Swimming Through Jello
It happened so gradually, I attributed the symptoms to normal aging. But over a few years all the excess energy I had in my 20s, 30s and early 40s evaporated. Pfffftt! Physically, mentally, and emotionally I began to feel that I was swimming through Jello, though more recently, giant clumps of peanut butter fell into my pool. Everything inside me was in slow motion, yet my life continued on at a breakneck pace.
I was so tired, at times I shouldn't have been driving. Because my brain was thickening into sludge, I started joking about getting early Alzheimer's. But it wasn't really all that funny. And my emotions were in the deep freeze, too, causing a deeper darkness than I'd ever experienced. But I had an answer for everything. Fatigue? Sure! I have nine kids, and life hasn't become a smidge simpler now that they are older. Brain fog? - Dementia runs in my family. Depression? - We've had a zinger of a difficult year.
Way too often I delude myself into thinking I'm great at self-diagnosis. Boy was I wrong this time!
(Oh yeah, my hair was falling out in great globs, and I was losing my eyebrows. I didn't really have an answer for that one.)
Happily, several months ago during a routine physical, my new family doc discovered a goiter, and further testing (blood, ultrasound) showed that my thyroid, that controller of metabolism, hormones, and so much more, was completely out of whack. She put me on a thyroid medication like my body should be producing which has made an astounding and almost immediate difference in energy level, mental sloth, and emotions. We're still working to reach the correct level of medication, and with each increase, I'm feeling better. Finally, I'm climbing out of the Jello swimming pool!
I decided to mention this for a couple of reasons. First, in the past five months I have learned that thyroid issues are very frequent, but often overlooked. So many of my friends are dealing with similar issues. I found out that both my parents and a sibling are also hypothyroid, which isn't surprising because there is often a strong family connection in thyroid problems.
Second, as I have read about thyroid issues I learned about something I've never heard of: postpartum thyroiditis. Apparently this is a common event, affecting 5-7% or more of postpartum women. It occurs in different forms, but a typical scenario is that sometime after birth the mother enters a hyperthyroid phase which later switches to a hypothyroid phase.
Researchers have found that many cases of presumed postpartum depression are actually misdiagnosed thyroid issues. In most cases everything resolves and metabolic functions return to normal by the time the baby is a year old. Occasionally, though, a woman will remain stuck in the hypo state. This is more likely for women like me with a family history of hypothyroidism. My guess is that I frequently entered hyperthyroid states for a while after birth. I often looked forward to middle of the night feedings, and if I still wasn't tired after my little sweetheart conked out, I would work on lesson planning or some other activity, enjoying the quiet of the wee hours. With my last baby, my high needs preemie, this hyper state lasted a long time, but when it wore off, I entered a decline which never stopped.
Fatigue is normal after you've had a baby, of course. But if the fatigue continues on and on, lasting past a year, then you may be dealing with something beyond normal, and it would be worth looking into.
Psalm 30: 1- 4 I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.