or I end up sick in the hospital. He tells me to rest, take care of myself and not overdo it, but I’m not a good listener. I think I’m still in denial that I do indeed have a health issue. I truly feel blessed to have a man in my life that just wants to make me happy and comfortable, no matter what our situation is.
I’m learning to adjust. It will be a process but I have a great support system and now I know what I need to do to live a healthier life. In the next 6 weeks, I have a lot of doctor’s appointments. Blood work, kidney ultrasound, urologist, endocrinologist, follow ups…but at the end of the day, I know I’m on the path to a healthier life despite this setback.
I’m going to be completely honest here though – if someone asked me “would you rather work your 9-5 job and be completely healthy or work from home and have some health issues?” I’d choose to work from home. I have the freedom to have lunch with my mom, spend time with my dad, travel, take naps and shop whenever I want! Although I’m never feeling like my health is at 100%, I do have some great days! This experience has really given me the opportunity to look at life differently and pursue my dreams, although it looks a bit different than I planned. I feel very blessed to be living the life I live, even if my thyroid is a bit down in the dumps 😉