Meet Jess! Best friend, accomplished attorney, mother, secret genius, and one of the best rappers I know (Rick Ross has nothing on her). Jess and I met the first week of law school and she has been an integral part of my life ever since. You know those people you meet who you instantly connect with and trust? Jess is that person for me.
I shared my health issues with her right away because I felt she could understand and relate on some level, having gone through her own medical issues. It wasn’t until this year that she was also formally diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Since then, we frequently talk through the peaks and valleys associated with autoimmune disease and diagnosis. Below is the first of what I believe to be many thoughts from Jess. Read on!
Hi there! My name is Jess, I’m a late-twenty-something attorney living in the Metro-Detroit area with my husband and our three kids—Cameron, William and Sebastian. Ok fine, William and Sebastian are French Bulldogs if you want to be technical about it, but Cam is a 7-month-old human.
I’m new to the scene of autoimmune diseases, at least in terms of having a diagnosis. For the past 12 years, I have been back and forth to doctors, relaying the same symptoms over and over and receiving every response in the book … except for an accurate diagnosis. My personal favorite was being told that – I so strongly believed that something was wrong with me that I was manifesting the symptoms I believed I had. Hey, I’ll be the first to say I am most definitely out of my mind in multiple ways … but this was not one of those ways.
What were these mysterious symptoms that no one could make sense of? Dramatic weight loss, hair loss, fatigue, feeling famished, racing heart, skin changes, you name it. And the “diagnoses” were just as numerous: stress, puberty, hormonal changes relating to my birth control pill, and then, at a different stage of my life, my being off of the birth control pill, and so on. It was like for every new doctor I saw, there was a new theory. And then eventually … I gave up and just stopped going. I was so sick of no one believing I was sick. So this became my “normal.”
Rewind to just over a year ago when I found out I was pregnant for the second time. (I miscarried twins the first time, but that’s another post for another day when we’d all like a good cry—did I mention I’ve got a lot of issues?) Actually, before I even knew I was pregnant, I was sick. Really, really, really sick with nausea and vomiting. I won’t get too much into the horrible existence that was my pregnancy. Another post for another day. But for now, I’ll leave you with two Latin words that you can click on: Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It’s a baddie. And the fact that I was sick before I even had a positive pregnancy test was the first symptom.
The sequence of events went something like this: horrible pregnancy, phenomenal delivery and baby (You guessed it, Another post for another day), postpartum overdrive of all of the symptoms I’ve ever had in my entire life, drying up of breastmilk, my medical-student-husband telling me he strongly suspected I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (you da real MVP, babe), yet another round of blood work, and one endocrinologist who actually listened to all of this and put 2+2 together with my family history (my mom has Rheumatoid Arthritis, so it’s not shocking that I was predisposed to an autoimmune condition). The end result, which is probably anticlimactic at this point, is that I was, in fact, diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Oh and that Hyperemesis I mentioned earlier? Apparently, it may have some sort of link to thyroid conditions.
But back to my Hashimoto’s diagnosis. You guys, I WAS THRILLED. Take off your sarcasm sunnies and re-read that line because I mean it. There was something so satisfying about having a diagnosis and finally being validated after more than a decade of the opposite. The thing is, reality followed fast and a diagnosis meant that there really was something wrong with me. There is something wrong with me. And as Kate’s prior post spelled out, thyroid stuff is everything stuff. There’s almost nothing it doesn’t affect.
At this point, I’m still on the journey to being well. I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’m only 7-months postpartum and apparently that can take a full year to regulate. I think I have some things to grieve and some things—a lot of things—to learn but I’m taking it day by day. I’ll get there. I have a lot more to say and maybe it’s to you all, if you’ll have me back (just kidding, Kate says you don’t have a choice), maybe it’s in a journal, or to my dogs.
More and more I realize that people think they know your life by peeking in from the outside but we’re all someone different when the cameras are off. Hold on, my producers are telling me I have no cameras following me around because I’m a normal person. For me, this private facet of myself now includes an autoimmune disease. And that sort of is what it is, I guess.
Until next time,