04 April 2012

HAWMC Day 4: I write about my health because...

HAWMC Day 4 prompt: I write about my health because… Reflect on why you write about your health for 15-20 minutes without stopping
The first time I ever really talked about my PPD online other than in a private message with a very trusted friend was after I was released from my first inpatient stay at Laurel Ridge. I posted in a "Protected" forum at a military significant other and spouses discussion board with a brief "Hey, this is why I suddenly disappeared" but I still didn't really openly talk about it much. When I finally started really being open about my experiences, it was December 2012. My husband and daughter had been in the car with me when my brakes failed and I rearended a very large Dodge cargo van. You know, the kind with the metal bumper? My husband had his foot on the dashboard and when the airbag deployed, so did his foot... straight into the windshield. His ankle was broken on both sides, it was only because he had on very stiff leather cowboy boots that the bone didn't go through the skin.My seatbelt didn't immediately lock so I was thrown forwards into the airbag and then back against the seat, at which point my seatbelt finally locked into position but my head snapped forwards again. I was left with a very nasty headache, a concussion, bruises on my chest, and a hideous case of whiplash that left me unable to bend over, pick up the baby or a cat, turn my head side to side, or ride in a car without vomiting unless I took Zofran (we learned this when I lost my lunch all over my mom's car on the way to a followup for my husband's ankle at the ER at BAMC the next day, I ended up getting followed up on too).

My husband had to have surgery to set his ankle and put in plates and screws. I, of course, went along and stayed in the waiting room feeling very sore, extremely guilty, tired, and wishing I could take something that would be more effective on my neck and back than Tylenol and Motrin. There was good news though! The day before, I had gone to the clinic on post to see my own doctor since my back and neck were still hurting quite a bit. While I was there, I mentioned that at a previous appointment a couple of months prior with my PCM, they had mentioned something about my thyroid levels being low but never followed up on it and was that something I needed to be concerned about. The doctor who was seeing me, Major M (USAF), looked at my records and said "Uh... yeah, your levels are off. Since this is an old test result, I want to rerun your labs to see where they are now and we'll go from there". I went and had my blood drawn. The next day, while I was in that waiting room, waiting on news of how my husband's ankle surgery was going, I got a call from Maj. M's nurse saying "Your TSH and T-4 are extremely off, we need you to come in immediately to see the doctor and get on medication". Now, when I say "My levels were off", I mean that Within Normal Limits for T-4 is between .3 and .5 and mine was .02. This was DEFINITELY something that shoudl have been caught before and in hindsight, I should have filed an ICE complaint that it wasn't caught my my previous doctor. I promptly started on Synthroid (and switched my Primary Care Physician to be Maj. M) and three months of Synthroid had me ready to come off the antidepressants totally.

Anyways, now that the history lesson is over, as soon as I got off the phone with the nurse, I sat down and wrote what became my first PPD blog post. I posted it as a note on Facebook and MySpace, posted it on the forums I was a member of, and started this blog. For some reason, having that diagnosis of Hypothyroidism was like a dam breaking open to let me post everything I had been holding in.

At that point, I posted because I wanted others who were dealing with PPD to know they weren't alone, and that is still a very big part of why I post but it's also evolved into so much more. I write about my health because I want people who have no idea to get one. I want people to know that PPD is a real problem, not just some bad attitude or some mental block. I write about my health because I want people to know what to look for in their loved ones who are expecting or have recently had a baby. I write because I recognize that there is a very real and very damaging stigma surrounding mental health in general and that it definitely extends in a very real way to moms who are struggling with PPMD. I write because I want to combat that stigma, I want to make it personal and real by putting a face to it so that people who scoff and dismiss it suddenly can't dismiss it so easily because someone they know has dealt with it. I write because this stigma is born of ignorance and can only be overcome by education, by breaking the silence. It's a lot harder to dismiss something as a "cop out" or a "lack of faith" when it's your relative/friend/neighbor/whatever, someone you know personally and care about, who is going through it.


1 comment:

  1. No matter the reasons why you are writing about your health, I think it takes an incredible amount of courage to do so. I remember the relief I felt as I discovered the stories online from other women who were going through the same thing as me.
    Thanks for putting yourself out there!