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Friday, October 3, 2014

Understanding My Little Friend and Enemy

Wow, I can't believe it has been 1 year since learning I would have to go through radiation for the 3rd time in 4 years.  But here we are.  The radiation worked, there are no spots to be seen, and I am good to not visit my wonderful team of doctors for a few months.  But even though it's over I am learning how to live with Hashimoto's disease.  I was diagnosed about six years ago.  I have fought it with everything I have.  Like anything there are good days and bad days.  It's something that is hard to explain to others, until I found this letter on Facebook.  It pretty much sums it up.  I am sharing it for others who are having symptoms and fighting to be treated.  Keep fighting, you know your body, you know when something is wrong.  Trust me, there is a doctor out there who will listen and do what it takes to help.  The symptoms may never go away, and some days they may seem worse than others. (for me it has been the last two weeks) but with the right doctor and treatment you can get the help you need to live your life to the fullest.

PS. I am returning to blogging and will be blogging about competing soon.

Hi. My name is Hashimoto's. I'm an invisible autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid gland causing you to become hypothyroid.
I am now velcroed to you for life. If you have hypothyroidism, you probably have me. I am the number one cause of it in the U.S. and many other places around the world.
I'm so sneaky--I don't always show up in your blood work.
Others around you can't see me or hear me, but YOUR body feels me.
I can attack you anywhere and any way I please.
I can cause severe pain or, if I'm in a good mood, I can just cause you to ache all over.
Remember when you and energy ran around together and had fun?
I took energy from you, and gave you exhaustion. Try to have fun now.
I can take good sleep from you and in its place, give you brain fog and lack of concentration.
I can make you want to sleep 24/7, and I can also cause insomnia.
I can make you tremble internally or make you feel cold or hot when everyone else feels normal.
I can also give you swollen hands and feet, swollen face and eyelids, swollen everything.
I can make you feel very anxious with panic attacks or very depressed. I can also cause other mental health problems. You know crazy mood swings? That's me. Crying for no reason? Angry for no reason? That's probably me too.
I can make your hair fall out, become dry and brittle, cause acne, cause dry skin, the sky is the limit with me.
I can make you gain weight and no matter what you eat or how much you exercise, I can keep that weight on you. I can also make you lose weight. I don't discriminate.
Some of my other autoimmune disease friends often join me, giving you even more to deal with.
If you have something planned, or are looking forward to a great day, I can take that away from you. You didn't ask for me. I chose you for various reasons:
That virus or viruses you had that you never really recovered from, or that car accident, or maybe it was the years of abuse and trauma (I thrive on stress.) You may have a family history of me. Whatever the cause, I'm here to stay.
I hear you're going to see a doctor to try and get rid of me. That makes me laugh. Just try. You will have to go to many, many doctors until you find one who can help you effectively.
You will be put on the wrong medication for you, pain pills, sleeping pills, energy pills, told you are suffering from anxiety or depression, given anti-anxiety pills and antidepressants.
There are so many other ways I can make you sick and miserable, the list is endless - that high cholesterol, gall bladder issue, blood pressure issue, blood sugar issue, heart issue among others? That's probably me.
Can't get pregnant, or have had a miscarriage?
That's probably me too.
Shortness of breath or "air hunger?" Yep, probably me.
Liver enzymes elevated? Yep, probably me.
Teeth and gum problems? TMJ?
Hives? Yep, probably me.
I told you the list was endless.
You may be given a TENs unit, get massaged, told if you just sleep and exercise properly I will go away.
You'll be told to think positively, you'll be poked, prodded, and MOST OF ALL, not taken seriously when you try to explain to the endless number of doctors you've seen, just how debilitating I am and how ill and exhausted you really feel. In all probability you will get a referral from these 'understanding' (clueless) doctors, to see a psychiatrist.
Your family, friends and co-workers will all listen to you until they just get tired of hearing about how I make you feel, and just how debilitating I can be.
Some of them will say things like "Oh, you are just having a bad day" or "Well, remember, you can't do the things you use to do 20 YEARS ago", not hearing that you said 20 DAYS ago.
They'll also say things like, "if you just get up and move, get outside and do things, you'll feel better." They won't understand that I take away the 'gas' that powers your body and mind to ENABLE you to do those things.
Some will start talking behind your back, they'll call you a hypochondriac, while you slowly feel that you are losing your dignity trying to make them understand, especially if you are in the middle of a conversation with a "normal" person, and can't remember what you were going to say next. You'll be told things like, "Oh, my grandmother had that, and she's fine on her medication" when you desperately want to explain that I don't impose myself upon everyone in the exact same way, and just because that grandmother is fine on the medication SHE'S taking, doesn't mean it will work for you.
They will not understand that having this disease impacts your body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, and that every cell and every body system and organ requires the proper amount and the right kind of of thyroid hormone medication for YOU.
Not what works for someone else.
The only place you will get the kind of support and understanding in dealing with me is with other people that have me. They are really the only ones who can truly understand.
I am Hashimoto's Disease.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And Now We Wait....

