Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pick a Syndrome... Any Syndrome

Do you suffer from a multitude of medical syndromes? Itis-es and algias?  Fibromites often have a long list of shared health concerns.

My descent into medical mayhem started at age 19 when I developed several allergies. As they came under control,  a curious new symptom appeared.  I started to lactate!  My milky nipples made me nervous because I couldn't recall a recent pregnancy.  I was exhausted and underweight.  Ultimately,  I was found to have an underactive thyroid gland.  I was put on a thyroid supplement and told that's it, kid - you're good to go.  Infamous last words. To make things even more complicated, I've wrestled with depression for most of my life.

The Thyroid Years

My wacky gland behaved itself until I had babies. After each of my pregnancies, I developed post-partum hyperthyroidism. After the birth of our second daughter, things went from bad to ugly. Long term beta-blockers no longer controlled my symptoms and I was diagnosed with Graves disease.  I received radioactive iodine in an attempt to snuff out any remaining thyroid tissue or as I like to say, I got nuked.  Last year, in a misguided but well-intentioned effort to 'fine-tune' my thyroid levels, my doctor altered my medications.  I went from relatively 'normal' to a suicidal state within 10 days.  My thyroid blood levels plummeted and I systematically curled up and shut down.  I would have hurled myself into traffic if I'd had the energy to move fast enough.  Again, my medications were tweaked and I improved within 48 hours. I was stunned by the speed of my Total System Failure. A sick thyroid will take you down and it will take you down fast.

Uh-oh! Endo.

There's a cruel irony that comes with infertility ...  you take the BCP, open your legs to insert IUD's and when you want a family, you can't produce the babies.  My husband and I travelled the lonely road of infertility for several years. With no explanation for our inability to spawn,  I was given the dreaded and painful HSP otherwise known as a hysterosalpingogram. (For Canadian readers this is not to be confused with the HST).  An HSP is an X-ray of your reproductive organs. A catheter is inserted up your who-ha along with contrast dye. The dye is shot through your fallopian tubes, like a skinny kid on a water slide. Typically, HSP's are used as a diagnostic tool but can sometimes have the added benefit of 'blowing' out any gunk stuck in yer plumbing. Four months later we finally conceived and had a baby girl. When we tried for a second child, we were met with difficulties once again. In a search for answers, I had so many laparoscopies and endometrial biopsies that I was on a first-name basis with the operating room staff. Then, we received the devastating diagnosis:  stage-4 endometriosis.


After realizing the extent of disease scarring my pelvic organs, my husband and I decided to try IVF (in-vitro fertilization). Going through IVF is a little bit like the movie, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."  Talk about a highly-choreographed symphony of torture. You lose your bearings somewhere between self-detonating ovaries and a bum full of daily needle pokes. Only your puffy, progesterone-filled pod remains. Luck was with us and we were successful on our first attempt. We were thrilled to discover that I was carrying twins. On my daughter's 6th birthday, I lost the pregnancy at 8 weeks to a soul-crushing miscarriage. The loss of our babies was heart-breaking. I've never been one to give up easily and we were determined to try IVF again when the time was right. On our second attempt, we harvested 8 viable eggs. Four of the embryos were 'frozen' while the other four were implanted into my uterus. We were disappointed when none of the embryos 'took'.  Needing a break from the heavy emotional and physical toll, we gave ourselves 5 months off to recover our strength. We still had 4 frozen embryos and this was our last attempt. It must have been a good batch because 8 months later we welcomed another daughter.  All was not rosy after the birth of our second child.  I developed post-partum depression and sky-rocketed into hyperthyroidism again. Looking back on those dark days, I don't know how I got through with any shred of sanity left intact.


I've lost count of the number of surgeries I've had.  Maybe, twelve or thirteen?  Every January 1st,  I make a resolution to stay out of the operating room. Still, there have been 3 knee surgeries, gallbladder surgery, lumpectomies, cystoscopies and more laparoscopies than you can shake a scalpel at. Eventually, the endometriosis became so severe that it was no longer about having  'bad periods.'  It was about living in pain 24/7.  My youngest child was 5 years old around this time and she drew pictures of her family, as most children like to do. Picture after picture depicted Mommy in bed, either sleeping or crying. It broke my heart to see how disconnected I had become from my family. Something had to change. So, at age 41, I decided to have a complete hysterectomy.  The hysterectomy took away my constant pelvic pain but it came with a new set of problems that included IBS and nerve damage to the bowel.

