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December 31, 2009

2009 - Lots of good and bad

January - I got a little good news, my thyroid levels had returned to normal range with the help of medication.  The bad news, I would be on thyroid medication for the rest of my life. Diagnosis was Hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone. Since the main purpose of thyroid hormone is to "run the body's metabolism," it is understandable that people with this condition will have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism. 
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Dry, rough pale skin 
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance (you can't tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Decreased libido
February and March continued pretty much as 2008. 

Constant 24/7 headaches with little to no relief. Towards the end of March I noted a marked increase in nausea and vomiting which I associated with the pain levels and a few new symptoms which seemed to be all part of the Hypothyroid issues. 

Rob's sister Amanda and her husband Steph welcomed the birth of my adorable nephew Ethan on March 7th. On March 30th, I did some mental math, added up some of the newer symptoms and while joking around with my sister Mandee about pregnancy decided a stop at the pharmacy was in order. Took the test the next morning, ironically, April 1st. Double line/positive results before the time to even check had passed. Followed up with family physician who confirmed that Rob and I were expecting! I was 38, soon to be 39 and honestly didn't think it was even possible.
Fertility and Hypothyroidism: If you know you have an under-active thyroid gland, talk to your doctor about having a baby. Your doctor will want to check your thyroid levels and make sure they are right before you start trying to conceive. If your levels are too low, you have hypothyroidism and may not be ovulating as you should. Taking the right dose of thyroxine, the hormone you lack, can restore your fertility.  
We told our families of the news in April and also contacted my Neurologist who immediately stopped all medication. The only medication I was allowed at this point was my thyroid medication, acetaminophen, Gravol and the occasional ibuprofen. This had the obvious effects of not being able to control the pain levels, resulting in increased nausea. I found myself spending more and more time in bed, between pain and weakness I wasn't able to do much. 

In May, I had my first visit with Dr. Giammarco in Hamilton ON. Her tentative diagnosis was New Daily Persistent Headache. A relatively new condition first described in 1986. However, further testing and diagnosis had to be put on hold until after the baby was born. Advised minimal use of over the counter analgesics and to get through the following months as best as I could, and to set up an appointment shortly after the baby was born. An MRI was scheduled for November as my due date was October 21st. The doctor did mention that with luck, pregnancy hormones could counteract and effectively cure the headaches and no further treatment would be required. 
New daily persistent headache (NDPH) is a chronic headache developing in a person who does not have a past history of headaches. The headache begins acutely and reaches its peak within 3 days. 
When I had Krystal, gender reveal wasn't a big thing, and considering this was Rob's first child, the anticipation of waiting for the delivery to find out if we had a son or daughter added to the excitement. Of course, our families (well his side more than mine), wanted to know, but we held firm, going with the tradition of selecting both a name for a boy and one for a girl. We decorated the baby's room with yellows and greens. 

Baby's Room all set up
Quilt belonging to Daddy when he was a baby

Things continued pretty normally (for me at least) until September. Rob had returned to school for his final year of Software Engineering Technology and I spent my days as best as I could. Resting, keeping to a darkened room, eating when I could. Mid September, I started experiencing contractions. Went into the hospital and ended up spending a couple days there hoping to hold off delivery for another month. I was given an injection to help mature the baby's lungs just in case, and sent home.

October 23, around 3 am, I called Rob home from an all night project session in order to head to the hospital. As my due date had passed, was told I wouldn't be leaving until the baby had arrived. Fortunately, Rob had some understanding professors who gave him (and his thankful team members) deadline extensions.

Getting some rest before the big event

I was in labour 16 hours, and was given an epidural which actually wore off partway through and had to be repeated. I didn't spend much time actually pushing, seems like once we got to that point things went pretty quick for me, and though my headache was along for the ride, at this point it was the least of my concerns.  

Still waiting
When the baby was born, we were happy to find out that we had another daughter! Rachel Josephine, born at 7:20 pm, weighing 7 lbs 11 oz, 20 inches long. I still remember Rob making the phone call to let his mother know she had a granddaughter, there was no way she was believing him, I had to confirm that she had her first female grandchild. (more below images)

Rachel Josephine Bray, Posing for her first photo shoot at 10 minutes old 

Meeting Mummy face to face finally!

Aunt Mandee and Big sister Krystal
Meeting Daddy!
Now that the baby had arrived, I was back on course for trying to determine the cause of my headaches (which didn't resolve with pregnancy) and hopefully get some relief. My MRI had been booked for November when I saw Dr. Giammarco back in May.  Contrast dye was used to ensure the best results.  After the results had been examined, I received a call advising me that I was being given yet another referral.  I was scheduled to go to the Eye Clinic at St Joe's Hospital in Hamilton in January.

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