     January 2014 will be a month I always remember.  It's the month I underwent radiation for a mass on my Thyroid.  Many have asked how it went and what's next.  I haven’t blogged since my treatment ended, mainly because I was trying to readjust to life. 

     So what was radiation like? Here is the side I didn't really tell people. I tried to stay as upbeat as possible during my treatment, but the truth is, It SUCKED!!  Staying in the hospital for two days for a higher dose will make you go stir crazy.  You are isolated from everyone because of the level of radiation you are given.  It's just you, a t.v., the magazines you bring in. (which can't be taken out after.) During the treatment, they ask you to bring hard candy with you to suck on during treatment. Something about getting your saliva going so the radiation moves faster. For me, it was Jolly Ranchers.  Now that it is over, I may NEVER want another Jolly Rancher! 

     The weeks after were not fun. I still had to go every morning for my radiation out patient treatment. When they give you the I.V, you get the taste of copper in your mouth.  You sit there for a few hours and then you leave.  But that day you feel drained.  I kept working but it was difficult to stay focused. Then there were a few nights where I would spend the entire night sick.  If I wasn't sick, I was scared to fall asleep because I was afraid of feeling ten times worse when I woke up.  I ended up using a ton of Lidocaine wash just to numb my throat so I could eat.  Which eating was a chore because it hurt so bad to even try to get food down, and you didn't have much of an appetite.  If you have ever used Lidocaine, you know it will ruin the taste of food forever for you!!  

Hanging out with friends became something I wanted to do and felt I needed to do, but had to rest up before and spend most of the day in bed after, my body was drained.

     But, there was a positive side.  This was my third time having radiation in less than 4 years.  This was said to be a stronger dose than normal.  I feel I must be stronger because some how I managed to keep training for my first marathon.  Since my first round of radiation in 2010 I made it my goal to live healthier, and I have tried my best to do so.  Three days after getting out of the hospital I ran 20 miles.  Granted It was slow!! Thankfully I had several running buddies who split the run up so they could run part of it with me to help keep an eye on me.  Now I don't suggest this to everyone.  I talked to my doctor about it in detail before doing it.  He felt I would be ok to run since it was something I did on a regular basis.  But, he had told me to do what my body would let me.  When he found out I ran 20 miles he wasn't exactly thrilled.  Oops! :)

     So what's next? I will have a doctors visit on Feb. 10th.  This will be to get a whole body scan. The point of the scan is to make sure the mass is gone and there is no sign of it anywhere else in my body. The whole thing takes less than an hour.  I feel pretty good about it.  I know the scan will come back negative!  

     I will say I don't think I would have made it through all of this without my friends support.  I think I got a card in the mail everyday for two weeks.  
One of my favorite cards came from the Leslie family in Orlando.  

I met this family because of their son, Dylan who was born with a rare form of cancer. Dylan lost a foot because of this.  How positive they are has always inspired me to stay positive and focused, and to be thankful for what I do have.  
     Another big reason it was easier this time, my friends.  My Birmingham Bestie, Crisha, would sent me text messages to check and see how I felt.  She kept me busy as well with meeting for dinner or meeting new people.  In fact, just a few days before my treatments ended, her and our friend Kim with a few others took me to see Rodney Atkins for an early birthday present.  I did nap the entire day before we met up, and the next day, but it was so worth it.  It kept my mind off of the treatments and have a blast.

