Passionate About Pittsburgh
and the Moms Who Live Here

When It’s More Than Postpartum Symptoms

699After having my baby a little over a year ago, I knew that my body would inevitably go through changes. Every pregnancy website reminded me that my postpartum body would never be the same, my back would always hurt, and I would feel tired for the next 18 years.

What I didn’t know, was that I could face an illness that I’d be battling for the rest of my life.

Every symptom I had, I chalked up as being part of the postpartum process. I was always tired, losing hair, didn’t sleep well, and lost weight. Doesn’t that sound like the “normal” postpartum experience that you get told about?

It wasn’t, though.

Five months after giving birth, I went to my primary care physician for just a regular yearly check up. I was given lab work to get done, but put it off because it wasn’t anything urgent. This past May, I finally got it done because my daughter needed to get some regular lab work done, so I figured, ‘two birds, one stone’.

My thyroid test results came back abnormal, so abnormal that I needed to see an endocrinologist as soon as possible. I was able to make an appointment with one just a couple days later (ironically on World Thyroid Day), and it was confirmed:

I had Graves’ Disease.

Photo credit: WebMD

On top of all the symptoms listed above, my heart rate was through the roof. My hands were shaky, and my eyes were slightly bulging. The endocrinologist was nervous I would go into thyroid storm in her office (thankfully I didn’t, especially since I had my daughter with me). Needless to say, I was immediately put on anti-thyroid medications and heart medication. Additional blood work was ordered, and it came back at the worst levels that my endocrinologist had ever seen.

I didn’t know how important the thyroid was. It helps regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy. Thyroid hormones are essential for the function of every cell in the body. They help regulate growth and the rate of chemical reactions (metabolism) in the body (medicinenet.com).

For my health’s sake, I had to take it easy. I wasn’t able to watch my nephew any more. My husband flew back from a business trip early, and began working upstairs instead of in his office (to help when needed).  The medicine had made me so tired at the beginning, but my body needed to adjust to normal. I need to be aware of any triggers, like stress, that could cause a flare-up as well. The long term course of action is still unknown, but for right now I’m continuing my medication, and also monitoring my heart rate.

According to Medscape.com, postpartum thyroid issues can occur in 4-10 percent of women within the first year. Sometimes there is no indication of thyroid issues prior to pregnancy. For more information regarding postpartum thyroid issues, check out the American Thyroid Association.

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