There is a brief window, usually the three to five minutes after waking up, when I feel good. I feel like I have enough energy to make it through the day. I feel like I’ll be able to accomplish something. Finally. And then it hits: nope, not today.
Everyday a dense fog descends. My brain stops working. I have great difficulty remembering why I went to the kitchen, why I’m in a particular shop. My body just doesn’t want to move – my atrophying thighs feel like they’ll give way after a walk to the sitting room.
My feet hurt, the soles, so painful every morning, or if I’ve been sitting on the floor for a while and try to stand up.
My hair is tied up, constantly, lest Chicklet gets another handful of it in his chubby little fingers. There is no point in wearing makeup: my skin is so dry, scaly and wrinkly it actually makes me look worse.
Clothes are a nightmare. Truly a nightmare. Half a kilo a week weight gain. A little translation: that’s more per week than I was putting on at eight months pregnant, only I shan’t be having a little bundle of chicklet delight arriving in a month or so.
Occasionally there are deep, dark waves of horrible feelings that make me extremely glad for my little Chicklet, or perhaps I’d have bungee jumped – without the rope – from the Eiffel Tower months ago (taking the lift up, of course, no energy for stairs).*
Mid-night wake ups because my hands are so dry they wake me up. After a smothering of cream, I can sleep again.
A love-hate relationship has developed with Coca Cola. If I want to be able to a) gather my thoughts b) seem like I’m sort of on form and c) make it any distance from the apartment, I need some caffeine and sugar. That’s the love. Putting on half a kilo per week (and I’m doing that without the help of too much coke), that’s the hate.
And the fog, the fog, the fog. Why am I writing this? Why did I start telling you that story? Why did I want the pen I now have in my hand?
The bone-aching tiredness every day, mid afternoon. So tired, every cell in my body is fatigued, yet I can’t sleep. I don’t want to sleep: it’s the middle of the afternoon.
A funny feeling. Faint. Jittery. Extremely weak. My heart, it turns out, is under so much pressure, it starts to beat erratically.
I had no idea until last month that all these were symptoms of one thing. In Cairo I thought I was dehydrated and I thought I was lazy. Then I thought I was pregnant, so I was supposed to be tired, not be able to think properly, have swollen hands and feet. I thought everybody who gave birth was exhausted, everybody with a baby was tired, even if they slept through the night. I thought that clumps and clumps of hair in my hands, golf ball sized hairballs on my pillow in the mornings for weeks and weeks on end was what everybody has post-partum. I thought I was weak. I thought I had to ‘push through it’, so I pushed and kept pushing.
I pushed so hard that I ended up on the edge, luckily only the edge, of a very serious problem.
Turns out, I have Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. My body kills off the thyroid hormone that the thyroid produces.
I’m not dying. It’s not Cancer with the big ‘C’. It’s not motor neuron disease. It’s not a horrible, nasty thing that means I’m going to meet a horrible end.
And I’m truly, truly grateful for that, more than I know how to fully express.
That doesn’t mean that it’s ‘just’ a thyroid problem and “Oh well, at least it can be easily treated”. Both things that almost everybody I’ve told has replied and that I too would probably have said if someone told me they had a thyroid problem.
My life should go back to ‘normal’. I should have energy once again to do four hours in the gym and then dance for four hours after riding for an hour in the morning and working an eight hour day, even if darling Chicklet doesn’t allow such extravagances of time.
The tablets that I have to take every morning for the rest of my life should make me feel better. Fingers crossed they do – all my hopes are pinned on these little white pellets. But right now, although the lab results are changing for the good, the wait to feel better is on.
It’s not ‘just’ a thyroid problem to me, right now. It’s something affecting every cell of my body and every aspect of my life. As Mr S agreed to my tears this morning, “This isn’t a life”.
I’m desperate, itching, to get out in the world and do things, even if that just means taking Chicklet swimming and “making the most of Paris” while we’re here, but for now, I’m going to go back to one of the things I can do: painting a bedside table.
*Don’t worry, not only do I not have energy for the Eiffel’s stairs, I don’t have the energy to get there, so there’s absolutely no chance of any pseudo-bungying taking place. I also enjoy painting bedside tables far too much to try to end it all!
Image is Hashimoto’s Disease at 4x Magnification from Nikon’s MicroscopyU website – probably the coolest thing about all this!