By Heather H. Pfundstein | email@example.com
Feb 19, 2011 06:06PM
As my eyes opened, I knew where I was — the ICU of Rush-Copley Medical Center. It was early — the room was dark, but a nurse at the Aurora hospital was talking to me, checking my vitals. I had just spent the last 36 hours fighting for my life.
I had a vague image of my brother standing over me, worry on his face. That had been the day before — good, I remembered. I was still here; “I am alive,” I thought.
For the last year, since my daughter, Ashley, was born in September 2009, I had been in pain daily, barely able to walk up and down the stairs to put her to bed. As the year dragged on, carrying her became increasingly difficult.
I had been to numerous specialists; my doctor’s receptionists knew who I was. I’d had a colonoscopy, several MRIs and had seen a blood doctor. But none of it seemed to bring a qualitative diagnosis. I was deemed depressed — unable to enjoy the wonderful life I now had: a husband who loved me; a beautiful, healthy baby girl; a full-time job with benefits; a new home; and a body that just couldn’t keep up.
I was scared.
I began to think something was “fundamentally” wrong with me. Maybe I had a stroke, lupus, cancer … I finally resigned to the doctor’s diagnosis. I took the recommended Prozac — and forgot for awhile. I was getting used to hurting. My hair was falling out; my legs ached; I couldn’t sit on the floor and get up; my brain seemed hidden in a fog; and I was struggling to keep up at work.
Life at home was suffering, too. I slept on the weekends, slept late on weekdays and went to bed early. My husband did everything: clean, cook, take care of our new baby.
I couldn’t understand what was happening. Before I became pregnant, I had completed several metric centuries on my road bicycle and was in the best shape of my life. While pregnant, The Naperville Sun underwent a redesign where I spent many hours planning the new Our City section, and my husband and I bought a home in Oswego together.
My co-workers noticed the difference in me after the baby was born, too.
“It was like watching a vibrant flower wither in the sun, and there was nothing you could do about it,” editor Nichole Roller said.
Summer passed without incident. I stopped taking Prozac because it made me not care whether I felt better. I pushed my doctors again. I hadn’t had a menstrual cycle since I’d had my now year-old daughter. The obstetrician said I was stressed — I needed to relax. No tests.
I was becoming desperate. I thought I might lose my family and my job if I didn’t do something.
And then, something did happen.
* * *
My niece was born, and I felt joy that my brother and his wife had a second child. They had been trying, and now she was here.
However, a few weeks later, my niece’s postnatal tests indicated she needed thyroid medication. My sister-in-law was in a panic. What did that mean?
She took to the Internet like any good mother would.