I’ve forgotten how to feel better.

Most of my adult life has been impacted by chronic illness. I’ve got two: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and polycystic ovary syndrome. (I also have depression and anxiety, but they seem to be symptoms of those two physical illnesses, because when those are well-managed, the mental illnesses are barely noticeable.) I spent many years learning to manage them, and they were fairly well-managed before I got pregnant and for the first two trimesters of my pregnancy. Most importantly, I developed several strategies to use when I feel like absolute garbage.

I can’t remember any of them.

Breastfeeding is a funny thing; it basically takes whatever you knew about your hormones – whether they were affected by PCOS or not – and makes all of that invalid. Now your estrogen is suppressed, you’re producing prolactin, and when it comes to menstruation, all bets are off. So you might, for example, find yourself having your period for 4 or 5 weeks in a row, then not for a week, then again for several more days.

Which might, purely hypothetically speaking, leave you feeling fatigued, lightheaded, and with a sensation of pins-and-needles in your feet.

Perhaps from anemia.

I have, in fact, found myself in this situation, and I have seen my doctor, and she has assured me that yes, this is probably related to breastfeeding, and we’re doing blood tests to figure out next steps in fixing my symptoms, even if the menstrual wonkiness persists. So I’m doing what I can, medically.

But let’s say she puts me on an iron supplement tomorrow. (Likely.)

It’s still going to take some time to feel better. And I don’t know what to do in the meantime, because I can’t just retreat from life.

 

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