Thursday, December 9, 2010

"It Worked!"

He got me. Someone got me. Not only did he have a good idea of what was most likely wrong with me hormonally
but his own wife had gone through PPD and he had helped her too. Dr. Loy was not only a great doctor, but he took my situation seriously and personally. Again, God had placed me with the right person at the right time. Just in time!
We sat and talked (and I cried) about what I had gone through, my specific symptoms, my fears. He kept nodding his head and taking notes. He knew what questions to ask and how to answer mine. He was pretty sure he knew what was wrong already, but we would have to
wait for the blood test results to come in. By the next appointment, it was confirmed. My Prolactin level was too high, which made my Dopamine (the "happy hormone") level too low. (This explained why I was still lactating, and my periods were thrown off, and of course my roller-coaster emotions and lack of mental well-being.) And just like that, it was explained. It made sense. I was beyond relieved to hear a clear diagnosis-to finally get to the root of the problem, and to know that something "physical" had shown up. I was validated. I was not hopeless. The cause was not "hidden" anymore and I wasn't crazy! I can't imagine the level of disappointment that could have hit me had they not found something wrong. (Then what? Where would I have gone next?)
He gave me a prescription for "Parlodel" and brought up other important ways to stay on track. (like being more careful with my caffeine intake)
I think of how the odds were against me even in seeing this doctor. There were two or three occasions when I missed my appointments and it was frustrating. (Like the first time we drove to see him and went to the wrong office by mistake, and had to re-schedule. We got home from Orlando that day and I just sat in the car and wept.) But it was worth the trouble. I only wish I had found him a lot sooner. I would give anything to get that first year back, and to have had a normal postpartum experience. I could have saved myself from so much trauma and struggle, emotionally and mentally. By the time I found Dr. Loy, so much damage had been done. So many ripple effects. Even though we had found the cause, it would take time to find myself again, to let God restore my soul and re-build my confidence. I joke and say that I spent a year losing my mind, and then another year getting it back! Even so, just finding out what was wrong physically brought some deeper healing as well. Once the hormones were under control, I could start to get control back in other areas.
I began taking Parlodel, which was hard to adjust to at first, and had a few minor side effects, but it worked. IT WORKED. My hormone levels stabilized, and eventually normalized. I stayed on it for almost a year, but within that year was
able to completely come off of Xanax (a miracle in itself) and had already weaned off of all anti-depressants. I kept getting better. I kept pressing on. I wrote new songs. I slept better. I became a better mom. I laughed more easily. I journaled. I ran. I trusted. I prayed. I read. I took vitamins. I moved forward. I fell in love with my new little son. And romance returned for my husband!
I wasn't the same person anymore, (that I had been before going through PPD) but at least I felt like a person again, and in some ways a better person.
And I can honestly say that I have never gone completely "back" since finding the right medical help. I have had some rough days, but nothing like before. My husband noticed the change within weeks, and it was here to stay.
Early this year, I met with my doctor and he saw remarkable improvement. He felt that it was okay for me to wean off of the hormone med and even encouraged me to have another baby! He was confident that I would be fine if I had another child, and said that if anything did go wrong, they would be available to help right away. It was comforting to hear those words coming from someone like him. I haven't seen him since then, but I did call his office a few months later with some good news and a few questions.
I have been medication-free for over 9 months now, and speaking of 9 months...I am having another baby boy!! "The Lord Restores." That has been a short but profound statement that I have spoken when talking about this pregnancy to friends of mine. Some days, I still can't believe that I am really pregnant again. But as I write this blog, I can feel little "Malachi" kicking away! Hope is real. Believe it! Restoration is alive. Joy comes in the morning.
I will write more when the time is right. There is a lot more to my story, but I wanted to give some closure to it before I have the baby. I also want to thank everyone for their prayers and support throughout this difficult but beautiful journey! Please keep us in your prayers again, as we welcome our new baby and trust God with the days and months that follow.

"Here on Earth you may have many troubles and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." -John 16:33

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Help from Houston?" Part 2

As it turned out, Dr. Wheeler (in Houston) had one more thing for me to try before agreeing to take me, as it would mean repeated visits to Texas and back. He had gone to college with a couple of other doctors who now (he was pretty sure) practiced the same kind of medicine in Florida. He passed along their names (All of this information came through his secretary/nurse. I have never actually spoken to him directly. He was having some health problems of his own at the time, and I am lucky that he even gave a second glance to my story!) If this "detour" to recovery would work, then all the better! Something within driving distance that had been there all along? Really?! ("Please let this be it. Please help me find them. God, I can't take another dead end. Please...")
With nothing left to lose, I crossed my fingers and started the online search. I only had names. No other leads. And No luck with finding the first doctor.
So I tried again, and located Doctor Randall Loy, of the Center for Reproductive Medicine, in Orlando. He was my "last hope" and would soon give me just that. Hope. (Really, there is no "last hope" in God's eyes. There is always hope, and it comes from HIM. But I am thankful for the people he disguises himself as!)
The center mostly treats patients who have infertility issues, but Endocrinology also covers the specifics of hormonal imbalances in general. I was not the typical "new patient," but I pushed through the awkwardness of explaining my situation to the nurse, got my paperwork ready and set up my first appointment.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Help from Houston?" Part 1

