If you know me personally, chances are you know that I am a pretty open book. I have always been one to openly discuss things I am dealing with because the way I see it, if sharing a part of yourself helps just one person, then you are doing something good. I've always been very transparent and real on my blog, I feel, by sharing things about myself...but I've not shared a lot about my husband. Ryan is a pretty private person, which I respect, but recently we have gone through some tough things that I felt strongly about sharing. Luckily for me, Ryan agreed. He jokingly said "Sharing is caring!" ;) I happen to agree.
Per my usual disclaimer, this post will be immensely personal and LONG.
There are a million reasons why I married Ryan. I could go on for days talking about the things I love about him. But two of the biggest things that drew me to Ryan was his heart and his personal motivation. He is so kind, sweet, thoughtful, generous and loving. And I'd never met anyone who gave as much as Ryan. No matter what he did as a job or to help others, he gave 110%. The year we got married, 2008, I would have described him as "sweet, even-keeled and driven". He had been through some really tough circumstances from 18-22 and while most would have understood why he had a chip on his shoulder, he worked very hard to not be bitter. He remained kind and giving and level headed.
Fast forward to 2012, Ryan has been laid off by THREE companies due to his career path being one that is seen as a "frivolous" expense and when the economy took a turn for the worse, the A/V industry did too. I was starting to notice that my kind, level headed husband was growing increasingly angry, bitter, detached and less tolerant of things that used to just roll off his shoulders. Most people would probably have just chalked that up to the blows he'd received professionally or that he was forced to work a job he hated...but after knowing him for 10 years, this felt different to me.
My initial reaction was depression. I come from a family where that is a very openly discussed subject because many of my family members, and myself, have been treated for depression at some point. But it felt bigger than that. He wasn't just "sad". He was losing his motivation. He seemed to be walking around in a fog. He was withdrawing from life. Essentially, he was giving up. I knew there was something serious happening to him, so I made him a doctor's appointment, took a personal day to go with him and basically said "this is what we are doing." I felt like it was important for me to be present. Because of the foggy state he had been in, I wasn't sure if he would be able to accurately explain what was going on. It was as if he'd forgotten that he used to be full of life and happy.
We met with an AMAZING doctor who listened carefully to what we both had to say, prescribed anti-depressants on the spot but then said "I'd like to do some blood work, just to make sure there isn't something else going on inside Ryan's body." About a week later, he went in for his follow up and we were hit by a Mack truck sized discovery.
Ryan had dangerously low Testosterone. For a man in his mid-twenties, the normal, healthy level is between 800-1000. Ryan's was a staggering 181.
I was shocked. He didn't have the "well known" Low T symptoms like ED and low sex-drive. But after speaking with his doctor and doing my own research online, I realized that those symptoms primarily effect men who have Low T due to age. As I read over the list of often over-looked symptoms, I started to sob. Depression, mental fogginess/fuzziness, difficulty concentrating,
anxiety, loss of muscle, weight gain in the mid-section, and a
general feeling of not caring about anything. Check, check, check - as I went down the list I soon realized that over the last year, Ryan had experiences ALL of those "hidden" symptoms.
His doctor put him on a regimen of shots, but his levels just weren't responding like they should have been and he seemed to be getting worse by the day, so his parent's graciously offered to help us cover the cost to see a specialist to seek another treatment option - one that has been proven to work QUICKLY and WELL. So, I took the afternoon off of work and we will meet with the specialist together this afternoon.
I haven't shared the extent of how hard this has been with many people. For much of the time this year, I've felt like I was married to a stranger. There would be fleeting moments where I would see "my Ryan" still in there somewhere, but over all he was a different person. In the
midst of one of the lowest lows he's had, Ryan looked at me solemnly and
said "I feel like if you were anyone but Rachel, you would given up and
left by now." That statement, which reduced me to tears in an instant, was the main reason I wanted to share our story. He could have so easily have been stamped with "DEPRESSED", put on meds and sent on his not-so-merry way. But our doctor took the extra step and did the blood work. I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that this saved my husband's life and looking 5 years down the road, probably saved our marriage. And, as I mentioned at the very start of this epically long post, if ONE person googles these symptoms and finds my blog, and that ONE person realizes that they or someone they love may be suffering from Low T, then sharing all of this was well worth it.
Want to know more? Here are parts 2, 3 and 4!