Saturday, November 13, 2010

Don't sink the boat.

It's been a while.  I've been obscenely busy playing catch up.

This week flew by.  I can't even remember most of it clearly.  I guess I'll start with my doctor's appointment.

Basically, it's all a bit more complicated than I thought.  The good news is that my dosage didn't need to be increased.  I was on 75 mcg, and the next step up would probably have been 100 mcg, which is for people who don't even have a thyroid.  I was getting nervous, wondering if this stupid little gland in my neck was even doing anything at all.  But my dosage isn't at 100 mcg.  It's now 50 mcg.

My pills are white now instead of purple.  How crazy am I that I kind of miss the old ones?

Anyway, the doctor didn't like how quickly my TSH was plummeting.  The thing about autoimmune disorders is that they often have upward and downward swings, and my doctor said from the very first blood test that she wasn't sure which way my levels were going.  Apparently it was down.  So, the not sleeping and the feverish feeling, and the insatiable appetite, they all made sense.  She looked at my papers, looked back at me, and said, "You must be feeling really bad."  I felt tears bite at me when she said that, but instead of giving into the string I cleared my throat.  I'm sick of crying in front of strangers.

The complicated bit is that even though my TSH is coming down (which we want), my T3 is really high.  We think that my T3 isn't converting to T4 (for which my levels are low-normal).  So now we have to find a way to fix that.  We're going to see where it is after my next blood test, which is the Monday before Thanksgiving.

In general I feel better, with far fewer headaches and no more mysterious pain in my throat.  I'm not dissolving into 4-hour naps in the middle of the day, either.  Of course, I'm still cold all the time (with a basal body temperature of 96.5 or so), and my weight hasn't changed.  I could say that my weight not changing is a good thing, since normally I would have gained 2 or 3 pounds by now.

Also, I had a normal period this month!  I don't care if it's weird of me to punctuate that sentence with an exclamation point.  I haven't had a period since I started depo in November of '08.  Wow, two years. I've been off depo for seven months, so it's about damn time.  It's also comforting because it might mean that my thyroid is behaving the way it's supposed to, since hypo often makes you stop having your period.  I'm just glad that it looks like my body is going back to normal.

I think that seeing Carla is starting to help me.  She gives me things to work on between sessions.  Maybe soon I'll get to a point where I can be completely honest about what's bothering me.

Also, I showed my Shakespeare prof who was boss on Thursday.  He kept me after class to tell me how impressed he was.  It was a humble victory, but I want to include it as a reminder.

My (potential) schedule for next semester is stressing me out.  There are some days where I definitely feel "off," and I never know if it's because of my health problems, or if it's all in my head.  These "off" days sometimes make it really hard for me to focus.  Sometimes the headaches are so bad I can't see.  Sometimes I'm so cold I can't get out of bed.  It's times like these that really hurt my performance in school.  I feel so guilty, because I know I could be doing better if I didn't feel so horrible.  I'm thinking of only taking three classes next semester (15 credit hours) to take the edge off until I get all this thyroid stuff under control, but the thought of doing less than my peers, and less than I feel I'm really capable of, is hard for me.  I'm currently signed up for 4 notoriously difficult classes, including two that I'm not very interested in (anthro and morphology).  I don't think I want to take those right now.  I'm entertaining the thought of keeping my two psych courses, dropping the ling and anthro courses, and replacing them with a (4-hour long) studio art class.  I've never taken art before.  It could be a really good outlet.
I'm still not sure though.  I'm meeting with my adviser soon.

Well, it's been an hour since my pill.  I guess I can go eat now.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Things look different in pictures.

Ho boy.  This last week has been mighty interesting.

On Monday:
I couldn't believe myself.  Sitting there during the film screening, all I could think about was how silly I am.  I am so crazy in love with this country boy.  He is not at all who I thought I'd want to end up with, but he's everything I need.  I felt my cheeks go hot as I wrote down everything I felt about him in my Shakespeare notebook instead of jotting down the (totally glib) symbolism I saw on the screen.  I felt deeply grateful.  I felt scared.  When I was fourteen, I thought I would be with Keith forever.  That thought is so absurd to me now that I have to laugh a little bit.  That hipster kid, with his cigarettes and gaudy tattoos-- That's who I thought I wanted?  I'm always a little afraid I'll feel that way about Matt eventually, but I'm convinced that it's different this time, because I'm different this time.

On Tuesday:
Second blood test today.
Oh yeah, I joined a sports team.  Don't laugh.  It's Ultimate Frisbee.  Don't laugh, but that shit's quite a workout. It's basically soccer with a disc.  We started out with a run uphill in wet grass.  I didn't have cleats, so I was pretty far behind.  We stretched.  We laughed because Mike, the coach, confused isotonic with isometric.  These girls.  They're so nice and like me instantly, even though I'm shy and I've never tossed a disc in my life.  It rains while we take bids and lay out in the mud.  Holding plank position until one of the girls scores a point.  I walked into Commons, muddy, gross, wet, but feeling so light and happy. Glee!  I finish my phonology problem set without staying up all night.

