Thursday, 24 February 2011

Metabolism Woes

I did have a post about Wombat in the works, but it's going to have to wait

I've been feeling really tired lately, but not able to sleep. I've also been urinating excessively for the amount I've been drinking, so I figured that a trip to the doctor for some blood tests would be in order. I have to mention right here that I <3 my doctor - he is awesome. Anyway, we got to chatting and he told me that I'm probably just a bit stressed out about things like my mother-in-law being sick at the moment, the fact that we were involved in a car accident the other week when someone pulled out of a servo exit right in front of us, etc, but he said that he'd organise some blood tests anyway, just to be on the safe side. A couple of days later, I got a phone call from the receptionist asking me to come in for an appointment as the doctor wanted to discuss the results with me. For some strange reason, I thought that maybe my cholesterol was the issue.

Yesterday was the day of my appointment. I was wrong, it wasn't my cholesterol. It was my thyroid. Mucking around, I said to the doctor "Well, that explains why I'm still fat then", as having an under active thyroid can be somewhat common after having a baby. His response was that no it doesn't, because my thyroid is mildly over active. The normal course of treatment is to give medication to settle it down, but apparently the commonly given medication isn't recommended for use with breastfeeding women, so he has referred me on to see an endocrinologist. I also have to have more blood tests done and a thyroid ultrasound. Apparently it is normal to test thyroid function by being injected with radioactive dye then scanned, but that test is out because of me breastfeeding. Oh, and there were no results on any of the other tests the doctor had ordered because an abnormally functioning thyroid skews the results for things such as blood sugar and lipids (cholesterol).

The receptionist rang the offices of the endocrinologist that I had been referred to and the short version is that I would have to wait for four months to get in to see him. I feel like I've been turned into a road pizza now - I can't live like this for another four months! The receptionist (bless his soul), said that he'd have a chat to the doctor and call me back if he had anything new to tell me.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from the receptionist. He had spoken to the doctor who had suggested another endocrinologist, who had just happened to have a cancellation for next Tuesday! Yay! Of course, my thyroid ultrasound had been booked in for Wednesday, but one quick phone call got that changed to Monday.

I also rang my local Australian Breastfeeding Association's (ABA) group leader. I remembered her once mentioning someone, somewhere who was really up to speed with what medications are safe for breastfeeding women to take and who gives really good advice. With information in hand, I made a phone call. He assured me that due to Wombat being four months old as opposed to being a newborn and that my thyroid is only mildly overactive, that the normally prescribed medication should be safe in small doses. He did suggest that the endocrinologist would probably want to monitor the effect on Wombat by testing his blood, but he said that if it was affecting Wombat that I would notice anyway. If he was being affected by it he would become very lethargic and sleepy and that's when I would need to have a discussion with the endocrinologist about what to do with my medication. I was feeling a lot better about everything after that conversation.

Now, the internet can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be a bad thing. Once I started trying to read up on more information about my condition and the treatments for it, I started coming across all sorts of things that were getting me all stressed out. Things like thyroid cancer, for example. I know that I'm being irrational, but then I started wondering "what if". The treatment for thyroid cancer involves chemo with radioactive iodine, which would mean that I would have no choice but to wean. For someone who normally has an oversupply of milk and who would feel very ethically conflicted about feeding my child something that has to be heavily modified to come anywhere close to being an "acceptable" nutritional substitute for human breast milk, not to mention the unethical marketing behaviour that formula manufacturers partake in, it would be a hard thing to face. In the end, I decided that it's not worth worrying about. My doctor hasn't even mentioned cancer as a possibility and there's no point in getting worked up over a "what if".

Now my immediate concern is trying to find someone to look after Seagull for the day so I can drive to Melbourne for the appointment. Because our main car is out of action as a result of the accident, we only have my little butter box of a car to get around in. I can't fit the double pram in it, which means that I have nowhere to strap Seagull in when he decides that he's going to run around/get into shiny things/is tired. So far I've lucked out with all the people I've asked and even Seagull's childcare centre (he normally goes two days a week) can't take him that day because of staff:child ratios.

Do you want to know what sucks most of all about the situation? I'm breastfeeding, have an overactive thyroid, and I'm STILL fat!*

* In all honesty, I'm only about 10kg above my goal weight at the moment. I was about 5kg above my goal weight when I fell pregnant with Wombat and put on about 25kg through the pregnancy, so to have lost 15kg in four months is actually pretty good.

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