Thursday, February 28, 2008

You Know You're a Parent When...

...nothing says good mornin' like a size 10 foot in your face!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Grieving and Acceptance of My Health

Yesterday, I was prescribed a medication that I will most likely have to take for the rest of my life. This morning I took that first pill and it went down quickly and easily, but my acceptance of this health condition has been a much harder thing to swallow.

After going to my general practitioner last fall with complaints about heart palpitations, I was tested and it was revealed that I most likely had hypothyroidism, an endocrine disorder. Since then I believe that my feelings about this illness have progressed through the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief.
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
Denial - When it was first suggested that I may have a thyroid problem, I was completely unconvinced. The author and patient advocate Mary J. Shomon wrote that most people have a vague idea that the thyroid is somewhere in your neck and that,
"...when malfunctioning, [it] makes you gain weight and develop a goiter."
I just couldn't accept that I was being diagnosed with the same illness that relegates people to a 300 pound body where they are so weak they have to ride the electric cart at the grocery store! I decided that the blood test must be wrong, or maybe I was just having an off day. When my doctor suggested I start taking a hormone replacement (the standard treatment) I flat out refused and he agreed that since my numbers weren't that bad, I could come back in four months and be tested again.

I knew the test results just had to be different then.

Anger-During that period of waiting, I began to research the causes of hypothyroidism and I began to get MAD.

It seems that just about everything in the world, and more specifically things man made, have been linked to endocrine malfunction. Cosmetics, household cleaners, artificial flavors in food, food emulsifiers that enhance processing, wireless frequencies from cellphones and computers, fluoride and other chemicals in the tap water, all of these things have been shown to harm thyroid function.

I believed that I had been wronged and I wanted someone to pay.

Bargaining - I then decided that I was going to take control and fix myself.

I thought that if I could change my diet or start the right exercise routine, than perhaps I could make this all go away. I started trying to lose weight (which is supposedly very difficult for someone who is hypo). I was able to bring my weight down from 160 to 145. I just knew that I was going to make everything better.

I would cure myself of hypothyroidism.

Depression - Last week, on Monday, I returned to my doctor for a new blood test. The nurse called me on Wednesday to tell my that my numbers were MUCH WORSE. I could hardly think on the phone when she told me that I would have to go on medication. I think that she sensed I was stunned and said she would schedule a consultation in one week and I could discuss my prescription with my doctor.

So, for the past week I have been mopey and dismal. Frequently suggesting to my husband that I was probably not going live into old age. Asking him bleak questions about whether he was prepared to raise our children alone.

I knew in the back of my mind that these assertions were unfounded, but my feeling was just one of general loss. I suppose I was mourning my youth and the more disturbing realization that I only have a limited amount of control over my health.

- Tuesday, the day before my doctor appointement I decided to quit whining and empower myself. I started reading websites and forums that discussed living with a thyroid condition (instead of just looking for a cause or a quick fix as I was before). I bought a book and read until 1 am. I prepared myself with questions to ask my doctor about the medication and outlook.

I am very thankful to have a wonderful general practitioner who was willing to spend 15-20 minutes discussing things with me yesterday. He answered all of my questions and I can honestly say I feel good about the future.

Postscript: While researching online I discovered that Oprah did a feature about hypothyroidism in her November magazine, as well as an entire television show because she has it. I guess now instead of telling people I have that weird thyroid disorder that sometimes makes you obese and develop a bulging goiter in your neck, I can just say, "I have the same illness Oprah has". Perhaps that might put it in a better light.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I Hate the Cat, I Hate the Dog....Oh wait, they're o.k. now

As I was walking through the bedroom this morning, I was awoken from my morning stupor by the cold, wet sensation of cat, hair-ball puke slipping under my barefoot. I was surprised at how calm I remained as I scraped the offensive goop from between my toes and dutifully returned to clean the carpet.

It then dawned on me that I have finally stopped hating our pets.

"Hating your pets? How could you!?", you may ask, but it was not always that way and I now believe that I have come full circle.

When Corby and I were a child-free couple, we had many cats. One summer, after a litter of kittens were born, we housed seven cats. Over the years we gave a few away and some ran away, but we always had 2 or 3 at least. The cats were our children, until I became pregnant for the first time.

While pregnant, I was surprised at how quickly our beloved cats went from fluffy balls of love to the most disgusting things in the world. The cat hair, cat puke, cat litter and the occasional "your laundry basket looks just like my litter box" accident all offended me to the point of wanting to get rid of all of the cats.

After Elora was born, things seemed to settle down a bit. I think that cats can sense stress and really don't like the sound of a baby crying, so generally they all gave me a wide berth. The only remaining annoyance was that all those cozy, soft baby blankets looked just as cozy and soft to all of the cats. Countless times I would find a stack of newly washed baby items (we had no washer and dryer, so we used a laundromat) covered in cat hair, and that usually sent me over the edge.

About four years later, living in a new house with a fenced yard, we decided to get an adorable puppy for our two children. Things were good for a while until I became pregnant with our third child. No one tells you that while pregnant you have a increased sensitivity to odor. I didn't even want to be in the same room with our dog now, who had grown to a hefty 70 pounds. It didn't help that our 1200 square foot house was beginning to seem a bit cramped.

After Jacob was born, the amount of dog hair shed around the house quickly became the bane of my existence. Dog hair gravitates and adheres to snuggly, terrycloth baby sleepers especially as the baby squirms and crawls across the floor. I must admit that I am not the best house-keeper in the world, but the amount of hair our dog could produce was no match for our vacuum, in fact, we went through two vacuums during this time.

I eventually trained our very smart, obedient dog, who had in many ways become the neglected step-child of the family, to not go into certain rooms of the house. Things were better because the hair wasn't everywhere, but when I became pregnant with our fourth child, I seriously thought that we should consider making the dog an "outside pet".

Finally, a year and a half ago, we finally upgraded our house to one double the size. We now have about 2200 sq.ft. and a large fenced back yard. The dog stays in the kitchen and entry hall even though there are no gates to keep him out of the other rooms (I think that he has incurred my wrath over the years enough to know that it is better to stay under the radar). We have only one cat now, because when we moved our other cat decided to run away and return to our old house. We retrieved her once, but she ran away again and we couldn't find her thereafter.

The pet situation has settled down now, but I guess it was never really a "pet situation" at all. I mean, the rest of the family always maintained a loving, fair relationship with all of the animals in the house. I suppose it was my crazy prenatal or postpartum hormones that made me so animal intolerant.

If you take a minute to think about it, there is probably a primal explanation.

I imagine that in primitive societies, animals posed a serious threat to a new baby. Those domesticated wild dogs and feral cats that kept company with the cavemen would surely not think twice about picking off a tiny human if times were tough and they were hungry. Perhaps my abhorrence of animal odor and my desire to protect the children from a mass of pet hair is only a latent remnant of an innate instinct for survival.

What do you think?

Blub-blub is a 13-year-old, striped tabby who sometimes forgets to keep her tongue inside her mouth and Nog-dog is a rotund, five-year-old, pound-puppy.