On Wednesday:
I saw a shrink.  She seems nice.  I was sore as all hell from practice and could barely walk to my classes.  Around 2pm I told my friends I was going to take a nap, but I knew better.  Taking a nap never works for me.  When I feel like I need one, it usually means I'm crashing.  I slept until about 8:30pm.  I woke up feeling horrible, like I never even started medication.  

On Thursday:
I wake up.  I go back to bed.  I wake up again.  No, I can't get up.  I go to sleep.  I wake up.  No.  No, I'm too weak.  I wake up, and sit up in bed.  My abs hurt, so it takes me two tries.  I can't really move.  I'm too tired.  I put on a jacket and walk to the cafe to get some orange juice because I can't breathe through my nose.  The walk is too much for me.  I go back to sleep, and miss practice.  I send a teary e-mail to my coach, who tells me not to worry about it.  My doctor e-mails me and says that some changes need to be made to my medication.  I walk to the library in the rain at night and do a little homework.  I go back to my room.  I go to sleep.

I feel much better.  Still a little unfocused, but I've done my homework and will be going to every class.  I only have one more today.  I can make it.  I got paid, so now I can take care of my medical bills, plus buy some cleats and some other stuff for ultimate.  I only have to work 5 hours over the weekend to make next month's car insurance payment.
Being a chick sucks.  It seems like literally anything can throw us off kilter.  This crap makes me so impatient. Why am I constantly spotting?  Who knows.  It could be the hypo, could be getting off depo (Jesus, it's been seven months), could be the IUD settling in.  It could be all three of those things for all I know.  I think I'm ovulating, which is weird because I've suddenly stopped bleeding.  My boobs hurt so much, even when I'm just sitting around doing nothing.  Like right now.  I'm in pain.  I have to sleep in my bra.  My multi-vitamin makes me throw up, so I'm having a pregnancy insanity.  I haven't had sex since August, and the health center made me take a pregnancy test way back when I took a piss test a month ago.  What the heck.

Aside from that rant, I'm okay.  I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday to find out what kind of changes in my meds will be required.  I'm planning on having a good Friday night before buckling down this weekend to catch up on the stuff I missed while I was sick.  

I'm homesick a little.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Transitional period.

So, I got my lab results yesterday.  Something about looking at the actual numbers felt good to me.

My TSH levels (the thyroid hormone levels) are 5.75, which is high, since the normal range is somewhere between .80 and 4.5.  I also found out that, once this number moves above the normal range, it keeps increasing exponentially until treated, which means that someone with a TSH level of 15.5 might not feel much worse than someone with a TSH level of 5.0.

I also had a test to see if my thyroid perxoidase antibodies were normal.  Apparently, the normal range is between 0-34 (I don't know how 0 can be normal, but I'm not a doctor).  I have 122.  One hundred and twenty-two.  This means that my body is attacking itself, which requires a lot of energy.  Hypothyroidism already makes you tired, but when your body is always fighting, it's a wonder how you can even move at all.  I wonder how I can even move at all.

Less importantly, I'm vitamin D deficient (most people, especially in Portland where it's always raining, have this problem), and my iron is in the "low normal range," which my doctor doesn't seem to like, and wants me to fix.

Here's the cumbersome part:  My thyroid medicine needs to be taken first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, with 8 ounces of water... I can't eat an hour after I've taken it, and I can't take vitamins or any other medicine for four hours after I take it.  This means that if I wake up with a headache, I can't do anything about it for 4 hours (which happened to me this morning and has been happening every morning lately).  It also means that I have to treat my various vitamin deficiencies at a different time of day from my treating my thyroid deficiencies.  I find this kind of funny since I never went on the birth control pill because I knew I'd never remember to take it every day.

Today was my first dose.  I woke up at 7 to take it, and then went back to sleep for an hour and a half.  I think I'll have to keep doing this if I want breakfast during the week, given the restrictions. I'm aware that it's highly unlikely for me to feel any changes on Day 1, but maybe taking that first pill raised my optimism.  Today seems better than yesterday.

I have to go back for another blood test in three weeks.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 1, 2010

She has a family; she's a mother.


I don't know the details of my results, but I know they showed hypothyroidism.  I think I cried when I found out.  These last 2 years have completely changed my body in some pretty horrible ways, and the possibility of relief is unbelievable. It's a long road ahead, but I guess now's as good a time as any to take the first step.

