Monday, December 22, 2014

The Butterfly in my Throat : The Difference a Year Makes

My Happy Life. 
I spent the next few glorious months after my college graduation preparing for graduate school and I moved into my first REAL apartment with two of my friends in Quincy, Massachusetts. I worked 3 part time jobs and attended full time school in Cambridge, studying music. I commuted daily on the "T" through Boston, and despite being squished into the train, I was blessed to see the city every morning and night. In between classes, I walked to Harvard Square, bought a cup of tea, sat on the steps of Harvard's Memorial Church and did homework. Every day, I passed historical buildings, walking the same streets that America's founding fathers walked. Every day, the same man would heckle me for money, explaining in detail that he needed it to play poker with his friends at IHOP. 

It was one of the happiest times of my life. I was learning and experiencing so much. I rarely felt anxious. I was surrounded with things I loved. I was coming out of my shell. I never thought about my thyroid. I never thought about my disease. In my heart, I believed the worst of the disease was over and I never had to think about it again. 

How quickly things can change.
During my second semester, things drastically changed. I was starting to feel overwhelmed and an avalanche of stress quickly buried me to a degree that I didn't know was possible. I quit one of my jobs and gave up many responsibilities in another job. I was always exhausted, and slowly started to feel depressed and nervous. I easily snapped at my roommates and my friends.  

I was so desperate for a break, but no days off or any amount of holidays could refresh me. My favorite daydream was about being able to stop time just so I could rest for a few weeks. I was purposefully missing school and work. One morning, a representative from my school called and in a melodramatic movie-like moment, I crawled on the floor with a blanket over me, shaking, waiting for the phone to stop ringing. The representative called multiple times over the course of a few weeks. One day, I actually answered and she said, "Why are you avoiding me? What is wrong with you? Is something going on at home that you need to talk about?" 

"You have thyroid problem." 
One Sunday, I attended an Easter/Passover church event and a woman I never met sat across from me. She pointed to me, then pointed to her neck and in a heavy accent said, "You have thyroid problem." I defensively replied, "Not anymore. I did." "No," she said, "You HAVE thyroid problem." I uncomfortably shifted in my seat for the rest of the event. 

I was angry and frustrated that I still looked like I had a thyroid problem (as pictured below), but I absolutely refused to believe that the problem still existed.
April 2010
A few weeks before the semester came to an end, the thought of returning to school for even one more day made me feel physically sick. I made the decision to leave my grad school and move back home to Connecticut with my parents. I never felt so relieved by a decision in my life.

"...and the words start to sound weird?" 
That summer, I was so lethargic. I stopped getting my menstrual cycle. I developed tremors in my hands. My heart felt jumpy and fast. I started to have trouble remembering things. Common sense facts were lost to me. Conversations made me nervous and uncomfortable because I couldn't articulate well. Words sounded strange to me. 

"We're going to be just fine. You know how you say something over and over and the words start to sound weird? Going to be just fine, just fine, just fine..." - Holly, The Office: The Ultimatum, S7, Ep 13. 

I started to retreat. I stopped spending time with friends and people. I started to experience intense migraines and some of the worst panic attacks of my life. Moments where I was convinced I was dying.

That woman's heavy accent lingered in my mind, "You have a thyroid problem," but I didn't want to believe it. 

Bad news. 
I was in serious denial. 

After suffering through some intense migraines, I went to a neurologist. He sent me to get brain scans, a neck MRA, blood work, contacted my endocrinologist (against my wishes), made an appointment with a cardiologist, and made an appointment with a movement disorder specialist for my tremors. 

I remember sitting in a restaurant when I got a phone call from the doctor about the blood work results. I let it go to voicemail. I couldn't deny it anymore. I knew what the voicemail was going to say. I knew I wasn't in remission anymore, but I didn't want to believe it. I listened to the voicemail at home. My thyroid hormones were severely elevated and I needed immediate treatment. 

Besides my parents and sister, I didn't tell anyone about my returned hyperthyroidism for months and was infuriated when anyone would find out, via family members. It was obvious it had returned. You just needed to take one look at my swollen neck, large eyes, and watch how terribly I fidgeted. I really couldn't come to terms with it. I was so distraught and heartbroken. 

The difference a year makes. 
In the fall of 2009, everything felt so perfect. I was independent, excited, and dreamed big. My life was full of music, learning, friends, exploring. I was so happy.

In the fall of 2010, I felt like my life was ripped away from me. I was sick, anxious, depressed, and could not support myself, needing to live with the help of my family. I was so filled with regret. My life was full of sleep and doctors' appointments. 

Bitterness started to eat at me. "Why me?" "Why me?" "Why me?" "Why was I dealt this hand?" "What did I do to deserve this?" 

I have no answers. 

Be blessed and be well, 

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