On my 26th birthday a few weeks ago, I went to yoga with Louise and had a really wonderful practice. Mitch woke me up that morning, and was in full out 'it's your birthday, let's make this an awesome day' mode. I was so grateful, and so happy.
After practice, there was a soreness in my lower back on the left. Later in the day, I went to get my nails done and had the massage chair focused on that section in my lower back. It was there that I felt a small loonie sized tumour in my lower back.
Not this again.
When I was 18, I was doing a breast self-exam in my residence dorm room after the shower one day. My music was blaring, and I remembered what one of my mentors from the breast-cancer fundraiser I helped organize in high school told me: conducting self-exams twice a year is helpful in maintaining good breast health.
So there I was that morning, dancing around my room, feeling around, and there it was. My first tumour. I stopped in my tracks. What the eff is in my boob?
I laid down on my single bed, and double checked. I felt numb. I went to my best friend on the floor (and to this day), Heather's room and asked her to feel it. She did. It was really there. I cried. She and Becca comforted me. I called my mom.
So ensued 2 months of numbness, mixed with trying to manage living halfway across the country from my family, and handling a full university course load. Earlier in the year I had also lost two friends in sudden car crashes, and had lingering grief that I was learning to reconcile with my counsellor.
When I went home for Reading Week, I had an ultrasound, my first biopsy, and an appointment with my family doctor where she told my mom and I that I was cancer free and that the tumour was a benign fibroadenoma. I still remember the sound my mom made when she heard the news. She was in so much pain inside but kept her composure for me. I was relieved, but the numbness remained.
That was the first of four tumours and growths I've found in the past eight years.
This one in my back I found two weeks ago was the latest. I knew the drill. This tumour moved between tissues, it was round, with no rough edges, all signs that it was benign and a fibrous or fatty tissue growth (fibroadenoma (unique to the breast), or lipoma). The thing that threw me with this one was that it hurt. I hadn't had pain associated with my tumours in the past.
Off to the doctor's I went. It took me about a week as Diana was here from Calgary to work on some pre-launch work for Dream, Girl. So last week I got in, and went for my ultrasound. At the same time I had some blood work done for a nutritionist I am going to start working with in February.
On Thursday I went in as the results were in. Again, my loved ones were waiting to hear back. The waiting game is never a fun one. Fortunately, the doctor shared that the tumour was indeed a lipoma, and that with the irritation and pain, I could get it removed if necessary.
Instant relief, I felt elated. Thank the lord this was the case.
The doctor came back in the room a bit later with my blood work results. He asked me if I had a family doctor, and I knew something was up.
Almost everything looked good, he said, but your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (thank you high school Bio for teaching be about my endocrine system)) is ultra high. He indicated that it could be a sign of hypothyroidism and wanted to refer me to an endocrinologist, and have some more tests done. He then asked if I had been experiencing the following:
- Higher levels of anxiety
- Unexpected weight gain
- Dry, brittle hair
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Fatigue and tiredness
Check, check, check, check, and check.
I started crying after he left the room. A few weeks ago I posted about my recommitment to health, and since, have had mixed success with my low energy and ability to keep up with all the habits I want to instil. I had beat myself up for so long because I thought my lethargy, weight gain, and adult acne (which I have learned can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism), were a result of personal choices and habits, and not because at a baseline, my body was not functioning properly.
The diagnosis isn't confirmed, but knowing this is what it could be has provided me so much relief in knowing I am on the right path to figuring it out. The likelihood is high, as my mom told me her and my father both have hypothyroidism as well.
I can't express how much my lack of health in some key areas has hurt me inside. This isn't about my mind and my habits entirely. It's about healing and helping my body better support me, and that is so relieving.
There are days when I can't wake up without 9 or ten hours of sleep. I wake up knowing Erin is already working, and I am unable to even move out of bed. Some mornings I look in the mirror and see new zits on my face, and feel instantaneous shame. What am I doing to be this way? What is wrong with me?
I truly thought my lack of willpower was to blame. But it's not about my ego and what I can and can't do. My vessel is not functioning at its highest and full potential, and I am just so grateful that I have a sense of what I can do next to heal.
Mitch and I have been talking it through, and the tiny pill that I will likely have to take for life to help my thyroid function at its best, is not going to 'fix' everything, but it's going to be a start to get my baseline energy, and health to a place where I can do the self-work to build the better habits I need to keep living the life I dream of.
I wanted to share this to ask each of you to take your health seriously. Recently, women that I love have showed up for their health and are enduring, and healing because of being proactive. Love yourself enough to get whatever it is that may be lingering, or bothering you looked at. Make the appointment, get the prescription (or not), shift your diet, and give yourself a chance to feel better.
We are ultimately responsible for taking care of our personal health and doing so will enable us to better serve the world around us alongside the ones that we love. Do your best, for you.