In April of 2007,  I caught the Norwalk virus. It laid me out flat for a week and I don't think I ever fully recovered.  I frequently felt achy and exhausted, convinced that I had a  'low-grade virus' but my temperature was always normal.  I had heard the word fibromyalgia tossed around in the media but I didn't know much about it so I was very surprised to discover that I actually had fibro. It is believed there are many triggers that can lead to developing fibromyalgia. If anyone was ripe to develop fibro, it was me: several operations, a car accident, perfectionistic personality traits, chronic stress and a childhood trauma, I had it all!

        Oh dear, what could the trigger be?
        Dear, dear, what could the trigger be?
        Oh dear, what could the trigger be?
        Cathy has flare after flare.


It feels like I have been on a quest forever to find equilibrium. I still struggle with depression.  I still seek that elusive balance for good health.  Life has become all about maintaining homeostasis. I'm a big believer in what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.  I'm thinking I should be Wonder Woman by now.  On a brighter note, one advantage to developing illness at a young age is that I haven't noticed many physical ailments attributable to aging. I've been used to feeling like crap for most of my adult life so it's all the same to me!  What about you?  What's your story?


  1. Oh sweetie! You have been through a lot!
    I wanted to thank you for your sweet comment over on my blog, I'm your newest follower!

  2. Well written girl. xo

  3. ModernMom, I adore your blog. I aspire to your blog. I bow to your blog! Thanks for becoming a follower. I appreciate it.

    Thanks, Anon. :-)

  4. Hi Catherine,
    I responded yesterday only to have it accidentally delated. Thank you for sharing everything with us. You have been through a lot! I had endometriosis and because of pain from that and fibroids decided on a complete hysterectomy when I was 45.......then along came Fibro/CFS. I have hypothyroidism as well. I had the endo since I was young.

    I hope you are feeling better!

    Love your Blog!

  5. Nobody wants to live in pain and hydrocodone is what can effortlessly get them rid of pain and help leading a smooth life. This drug has been incessantly providing relief from pain and helping in getting off frustrating nagging cough. Cough attacks people mostly during winters and there are people or situation which brings this frustrating cough into being. It corrodes the mood and stands as a bar to execute any work in peace.

    Leonardo Vargas
    FindRxOnline blog

  6. Sandy, thank you for your comments. Sounds like we have a lot in common! I have several good days in a row then BAM, I can relapse. That's the nature of the beast called fibro. Send me a friend request, if you like.

    Leonardo, thanks for your comment but I'm not sure what it has to do with my blog on fibro.

  7. U certainly fit the bill to get it. I have it as well, and I can't help to feel resentful to the people that caused me the stress that lead to it. I have the thyroid problems too.....seems as if they almost go hand in hand. Something to ponder. Great blog.

  8. Hi Latona,

    Glad you like the blog. Statistics say that at least 75% of people with fibromyalgia also have thyroid problems as well. You'd think they'd find a connection one day!

    Thanks for reading.

  9. Just found this blog....thanks for sharing your history! I was just recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Sjogrens Syndrome. A year ago I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and a year before that sleep apnea and severe allergies. I have suffered with depression and been on anti depressants for the past 20 years....I can't ever remember feeling well rested, not even as a young child. I have also suffered with migraine headaches for the past 30 years, although they are much better since having been put on topomax. Cymbalta has helped with my pain and memory loss, and is supposed to help with my depression as well. I am hopeful that it will. I work full time, and for the past few years, my energy levels were so low that it was all I could do to get through a 40 hour work week....weekends were just about resting and wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I too love to write poetry, maybe we could share some of our work with each other?? I think that would be nice. I am single, have 2 grown children, and have endured as much stress as you......

  10. Hi Anonymous

    Wow, we do have a lot in common - unfortunately, it's the bad kind! Working a 40 hour work week is heavy, indeed. I don't know how you do it but my hat is off to you. Funny you should mention about not feeling rested as a child. I can recall getting up in the morning as a child, staggering to the couch and plopping on there until the last possible minute before I had to get up to eat breakfast and get dressed. And that was after a full night's sleep. Hmmm.

    I'm glad the Cymbalta helps you, too. It affects us all differently and I have heard of many horror stories regarding Cymbalta and Lyrica, etc. I'd be in much worse shape without it, I'm sure. I'd love to exchange poetry. Feel free to send a friend request.

    Thank you for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Here's to a low-pain day.

  11. Hi Cathy,

    Another informative blog that I can relate to. I was the same way as a child and have hypersensitivity to many things. After having allery tests for foods and environmental, my results revealed I was allergic to all of the foods and environmental elements they tested me for. My doctor said he had never seen someone allergic to everything. So,thank you for bringing this to our attention. And, I'm with you on the Brussel Sprouts issue! =)

  12. If your thyroid is low or in need of regulating, taking thyroid replacement is pretty clean. And now there are a number of options for natural thyroid replacement , like herbal supplements for thyroid.


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