I’ve struggled to post with regularity these last several months. It’s not that I have nothing to say, or that my interest is waning. I’m just tired. Too tired to think or write clearly. Too tired to grind through the “after hours”. Too tired to pretend like everything was “okay”. And so I decided to stay silent.
I’ll confess, it just seemed the better option.
If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all. (Thumper, Bambi)
If I couldn’t be that encouraging voice in your ear, I didn’t know what the alternative was.
I was physically and emotionally fatigued; I didn’t feel well, was running on empty, but unsure as to why. After another round of kidney stones and a slight health scare in January, I knew things had to change. I couldn’t keep this routine, this pattern up.
I’ll confess, like most moms, I didn’t make my health a priority.
Time for a Checkup
My first step was to make an appointment with a new urologist; a referral from my best friend who also had a diagnosis in mind. The introductions were great and he listened intently to my story, my history, and about how I was feeling. And just before I shared my friend’s theory – he came to the same conclusion. Within a half hour I was in the lab for bloodwork I’d never had drawn before and for an X-ray to check the status of my kidney stones. Throughout the day, the lab results kept rolling in on my health app. Most things looked good, but one set of numbers was off the charts bad. It was the “best” bad test result I’d ever had. These bad numbers provided a possible answer to the years and years of kidney stones, impacting family vacations, travel for work, even training for a half marathon. These numbers would also explain while I was so fatigued and felt so crummy. It was a clue as to why I was so achey with no apparent reason. They even explained the depression I would have to fight at times to keep at bay.
I was grateful for these bad numbers.
I’ll confess, I was also kicking myself. I was concerned about the long term damage my failure to serve as my own health advocate had caused. I was upset that my prior urologist had never run this same test – a test that answered so many questions.
The next several weeks and months would result in more tests; and a repeat of those initially run. I had appointments with an endocrinologist, a surgeon and a follow-up with my new favorite urologist. Now that I had answers and a diagnosis, things couldn’t move fast enough. And while the answers buoyed me, I still was not feeling well physically. I remained tired, had put on weight, and knew that I also had a fair number of kidney stones rolling around in my kidneys growing daily. Unapologetically, I pushed for hard-to-come-by appointments, offering to drive long distances to get the necessary tests and scans done at other offices. I asked questions and offered to pick up my reports, transporting (and reading) them between offices and networks.
I’ll confess, I could be sweet as pie or insistent and demanding. I used whatever tactic worked best to keep the ball moving forward; unwilling to trust anyone (but the Almighty) to do it on my behalf.
And in the midst of all this was life. Marriage, children, work. I was also selling a house and contemplating building or buying a new one. None of it stops. Not for me or anyone else. Something had to give.
I’ll confess, it wasn’t a hard decision. The first three aren’t even options to set aside. But the blogging – I hoped that you mothers would understand. That you would extend grace. I was certain you would understand what it feels like to just tread water. I hoped that you would wait for me, that you would check in and look forward to my return.
Hyperparathyroidism – that’s the 7-syllable word for the condition I have. It’s hard to tell how long I’ve had it, but some of the symptoms (like kidney stones) I’ve had for years. (Who knew it wasn’t normal to have multiple rounds of stones a year?) Who knew that being told to stop drinking caffeine and just drink more water, wasn’t an adequate solution to my situation. What I know now is that all this means that I have a parathyroid gland that’s gone a little haywire. When functioning correctly these glands control the amount of calcium in your blood – which is a good thing. When not operating properly, they can cause calcium to be drawn from your bones, resulting in too much calcium in your blood. Too much calcium in your blood is definitely not a good thing and can cause a whole host of other issues.
I meet with the surgeon this Wednesday to talk about the results of my recent scans, the one that show a little nodule on one of my teeny, tiny parathyroid glands. It’s amazing how something so little, and unseen, can cause so much trouble. I’m sure there’s a metaphor for life here – but as I said earlier, I’m too tired. Too tired for deep thoughts and profound dialogue.
I’ll confess, I’d covet your prayers. You’ll understand, I know, my desire to have this surgery done sooner rather than later. School is drawing to a close and I don’t want to keep feeling the way I do or be incapacitated because of a procedure. I don’t want another summer vacation marked by trips to the out-of-town Emergency Room because of moving kidney stones.
Will you pray with me that the surgeon’s schedule opens and provides a date and time (not in the distant future) for him to operate and remove the nodule? Will you also pray that my kidney stones remain settled until I am also able to have the necessary lithotripsy? Will you pray that these procedures would go smoothly and that I’d begin to feel better? That my body and mind wouldn’t feel so beaten and worn?
Being the best wife, mother, servant, boss, and employee that I can be means learning when to step up, step out, and when to step aside. These last several months have also reminded me that I can neither serve, love, nor lead those I care most about if I am not first taking care of myself.
Here is the takeaway: Momma, listen to yourself. Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right ask for help.
Ask questions, and then ask more.
As part of the National Women’s Health Week, the Today Show is currently doing an ongoing story called Dismissed about gender bias in healthcare and the fight for women to feel well. I believe as a woman, it’s a read worth considering given my own experience.
Be gracious when you can; but don’t apologize for advocating for your own physical and mental well being. There is nothing wrong with being firm; for wanting to understand the “how’s” and “why’s” of things. I wish I’d asked more questions, made more follow-up appointments before now.
Ladies, Heaven knows we’d go down swinging to get the best care for our loved ones – don’t wait to do the same for yourself.
Take it from me.