Saturday, July 08, 2017

shattered. (long post)

Dear diary,

is anyone out there?

it doesn't take a genius to notice the rapid decline in the number of posts on this blog in the past few years.  going back, it would seem that it started around 2012, 2013.  Ish.  which is when today's story begins.

i think things are on the upswing.  i hope they are.

this is long.  but here we go.

in 2011, i was at the top of my game.  i'd been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, but was on good meds.  I ran four marathons in 9 days, and the third one was my personal best: 4:45.

I was battling my weight, but hey, who wasn't?  in 2012, i started a new job, which i love.  and that was the last year i really felt good.  for the past five years, i've been applying every bandaid i could to the increase in weight, decrease in depression, as well as someone without any medical training can.  each new bandaid was followed by a declaration that things are going to be awesome now.

in late 2012, or perhaps 2013, Sweet Baboo went back into the military full time.  i was required to give up my family doc, who'd treated me for 12 years and who had started me on estrogen, and i also had to leave my endocrinologist.  my care was now at the military base, clinic. they do an adequate job there on base, especially with healthy young servicemen and women who aren't approaching maturity, and who doesn't love free prescriptions?  however, the care providers on base, nurse practitioners, have been rotated out every year.  i'm about to begin on my 4th or 5th PCP.  i've lost count.

in any case, the first thing that happened is that my second PCP informed me that i didn't need to be on two thyroid medications.  am i a doctor?  i am not.  so, i said okay.  and that was how citomel, aka liothyronine, was dropped from my regimen.

the weight began creeping on.  i blamed it on the new job, which i imagined involved more sitting (it didn't) and the fact that early menopause occurs in my family.  the hot flashes began.  with a vengeance.  two to three times each hour, sweat would bead up on my legs, roll down between my breasts--i stopped sleeping through the night.

a black depression descended on me.  i woke up weeping, and when i wasn't sad, i was numb.  they upped my dose of wellbutrin.  when i started at the base clinic, they had changed my estrogen pills because the ones i had been on weren't in their formulary.  the new pills were making me nauseated, so we tried several iterations of estrogens--vaginal cream was just gross, and the patch had a latex-based adhesive that made me itch like crazy.  finally, my third PCP said, "we really don't like people to be on estrogen more than 5 years anyway." all attempts to treat menopause symptoms with hormones ceased.  i tried decreasing my caffein and taking black cohosh, which really didn't help much.  i told myself it was temporary, and i could ride it out.  right?

the weight gain accelerated throughout 2014 and 2015 but then leveled out at around 165, assuming, of course, that i ran a few miles nearly every day and did olympic weightlifting 2x per week, and kept my average calorie around 1600 per day.  i still felt a little dull, and sluggish.

then in october 2015, while out on a walk with Himself, i started coughing.

i didn't quite put it together that this was when i started using my new office; i simply assumed it was because of the fall bloom of the chamisa bush.  i looked into getting allergy shots at the base clinic, and was told that my asthma was "too poorly controlled".  they offered a referral to a civilian specialists.  after a six months' wait, i saw a pulmonologist.  he said my asthma was under control.  he referred me to an allergist; after another five months i saw the allergist, who said that my asthma was well-controlled, but a chronic post nasal drop was aggravating my airways and causing my coughing.  he tested me for allergies, and then started me on allergy shots.  ever monday and every friday, for seven months, i went in before work for three shots each.  i'm allergic to molds, evergreens, grasses, molds, dust, mites, and cats.

none of this explained why i was coughing now.  i've always had a lot of allergies, especially to grasses and mold  it's why i live in New Mexico.  why was i coughing now?

my mood continued to decline.  i struggled to accept that this is what a body in its 50s looks and feels like, even though it felt like it was someone else's body.  someone's older, heavier body.

i coughed throughout the winter, and into the spring of 2016.  by the summer of 2016, i was nearly incontinent and my marathon time had increased by an hour.  i couldn't run. i began studying drawing and painting; i figured if i couldn't run, i needed something else to give me meaning.  i gained another 5 lbs.  i struggled, daily, with fake it until you feel it. i bought air cleaners, dust covers, and everything had HEPA filters it.  i was constantly tired...depressed...heavy...sluggish.

in early 2017, i had gained another 5 lbs.  i was up to 175.  i went online to buy some second-hand clothing to fit the new, larger me because after consulting with a nutritionist, i gained another 10 lbs.

but, by early 2017 i had also figured out that there was something about my office making me cough; although i coughed almost constantly, sometimes until i gagged, it was worse at work.  i brought in an air cleaner.  that seemed to help a little.  the allergy shots continued.  i started feeling a tiny bit better.

then in february 2017, i came in one day to find that the walls near my office, which is partially subterranean, were encased in plexiglass.  men in suits and respirators were walking in an out, and inside the enclosure, were removing wallboard.

mold, the workers told me.  lots of it.  as far down as they could dig.  after 6 weeks they had cleaned up and removed everything.

and i had stopped coughing, abruptly, after 15 months of coughing.  my cough was gone.  i took the air cleaner home.  i started running again.

