There are things that happen in your lifetime that you know will leave you forever changed. My big three are my salvation, the death of my dad and the diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism. The first two are obvious and the last is obscure to most. Each enter my mind daily. For my salvation I am more grateful than I can ever express. Death is something we all experience and must deal with. Hypopara is an ongoing ever-changing pain in the you-know-where. Most people, including medical professionals just don’t understand exactly what hypopara is. It is not a common nor simple condition. Mine was medically induced in 2005. The first night home after my thyroidectomy I awoke in the middle of the night to numb hands, feet and face. This was much more than Mark-was-laying-on-my-feet and they went to sleep. I soon realized that this was on my list of oh-no symptoms. I spent the next couple of days in the hospital/doctors office receiving calcium intravenously. I was told my body could not absorb calcium and I would need to take it daily to keep my levels up. If it only was that simple!
The next several years was a lesson in being in charge of my own health. A lesson on the importance of education, discipline, transparency, perseverance and joy in my circumstances. Hypopara is a rare incurable condition that some people are born with while others are medically induced after damage to the parathyroid glands. These little fellas regulate parathyroid hormone PTH and can lead to decreased blood levels of calcium and increased levels of blood phosphorus. If I am low my first indicator is numb tingly hands and feet while feeling sluggish and fuzzy brained. Fuzzy brain causes me to not be on top of my needs therefore I can be slow to treat my symptoms. Officially it causes tingling or burning in your fingertips, toes and lips. Muscle aches and cramps in legs, feet, abdomen or face. Twitching or spasms of muscles. Fatigue or weakness. Painful menstruation. Patchy hair loss. Dry, coarse skin. brittle nails. Depression or anxiety. Phew! I feel anxious just thinking about it.
Everyday is a game of defense. I don’t leave the house without my meds. Everything I eat or do contributes to my condition. Stress and processed foods are my enemy. On my best days stress is low, I get enough sleep and exercise, eat real food and take my meds correctly. It isn’t easy to be me. Well, the healthy version of me. One thing I have learned is the diligence is worth it! People often say to me, “Oh, I don’t want to take medication” “I could never change my eating habits” “I don’t have enough time to (fill in the blank)” I can identify because I feel the same way, it just isn’t my reality.
Game changing is something we can count on in our lifetime. I just don’t know how people do it without Jesus. There are days I barely do it with Him! My big three will never change but I have changed. All I have experienced has made my faith stronger and my dependence upon my Lord more. I don’t want my life to be difficult but on some days it is. My identity isn’t in my illness or my life situation. My identity is in my Savior. My salvation is what changed my game.
I am a glass half full kind of person. I can’t help it really. I am blessed with being able to see different sides of a situation and I am naturally drawn to the full side. But sometimes my glass gets tipped over. It throws me off and it takes a bit to get it upright again. It’s like one of those days when gravity always wins and no good deed goes unpunished. There is a line in Psalm 22 that describes it for me exactly. “I am poured out like water…” Wow. If you have ever felt this way you know exactly the feeling David was describing. It feels like I am spent and I have nothing more. I have often heard well meaning believers say that God won’t give you more than you can handle. Well I don’t think that is exactly true. Without getting into a Scripture debate I declare my proof is in life. I know because at this moment I have more than I can handle. You disagree? You think I am handling? I am certainly not doing it in my own power. I am spent. Poured out like water. I think I have misplaced my glass and I am not going to look for it. Instead I will paraphrase 2 Corinthians 12:9 His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
I have a friend of a friend of a friend that usually says “to make long story short” about fifteen minutes into the story (smile). My LSS goes like this. My first thyroid cancer diagnosis was in 2005. I went for a CT scan on my sinuses and since I am allergic to the contrast, I had to do a prep. Dr. L decided to scan my whole head and neck. This was a God-thing because that was how my first cancer was found. Mark and I were both self-employed at the time with pre-existing conditions so insurance was a nightmare. I was quietly living with Crohns Disease and we had what was called TNCare. Not alot of doctors were willing to take TNCare patients so I was limited who would see me. So, I landed with Dr F. My journey started with a very painful biopsy and then surgery to remove my thyroid. After surgery I had complications that resulted in me having Hypoparathyroidism (poof! I now have two chronic conditions). My parathyroids were damaged during surgery so the calcium and phospherus in my bones and blood could not regulate on their own. This resulted in several ER visits and much adjusting of medication. This is a rare condition I will live with for the rest of my life. The rest of my treatment seemed pretty standard. After having my thyroid removed I had no thyroid function so I suffered all those side effects experienced when you have no thyroid function. I was exhausted, weak, emotional, had dry skin, hair loss, was always cold and ached all over. And just when I thought I had enough I had to do what I fondly refer to as The Ridiculous Diet. The diet was to increase the effectiveness of my upcoming raidoactive iodine treatment. Prohibited foods: Dairy, Egg Yolks, Seafood or anything from the ocean, Processed or prepackaged foods, restaurant foods, baked goods, soy, chocolate, Red Dye #3, beans, sea salt or iodionized salt. See why I called it ridiculous. When I recieved the RAI I had to be in isolation at the hospital for several nights. I remember telling Mark that we married for better or worse and I was pretty sure this was the worse. With surgery and treatment behind me I could finally start my thyroid replacement horomone and was certain things had to be getting better. However, my daily medication was a whole seperate ordeal. My calcuim levels were so bad I needed to take calcium three times a day. I couldn’t take calcuim or my thyroid replacement within two hours of each other or anything else. I also had my crohns medication that needed to be taken two times a day. This left me with six times a day that I needed to take meds at least two hours apart. If I messed up on my schedule I couldn’t take everything that day. If I missed calcium I had symptoms quickly. The other meds took a bit longer to feel a missed dose. This did this for the next ten years…
As I revist my LSS I wonder how in the world did I do this!? How do other people do this!? And I smile because I am blessed with a huge support system. I am loved. I have purpose. The God of the universe knows my name. And it is simply because of these things that I am able to continue.