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health update... and a surprise!

Hello! I wanted to finally give an update on my health, but first, a something exciting happened! Okay, I realize this totally looks like a pregnancy announcement but that is NOT what is happening LOL. My wonderful husband has joined Through Rain or Shine. He is handling our wholesale and corporate accounts as well as helping me with all sorts of things around the studio. I am so grateful to have him on my team! Welcome Kyle!

On that note, if you have a favourite local shop that you would like to see Through Rain or Shine embroidery kits in, contact us!

And now my health update, but first, I wanted to introduce myself in case we haven't met! My name is Laura Gushue (she/her) and I live in Markham, Ontario with Kyle and our goofy cat Prismo. I've been an embroidery artist ever since I graduated from glassblowing school in 2016. I've learned so much over the years and it has always been a pleasure sharing that with you!

When I started Through Rain or Shine, it was mostly me handlettering and selling wedding hangers. I was 19, working as a dishwasher at a country club. Over the years I've been a cook, got married, been a nanny for many wonderful families, an executive assistant, and run my little business through it all. And some of you have been here with me for so much of that time! You may have noticed (or maybe you didn't) that I was pretty much absent this summer. I have been finally dealing with health problems that have gotten worse because I didn't take care of myself and deal with them properly (classic). Here's the full story, because as it was all happening it took me so long to see and understand, but looking back I'm like yikes.

In January 2020 I started having these strange, inexplicable pain attacks. I would feel it coming on in the evening, like the waves of skin crawl that you get with a fever but with crawling pain instead. I would lay in bed for hours, curled up, shaking in pain. Aching and stabbing. Almost everywhere, with no obvious source. Eventually I would fall asleep and when I woke up I would be sore, but okay. I had two or more of these attacks per month at varying severity. I didn't realize at the time what a toll it was taking on my body even when I wasn't totally in pain. I was becoming sore and exhausted more than I felt good.

Over the winter, my mental function was also declining. This was also hard to see at the time, and I thought it was just regular old seasonal depression (not to overlook the severity that can have). Looking back it was much worse than the seasonal depression that I usually get. I was basically unable to get out of bed, sleeping a lot but exhausted all of the time. Not functioning well at all, unable to do what I needed to do but unable to figure out why. Having problems with my memory and logic. I wish I had done some tests then to compare them to how I was before this all started.

Eventually in that spring I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. What I couldn't see when I was first in the fog is that the physical and mental aspects were coming from the same place. I thought I was feeling weak and losing strength and hurting all of the time because I wasn't doing enough. Because I was lazy and had no willpower. What I didn't see was that it was the other way around. I wasn't able to do the things I felt I should be doing, and was feeling depressed about that because I was either in pain or feeling exhausted all of the time. That it wasn't just all my fault.

When Covid hit after my initial diagnosis, I didn't feel it would be best to be in and out of doctor's offices so I didn't end up getting treated for fibromyalgia at the time (also because there's famously not much to be done about it).

So I just lived with it for a while. Sometimes worse than others. It's not always easy to take good care of myself with such low energy levels. Working and sleeping is about all I could manage most days. I was definitely irritable and unreasonable during these times. Sleeping 10 hours a night and feeling unrested because I have chronic nightmares alongside this.

This summer I started having some other problems so I finally went to the doctor again, and I have now been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and a thyroid nodule.

What I finally learned is that all of these may be connected. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, depression, mental fog, hypothyroidism & thyroid nodules are all linked to mold toxicity. What I didn't mention before is that the bedroom I had moved to right before that winter, as I got worse and worse, as I lay shaking with pain on the bed, had a very large patch of black mold in it. One that our landlord refused to deal with repeatedly and yelled at Kyle and I on the phone about how he wasn't going to get someone to look at it.

When I put this all together I nervously booked an appointment with my doctor to ask her what she thought about the link I had discovered. My wonderful doctor both believed my symptoms without question, but is also referencing me to a specialist for the problems I'm experiencing, even though traditional medicine often overlooks things like mold toxicity.

So last week I got a ton of bloodwork done that some kind of mold exposure/chronic illness experts will look at, but it will likely take months to hear back. We'll see what happens.

I wanted to share about what I'm going through because it's too easy for me to keep it all in and I don't think that's the best place for it all. I blamed myself for the way I felt for so long, and was told by many people that all of my physical symptoms were caused by my mental health, or that I was too young to be experiencing these things. But chronic invisible illness is so real and my life feels brighter with some hope in it that everything isn't in my head and there's potentially treatments available. If you've been feeling any of these things, mental, physical or both, you are seen, you are valuable, and you deserve help. You deserve to feel better. Take care of yourself and go see a doctor that believes you!!

I started taking a medication for fibromyalgia about a few weeks ago. I was hesitant, telling my doctor, "no it's fine, I only usually get stabbing pains through the day now, it's not horrible very often when it used to be horrible frequently." The sweet lady told me, "Laura, I will never pressure you into taking a medication. But that does not sound pleasant or normal. I would not want stabbing pains all day." And I was like you know what, that makes sense.

So far it's helping a lot with my pain, and my brain feels quite a bit quieter, which is very nice :) Besides that, I've been taking more vitamins and eating more healthy than I ever thought possible, and I've had the energy and strength to move my body more. I'm doing what I can to help my body through my diet while I wait to see the specialists. Thanks for sticking around and I'll be sure to update you again!

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