I wake every morning shaking. It’s as though my body caught a chill my brain hadn’t thoroughly processed through my nerves. I rub my eyes with shaky hands and stumble down the stairs. I have coffee & pills for breakfast. The routine has become so normal that in my half asleep state I never stop to think about it. I make one cup of coffee with a full coffee maker using enough grounds to almost make a full pot. I take the cup and two white pills later I sit and wait until the shaking subsides long enough for me to be able to type.
It’s strange looking at these pills, each one contains within it the ability to function properly throughout the day. I never think to myself in the morning how dependent I am on these chemicals, I only swallow it down with bitter vanilla bean and continue on. Perhaps sometimes… when I look in the mirror in the morning to brush my hair and watch it shed out into my brush or try to put on my makeup in a hurry before the Levothyroxine kicks in and shaky hands make a mess of mascara. Someone had corrected me about the fact that I should have said Hyperthyroidism instead of Hypothyroidism because of weight loss, but it is Hypo. I’m just one of those weird people who cannot gain weight and now that I’m on the medication I am losing weight. It’s a battle every day to break even. Now I have to eventually go back in to speak to someone since my weight has dropped extremely, I’m restless and can’t sleep and I started having hot flashes last month. More tests, more blood… more of the never knowing. I’ve been taking tests since I was 14. The total number of blood tests, urine tests, swaps, ultrasounds, X-rays and MRI’s is astounding. I’m 30 and I feel unknowingly broken.
When my son Judah was born there were complications which led to having six nurses pushing on my pelvis to quickly remove my son. The pressure caused my pelvis to shift, however after you gift birth one pain is the same as another pain and I never realized that walking was causing my spine to curve inward. A few months later my arm began to go numb or the nerves would feel as though they were on fire. The essence of pain became a normal everyday awareness. My lower back, my left arm and severe sciatica were becoming common. I finally went to the doctor after I couldn’t bear to hold my son anymore, he was six months old. After a few years of tests and random pain killers (Vicodin, Celebrex, Zipsor, Naproxen, Cyclobenzaprine, etc….) it was found I had not only Hypothyroidism but multiple minor bulging discs between my neck and my lower back, arthritis in my lower spine and one of the nerve holes to my left leg had closed over 50% as of last year. I take the Tramadol to keep myself from becoming an addict of Vicodin but increasingly become dependent on it being there, not on the drug itself but the knowing that it’s there. It is some equivalent to faith, the knowing everything is going to be okay. I’m not sure if this feeling is a good substitute for a chemical dependence. I was supposed to go see a neurologist. They wanted to see if I needed surgery or a giant needle poked into my back every month or so. I didn’t go see the neurologist because he wanted me to go get more MRI’s and they’re expensive and I’d refuse surgery anyway. How could I hold my son, I say to them, how could I hold my son if I had surgery? How could I take care of my family? I sigh. I ask for another prescription and I move on.
This is my breakfast. I can’t eat for an hour after taking the thyroid medication so I just wait and sip my coffee that I am aware decreases the medications potential but is necessary to wake up and function. When I get tired or shaky again I eat chocolate. I’ll crave it some days so awfully that I actually get cranky at everyone. My husband brings me Reeses. I tell my doctors I can’t rest my back, “You don’t understand”, I tell them. My son needs me to be capable. I have to be a capable Mom. I must be able to hold my children. I have to be strong. I have to be able to bend over, to carry, to lift, to dance, to sing Elmo’s World half a hundred times in one day while jumping like a rabbit. You don’t get it! I feel like screaming that, sometimes. Aren’t they parents? I don’t know. One day I went in and almost starting sobbing to the back doctor and that made him honestly uncomfortable. I can’t let my world fall apart because of this, I told him. He wanted me to go to the neurologist to see whether I needed surgery. I broke down. I can’t have surgery, I told him. I am Mom. I have to be Mom.
So I take the first pill to stop shaking, to wake up, to fill my body with it’s lack. I take the second pill to be able to move; to be able, in roughly fifteen minutes, to go upstairs and lift my 35+ lb 2yr old from his bed and into my arms. I’ll carry him downstairs and forget about all of this. At some point I’ll put on my Victoria Secret padded bra and forget about the weight I’ve lost, I’ll eat breakfast during lunch and paint over the dark circles beneath my eyes and roll my hair up so I don’t have to see that it’s coming out. I’ll only remember when it’s evening, my son resting beneath blue blankets and the exertion to sit down is too painful or prior to that when exhaustion creeps in between Mr. Brown Can Moo and Frosty the Snowman. I’ll remember only long enough to swallow, returning to the living-room with my “Mom is always okay no matter what” face and forget it just as quickly in a reassuring smile I know is only for myself.
My cup is empty. My hands stable. It’s a holiday weekend with no 7:00A.M. school week alarm. Upstairs are three sleeping males. My husband, my teenager and my little tot. The routine of the day is about to begin and it’s time to shed the mental skin of Manda and put on that of Supermom. Supermom, like Superman, has her own kryptonite, but unlike him I at least have a medicine cabinet.
(As an amusing anecdote to all of this they wanted me to try this new medication once. The fine print said, “Do not take if required to be awake.” I took the sample back and laughed. “When am I not required to be awake?”, I said, “I’m a Mom”)