Empress of the Universe

Friday, May 26, 2006

What's Wrong with Me

That is a statement, not a question.

Here's a list of all the current ailments and conditions I presently have:

Graves disease, aka hyperthyroidism - When: First symptoms identified in January, 2006. Where: South of France How do I know? Let me list the symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism: change in skin texture * my hair hurts almost all the time * heart palpitations * my nails are growing like crazy, my hair, too * ravenous appetite * headaches across the back of my head * my bones ache to the deepest part of them * oh, yeah, I have no patience, I snap when I don't mean to and I can't wait long enough for people to finish a sentence * my eyes are bugging out, especially the left one (lovely vision, huh?) * suddenly my eyesight is extremely poor * I frequently pull out into traffic and wonder where that car came from. My eyes move more slowly now since they are protruding and it's difficult to judge distance and speed * can't sleep * when I finally do fall asleep, can't wake up * nightmares * my periods are very short, light and irregular (but shouldn't really complain about that, should I?) * thirsty ALL THE TIME * oh yeah, can't forget the paranoia, that's something really lovely to live with, isn't it? * hypersensitive hearing at the high range (can't hear any better when people are speaking, but I can hear the refrigerator humming from the opposite end of the house with the TV on) * and here's the one biggest symptom - immediately after eating my body doesn't know what to do with the excess energy and so I go into this deep, deep "crash." My heart races, my temperature elevates, I feel feverish and exhausted to the bone, can barely hold my head up. The crash is so low I swear I could fall asleep driving, or working, or in the middle of a meeting and life would go on around me unchanged for at least 2-3 hours, it takes that long to recover. That's probably the worst one.

What: The normal range for the thyroid hormone is between 9 and 25 (whatever the unit of measurement is, I don't know). My thyroid level is 23, therefore considered "in the normal range." Now, the thing we don't know is what is normal for ME. What if normal for me is 7? Then I'm more than 3X greater than normal, therefore I am exceedingly outside MY normal range. So the doctor tells me I must get sicker before I can get better.

The thyroid ultrasound found a small lump on the left side of my thyroid. As my family doctor describes it, "the ultrasound tells you there's a lump there, but doesn't tell you what it is." OK, thanks.

Mitral valve prolapse - I am learning that this seems to be quite a common condition, except I never had heart palpitations before I had this current thyroid problem, and there is a known connection between MVP and hyperthyroidism. We can work around this -- I just have to take heavy duty doses of antibiotics before going to the dentist. And hope it doesn't get worse. There is definitely a strain on my heart - I feel it every single day. This morning the racing heart woke me up and stayed with me all day, ALL DAY.

About 4 weeks ago, I wore a holter heart monitor for 24 hours. It was a completely sedentary day that day - I worked in my office (at the old location, no flights of stairs, nothing unusual or the least bit strenuous). The most vigourous thing I did that day was walk across a parking lot and I got winded! I saw the test results last Friday when I was at the doctor's office. My heart rate ranged from a low of 57 bpm (verrrrrry sedentary) to a high of 127 bpm. I pointed that out to the doctor. 127 bpm - that's faster than disco; it's higher than the fitness club goal after 25 minutes on the treadmill. That's all I did was walk across a parking lot. "It's within the normal range," the doctor said. "It's not normal for me." I wish I had a dollar for every time I've said that.

Can't forget the debilitating migraine headache I had on Wednesday of this week. Haven't had a headache like that since my early twenties, before I wore braces. Way back when, after I got my braces off, the dentist gave me a retainer to wear at night or whenever I felt the first signs of a migraine coming. Driving back from a meeting downtown, the pain was so bad, my back teeth screamed every time the car went over a small bump. In tears, I seriously thought about pulling on to the side of the road to sleep for a couple hours, it was that bad. Home in bed at 3 in the afternoon, digging in my bedside table looking for that retainer. That, together with a heating pad, Advil, Tylenol and a Robax Platinum finally helped. Slept 'til 6:30 p.m. then back in bed again at 9. Thursday I felt as though every ounce of strength had been expended fighting yesterday's pain.

I think I have started grinding or clenching my teeth at night.

I'm swollen on the right side of my neck, so I thought maybe that's where the lump on the left side of my thyroid was (you know, like stage left if you're looking at the stage). Turns out I have a new infection in my salivary gland. Who knows if it's related or just another part expiry. Because of all the hoopla around my heart condition, the doctor forgot to give me antibiotics for this infection so I've been taking some minocycline that I had from my skin doctor. Only thing about minocycline is, it kills the good bacteria in your gut. So I've been countering that with lactobacillus tablets. My gut is in turmoil.

And yes, yes, sister Chris, I'm going for the mammogram, I promise.

My husband told me last night that the doctor had called the day before (we hadn't seen each other the previous night since I had worked into the wee hours). They must have the latest blood work back. I'll see him again next week, but my appointment with the thyroid specialist isn't until June 22.

It's like the warranty has run out on my body and everything is breaking down.

Had to get that off my chest and finally put everything into one long list.

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