Hypothyroidism Does Not Define Me

melissaName: Melissa Hoogenraad

Age: 39

Children: Sarah 15, Cole 13, Luke 9

Religion: Christian

UW: How long have you been married? 

We will be married 17 years this November

UW: How long did you date your husband before you married?

3 1/2 years

UW: Did you have any fears about being a wife?

Yes, I feared our marriage would not last and we would end in divorce (it’s what I knew). I also feared not being able to please his family and never truly being accepted.

UW: What do you enjoy about being a wife?

I love being a wife! I was that teenager who when asked what they wanted to do when they grew up answered “I want to be a wife and stay at home mother!” I love being led by Dan and I love being his partner. I love being in his presence at all times, even in the bathroom. I love being silly together, dancing in the car, his sarcasm and non P C whit. I love serving with my hubby and watching him pour into other men. I enjoy the companionship and having a best friend 24/7. I especially enjoy the gift of parenting with him.

UW: What are some struggles you face as a wife?

I struggle with patience. I am naturally a very impatient person. If I am given a timeline, I want to push fast forward and GO! God has done wonders in me, as I know the importance of waiting on Him, but I still have much work to be done! If Dan says he will do something I want it done, and if he doesn’t do it according to the timeline, I tend to get very upset and take it personal. You see my love language is “Acts of Service” so a messy garage in my mind means “he doesn’t love me.”

In addition, when I am hurting I have to read the book of James because sometimes I get to the point where I am about to blow.  I also struggle with having a wicked tongue sometimes. People don’t believe that about me because I always wear and share a huge smile, but when I am pushed enough, my smile turns to volcanic eruptions that only the enemy can script!

Recently, I struggle with body image and not believing Dan finds me attractive at any size or shape. I have currently put on 48 pounds due to my thyroid issues and related anxiety.

UW: What do you and your hubby do for fun?

Dan and I serve together for fun! We also walk and talk a lot! We window shop, test drive cars, hold hands whenever possible, make #unbelieveablytalentedfamily Vine videos, play board games, people watch and go on date nights. We truly try to make everything FUN.  My hubby is hysterical and I’m a ball of energy naturally…the combination can be dangerous.

UW: Do you and your husband pray together?

Yes, we pray together, morning, noon and night. We also pray with our kids.

UW: When did you know you had an issue with your thyroid?        

I am still unaware of when the thyroid issue actually begun, but I noticed something was different with my body in so many ways in 2009. There were many signs and symptoms I know now were alerting me, but at the time they were easy to ignore as my life was very busy.  I was taking care of my Nonbiological Dad during his 2.5 year battle with cancer. In my mind these on and off symptoms could be dealt with later, Dad’s cancer took priority. I was experiencing many issues such as hair loss, cold fingers and toes, heavy painful menstrual cycles, forgetfulness, muscle aches, constipation, brittle nails, slow speech, stuttering and weight gain. Quite a mouthful and honestly I am probably missing a few.

My non-bio Dad went to Heaven in 2010 and a few months later my Hubby and I began fasting & praying for my health, which led us to my doctor, God is GOOD! I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in June 2012 after I had a blood panel of 22 tests done. I “failed” fourteen of the 22 tests. At the time of the diagnosis I was so excited to finally have a “label” put on it, giving me something to better know and have hope in.

UW: How did your experience with your thyroid affect your marriage?

In the beginning I was very tired, all the time. I was so tired I would fall asleep at stop lights while I was driving. This exhaustion produced a wife who had a hard time keeping up the house as I always had. I was not interested in going out and doing life with my husband let alone be intimate. I just wanted to lay around and or sleep. I was truly depleted of my “natural energy”. During that time I tried things like upping my caffeine intake for more energy, but the reality was my mind was awake, but my body was still asleep and I was extremely moody!

The additional caffeine contributed to my mood swings because I was unable to sleep from the stimulant. So my exhaustion turned from tired all the time to angry or sad tired all the time. I would have a happy kick for about 30 minutes to and hour after the caffeine and than an almost pre-depression like state after for hours until my mind would finally neutralize and come back down. During this time I would spew horrible things at my husband, if he didn’t do what I thought he should – I would let him have it! Wicked tongue to the max!  Or on the other-side I would just cry and there was nothing Dan could do to help me. He is such a caring man he would just hold me or be near me and take it. He has shared that in those times he would pray internally for me as I barked at him.

