Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thyroid Issues, Panic and Childbirth

My TSH levels are low (.58 is the latest) which as I now know--means borderline hyperthyroidism.  The good news is this shouldn't affect the baby. 

Here's the problem: Just because I fall into some technically random range of "normal" does NOT mean my thyroid is acting normally.

If this was normal then why have I had racing heart issues? Seriously why does it shoot up to 100+ beats a minute when I was resting quietly the minute before? How about 120 beats when I was just standing and looking at some papers? What about the increased agitation? The increasing frequency this is all happening with? This was all happening before I got pregnant, so while a racing heart may not be uncommon during pregnancy, that does not mean it is the norm for me. I've had five babies and this is NOT normal for me.

That said, I have to say I've had panic attacks before, and initially I thought I was having a series of panic attacks. I simply do not react well to certain medications, and they can bring on panic attacks and racing heart.


My first panic attack was in 1998 when I received vicodin after C1's c-section. I stopped taking the vicodin and did better. It helped that my mom arrived. In 2004, someone decided I need to take percocet after C4's birth and the tearing I had. I should have listened to my gut and not taken the medication. The Lord has blessed me with a high pain tolerance and I think it was to balance out the reactions I have to some pain medications. I don't like how morphine makes me itch and be fidgety. The reaction to the percocet was extreme. I couldn't sleep. I was so tired, I kept slipping between dozing (only to be woken by the racing heart) and not quite dreaming, and wakefulness. I had weird half-asleep dreams and thoughts about being strapped down flat on my back while I was pregnant--waiting for surgery, and my baby was in danger. No one was there and no one would help me.

And then I didn't sleep and dream for 3 days. I couldn't relax. I had a hard time enjoying my sweet little girl. It was torture and traumatic.

I should have never taken the half ambien recommended to me before I went in for induction. Then, because I am lucky enough to test positive for Group B Strep, I was given pitocin and a high course of antibiotics before they broke my water. I ended up with an epidural. Then add the anti-fungal I have to take because my body love to immediately launch into thrush when I have antibiotics. It was a nightmare. Too many drugs in my body interacting with each other.

Thankfully this last time (C5) my midwives were really proactive in my care. I was worried about not being able to sleep. (How are you supposed to be able to sleep when every couple of hours someone comes in to check on your or your baby's vitals and then offer you things like newspapers and baby's first photo?) My midwives instructed that the baby and I be evaluated at the same time intervals. NO unnecessary interruptions, and they recommended I take advantage of naturally occurring tryptophan in turkey and warm milk.

Everything is all well and good until March when I had a severe cold and took a certain cold medication as often as allowed to try and relieve my symptoms (something I almost never do).

Result? Panic attack(s) that lasted more or less for three days. Yikes.


I ended up talking to a counselor multiple times trying to figure out what is going on. Found out I was pregnant during the course of counseling and then some of the fears of childbirth and what it means for my body come back. I worked through a good many issues and I was doing better for a little while. Then I found out my pregnancy was ectopic and required immediate surgery. Did I mention my DH was on his way out of the country when this all started happening? Fortunately I had a fantastic friend stay with me until well into the night. I finally sent her home around 1:00 am--she had little ones of her own to take care of. Sometime later I ended up facing my biggest nightmare--pregnant, strapped down to a bed and about to have surgery. Only this time I knew I wasn't alone--I heard the voices of the doctors and nurses, and the room was bright. I faced my biggest fear and got through it. And even though my husband was gone, I felt the Lord comforting me through every step of this process.

I spoke with the counselor about my grief and began to piece things back together. DH had to go out of the country again, and I kept having "attacks" (or what I perceived to be attacks at the time) with more and more frequency. What was happening? Why was I suddenly a basket case? For years I had been a competent, strong woman. Why was I falling apart?

Things came to a head while my husband still gone. I was having a particularly bad evening and as he was on the other side of the world, I was talking to him. He (wonderful man that he is) took time out of his meetings to help me figure out some things. He did some internet research and realized there might be a medical reason for what was happening to me.

Next day I called my nurse practitioner and we started looking into why I might be having these issues.

Once I realized there might be a medical reason, a strange thing happened--I stopped panicking when the racing heart would start. I'd been so used to associating the two, I thought I was having another panic attack whenever the racing heart happened.

Now, I can distance myself and say, "Hmm--my body is freaking out on me at the moment."

