Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stress Test

This morning I went to the doctor (actually, the nurse practitioner) to determine why my hair keeps falling out in clumps. I'm talking big, palm-sized chunks, every time I wash my hair. At this rate, I'll be bald by my 38th birthday. There's also the racing heartbeat, the cracked lips, the four-month-old rash around my mouth, and the fact that 90% of the time my body feels like someone accidentally flipped it into fifth gear and it's stuck there--that racing, revved feeling that won't go away no matter what you do, no matter how many bubble baths you take or five-mile runs you power through, and even when in your conscious mind you feel absolutely unbothered and fine? That's a weird thing, people.

I was thinking maybe thyroid. Either that or some mysterious unknown illness that is slowly killing me without my knowledge. Just kidding; I am so not a hypochondriac, and before my Epic Sinus Infection of Spring 2008, I had not gone to a doctor other than my OB/GYN (you know, for birthing those babies and all) in years.

Anyway. It turns out that apparently all those symptoms are caused by STRESS. Which, you know, kinda goes both ways: GOOD NEWS! YOU'RE NOT SUFFERING FROM A SERIOUS ILLNESS WHICH MANIFESTS ITSELF IN YOU LOSING ALL YOUR HAIR! But then: HOWEVER! YOU'RE LOSING ALL YOUR HAIR!


Did I mention that my famously ultra-low blood pressure and pulse rates were elevated? Seriously, that NEVER happens to me. I could be birthing a baby over 60 hours of back labor and my blood pressure and pulse rates would still indicate that everything's cool. In fact, I think I did that once.

I was kind of hoping, what with the election over, and the nursery school I'm partially in charge of semi-stabilized at last, and the baby finally talking and thus the tantrums decreasing from ten a day to more like two or three, and the hour-long screaming fits at bedtime getting a little better after some six months straight----well, you know, that there would be no reason for all my hair to be falling out. True, yes, there's that whole issue of the baby waking up and crying anywhere from three to ten times per night, every night, for the past 2-1/2 months. But other than that my life is a heck of a lot less stressful than it was three months ago. Apparently my autonomic nervous system has not yet gotten the message. Did you know that an entire summer of nonstop toddler screaming and the complete obliteration of every second of one's free time by the black hole of a low-stakes volunteer job gone horribly, high-stakes awry can make all your hair fall out, in protest, three months later? Nice.

But, did you know the good news about stress? THEY MAKE MEDICINES FOR THAT. And I don't mean a pre-trick-or-treating mojito.

Though a pre-Thanksgiving-dinner mojito--or glass of wine, if you'd rather--might be just the thing.

Power on, stressed-out, jittery mamas! You (and I) can do it. And good luck with your hair. I know I need it with mine.


Anonymous said...

Omg-- those symptoms are crazy! My first thought was "hormone imbalance," which personally runs in my family and which causes me to get some of these same symptoms during prolonged periods of stress, but is mostly just limited to acne, pms, and very amplified anxiety/ OCD.

This sounds hokey and is not an ad, but I've been on these magical vitamins for two months, and it's a night and day difference. if you want to check it out. Not a plug-- I just feel for you.

donna said...

Oh, Shannon. I wish I had fantastic advice for you that would make it all go away, but I don't. How about a virtual hug? (Wish I could give you a real hug.)

It'll get better, but it might take time. Your body still need to repair itself from the summer o' hell.

Take care.

Mnmom said...

My first thought was also thyroid problems, but stress is one nasty syndrome. I know my acne is out of control right now, and it's all stress.

Go find a good "mother's little helper". I hear Xanax is nice.

Tricia said...

If you're interested, I can work with you to try some Ayurvedic remedies. All natural and considering the benefits I've received, highly cost-effective compared to other options. Let me know. Maybe we can find some alone time when I'm home in Dec.

Jacqueline said...

Maybe going to your doc for a thyroid check would be a good first step? From anon's link, there's a free quiz to see if you have a hormonal imbalance:

Shan said...

Hi Jacqueline,

Yes, I've had my thyroid checked 3 times in the past year, always normal. Also, I'm not losing or gaining any weight, so a thyroid disorder is pretty much ruled out. I do, however, have a lot of stress in my life,'s not exotic, but I guess that's what it is.