Photo Credit: Wilmington Star News (www.starnewsonline.com)
Recently, my oldest son, William, asked if he could run a 5K. He’s a swimmer and hasn’t done much running, but he really wanted to try. As I am still recovering from back surgery, I was not able to run with him and my husband had an obligation with our younger son. Reluctantly, I gave in and registered us both for the 5k. The plan was for me to walk the race and for him to run the race. Being the worrywart that I am, I decided to write my cell phone number on his arm with a sharpie. I figured that if anything did happen, a person helping him would be able to reach me. I lectured him about not leaving the racecourse with anyone, etc. I slowly jogged the beginning of the race with him, and then he took off. I tried my best to keep an eye on him, but soon enough, he disappeared into the crowd. I walked as fast as I could in an attempt to keep up with him, but settled into the idea that he was fine and I could walk at a more reasonable pace.
Eventually, I came to a loop in the racecourse. Something told me to stop and wait for William to run by. I don’t know what was speaking to me at that moment other than just a mother’s instinct to stop and see how he was doing. A few moments later, I saw him round the bend. His face was flush and he was grinning ear to ear. Once he reached me, he stopped to walk and asked if I could carry his jackets (it was rainy and cold at the beginning of the race so he had both a jacket and a raincoat). He walked with me for a little bit and then took off running again. He finished the race 8th in his age group. After the race, we were walking to the car and he said “Mom, you know when I came around that curve, all I could think was ‘Mom, where are you? I feel tired and I need you.’ and I came around the corner and there you were! I couldn’t believe it, but I was so glad you were there!” Well, my heart just swelled. I was right where he needed me to be right when he needed me most because I trusted my gut. That mother’s instinct was right on track.
Trusting your instincts is one of the best things you can do as a parent raising a child with a thyroid disorder. I still recall a conversation that I had with my sister when William was an infant. I was explaining to her how worried I was about his thyroid levels. I felt as though his levels had become too high again and that he needed a dose increase. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure was to have either his pediatrician or his pediatric endocrinologist write a prescription for a blood draw. I was agonizing over whether I should call the doctor and persuade them that there was enough concern to justify a blood draw. She told me that I should trust my gut and that if I thought there was anything going on, I should push for whatever I thought was best for William. I remember her saying that I should never be afraid to “flex my mommy muscle.”
It’s odd I know that as an attorney who was comfortable advocating for my clients, I was so unsteady and insecure when it came to advocating for my son. But I was. Her words were just what I needed to push me into the most important role I would have as his mother…his advocate. I was given this child for a reason. I am his best advocate. I have shared this story about this conversation with my sister before, but it’s so important and worth sharing again. He is 9 now and trusting my instincts is still my most powerful tool in my parenting arsenal. Nearly every time I have thought my boys’ thyroid levels were off, I have been right. William has always had a tougher time health-wise and been a “sicker” kid than his brother. After rounds of ear and sinus infections, I began to wonder if there was more going on than just allergies and if perhaps there was an immune system issue. Short version of the story here is that I was correct and despite 3 physicians telling me that it was unlikely that my son had an immune deficiency, my son was diagnosed with an immune deficiency. I have never once regretted trusting my gut.
My advice to you as a parent raising a child with a thyroid disorder is exactly what my sister’s advice was to me. Never be afraid to flex that parenting muscle. Never be afraid to ask more questions, pursue desperately needed answers, and ask for second opinions. Always trust your gut because nobody knows your child better than you do.
By Blythe Clifford aka Thyroid Mom