     Thanks again for every ones well wishes and support during this.  I will let you know how the scan goes, but we already know, it will be all positive.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Donnette's First Time on Skis and a Snowboard

I finished my radiation and what did I do the next day? Put on Skis and a Snowboard for work.  Here are a few of the bloopers from the story.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's Go Time!

this picture is thanks to the suggestion of my running buddy who gets my odd humor :)

Well, this is the week.  At first I was not happy with the fact that my radiation was moved up, but now that it's here I am ready to get it over with!! I kept thinking, this is not the way I want to start 2014, but I'm not!  I started the year off with an unplanned girls get away to New Orleans with two amazing women! It was a blast! (although I do wish Alabama could have won for my friends.)

So what happens now? Well, on Tuesday I will head to the hospital, get a high dose of radiation, and then have to stay till the levels drop to a safe level for me to be around people.  I am told to plan on being there until Wednesday.  The bad part, I will be isolated, no phone, no guest, just me.  It could be worse :)

After that, I have two weeks of the treatments I have had before,  going in for a small dose that they give me by an IV and for me to lay on a table under a machine to be zapped.  

Now here is where the part I fear comes in, The chance of being extra tired, not being able to eat, the vomiting, and being scared to go to sleep because I know I could feel worse when I wake up.  But I am hoping and telling myself this time will be different.  

Of course I am 4 weeks away from my first Marathon, so the first thing I asked my doctor, Can I run 20 miles on Saturday?  His response, "you are so hard headed I am not going to tell you no, just listen to your body."  Guess he knows me pretty well by now.  

Some people may wonder why I am blogging about this, well it's my release.  I figured this is my 3rd time going through this, first time at this level, so why not.  And I am trying to find humor in it this time and I am hoping that someone else who is going through the same thing may ready this and smile, or remember it could always be worse. I have made some amazing new friends in the last four months that have kept me busy and smiling, keeping me focused on the positive in life.  I hope this blog does the same for others. 

Remember, we will never be faced with more than we can handle, each situation helps us grow and become stronger, better people. 
Send me positive vibes on Tuesday!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Don't Punk Out....

One of the guys at work helped me decorate my lovely bandage.  was just a little too plain for me :)
This has been my saying since I started running. If it got tough I would tell myself, "Don't Punk Out." And now I am saying it about going through radiation again and keeping up my training.

In March 2010 doctors found a small mass in my throat.  It was growing off my thyroid, and had wrapped itself around my vocal cords.  I had a scan, radiation treatment, and my symptoms disappeared.

Then, that fall, it came back.  The same treatment and it was gone!!  I wish I could say my story ended there, as it does for many people, but mine continued. After working out daily, eating right, taking my thyroid pill, and visiting my endocrinologist every month, I noticed something was wrong.

Towards the end of August I was on the phone with a friend telling him I had left work early.  I just didn’t feel right, but I was sure I would be ok after a night of rest… but I was lying to myself. I knew these symptoms. Irregular heartbeat, panic attacks, trouble swallowing food, difficulty breathing while laying down.  At the time I tried to tell myself it was the stress of getting divorced and moving.  But then it hit me like a brick wall, the sudden exhaustion and I knew, this was more.

I called the doctor and he scheduled a body scan, sure enough, another mass had formed in my throat.  My thyroid was swollen and my white blood cell count had dropped.  The next week we did an ultrasound on my neck, my thyroid was swollen and had nodules growing on the side of it.  Soon after a biopsy, to my excitement, it wasn’t cancer.  But the Doctor was still concerned.  My white blood cell count kept dropping.  His explanation, my body was fighting itself, it knew something was there that didn’t belong and it had to be removed.
I first convinced him to let me wait, let me wait till I run my first marathon, let me wait till we hit 4 years to the day of the first Mass being treated.  At first he seemed ok with it.

I started a trial drug that was supposed to help me feel better, help my immune system get stronger, but the medicine was too strong.  Once again, I managed to convince the doctor to let me wait.  Let me get through January for my treatments.
 But a few weeks back I got extremely sick at work.  I still feel bad for the photographer, he had to keep pulling over, waiting for me to try and drink a sprite, all while trying to get me back to work.  I ended up missing two days of work and not being able to swallow food or drink.  The doctor said this was now effecting my day to day life and we could not wait any longer..

