Any time you fill out medical paperwork you will be asked about “significant medical history” — in other words, what medical issues you have had and why it’s important. This month I have struggled with the topic of my post. Because it is January and Thyroid Awareness Month, I wanted to write something special about my very mild struggles with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Or, since February is American Heart Month, I could incorporate the fact that I have a minor amount of fluid around my heart that doesn’t feel important but is important enough to have monitored twice a year, and I could encourage all my 40-something ladies to be sure to have your hearts checked out regularly. Doctors consider my medical issues significant. But I am active and healthy and a cancer survivor, and these issues are certainly minor in comparison. But I do have them, and hopefully my living with them can help others. Heart disease is the number one killer of women each year, more than all cancers combined according to the American Heart Association. There is no way that is insignificant. Twenty million Americans have some type of thyroid issue, and 60% of them don’t even know it. Not insignificant.
Trying to Focus
But then I think that I’d love to write a fun tutorial on a wood project that I was inspired to do with the scrap wood from our quarantine DIY Shiplap home improvements. Or maybe how we negotiated helping sell my in-laws’ house and purchasing a new one when my MIL was hospitalized and helping buy a house she only saw over a FaceTime call with my sister-in-law. Even better still, the closet purge that led to new ways to use and style items in my closet to create some pretty amazing outfits I’ll wear once we can go places again.
But I can’t. I want to. I really, really do. And I will. And I pray it will be so helpful and thoughtful and insightful and fun. But right now it’s like I need to get it all out. All of it, all at once. Maybe because it’s all been building up for a year. Does it all seem so insignificant?
Loss of Control and Feeling Strange
Then I think I need to be talking about the anxiety that I never knew I had until my kids were out of school and sports and my work slowed and my traveling husband hasn’t left town in 10 months. Significant. I began waking up at 3:00 a.m. almost every night with a clear voice in my head saying, “It’s all going to be ok. Just breathe.” I know this small, still voice well. I would use this quiet hour for prayer and conversation with God. A peace would come over me, but the nightly wake up calls still happen. Not as often now, but they do. Tired Momma me says, “Um . . . Why do I need to be up at 3:00 a.m.? Why that sense can’t come upon me at 3:00 p.m. or noon or 7:00 a.m.?” Well, because a 3:00 a.m. wakeup call seems pretty significant. Like most moms I know, I just want to finish any one thing. A thought. A sentence. A meal. A night’s sleep. But I often feel so overwhelmed, I can’t even start. So the middle of the night to get my full attention, gotcha. Significant.
Take Care of You so You Can Take Care of Others
I do have pretty significant medical history that so many other women can report too. My thyroid issue is an inherited issue and the fluid around my heart a totally random occurrence that was noted after I had completed chemo and radiation for my other significant issue — cancer. But at my last check up with my primary doctor — a telemedicine visit from the chair in my den — my physician and I talked about how all of my “significant” issues were well managed. But I told her of the new one that had appeared that I genuinely didn’t know how to deal with. The chest tightness. The waking at 3:00 a.m. The strange upset in my spirit. The unease. The anxiety. Do you have anyone to talk to? Yes. Support network? Yes. Strong faith? Yes. Exercise? Yes. Limiting caffeine? Hold up, Doc, it’s a pandemic! But okay. And if it doesn’t get better, let’s find a good counselor. Perfect. Significant gains for what was ailing me.
It is Always the Little Things
So, turns out the things I do for my heart and my thyroid are good for anxiety too. Exercise. Eat right. Manage stress. Limit caffeine (sure, sure). Walking the dog and getting in a brisk walk/jog. Talking to friends and laughing, crying, complaining, or sharing recipes. Crafting. Cleaning out closets and trying outfits I can’t wait to wear. Helping my neighbors. Volunteering and working. Talking to my patients not just about how their back or knee is feeling but asking, How ARE you? Doing okay? If you need someone to talk to, I know it can be lonely right now. Because talking about it helps me. Getting my holiday decorations up earlier and putting them away a little later. Writing this blog post. Curling up in my chair by the fire with a huge cup of coffee (she said try to limit to two cups, she did not specify the size of the cup) and focusing on quiet time for my mind and body and spirit. And those other random things that feel insignificant, turns out are the most significant after all.
If you have a history of heart disease, please get checked out! And wear red in February.
If you think you may be one of the millions of people with undiagnosed Thyroid issues, check out this resource and talk to your physician.