Body Changes: The Grave Truth Part 1

Body on Graves' Disease
Photo by Unsplash: Jairo Alzate

Your body as a mom is never exactly the same as it was before. Your body changes and it is beyond your control. I wrote an article about having a mom bod for Living and Loving Magazine’s website. I’m not ashamed about how I look. Sure, I’m not as toned and taunt as I was before. I just learnt to accept the changes. I started thinking about the readers to this article and wondered if they’d feel I was a hypocrite  about the article once they saw a photo of me now.

Also I’m tired of keeping quiet when people point out my 17 kilogram loss.  I put on 10kg during my pregnancy and lost too much weight within 9 months of having my baby.

So here is the truth behind the way I look…

Many people who know me are aware that an avid fitness person. I’d train four times a week and do a ParkRun on Saturdays with one of my dogs. I did this up until I was 35 weeks pregnant. I’d laugh when a person would tell me to run faster until they saw my bump, they’d cringe. It was always a funny sight.

I had a great pregnancy, actually a fantastic one that often I’d forget I was pregnant until my soccer of a bump got in the way. I was healthy and so was my baby.

After the pregnancy I kept complaining about how I felt. I was fatigued, light-headed and just didn’t feel like myself. I pushed through and put it down to the hormones from the pregnancy. I knew that my body had been through so much and thought I’d get better with time.

I started to notice signs that I kept making excuses for. The slight tremor in my hands was worsening, I put it down to low sugar or not eating on time. The balls of hair gathering on floor as my hair fell out, it’s just the hormones I said. The constant fatigue teetering off  my eyelids I thought was from looking after my baby. The swelling of my calves and ankles, I put down to the heatwaves Gauteng was experiencing.I had an excuse for every symptom, itchy skin equalled dry skin; constant thirst equalled hot days. The list was endless.

What made me take a step back was when I tried to put my shoes on and my feet were swollen. My ankles were heavy and it hurt to walk, I decided that it was time to go to the doctor. I caught my reflection and noticed the weight loss and sullen skin.

Enough was enough.

After numerous blood tests, it was confirmed that I have an auto-immune disease called Graves’ Disease which has been attacking my thyroid function. I have every symptom except the bulging eyes symptom but they do hurt when I rub my eyes and are puffier than normal.

The puzzle piece fell into place while I was driving back home and the doctor called to confirm my diagnosis. I finally got an answer to how I’ve been feeling and why I actually feel like shit to be honest.

The blood results show that my number count for my anti-bodies are through the roof. Numbers that should not be over 0.8 were well into the 150s.

Overachiever much?

I was immediately put on chronic medication. The only problem was that the new medication had to be taken thrice a day and it was a strong dosage it would render me semi-useless. The timing was terrible, the first weekend on the medication I hosted my daughter’s baptism (Sunday 20th November 2016).

The hand tremor was horrible, just the simple task of putting make-up on was tedious as I couldn’t keep my hand still. In the end, I gave up with my make-up. My legs were swollen and tender that you can see it in the photographs (oh and the lack of make-up too!).

But the worst symptom of all was the nausea and vomiting. I kept up I praying that the baptism service would end quickly so I could save myself the embarrassment of running out and puking!  My prayers only lasted until we reached the clubhouse for lunch and then I was subjected to the curious looks and the endless questions of whether there was a bun in the oven… I know everyone meant well but I was up and down to the toilet all afternoon.

The thought of feeling like that for the next six to 12 months was inconceivable. The next day I was on the phone begging specialists’ receptionists to squeeze me into their respective doctor’s schedules. The treatment from these ladies were downright rude and useless as I was told to wait until March 2017! However Graves’ Disease cannot be left unattended or mistreated for so long.

Thankfully I was put in touch with an endocrinologist in Pretoria. The receptionist said she’d fit me into the doctor’s schedule for January 2017. I rejoiced because someone would finally take my medical file. Two days after making that phone call, I received a call from the specialist’s office to say that I needed to see the endocrinologist within the next five days. She had looked at my medical file and knew the urgency in the matter that is why she requested I come in earlier.

With her help, I have the correct treatment now to counteract the horrendous side-effects. I go for blood tests every three to four weeks to monitor my antibodies and thyroid function.

I went for a follow-up in January 2017. I was told that I’m on treatment for the next six to 12 months and from there the next step is obliteration of my thyroid. Since I run a high risk a falling into a coma due to my high count of antibodies. I just raised an eyebrow when she told me that it would lead to mortality…

It’s not all doom and gloom, the treatment is working and I’ll take the next step at the advice of my endocrinologist. I’m thankful that it’s treatable as there are many other diseases that are a million times worse mine. I still don’t feel like myself and it’s hard for others to understand that I’m not well because it’s not a disease you can see.  So I often I  shrug my shoulders and tell people I’m fine,  so that I’m associated with the disease to the point that I don’t want it to define me.

I’m still me but needing some extra care.


About Nikita Camacho

Nikita Camacho, a freelance writer navigating life as a working mom. Take a seat to enjoy authentic, amusing, mothering with this mommy and lifestyle blogger

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