My hair started falling out by the fistful when my youngest was about eight months old. This wasn’t the usual postpartum hair loss. That had already come and gone. And because it had happened two times before, I recognized it when I saw it.
This was different.
I would lay down and leave a lot of hair behind on the pillow. My hair was clogging the shower drain every single time I washed it. And when I ran my hands through it while washing it, my hair came out in droves. My husband ended up buying a new vacuum to better accommodate all of the hair that was finding its way to the floor.
I have always had thick hair and shed like a pet.
But this was different.
After several weeks of this, I decided to consult a primary care physician. The problem was, I didn’t have one. So I waited several more weeks, worried that I’d be bald by the time I was seen.
By this point, I had stopped using any heat on my hair, and was only using natural hair products. I was doing all that I could to keep from losing my hair entirely.
Eventually, I got the call that the doctor had a cancelation and the appointment was mine if I wanted it. I rearranged my schedule, hired a sitter, and rushed to the appointment. The doctor ran some tests, and when they came back we learned that my thyroid was no longer working properly. We discussed the symptoms and realized I had many others; I just hadn’t realized it. The symptoms were unrecognizable to me because I’m a mom and figured exhaustion, forgetfulness and absentmindedness came with the job. Turns out, they can also point to an underactive thyroid.
My doctor didn’t seem concerned about my hair loss or inability to make it through an entire day without taking a nap. So she did nothing.
She didn’t think it was worrisome.
However, I saw the lab numbers. By this point, I had done my research and knew that things were amiss and could be improved, even fixed. But my doctor insisted there was no reason to act.
Naturally, I did what anyone would do. I called my mom for advice. Without hesitation, she told me to get a second opinion.
I asked around — again — and found another highly recommended doctor, and took my labs in to her for a second opinion. She spent so much time with me, reviewing my medical history and looking at the labs, and agreed that I had a condition that could be treated and managed.
It’s been over a year since I started taking medications and supplements to improve my underactive thyroid, and I feel more human. I have energy again. My hair grew back in. My mental abilities improved.
It took awhile to tweak and try different medications. One medication even caused me to start having an elevated heart rate and panic attacks. But my second-opinion doctor never gave up on me. When I told her about my constant heart racing and feeling more anxious than normal, she was determined to find a better medication to help me improve.
As moms, it’s so easy for us to fight for our children. We fight for their educational rights. We fight for their health. We fight, fight, fight. I’m not a confrontational person by nature, but once I had my first child, a fuse was lit and my instinct to protect and fight for my daughter. And then my other children came along and that instinct kicked into a higher gear.
But you know what else happened? I put them ahead of my own needs. I fought for them more than I fought for my own health. In some ways, I was so distracted with parenthood that I didn’t notice my health starting to fail until my hair made a desperate attempt to flee for good.
If you’ve felt more exhausted than you think you should, call your doctor. If you’ve been more forgetful than normal, set up a doctor’s appointment. Fight for your health. Show your kids that you can prioritize your health in order to be a better mom. If you’ve been considering calling your doctor about something potentially concerning, I hope you work up the courage to do so. Fight for your own health and well being, too, Mama.