To make sure nothing has changed another biopsy is needed.  And even thought this is isn’t cancer, it will get treated similar. I will take a radioactive iodine pill at the end of December. (of course I am trying to wait till after the New Year.)  
When this was discovered I felt exhausted, but now I feel great.  I have returned to my daily routines, I am back to lifting weights and running.  But I know during my radiation treatment it will be hard for me to keep it up, well, that is what they say J

There are two things I dread, one, coming off my thyroid pill before my treatments.  I know it will make my weight jump up, but it's only tempary.  Also, the low iodine diet I will have to start two weeks before my treatment.  I love to eat and hate the idea of not being able to have food I love.  But I can still have wine.  It is the little things J

I have to say, I am thankful for my Doctor and the nurses, they have gotten me through this twice. My family and friends are also a big part of this.  They know me well enough to know I don’t want to be babied through this, they seem to know just when to check in and when to just let me be.

My fingers are crossed that this will be the end of it, and the only reminders of this life event I will have are the pill I take each morning to keep my thyroid working properly.


Monday, November 25, 2013

I have been called a lot of things, but too nice?

In case you can't tell, this is photo shopped and it was
actually Kyle Burger's idea. :)  
For some a title like this can make them look twice. You may think, wait is she complaining because someone said she was too nice?  Actually it's more like shock. First, a little back story.
My first stepfather, yes there's more than 1, was in the military.  Because of this we moved around, a lot! That meant, people coming and going, not getting too close because you figure you would move soon, and don't even talk about trusting people. Most military brats have a small "friend circle" for those reasons.  In fact, I didn't meet my oldest friends until 2000.

Since my divorce I have moved from the comforts of my suburbia home, left my church, and changed gyms.  I joke that I feel like the new chic in town having to meet new people.  The problem, how do you meet people at 34 years old?
I have met people through a few people I met out at dinner one night. In fact, two of them, a brother and sister, have been the most amazing friends. But, some say they can’t be friends with me. Why? “Because I am too nice and seem to try too hard.”  This made me think.  Am I too nice? Granted the trying too hard part might be true. I tend to forget to turn off the “work Donnette’.” Part of my job is making contacts and taking care of guest, which translates to, push the bad day aside and be happy. J

When I told the guys at work someone said I was too nice here are the reactions I got, “from who Satan?” “Do they know you?”  “Did you pay them?”  Not that I am proud of it but I am the person who’s boss made them apologize for making a director cry… twice.  You can see where the “too nice” comment can cause confusion.
Then I asked my best friend if I am too nice? Her answer, “if you like someone. But, you are also loyal, clingy, but loyal.”  That actually made more sense to me.  

I guess I am pretty generous and nice to my friends. The fact is, if I call you a friend I think of you as family. I’ll send funny picture texts to try and make you smile.  I try to remember when you have a big event coming up so I can say good luck and then see how it went.
But really, I just can't see another way of living life. I'm a very fortunate, blessed with qualities and I've earned everything I've lived for to this point. I just don't have any real issues (definitely compared to some of the crap others to go through)

I'm nice because I enjoy being nice. Nothing but good feelings are shared when you're nice. I just do unto others as I would like others to do unto me. I just appreciate how lucky I am to have the people in my life that are here.

I guess what I am saying is, I will always be nice and I will not change who I am. And if you think I'm too nice, well, I probably should tell you to "go f yourself", but being the nice chic that I am, I'll just try and think of ways to make things better.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I Learned From My Marriage... Hopefully It Can Help You

I know it may seem odd, a woman who is divorced giving relationship advice.  Maybe it’s because my divorce is now final that I see the things that should have been done differently.  First let me say, I love my ex husband, and he loves me, which is why we knew we had to say good bye.  We wanted each other to be happy and knew we had already grown too far apart to give the other what they needed. We were together for 9 years and here are the things I wish I would have learned sooner.

 1.       Never stop dating each other! – I cannot stress this enough, NEVER  stop dating.  When you meet the new is there, you go out and are reminded why you like each other.  It’s easy once you get married to become lazy in your relationship.  Even if it is a trip to the mall to just walk around, make the time for each other away from the bills and from the distractions of home. Focus on each other.
2.       Remember you gave each other your heart – This one can seem confusing, but protect your heart because you have given it to your spouse.  I have said before, affairs don’t always have to be physical, they can be emotional.  Your heart belongs to your spouse.  There is always a special place in your heart that belongs to them.  Don’t let anyone else in there.  If there are problems, let them be the one that you turn to.

