On exactly this day, 21 years ago today, I found my mother 9-days deceased. She had taken her own life with a combination of Alprazolam and Thioridazine. She had over 300 pills in her stomach that were completely undigested. She was 49 years old.
She had been prescribed those medications for “depression” around her 44th birthday after she began having violent mood swings, insomnia, weight gain, hair loss, frustrating issues with repeated bladder and kidney infections/kidney stones, and overall instability.
A few months prior to her death, she became totally isolated – and unknown to her family she’d stopped taking both the Alprazolam and Thioridazine on her own. During that time she purchased her medications, but saved them and eventually used several months’ worth of both to take her own life. Along the way, she also chose her casket, planned her service, picked out her music and paid for it all out of a savings account we were unaware she had.
It was noted during her autopsy that her right thyroid gland was completely atrophic. She also had signs of what the medical examiner felt was an Auto-Immune Disease. Her lungs, heart, and her health, in general, were absolutely pristine. At that time, it was realized she had an undiagnosed case of Graves Disease and quite possibly, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The Medical Examiner at the time felt confident she’d had this for at least a few years.
I have known since that time that I could possibly be pre-disposed genetically to either Graves or Hashimoto’s. I have tried to insist on thyroid testing the past 10 years or so as part of routine examinations because I knew my mother never had a routine blood test done to check her thyroid, which would have saved her life. I have had thyroid levels “borderline” low according to physicians, but I have never been treated nor have I had any significant signs or symptoms of either disease.
Then about 2 years ago I began to notice what I felt was more significant hair loss than normal. During the middle or latter part of 2013, I began to notice other symptoms such as exhaustion, brain fog, hypoglycemia, heart palpitations, weight gain, etc. I also suffer from leg/hip pain, sciatica, achiness, etc. tingling and numbness in my hands and feet, and have had a couple of kidney stones. I also have an enlarged lymph node on the right side of my vocal cords that despite my best efforts in repeatedly asking numerous physicians WHY no one can tell me what it is or why I have it.
In December 2013, during a routine examination with my CNFP regarding the above-mentioned symptoms, she noted what she thought were nodule(s) on the left side, around my vocal cords. I have had a thyroid uptake which showed a significant cold nodule/mass on the left side, of which she initially felt was cancer. On the right side showed to be normal. I also have a significant Vitamin D deficiency and hypercalcemia, my last labs showed my calcium level at 10.8.
When other test results started to come in, my primary physician indicated she wanted to take time to really review all my labs, etc., and make phone calls to colleagues to try and figure out an appropriate course of action going forward, and as of this day – almost 3 months ago – I have not heard one word from her. After my initial set of labs, she diagnosed me extremely Vitamin D deficient (initial level was 24) and ordered me to take 4,000 IU of D3 – of which I am NOT taking.
She did forward all my results to a local ENT surgeon whom I have a previous history with and I have met with him to discuss my options. He ordered a head/neck CT to look for signs of cancer. It took 14 long frustrating days and a bail-me-out-of-jail if the needed plan in place to get the results after they were misplaced. He recommended the next course of action be that I find an Endocrinologist, and it was decided that he would take over as the referring physician. Together, we chose 3 Endocrinologists for referral, but as of today – 21 days after the day he took over as my Primary Care Physician, those referrals still have not been done.
I am a little tiny hamster on a tiny little wheel…
I am already at the mercy of being in an area that for the most part only provides mediocre and substandard care. Not only do I have to travel outside my geographical area just to see an Endocrinologist, it is mandatory that I have a referral from a physician to do so… and I am well into this experience with two different physicians that for whatever reason cannot seem to do a referral.
Meanwhile, I have a “5.2 CM COLD DEFECT IN THE LATERAL MID-INFERIOR ASPECT OF THE LEFT PARATHYROID WHICH CORRESPONDS WITH A DOMINANT COLD MASS AS NOTED ON UNTRASOUND” I am walking around with, along with elevated Calcium and significant D deficiency…and thousands of dollars already charged/spent in medical care for nothing… as I sit, and wait, and wait, and wait.
I am 44 years old.
Obviously, I am just beginning my thyroid (whatever it is) journey. I share my story in hopes of primarily educating someone else… I believe it is mandatory we are advocates for our own health and sometimes I feel it is so very important to look beyond the symptoms and instead, find the details of story within the illness.
I also feel strongly that physicians should more open-mindedly and objectively LISTEN to their patients. My mother went from doctor to doctor, asking for help not only with her symptoms but also help to combat the prescription drug addiction that was slowly taking over her body. However, early on her journey she was unfortunately and mistakingly “labeled”, and it followed her. It was also what destroyed her because she became trapped within the brutal confines of a raging untreated disease along with a significant drug dependency, both of which could have been prevented with an appropriate blood test.
For 21 years I have questioned WHY she chose to give up and take her own life. I truly believe she felt she was completely out of options for her health and couldn’t live with her issues any longer. So I am learning from her story to now begin writing my own, and trying to remain very hopeful about my outcome.