I left my last post, once again writing ‘from a position of good health.’ After over eight months of experiencing a return of symptoms that ebbed and flowed through me on a daily basis and to different degrees of severity, my body had (for the second time) slowly regained some sense of normality. I felt well.
Rebuilding my life (again)
When I was well it was incredible, I didn’t worry about what had been or what was to come, I was present – more present than ever. I picked myself up and secured myself (again) a six-month contract for one and a half days a week at a school that really cared about children and people. The bills were being paid and I was connecting with myself and with my family. I also started a job for 4 hours a week in a community role at The Co-operative. At the age of 36, I was working two days a week and had some wonderful ad-hoc work as a community artist, at the local gallery on the horizon – a splendid ‘just right for me’ jigsaw of employment.
I was taking it slowly and enjoying doing what I wanted to do to earn money – my experiences had changed my perspective, I felt empowered by the clarity of my journey and I really understood how to care for myself. I was happy.
This was the second time, I had picked myself up and thrown myself into life and I was proud.’
This journey has taught me an incredible amount about self-care. I have never, in my whole life felt as well resourced to look after myself both mentally and physically as I do now. My body was once again allowing me to sleep but on top of this, my sleep hygiene was immaculate – this made for beautiful, refreshing wonderful sleep! I practiced yoga nidra and mindfulness, for focus and energy. Ever since visiting a nutritionist my diet was rich and fresh, with over seven portions of vegetables most days and supplements to support women’s health. I listened to my body, I put myself first for others and I hugged and nurtured my health daily. It was my gold. As the last remnants of symptoms ceased – as always the hair loss and ringing in my ears, I convinced myself it was a ‘blip,’ perhaps my body recovering from the tremendous assault that was Postpartum Thyroiditis.
There were no official answers as to why my symptoms had returned but I had lost faith in ‘official answers’ and all that mattered was that I was well.’
During this period of recovered health, there were small niggles and reminders – things that have been ever constant since the onset of Postpartum Thyroiditis. A burning sensation in the base of my stomach, somedays an excessive thirst and a feeling in my mouth that I find hard to describe. Sometimes everything was too quick, my blasts of brain and physical energy were a bit much. I would have the odd day (just the odd one) I was so consumed by tiredness I would be on the floor. I ignored them. they weren’t effecting how I accessed life and they were only present ever so briefly.
A relationship was still necessary
About the time I felt well, I had an endocrinology appointment that I had been referred to at the initial onset of symptoms over 8 months prior. Though I felt better I attended this appointment, it felt sensible – I had yet to build a relationship with an endocrinologist who could support me moving forward (we had researched to find him and battled to secure an appointment.) There was a minuscule bit of hope we might, one day have another baby (if there were some answers and a strategy).
Considering my experiences with Postpartum Thyroiditis, returning symptoms and that a large percentage of women on my Mum’s side of the family had thyroidectomy a relationship with an endocrinologist was still very much necessary.’
At my previous visit to an endocrine specialist (who had ALL the answers and then very quickly didn’t), I was promptly referred to a psychiatrist at the personal expense of £375. I had taken the decision to ‘save’ this money (if it had been there) for a rainy day – there had, after all, been a few! I needed support but from a therapist who knew me not another stranger.
Throughout the 8 months, I was unwell, requesting repeat blood tests, being told there was nothing wrong and treated by the healthcare professionals like a mithering inconvenience I engaged with my therapist. She had become an imperative part of my support network and a professional voice that represented my reality and not a 30-minute (at most) version of it.
Due to past experiences my decision to not see the psychiatrist as advised concerned me. I was in strategy mode and I knew how this would be viewed – like I was a hysterical woman in denial. And so, on my request, my therapist wrote to the endocrinologist ahead of my consultation describing how she experienced me in therapy. This was a great reassurance.
I knew this appointment was going to be different when the consultation began with ‘how are you feeling today?’ Hearing those words suddenly alerted me to the fact that I had NEVER really been asked that.
My symptoms had always felt like a secondary inconvenience in the process of a ‘diagnosis.’
He was a modest man who I very much felt wanted to get to the bottom of the matter for me, because he cared. Before he even looked at the numbers he listened and attempted to understand – a pretty mean feat after the last couple of years! He expressed the opinion that my body was sensitive to fluctuations in Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (my TSH had only shifted a little and remained in normal) and that he was glad, for now, that I felt better as well as acknowledging the symptoms I had experienced.
The endocrinologist said something that had been so obvious to us all for sometime ‘you need a relationship don’t you?’
I asked about the fact that my scan had showed a diffuse goiter (and nodules) and wondered whether I should expect this to return to normal after thyroiditis (not the nodules). After examination, I was reassured, in the context of health that I shouldn’t worry about this. I was still a little confused about why my recent scan reported ‘acute thyroiditis’ but again I was well and I find it hard to worry when I am well.
My mental health was not brought into question once, he checked (he had to) in terms of the psychiatrist’s referral, my mood-related symptoms and then considered them in the context of how I described them and the letter that had been sent by my therapist. This all seemed to make sense to him. I expressed how the journey had been stressful and that letters arrive after consultations that make me feel like a conversation is going on around me and about me but does not involve me and this, does (naturally) cause a level of anxiety. He responded to this by dictating the letter in front of me a checked that I was satisfied.
I was able to talk as me and not as a strategy ready to firefight what was thrown at me. This enabled me to express a reality and not an adapted version of it. I was tentatively relieved. My past experiences prevented the elation and excitement I had previously felt in these circumstances. I was, at this moment satisfied and comfortable that we had found help and that I was well.
Follow up appointment
The endocrinologist made a follow-up appointment with me in 3 months’ time to check up and continue to support me – perhaps to build a relationship with me so that my future healthcare needs could be met. I sent a thank you card and went on with my life, living in the moments of precious health. I hoped things would settle and felt this was it, that finally, my battle with thyroid health was over.
Unfortunately, it was not and the follow-up appointment was very much required…