Here are some details about hypothyroidism:

Early symptoms:
  • Being more sensitive to cold
  • Frequent headaches
  • Depression
  • Fatigue or feeling slowed down ("foggy thinking")
  • Heavier or unusual menstrual periods
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Paleness or dry skin
  • Thin, brittle hair or fingernails
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain (unintentional/unexplained)
Late symptoms, if left untreated:
  • Decreased taste and smell
  • Hoarseness
  • Puffy face, hands, and feet
  • Infertility
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Thinning of eyebrows
The purpose of treatment is to replace the thyroid hormone that is lacking. Levothyroxine is the most commonly used medication. Doctors will prescribe the lowest dose that effectively relieves symptoms and brings the TSH level to a normal range. If you have heart disease or you are older, your doctor may start with a very small dose.
Lifelong therapy is required unless you have a condition called transient viral thyroiditis.
You must continue taking your medication even when your symptoms go away. When starting your medication, your doctor may check your hormone levels every 2 - 3 months. After that, your thyroid hormone levels should be monitored at least every year.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Evacuate the dance floor.

I have two and a half hours to finish this paper, and I still need five more pages.

I'm not doing well.  I have been collapsing after minimal activity.  My eyes are this beautiful, crisp turquoise color, but the bags under my eyes are an ugly grayish brown.  I'm eating healthy, I'm taking vitamins, I'm going to the gym 4 times a week, and drinking 5-6 bottles of water a day.  But I'm gaining weight.  Every time I weigh myself, I've gained weight.  What is going on?  I wake up every morning with headaches, which sometimes continue to grow until they're migraines, and I have to lay in bed with the lights off for hours.  I frequently feel cold or hot when everyone around me is comfortable.  I'm dizzy, unfocused, and fragile.  I have no idea what's going on.

I went to the doctor.  I had blood taken.  I had to pee in a cup.

I still don't know any answers.  My results should be in at the end of the week.  My doctor says that I've let my condition, whatever it is, go unchecked for too long.  It might be as simple as a thyroid problem, but could be as serious as cancer, and I'm honestly a little afraid.  Hormone replacement therapy is a bitch, after all.

I've got track marks and bruises on my arms from the tests. I don't want to have to worry about this now.  This is not a simple case of stressed out college student.  College seems like the least of my problems right now, even though this paper is likely not going to be finished on time.  It hardly seems to matter when your body feels so horrible, like it might give out at any second.

Please think good thoughts about me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Modularity and the Motor Theory of Speech Perception

There is a game of ultimate frisbee running on the pitch outside my window.  Everybody is very excited about it.  This is a side of Reed that I've never seen.  I have to admit, it's pretty adorable.

List of things to do today:
-Morphology problem set
-Catch up on Macbeth
-Regular homework
-Portland food carts with dormies
-Skype with Matt
-Video games
-More paper stars

I really like how it deteriorated into a 'list of things I do when I'm goofing off' at the end.

I wonder if reading your old writing is even a good idea.  I went through my old journal yesterday, and ended up leaving with some uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.  There were so many flashing lights in those adolescent words, and I hope that I can be more honest with myself and others now.  For two years, I was tortured and didn't seem to really know it, and yet now at just a glance I can see that I was in trouble.  I don't want that to happen again.  I want to take those bad feelings and slowly breathe them out of me like smoke.  I don't need them anymore.  Maybe when I was a teenager, I needed something like that inside of me to keep me working for better things. Maybe I didn't know how to let them go, even though I can tell I was trying.

Anyway, the point is, I'm trying not to be so full of myself now.  Honesty is the best policy, right?

Okay.  I think it's hash-browns and over-easy eggs o'clock.

Friday, September 17, 2010


A huge mayfly just flew out from under my desk and subsequently prompted some kind of death screech to come out of me.  I think I almost made Jane and Beth have heart attacks.

There's a hole in my story; there's a hole in my head.

Thank you, thank you, Friday.

Right now I'm getting over a cold and a too-short haircut.  So far I think I'm recovering.

Portland, you are a beautiful city, even while you're wearing your rainy, gray jacket.  I can see the city lights from my window.  They look so good I want to make them into tea and drink until the cup is empty.

So, I'm putting off some asinine social psych assignment because apparently I would rather organize my music folders and make 3-D paper stars out of written-on post-it notes.  Also, hyphens are pretty cool.  I guess it's not the smartest work environment to have Jane and Beth playing Kingdom Hearts in my room, huh? Maybe I should at least write a heading.

It's tough adjusting back into the rhythm of a long-distance relationship.  The late-night phone calls often stretch too long into the night, leaving us tired and groaning in the morning for all the wrong reasons.  I'm two hours behind Matt, so he often calls me too early and I keep him too late.  I think we'll find our way around it again soon.  And maybe by then it won't feel so strange sleeping alone.

Reed life is coming back to me in the same way piano pieces come back to me while I fumble through the notes.  My fingers pick up the melody before I really remember how it goes, and soon the whole song comes together.  I have a good feeling about this.  Although, I have to wonder if coming back to Reed will always feel a little bittersweet when Matt is so far away.

My goal tomorrow is to finally do my laundry.