5 months later,  i was up to running 4 miles per day, except for Tuesdays when I have crossfit.  my mood started to lift.  and in 5 months of substantial exercise, i lost 4 lbs.

after i stopped talking, i was feeling particularly energized by the lack of coughing and had a new mission to be assertive with health providers.   in march i requested and received a referral to see a specialist in women's issues.  i waited 3 months for an appointment.  she referred me out "you really should be followed by an endocrinologist."  i requested and received a referral to see a civilian endocrinology specialist.  i waited another 2 months for an appointment.  that appointment was 4 days ago.  

there were blood tests for estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and thyroid hormones.  the new provider explained why: "it's not about the numbers," she said.  "it's about how you're feeling."  i nearly started crying on her office.  she listened to me talk.  i told her, forget that i'm a 50-year-old.  i'm a 50-year-old who's done a lot of shit.  she prescribed a different thyroid medication that includes liothyronine.  she scheduled me to begin hormone replacement therapy.  on July 13th, i will have pellets implanted that contain hormones that last for about 3 months.  tricare will not pay for it.

i'm so tired of being tired.  i'm so tired of not sleeping, of feeling to heavy to run.  i am up to 4 miles per day now, running and hiking on trails each morning.  i realize that you can't be "young" again but i would like to get back to where i have been, to enjoy running have not feel like my days of competing in sporting events are over.

I've had my hopes dashed repeatedly.  I"m more cautiously optimistic.  i've talked to some women who have had the pellet HRT, and although it's anecdotal, they talk about "getting my life back." I would just like to have enough energy to be able to run and do the things that make me healthy.

i hope.


  1. Yikes. Mold. How scary. I had been wondering what happened to you as I used to enjoy following your adventures and living vicariously through your running ordeals. I am sorry you have been unwell. I am very glad things are looking up. Keep on keeping on! Hugs from Helen in Portland, OR

  2. I'm out here - I've never taken your blog out of my reader and always hoped you'd come back. I'm sorry about the shittiness of your medical/health/body life for these past years. It seems like a conundrum of things have conspired against you. I'm really sorry.

    As a fellow hypothyroid (who has never settled down and been controlled), I probably could have written 75% of this myself - not the coughing - but pretty much the rest of it. Again, I'm sorry. I wish I had answers but 12 years into my diagnosis I do not.

    I truly and sincerely hope you find yours, and if you do, please share. Because I want to love running again the way I once did.

  3. Ive missed you. Sorry to hear youve been unwell. Ive been suffering from a cough just like yours every winter. I was told that i was probably allergic to everything and not to bitger getting tested. In summer the fog lifts a bit and i realise how bad ive been feeling. Also when i go to a warmer climate.

    Heres to getting good medical treatment. Hope you feel able to get back to the thongs you love doing and are good at.

  4. So glad you're back and things are starting to look up for you!

  5. We're still out here and so glad you're back! So sorry for all you've been going through (ridiculous, infuriating, how much time is lost in this kind of nonsense while you feel like crap and are fighting to live your life), and happy you may have finally found people who can and will help.

    I've seen your occasional art posts on your other blog and so impressed.

    Health care system stuff is ridiculous, so much organization/admin stuff to deal with, as if feeling bad and continuing with daily life as best you can during it isn't enough.
    So many going through so much similar....especially those of us female, over 50, with thyroid issues and challenges with that, female hormone changes (and the brutal interactions between the two), allergies/asthma and other health issues.

    A friend just told me she finally feels like herself after several years of exhaustion, depression, weight gain - that has taken a big turn for the better after having her deviated septum fixed and sinus cysts removed...her doc told her her symptoms were common in such disorders due to problems breathing and such.

    I hope that you feel much better very quickly.

  6. I'm glad to see a post from you! Good for you for standing up to your healthcare providers. I hope you are able to work together with your civilian specialists to get back to feeling like you!

  7. Welcome back! Keep being your own best advocate, for your health care and for everything else. I hope it continues to make a difference for you!

    I owe you one: I shamelessly cribbed from your Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile report when writing a recent post of my own about the Western States training weekend, the longest multiday run I've every done. I totally stole your final line: "I wonder what else I can do?" What can I say? Your achievements and your writing have left a deep impression on me!

    Looking forward to hearing more about your continued adventures,

  8. Oh, wow. :( I hope this is the beginning of all kinds of improvements.

  9. Hi, I missed you! So glad you are back and I hope you continue blogging. We are about the same age, endurance sports (triathlon for me) are a big part of our lives, and I struggle with my weight. So I love reading your columns. I hope the health mess gets straightened out soon.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  10. I'm much younger than you, but hormone therapy brought me back from the abyss. I feel for you. Keep trying to find the right balance - it's worth it.


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 I'm no longer involved in multisport or endurance sports. I've started my own business, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety d...