How an Auto-immune Diagnosis Changed my Life and Why Blood Tests are Vital to Your Health

It was a warm spring day and I was on my way down the mountain to attend a baby shower that was out of town. The vibrant blue skies and sun gleaming on the daffodils signified to the birds chirping that it was a grand day to get outside.

Since I moved to a new town in the mountains, I hadn’t been out in days; tending to live the hermit life inside my writing cave, which left me quite content.

I knew it was time to take an adventure and feel the warmth from the sun and a warm friend.

Arriving at the celebratory event, my dear friend approached me; wrapping our arms around one another as she took a step back.

“You look cute,” she said.

I thought to myself, cute? Where is she going with this conversation?

The look on my face must have prompted a curiosity within her when she tilted her head and continued her honest observations.

“I’ve never seen your face round. You look cute.”

It was time for this conversation to turn in a different direction as I knew exactly what she was inferring. Yes, I had gained weight but what bothered me the most was a rather puffiness to my appearance. Not only my face, but my entire body radiated an unhealthy swollen; almost bloated identity.

Shaking off the bothersome conversation, I modified my gloom with a glass of punch, finger foods and sparkling conversation with old friends.

By the time I returned home our picture taken together at the shower was posted on Facebook. You know what they say – a picture is worth a thousand words…

In that moment, all the fatigue, achy bones, depression, hair loss, etc. rose to my attention when I stared at that picture. I had gone to the doctor regarding my concerns and he joked with me that my health issues were like a puzzle he struggled to figure out. As my faith in him dwindled, we both knew my blood tests revealed there was a serious problem.

A couple months later he transferred to another town and a new doctor had been assigned for my health care. During my first visit she asked the usual questions and then she, also, became perplexed as to the blood test results in my file.

You could hear a pin drop when she silently read the results, the notes and the previous attempted diagnosis.

“Do you have any idea what is wrong with me?”

“I think you have an auto-immune disease, my dear. I am not sure the orientation of the disease yet, but I am ordering more blood tests so we can figure this out for you.”

At that moment I felt like a jig-saw puzzle about to be solved. Not feeling overjoyed but grateful to head this body in the right direction; reminding me of when I was diagnosed with melanoma.

We are best able to help ourselves when we know the problem at an early stage. Monumental.

I wasted no time and headed to the lab and requested my blood be drawn; reminding the phlebotomist, as I usually do, that my blood flow is temperamental thanks to my hypotension (low blood pressure). With that being said, I lowered my arm with the palm of my hand facing downward, in order to assist and avoid any unforeseen frustration from her. This awkward position helped my blood flow at a more rapid rate and we were on good terms; intending to keep it that way.

A few days later my blood results arrived and many of the medical terms were foreign to me as I was thankful for my doctor’s logical explanation of the ugly medical terminology.

Part of me was excited to learn why my body was at war with my immune system, while the other part of me just wanted this unwelcome presence to take a hike.

“You have Hashimoto’s Disease. This explains why you feel fatigue, aching joints, depression, sensitivity to cold…”

Before she could finish the long list of symptoms, I smiled and thanked her for the long-awaited diagnosis. We discussed the medication she prescribed for me and the importance that I take my meds every morning before I eat.

“If you left this untreated, you could later have heart problems, goiter issues and be unable to swallow. Your immune system is attacking your thyroid, which can lead to life-threatening complications.”

I was grateful. Each one of us struggles with health issues at some time in our lives. It is not the end of our productive and adventurous lives as we have the opportunity to find the answers and sometimes even the solution.

Every six months I return to my endocrine specialist with blood work completed before every visit.

Every visit reminds me how fortunate I am to embrace resolution. I can honestly say this diagnosis changed my life for the better.

Embrace change.

There are times in life we may feel like sitting on our pity pot, which is understandable. The damage to our psyche comes when we forever sit on that pity pot. Life isn’t perfect. Try your best to find that rainbow.

Ride the wave and keep moving forward.

Lori Armstrong

Lori began her career in the legal field, leaving that position to pursue full-time writing endeavors. Being a criminal court reporter for the Record-Bee, she balances the chaos in her brain by writing children's books and reflective pieces. When time allows, she publishes books for Amazon.

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