My name is Toni Dawn. Toni is my real first name. Dawn is my middle name. I’m called “The Girl in Yoga Pants” because I wear them nearly every day. I’ve got a lot going on with my body, so my clothes need to be comfortable. My diagnoses include fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalance (low progesterone and testosterone, estrogen dominance, and high DHEA-S), attention-deficit disorder, and a couple of others I can’t remember right now. I share my journey back to health here hoping to educate and inspire others with similar illnesses.
Before I got sick, I worked as a pharmacy technician and personal trainer. My illness developed from chronic stress in addition to my third pregnancy in 2011. “Little Tiger” is my oldest daughter, “Little Dragon” is my youngest daughter, and “Tater” is my son, the youngest of all. They were all born 8 years apart. I had a difficult pregnancy with Tater, nearly miscarrying him at 9 weeks, then my body literally came apart at the seams. My abdominal muscles and pubic bones separated, and I suffered excruciating pain as a result. I somehow managed to teach fitness classes until 2 weeks before he was born.
Tater was born 6 weeks early after less than 3 hours of labor. Don’t let that number fool you – I was blacking out from the pain and blood loss right before he was born. My bladder prolapsed and I ripped my abdominal muscles from carrying a heavy bag into the NICU, where we spent 3 weeks. He had laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), which means the contents of his stomach rose so far up into his esophagus that it cut off his airway and nearly killed him, due to immature sphincters in his esophagus. All we could do was keep him upright and wait for his digestive tract to mature enough to keep his milk down. He spent 3 months on a heart monitor at home that would alert me if he was in trouble. That was scary as hell.
This blog began as a weight loss blog, as I began my effort to lose the weight I had gained from my pregnancy. I had to wait 6 months to begin exercising to give my abdominal tear time to heal. Things didn’t go as planned. I was fatigued in a way I had never been before. It went beyond the common “new mommy” fatigue. I felt like I had mono again. My body ached and burned all over.
Just 3 days after I started blogging about losing weight, I came down with my first of many rounds of bronchitis and sinus infections. I went to the doctor and we discussed everything else that had been going on. She diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, but I had no idea what that meant or that I’d be dealing with it for the rest of my life. I thought I could just get over it. (It’s okay to laugh). She put me on Effexor after my insurance refused to pay for Cymbalta.
Soon after, my gynecologist diagnosed low progesterone, but refused to treat it longer than 6 weeks. I then gained an additional 40 pounds over the next few months as a side effect of the medication, plus intense sugar cravings, and an inability to exercise without feeling like I was being burned at the stake. It’s just my luck that I would start a weight loss blog, then gain a bunch of weight.
I felt better on the Provera, but without it, my health slowly declined to the point that I could barely function. I couldn’t stand for longer than 5 minutes, so I was practically home bound. It took over a year for me to get an appointment with a rheumatologist. When I finally got an appointment, he suggested I get off all of the fibromyalgia medications I was taking, and cut out dairy. That was not what I expected. I thought he was crazy, but the medications weren’t working well anyway and were giving me horrible side effects, though I still take medications for other things. Yep, you read that right. My fibromyalgia is unmedicated. Shortly before seeing him, I had suddenly became intolerant to dairy and caffeine, so I had no choice but to give it up. Though I had been trying to eat a Paleo diet for over a year, I had adopted the version that allowed dairy, so this was the beginning of some major dietary changes for me.
It was too late, though. I developed gastritis and suffered gallbladder attacks at the same time, although my doctor couldn’t figure out what was going on. Instead of the normal symptoms, I was having acute episodes of chest pains, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, nausea, and diarrhea. I thought I was dying, but the ER docs kept telling me it was just a stomach flu. They finally checked my heart. The cardiologist told me I was having hot flashes.
We triple checked my thyroid. I have a multinodular goiter, but my thyroid is functioning normally. My thyroid doctor told me I was having hot flashes. Two months later, an ultrasound finally revealed that my gallbladder was sick. I had my gallbladder removed, but my episodes persisted. I no longer believed these episodes were just hot flashes, because I had them every time I ate, especially at night after I got in bed. Needless to say, I couldn’t eat much. I lost 65 pounds. I pressured my doctor to send me back to the gastroenterologist. After 10 months of nightly “painsomnia” (not being able to sleep because of pain), an endoscopy finally revealed the gastritis, which I had developed from the high dose of NSAIDs my doctor had prescribed me to treat my pain.
Things finally turned around after I found a clinical pharmacist who specialized in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) willing to treat my underlying hormone imbalance that I was diagnosed with 2 years prior. My pharmacist also found severe adrenal fatigue (low cortisol all day long) from the chronic stress I’ve been under and began treating that, as well.
It’s been a long, hard road. I’m certainly not back to my normal self again, but I’m feeling much better.
About the Blog
You’ll notice a long gap in posts here on the blog. What happened is that I switched from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org blog. We began having financial problems due to all of my medical bills, so when my hosting expired, I couldn’t afford to renew it. I was not a responsible blogger and neglected to back up my blog regularly. In the aftermath, I lost almost two years-worth of content.
Yep. I did that.
Being the type who just picks up the pieces and carries on, that’s exactly what I did, with the blog and with my life. “Keep moving forward” is my motto.
I hope you enjoy what you read here. Thanks for stopping by! :)