It's hard to know where to begin a story that has been unfolding my whole life. When our health unravels, we have to pause and dig through past chapters to start seeing where the undoing began.
There are certain moments that leave us changed and transformed. In those moments, we become more of who we were always meant to be.
Most of these moments happen without us realizing the gravity and importance they carry for our story. It's in hindsight that we see the weight they carry.
So let me begin with the day I sat in the doctor's office and felt my mind go blank as he cooly informed me that I had Hashimoto's (autoimmune thyroid disease), that there was no cure, and that there was nothing he could do for me. My thyroid had nodules and was slowly killing itself. He could remove it eventually or kill it off faster with radiation. He said thyroid meds wouldn't help, so there was no point. I walked out of his office with a Rx for a beta-blocker to address my racing pulse and heart palpitations with strict instructions not just to go off of it once I began taking it - I never filled it. I was crushed. I felt helpless and powerless and couldn't understand how we'd gotten to this point. Mostly though, I was angry!
My youngest daughter at the time was 1 year old and had just been diagnosed with asthma, and given the same life-sentence with no hope for freedom from inhalers, ER visits, and illness. I felt like I'd failed her as a mother. How did we get here?
That was the day I became a warrior. I drove home with tears in my eyes and a rage in my soul. I made a decision that day that I would stop at *nothing* to reclaim our wellness! I would not accept this life sentence and a life of Rx meds.
The year leading up to that day had been so incredibly hard. Quincy was our third child and they were all 22 months apart. Growing and nurturing all these beautiful little people had taken it's toll on my body. I was tired. When she was 8 weeks old, we all caught a cold. It came and went for the rest of us, but Quincy was only getting worse and seemed to be having some trouble breathing. We made our way to the doctor and within 2 minutes of walking into the exam room, we were sent to the hospital to be admitted. She had a terrible case of RSV and I was so scared. We spent 3 long days in the hospital getting poked and prodded, doing breathing treatments, and waiting for her breathing to normalize. It didn't. We were eventually sent home with a nebulizer and bags full of meds. I found myself sleeping less and less as I stayed awake to watch her breathe - I was never able to get her breathing under control and I was never able to relax. Fear never left my mind.
I began to notice that things would happen that should bring me joy and I wasn't feeling anything. I was numb. I was a whole new kind of tired that surpassed any exhaustion I'd felt through pregnancy or even when my oldest kept me up all night for months with colic. I started noticing my heart would race and skip beats. My chest was always tight and I felt like I'd had too much coffee all the time. More fear. I was sure something was wrong with my heart. I worried I was depressed. I didn't know what to do. We were in the middle of packing to move from Mississippi to California (our 8th move in 7 years) and I was busy around the clock.
One night, I had just given Quincy her breathing treatment and started to drift to sleep, when suddenly a tingle shot up my left arm, my chest got so tight it was like being squeezed, and I started convulsing, eventually passing out. When I came to, I was more afraid than I've ever been in my life. I literally ran down the hall to escape the fear. I knew I was dying. An ambulance came and within 10 minutes, it became clear to me that I wasn't having a heart attack. I was having a panic attack. I was so confused and so ashamed. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks... these were not things I had EVER dealt with before. I didn't even recognize myself.
Over the next year, I went to more doctors appointments and a few doctors and nurses tossed around ideas that I may need to go on antidepressants or that it could be my thyroid. My thyroid panel came back normal though and I refused to go on meds for depression. Quincy's asthma only got worse when we arrived in California. We were living in Lemoore, where the air quality was as bad as could be, and she spent most of the year in a cycle of getting sick, spending a lot of time in the ER, and getting admitted for days at a time when her oxygen saturation dropped dangerously low. My anxiety and panic attacks continued to plague me and my hair began to fall out to the point that I was sure I was going to be bald. I'd had postpartum hair loss - this was so much worse. My eyes hurt all the time and so did my throat. My joints were sore, my shoulder would freeze, and I felt like I was falling apart.
Finally, I asked my doctor to do a *full* thyroid panel and we saw my antibodies were high. She sent me to an endocrinologist and the next week I had my life sentence. Hashimoto's.
I didn't see it then, but that diagnosis put me on a path to healing. I knew where to start digging and began reading *everything* I could get my hands on about autoimmune disease and Hashimoto's. Most of what I found echoed what the doctor had told me... but then there were those stories of healing. THOSE were the stories I began to search for. Those were the stories that would eventually light the way.