The Day I Realized I Was Sick Part 1

I don’t remember the day I got sick, but I remember the day I realized that I was not well. Months upon months of various symptoms had finally left me drained and dysfunctional to the point where I could no longer pretend that it was all just “motherhood”. What were these symptoms? I didn’t realize how many there were until I actually sat down my doctor and he asked what “exactly” was wrong.

I’m tired, I said, but not “mother” tired. This is something different, something worse. I’ve had four children and I know what it feels like to be tired from having children – this is not the same thing. I’m so tired that sometimes I can’t get up out of bed to make the kids a sandwich. I literally cannot get out of bed. My toes go numb. I get dizzy when I stand up too quickly, and I get dizzy every morning when I get out of bed. I get 5-6 migraines a month. I’m nauseous after I eat every meal. I’m too thin because I don’t feel eating, but I’m nursing so I have to eat more than regular. My ears ring all the time, and sometimes it’s so loud I can’t decipher what my children and husband are saying to me. When I stand up or change positions I hear my heartbeat pulsing in my ear. It’s loud and unnerving and takes a long time to go away. Sometimes when I sit down I know that I do not possess the physical power to stand back up. I’m okay walking around the house but when I stand still for more than a minute or two I start to get fuzzy and feel so weak I have to sit down. My heart races sometimes and I feel like I’m having a panic attack, but I don’t think I’m actually having a panic attack. I can’t carry my infant son for more than very short periods of time because it tires me out. I’m used to baby-wearing from newborn all the way up to age 2, and I can’t even hold my son on my hip for 5 minutes, let alone wear him while I cook dinner. Oh, and I don’t sleep. No, no, no, it’s not insomnia because I can get to sleep just fine. I just can’t stay asleep. In any given night I’m awake 35-40 times. Fully awake 35-40 times. Sometimes more, and not because of the baby. Just because I can’t stay asleep.

And through all of this time I had hidden how bad it was from almost everyone around me. I’d shielded my kids by not complaining and became cranky, although they would sometimes come to the side of my bed, put their hands on my forehead and say “Poor mommy, you look so tired. You just stay in bed right now.” I hid from Husband how bad it was because I already felt like I complained about feeling poorly so much of the time. My mother and step-father, who lived nearby, had glimpses of the situation when I was laid up with a migraine and they would come help me with the kids until I was able to get around regularly again.

But when I went in to the doctor that day, without any of my children or family there, I finally told him my laundry list of symptoms from which I could find no relief. After ordering extensive blood work he asked about my blood pressure, which had been low. I explained to him that my blood pressure had always been low – when I was pregnancy I’d even had to sit down while checking out because it would plummet and I’d almost pass out. He ran an orthostatic test on a whim and the results caused him to raise his eyebrows and make me stay another 30 minutes to repeat the test. During an orthostatic test your blood pressure and pulse are taken when lying down, sitting, then standing. In a normal person’s body your blood pressure should increase when you change positions vertically and your heart rate should just around 10 bpm. My body, however, did not increase blood pressure no matter how I changed position, and my heart rate jumped from 60 beats per minute to 125 beats per minute simply by sitting up. It did this at each positional body change, and at one point my heart rate spiked between 200 bpm and 98 bpm for five minutes.

Well, said my wise doctor, it seems we may have found the reason for your fatigue.

Homeschooler. Mother. Worker Bee. Wife. Christian. Chef. Allergy-expert extrordinaire. Dog lover. Soul-mate. (w)Riter. Reader. Runner.