I'm still not sure what is at the bottom of all of this. My good friend with celiacs (I'll call her Anna for future purposes), has had a lot of the same issues I've had and has been a stalwart friend and a good listening ear. She is the one that suggested I look into celiacs knowing I don't really react well to wheat or gluten.

The bottom line is, something in my body has changed, and I am determined to figure out what it is. I dearly wish I had a baseline TSH and other thyroid levels to compare my current state to. If I did, I suspect I could turn to the doctor and say, "Here's where I am supposed to be, and here's where I am now. What are we going to do about it?"

I'm not going to give up. I will eat healthier and I will find an answer that works for me and my family. We will, with the Lord's help, find a way through all of this.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How do you help an 11-year-old with Asperger's?

How do you help an 11-year-old boy with Asperger's? How do you help him make the social connections that can be crucial to survival in junior high, when despite your best efforts, he is continually on the periphery of activities?

I've encouraged him to invite kids over, we've also encouraged him to get involved in his scout troop, and to be active in our church. How do we help him make the connections to others?

We've been working on crisis management (He tends to freak out when something unexpected happens), and I think we're making progress there, but I worry for him when he is at school.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Doctors visits

In the last two weeks we've been to been to no less than six appointments.

Last Monday, I went to my baby doctor for the first appointment. Technically I saw the midwife and I'm good with that. I've delivered four of my babies as vbacs (vaginal birth after cesarean) with midwives. I like the care I receive with them. I have to say though, I really like the doctor who did my surgery when I had my ectopic pregnancy in June. I feel blessed I got pregnant as quickly as I did. The doctor and midwife work together.

The next day (Tuesday) I had to drive nearly 2 hours to a medical center and get child number three (C3) evaluated again for ADHD. We had him evaluated last summer and his behavior was borderline ADD at the time. His inattention and hyperactivity has gotten worse, so we took the referral from our nurse practitioner and had him evaluated there. The evaluation lasted several hours and as we still have lingering coughs with our bought with the swine flu, we had to wear masks the entire time we were there. Thankfully I made a chicken and dumpling recipe from the gluten-free crockpot lady and food was ready when we got home. All told, we were gone 8 hours or so. I'm grateful Dear Hubby (DH) worked from home to watch the youngest two. Diagnosis--ADHD.

Wednesday morning saw us at the orthodontist. C1 has had an expander in the top jaw for several months now. He will be getting a "retainer" of sorts, so they took out the expander, took a mold and we'll be going into the office in a few hours to get the retainer in. C2 will also be reevaluated to see if he needs orthodontia yet.

Friday I finally got into the endocrinologist's office. My original appointment was not until the end of November, well after my first trimester would be over. The midwife was concerned and insisted we pester the doctor to get me in sooner. I've been having thyroid issues, but I'll post more on that later. It's one of my frustrations.

Tuesday I had to go into the gastroenterologist (sp?), because though the thyroid is a major concern, there is a possibility that celiacs disease is an underlying issue. I have been wheat and gluten-free for a month or two now, but ate a sandwich on Monday night, a bagel on Tuesday and wheat cereal as well in preparation for any possible tests. (A good friend with celiacs told me I'd need to have some wheat and gluten in my system if I wanted anything to show up in the tests).

The doctor would like to do the biopsy that is the best test for celiacs, but as I'm nine weeks pregnant, he'd rather wait on that. Instead, he told me to eat wheat and gluten for two weeks and then get a blood test. Not the best of detection methods, but an option nonetheless. I suspect C5 might have some issue as he breaks out in a rash every time he eats oats. (Which I do my best to keep from him, though he still manages to get some sometimes).

Today, as I said, it's back to the orthodontist office. I am grateful we have health insurance--which is a topic for another post. I don't think Obama's plan will really work, but I do think a change needs to be made. I'll post on that at another time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What Am I Doing?

There are a million blogs out there about moms.

Make that a million and one now.

So what am I doing? I am a married, stay-at-home mom to my five kids. We are a loving family, though not without our challenges. I have always enjoyed writing, and there are times when I need to get my thoughts and feelings all out on paper (or screen as it were).

I get frustrated with things I see going on in the world, and I need to talk about it.

I don't expect anyone to really read this blog--I'm doing this for me. I'm keeping it anonymous, because I want to feel free to express my worries about my kids without it coming back to bite them or me. If you stumbled upon this blog and have something to say, please leave a comment. I will be moderating comments though.

I can't promise how regular I'll be in posting to the blog--my family takes precedence. But I will do my best to keep going.