The weight gain, uggghhhh! I hate it, to this day I truly despise it! Hello I am a woman who lives in California for goodness sake. I am almost 40 years old and have no control what so ever. While I was on the medication I was constantly told I could not workout because of the “stroke like symptoms” my body was having. So our walking had to stop and I truly felt like I was just getting bigger and bigger and there was NOTHING I could do to make it stop. The puffier (what I like to call it, now 48 pounds heavier than I was in 2009) I became the more introverted I became. I no longer would change in front of my husband, or wear anything that exposed skin to bed. Intimacy was something I did allow on a rare occasion because I knew I should, but the entire time I was in my head believing lies from the enemy that I was gross and my husband felt the same. I allowed the weight gain from this thyroid dysfunction almost destroy the gift of intimacy as husband and wife. I am not gonna lie it is still a daily struggle no matter how many times my husband says I am beautiful.

I have also been experiencing anxiety from the medication, the reality of what all it is doing to my body, my “not normal” response to the medication. Because of the anxiety I am now battling mouth sores which affect my physical state and hello I don’t want to kiss my husband when the entire inside of my mouth is covered in sores. This lead to me becoming a complainer (so not me) due to the discomfort and anxiety. I became a wife who was a victim, no fun, no interest in sex, no energy to do anything and certainly mouthy!

Hypothyroidism also had impact on our expenses.  It is very expensive if you do not want to take the typical “doctors route”. In the beginning we did not want to be on the synthetic drugs as they are a life time commitment, and decided to take the natural route. Well guess what ~ insurance does not cover the “natural” doctor visits or medication. So being treated this way was $2,000 for blood work every 3 months, $350 doctor visits and $200 – $500 just in medication monthly! My husband never complained about the finances, not once ~ but I felt so much guilt about that money being spent on me. The  guilt eventually turned into anger towards Dan. Why would I do that? Because Dan is my “safe place” and I took advantage of that without realizing what I was doing.

In a nutshell Hypothyroidism has affected our marriage in ways that can be devastating. My husband’s energetic, fit, life loving, sexually confident, joyful balanced smiley super positive wife became a woman he couldn’t hardly recognize. I became puffier, an emotional roller coaster, highly sensitive, distant, pouty and expensive. I truly praise GOD for blessing me with a Man who gives much mercy and always says “You never have to say you’re sorry.” He is understanding, patient and trusts The Lord will provide, he is an incredible man and my favorite leader.

Note to Dan: I’m sorry honey that I have been such a mess these past few years, I truly am and I hope where I have hurt you, you will not take personal and know its never been about you and always been rooted by my hurt and pain from this health condition, medication and insecurities. I love you and I am forever grateful God has blessed me with you, I am truly unworthy! Thank You for being YOU!!! xox M

UW: What are some ways you are treating your thyroid issue?

Lots of prayer, fasting & hope in The Lord!

Currently I am drug free, not because I am healed or the doctors have released me, but drug free by choice. After taking so many meds: 17 pills a day in the beginning when we took the “natural route” to the “synthetic route” of two synthetic pills plus supplements equaling 5 pills a day. I have found that when I have detoxed from the different drugs due to complications and probable symptoms, I always felt better physically and mentally. The quality of life without the pills and prayer have brought me to this place of waiting on The Lord. Waiting for whats next. Today I am on vitamins and some essential supplements but nothing for the thyroid. I am currently eating 1200 calories a day and walking 2 plus miles with my family 3 – 5 days a week. Yes, I am still gaining weight but I feel better dealing with all the symptoms without meds and enjoying quality family time rather than bed ridden, almost having a stroke and not able to move my body on the medication. I have hope I will be healed or God will reveal the doctor with the correct medication for me in time.

Currently when I become fixated on the negative I turn to the following scripture and meditate:

“I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,” says The Lord. – Jeremiah 30:17a

I have no doubt in my heart this promise is true, its just a matter of the Lord’s timing. I have Hypothyroidism and a severe hormonal deficiency, it has changed my life in many uncomfortable ways, but it has also blessed my life! God can now use me and this continuing testimony for His Kingdom. I like to think of life as a treasure box. The more blessings I do not block the more I receive and those blessings are treasure. Treasure that is received from life experience, heartache, pain and sometimes even just straight underserved gifts. Some small, some large but all are gems that are polished by The Lord. He continues to fill my treasure box with rare unimaginable gems, through trials in life and I plan to continue to collect them and rejoice as much as I can through each of them (feel like it or not) part of my purpose right now is a journey through Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism does not define me, Jesus does. This is HIS to tell not mine.

To hear more of Melissa’s journey with Hypothyroidism click HERE!

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