3.       Change together – My ex husband and I grew apart.  Some people told us that was just an excuse and doesn’t happen, well it does.  My daddy always told me you change every five years.  Think about it, you are not the same person you were 5 years ago, from your hobbies, to your friends, chances are there have been changes.   It is important during this time you grow and change together.  Continue to fall in love, you both chose to be together and if you don’t grow together, you grow apart.

4.       Never look for the negative – There was something about your spouse that made you fall in love, remember what that was.  Everyone, even you, has flaws.  If you focus on the flaws or negatives about a person then that is all you will see.  Focus on what made that person become the love of your life.

5.       Don’t try to change each other – this is where I am guilty the most, you can’t change each other.  Remember number 4?  There was something about each other that made you fall in love.  You can’t go into a marriage thinking you can change your spouse, you can’t.  They are who they are, accept them and love them.

6.       Admit when you are wrong and let go – couples are going to argue.  I don’t mean screaming matches, I mean disagreements. They happen, they are just a part of life.   But, before you argue think about this, is it worth it? If the dishwasher isn’t loaded the way you like is it the end of the world? No, it’s just a dishwasher.  But if you do argue about something, discuss it, if you are wrong, admit it, say you are sorry, and let it go.  DO NOT bring it up days later hoping for a different solution.  It just isn’t worth it.

7.       Defend each other – When you say “ I do” you become one.  You may not always agree with something the other one says in public or how they act, but keep that for behind closed doors.  If you are around others, defend each other.  Don’t ever let someone talk bad about your spouse.  If you think a comment made at a party was wrong, politely mention it later at home, but around others, stand up for each other.   You are on a team together and should be each other’s biggest fan.

8.       Don’t try to fix everything – You can’t fix the others problems.  We will have problems at work , medical issues, or problems with family, these are normal.  You can’t fix your spouses’ problems at work for them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t listen.  Be there for them, listen, understand what is being said, and remind them you are there for them, no matter what.

9.       Focus on each other – this day in time it is easy to get caught up in other things. We all have hobbies that we devote time to.  Or we need “me time.” And you need those things, but be sure to focus on each other.  When you are with each other, focus on one another.  Don’t think about getting to the gym or that book you want to finish reading.

10.   Don’t smother each other – women this is on for us, Sometimes we want to do everything together.   Remember, it’s ok to do things apart.  Just because a guy needs “ guy time” or a girl needs “girl time” doesn’t mean they don’t want to be with you, they just need time to recharge.  Let each other have this from time to time.  Trust me, when they get home from a night out they will be glad to be walking into your arms.  If someone wants to cheat, they will do it whether you give them time away or smother them.   Let each other have time to breathe.

11.   Let your emotion show – don’t be afraid to let your spouse see you cry, angry, or happy.  They love you and want to share those emotions with you.

12.   Money is just money – you know the saying, “money can’t buy happiness?”  Well it can’t.  There will be times when money is tight, and that’s ok.  I am not saying don’t talk about the finances, you should.  In fact you need to put your money together to take care of household bills and talk about how you spend money.  But don’t let money keep you from dating.  Remember rule number 1?  If you don’t have the money to go out to dinner, it’s ok.  Go for a walk in the park.  Don’t let money keep you from dating.

13.   Trust each other – always trust the other.  Don’t go through emails, cell phones, or facebook.  If your spouse has never done anything to make you not trust them, why make them think you don’t?

14.    Be Intimate – this is something that only the two of you can do together.   It’s not always about having sex.  Hold hands, kiss, hug, just touch each other.   There are more senses in the human touch than any other.  It’s how you grow emotionally.  Make sure your spouse knows how it feels to be touched by you and no one else.

15.   Most of all love each other -  My biggest advice, love each other no matter what.  Love can endure all things.  If you fully give each other your hearts, your soul, and your body, you can do anything together.

Again, I know it sounds odd a divorced woman giving marriage advice.. But learn from my heartache.  Trust me when I say me and my ex husband tried everything.  We did.  We went to counseling, got involved in church, but we didn’t fully look at ourselves.  We let ourselves grow apart.  We let other things take away our time and energy from each other.  Like I mentioned, we do love each other, we are still friends, and would do anything for another, but we fell out of love and realized we had grown too far apart to go back.