Moms, can I be honest? I wanted to turn in my Mom Card the other day. I can hear your loud gasps through the interwebs, so let me elaborate.
It seemed like I had the flu. I mustered up all the energy I could to walk to my in-home office and teach my morning classes (ESL online to super-cute Chinese students from 5:00-7:00 am), and then quickly retreated back under the covers. My husband took our son to school, and my daughters (ages 3 and 19 months) were asleep in bed. I gave thanks and proceeded to shut my eyes.
About five minutes later, I heard the familiar sound of shuffling feet and my door being gently pushed open. Then, a small body joined me in bed with her blankie. Soon after, she whispered, “Can I have some breakfast, please?” At that point, I just wanted someone else to get her breakfast. I needed another person to claim my Mom Card, just so I could get a few more minutes of sleep.
A New Normal
Last semester, this routine seemed to be the norm a few days out of each month. You know, that time of month. Except, it was different. What was typically a bout of sluggishness and minor irritability had become extreme fatigue and annoyance with the whole world. I apologized profusely to my husband for my constant lack of energy. I even cancelled a couple of McAllen-bound dates (we live in Brownsville, an hour away) due to not feeling well.
Mom Guilt dominated my mood while I let my girls watch one too many episodes of Bubble Guppies on repeat.
I accepted the tiredness as my new norm, a small sacrifice I had to pay for being the mother of three young children and working part-time in the wee hours of the morning.
The Diagnosis: Hypothyroidism
I went to my gynecologist for my standard annual exam. But, thanks to his thoroughness, the exam turned into drawing full blood panels to get to the root of my issues.
When I returned to his office one week later, the prognosis was in: hypothyroidism. We discussed so much, and I felt a range of emotions, but it all remains a fog. On the one hand, I was completely relieved to know that there was something wrong with me. On the other hand, I couldn’t stop thinking, “What is hypothyroidism?”
This new diagnosis was the reason I had felt like a stranger in my own body for several months. As it turns out, hypothyroidism was the cause of my longstanding symptoms: fatigue, hair thinning, brain fog, feeling cold much of the time, and a sudden inability to lose weight. In layman’s terms, hypothyroidism is a low-functioning thyroid.
The small gland located at the base of the neck is of extreme importance: it affects metabolism, energy and hormonal levels, and more sensitive areas, like fertility. If not kept in balance naturally or through medication, it can also lead to larger problems, like obesity and heart disease.
I spent several days googling the disease, looking up safe foods and recipes on Pinterest, and checking out books from my local library. I was going to be the Best Hypothyroid Advocate this world had ever seen!
After seeing an endocrinologist two weeks later, I learned more about my T3 and T4 hormonal levels (two crucial hormones the thyroid produces, and hypothyroid patients typically lack). Much to my surprise and further relief, my official diagnosis is Subclinical Hypothyroidism. I will not need to be put on medication to regulate my thyroid.
Shortly after my initial diagnosis, I began a gluten-free diet and immediately felt better. If you or someone you love struggles with hypothyroidism, please watch this short, informational video I made on what has helped me. Please get checked to avoid further complications if you have the slightest suspicion that you might have hypothyroidism.
A Letter to My Littles
I am so thankful that I am feeling better, so I have more energy to keep up with you three. You have my word that I will continue to fight this tooth and nail, making necessary changes to our diets and increasing my activity, too. Nothing that tastes good is worth me feeling bad. I want to be an example you can follow one day, when life hits you with news you were not expecting. Please know that with faith, the support of those that love you and hard work, it is possible to overcome adversity.
I love you all,