Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I am a walking zombie: 4 1/2 Weeks After Radioactive Iodine Ablation

"I can't give you medicine yet. We won't know for another month still if the treatment worked. I'm not even going to run the bloodwork because I'm not going to give you anything for it."

"So what do I do? I can't stay awake. I'm having trouble doing my job."

"Drink caffeine. Get rest."

Drink caffeine. It was the first time I have ever heard a doctor say those words. Usually it was the first thing they tell you to stop. "Well you have ______. Cut out refined sugar and caffeinated beverages."

Today, I drank two cups of coffee so far. And now I'm sitting here, with my eyes half open, wondering how I will teach my last class of the day.

This has been my most difficult year of teaching yet. Not because of the workload or stress level. I've done it all before. Lots of times. But never like this. Never with chest pains, and heart palpitations, and total exhaustion, and shakiness, and eyes that don't want to stay open. Never when all I really wanted to do was climb back into bed. Never when I didn't care.

I don't care. I think that's what's most difficult. For the first time in my life, things have gotten hard enough on me that I can't put others needs before my own because my own needs are screaming at me. I can't outshout her. She's a scary zombie.

Nevermind. I'm just talking in my sleep.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Have a Cup of Coffee and Go to Bed

3 1/2 weeks after radioactive iodine treatment...

Yesterday I drank a cup of coffee and then laid down and slept for almost two hours. No, this is not normal behavior for me. In fact, a couple of years ago, I gave up coffee all together. I found it was making me too hyper (shaky) and I had trouble sleeping at night. Little did I know that my hyperactivity may have already been related to Graves' Disease.

Being off coffee's been good overall. The longer I've been off, the less I craved it. But now, when I find I crash out within a few hours after getting up (some days I have trouble even getting up), coffee has become my friend again.

Here's the problems with coffee: it doesn't always work.

This is a tired like nothing I've ever experienced before. It gives me a new appreciation for all my hypothyroid friends and family members. Hypothyroidism may be more easily treatable, but it's not necessarily an easier road to walk--particularly because it's difficult to keep your eyes open.

Thank goodness for the endocrinologist, who I get to visit again tomorrow. I hope she's got some synthetic thyroid hormone to prescribe me, or I may have to upgrade to espresso.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Looking Forward to my Visit to the Endocrinologist

Three weeks after radioactive iodine ablation...

Before I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease, I couldn't have told you what an endocrinologist was. Likewise, I hadn't been to a doctor in years. (When my doctor mentioned "PCP", I thought she meant the drug...) Going to the doctor was something that I did only if I absolutely had to.

In the last five months, I've not only had more doctor's visits than I had entire life before that point combined, but I actually look forward to going to see the endocrinologist. This appears to be part of the nature of Graves' Disease: it makes you so not yourself and makes you feel so miserable, that you actually want to go to the doctor.

So my doctor is now my hero and I'm looking forward to seeing her again this week. This will have been my longest stint without seeing her since my first visit--3 1/2 weeks! (Of course, I have had to go in for blood tests still...) And just like each time before it, I've actually been counting down the days until my visit, not because I'm dreading it, but because I can't wait. My upcoming visit means that I might finally be given the medication that will help me find my energy again, so it may finally keep me from needing several naps a day.

It's strange: before Graves' I wasn't on any type of medication and really didn't believe in it. Now, I can't wait to get more. I suppose it's like all of life: it's easy to make judgements about until it affects you directly. Then suddenly you see everything in a new light.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Beyond Tired: Two Weeks After Radioiodine Ablation

The past two days have started out normally. I get up and go about my business as usual. Everything is going fine until suddenly, in early afternoon, it hits: extreme tiredness. I feel like I need to go take a nap, only I’m at work and so this isn’t a possibility. I struggle to hold my eyes open as I teach my last two classes of the day, hoping that my students won’t notice that, to me, they are beginning to appear dream-like as the lines between wakefulness and sleep start to blur.
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism and the radioiodine treatment have changed considerably in the last two weeks. My neck doesn’t hurt like it did a week ago. Earlier in the week there was still some dull pain, but it became mild enough to easily ignore. Occasionally, my chest will hurt, but the severe and persistent pains I had felt before treatment are now all but a memory—one I’m happy to forget. Gone with it is the dizziness I had once experienced on a constant basis, and then as an occasional “Woa! I think I need to sit down” feeling that followed it.
But the tiredness, it may be here to stay—at least for now. As the radioactive iodine continues to destroy thyroid cells, the levels of thyroid hormone in my body will continue to drop. By the time I hit bottom, hopefully, my four week check-up with the endocrinologist will have come as well. Then I’ll be prescribed medication for what will then most likely be a hypothyroid state, and my energy levels should increase again.
Until then, I may need to find a way to sneak in a mid-day nap.