By the time my son's first birthday rolled around, I had made significant improvement, but was still experiencing ups and downs that were beyond the level of normal. I had weaned down to just occasional anxiety meds, and was off of all the anti-depressants, but something was just not right, and I kept thinking it must be my hormones. I was not myself, and had noticed a pattern of having a harder time when I was due for a period, and was still not regular. But I had already tried to talk to my gynecologist about that months before, and he just gave me a B.C. prescription which only made me more frustrated! (I was having trouble getting my period back, and he gave me the kind of pill that causes your periods to lessen! He didn't even check my hormone levels, and his nurse acted like I was an idiot in the first place. I voiced a complaint about her and do not plan to return to that office.) Not to mention I was still lactating, too. Something was out of balance and I could feel it. It was like PMS symptoms times ten! Finally, through God's providence, I met someone who heard part of my story and directed me to the website of her good friend's daughter, who had "gone through the same thing." I had heard from several women who had gone through a hard time postpartum, but had never met anyone who's struggle was a true "match" to mine. The closest thing I had heard about was the highly publicized PPD battle of actress/model, Brook Shields, but there were still a lot of differences. I thought I would give it a shot and visit the blog of Sharee Morris, a Texas wife and mom who had gone to extreme measures to get her life back after a year of searching for help before finding an answer. I could not believe what I was reading! At that point it had been a year for me too, (By the time she wrote her blog, it had been another year for her since that first horrible year of her daughter's life and she was on the other side of it.) and I had all but lost hope of a full recovery. I was crossing my fingers that God was shining some new light at the end of a dark tunnel. I was desperate and had been praying for God to make me whole, not just "better." Not just "healing" but complete restoration.*
I e-mailed Sharee right away, and within a day or two, we were talking back and forth on the phone, and I was grateful to have found a friend who truly understood me! That in itself was a breath of fresh air. She was so gracious and supportive, and was willing to do anything in her power to help me find a solution. I followed her blog daily, we kept in touch and I got the information for her doctor, an Endocrinologist who was based in Houston. I e-mailed my story/postpartum medical background to the doc, and spoke with his nurse over the phone about the possibility of coming for some visits. I had tried everything else, I had done all I knew to do. Would I find help in Texas? Would this Doctor have the answer? We penciled in some dates and awaited further contact from his office. I would be able to stay at my new friend's house if I went, and someone had already offered to help pay my way! Little did I know, God had an unexpected "detour" just ahead for me, but it was all connected. Help was closer than I thought...

*The very day I met Gwen Diaz, the bible teacher who directed me to Sharee, Gwen had spoken on this very timely truth! Something I had just been praying about, right down to the very example-story she used to base her lesson on. Found in Mark 5:24-34, it was about the "untouchable woman who touched Jesus." I am so glad I went up to her after that bible study and introduced myself and thanked her for speaking right to my situation. That teaching, our conversation, her connecting me with a friend from another state: coincidence? Not at all. I was getting closer and closer to "Touching Jesus," just like the woman in the bible.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Medical Help Part 4

I continued taking "Paxil" (which replaced Lexapro) every day for about 6 more months, as well as Xanax as needed, but weaned off of "Risperdal" pretty quickly. There was another medication that my psychiatrist prescribed to me, in addition to the others, but after some research, I drew the line after taking one dose. I was already concerned about the combination of drugs I had been taking, and after taking one of the "new" pills, I ended up on the couch of my neighbor's house the rest of the morning, crying, detached and a little loopy. Yes, I needed more help, but no, I did not need more drugs! It was a frustrating process. I felt more and more like it was all "temporary" and "surface" kind of help. Though it was necessary at the time, It didn't get to the root of the problem. But, I was thankful for each "band-aid" that came along to protect me from even deeper damage being done.
By the end of the year (a goal I had set) I was able to wean off of Paxil for good. (And by the way, almost immediately, finally started to lose weight. The medication had caused me to keep most of my extra "baby" weight on, no matter how much I exercised or how healthy I was eating. I have dropped 25 pounds since then! Nothing like an "antidepressant" that makes you fat! Seems a little counter-productive.) I was taking Xanax a lot less often too, and luckily never developed an addiction to it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Singing In The Rain

Yesterday, I was sitting at my keyboard, which is right in front of my office window, out-looking a neighborhood street and some trees. It was raining, and I had the window open, watching the rain fall, singing, listening. I noticed I could hear birds singing, and saw a few of them flying around, eating from a bird-feeder in my neighbor's yard. God spoke to me through this. I could hear birds singing and the sound of the rain simultaneously! He said "Birds can sing in the Rain." And I am learning to do just that. Birds know that the storm won't last, and it doesn't stop them from being who they are and doing what they do. They just keep on singing. I started writing a new song, and the first few lyrics are:
"Sitting right here at my window seat. I listen to the rain and the birdies sing and I hear
God speak to me. And He says, 'Birds know how to the rain.' "

I have done more singing lately, both publicly and privately. It is feeling more like home again. Less like a dread or fear to face, and more like an outlet of joy and re-connection to what I did for so many years before my "storm" hit. It is who I am. I am still a bird! I have to keep singing.
(and playing and writing and worshipping...) I called my dear friend and someone I consider a mentor, Lenny LeBlanc, about my song yesterday, and he added that "Birds can fly even with a broken wing." It reminded me of a time, when I was in the dark pit of depression in 2008, when my husband and I were walking around the lake. I looked at a bird that was hopping around on the grass, and one of his wings look injured. I had been praying for God to make me "whole" again, and he whispered a truth to my heart. Just like the little bird, whose wing was injured but "wholly there" (none of it was missing) He showed me that I was still whole, (completely me) too, just broken. If you feel like you can't even function, because of what you are going through, just know that God made you and He will mend you, in His time. It does not change who you are! Don't let your storm steal your song. And keep flying even if your wings feel broken.
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles..." Isaiah 40:31