Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Story: Part II - Grade 11

If you missed the beginning of my story, read it here:

Part II: Grade 11


At the end of grade 10, it really hit me how much I was missing dance, so decided to try out for the cheerleading team. It would be a new group of friends, a different way to experience football games, and a chance to dance again. Cheering with my illness was a battle. I had to be perky and active, even when I was feeling sick. Being a cheerleader was an interesting experience. I never truly bonded with my team, which was hard, but it was an experience in high school that, overall, was so much fun! I just remember sitting in my AP United States History class in my cheerleading uniform, surrounded by football players in their jerseys and another cheerleader and feeling like I was having the most cliché, fun, high school moment.

Had I not joined the cheer team, I never would have met the endocrinologist that changed everything – Dr. B. My mom started talking to another cheer mom whose daughter was also experiencing some health problems, and she recommended that we see this new doctor. I wasn’t in love with my current endocrine specialist, so had nothing to lose by trying a new one. I was actually supposed to see Dr. B’s partner, but he was too busy, so I was referred to Dr. B – what a blessing! He ended up being the first doctor to properly diagnose me.

I met with Dr. B for the first time at the end of November. He, of course, ordered more tests and did bloodwork, but was having the same problems as my previous doctors – my stomach symptom was stumping him and my thyroid levels were all over the place. Upon further studies and appointments, he finally figured it out in March. For most people, a thyroid will release the right amount of thyroid hormone each day that the body needs. If nothing’s wrong with yours, you probably don’t even know about it. For people with abnormalities, the thyroid either releases too much hormone (overactive thyroid: hyperthyroidism) or too little (underactive thyroid: hypothyroidism). My thyroid did all three. For me, my thyroid would store all of my hormone for about six weeks, leaving me with almost no thyroid hormone by the end of period, and then would dump it all. When all of that stored hormone was released, it almost sent me into thyroid storm on multiple occasions. There would be a time in the middle of those weeks that I would have a somewhat normal amount of thyroid hormone in my system, making me feel fairly well. Once Dr. B discovered this, he knew that medication would never be able to control the spontaneous nature of my thyroid, so recommended that I have it removed. On April 1, 2009, I had a complete thyroidectomy. When they removed my thyroid, they found thirteen cysts, nine on one side, and four on the other. The surgery itself went perfectly. The surgeon was the best in his field – you can barely tell I have a scar on my neck.

The recovery time from the surgery was about 10 days, and within five, I started on thyroid replacement hormones. This was supposed to fix everything. The doctors figured that after about five weeks, I would be feeling healthier than I had in years. Sadly, this was not the case. For the remainder of high school and into university, I would continue to change medication types and doses every couple of months. It was like my body just didn’t know how to process the medication, and therefore, wasn’t reacting the way my doctor anticipated. It was really disappointing and really tested my faith and perseverance.



At the end of the school year, after our Junior Senior Ball (aka Junior Prom), my group of girlfriends expanded our friend circle. The group that we went to JSB with was a group we had hung out with sporadically, usually around dances; a group of guys and a couple other girls. We had such a great time together, that after JSB, we all decided to plan a beach trip for the beginning of June. That was the start of friendships I didn’t even know I had been missing. The guys in that group were strong Christian men who made me laugh, supported my goals, and were truly there for me during all of the struggles that followed in the coming years. That would also be how I met a boy I would have my first real relationship with, someone I would classify as my first true love; however, this didn’t start until my senior year. The rest of the summer was spent hanging out with this new group – all 20 of us. We had so much fun and truly laid the foundation for what was going to be an incredible senior year.


Over the summer, I also experienced my first teenage love. There was a boy, named Erik, who I had met in grade 8. We became good friends when we were seated next to each other in class, and once I moved, somehow managed to become closer. We started talking constantly throughout high school and saw each other whenever I went back to Canada to visit. I even brought him to my cousin’s wedding where I served as a bridesmaid in grade 10, as well as Christmas dinner with my entire extended family in grade 11. I fell hard for him, but logistically, we lived 3000 miles apart, so it didn’t make sense. He decided to come visit me the summer between grade 11 and 12, and we finally got to “date” for a week. We explored northern California, driving to Hearst Castle and spending days in Carmel, San Francisco, and Monterey. I introduced him to my friends, he kissed me for the first time, and after watching Step Brothers, told each other we loved one another. The week he was there, I was so sick that I wasn’t even eating, but it didn’t matter, because it was an amazing week. When he returned home to Canada, that was that. It wasn’t something that could last long term at that distance.

The biggest struggle for me, though, was that he wasn’t a Christian. He was the person that I first talked to about Atheism in grade 8, and although I became a Christian, he became even more enthralled with Atheism. He didn’t understand my faith or the importance that it held in my life. I couldn’t see a future with someone who didn’t believe in this all-powerful Savior that I relied on and gave my life to. I knew that the future we would have wouldn’t be one that was pleasing to God, and that was something I wasn’t willing to compromise.

To read about my last year of high school, click here: My Story: Part II continued.

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