Editor’s Note: This is part one in a three part series.

It was 2008, and the girl staring back in the mirror was a stranger. At 5’3″, my size 0, 110lb frame was long gone, replaced by an obese, size 14, 178lb body. I could no longer deny it. Hiding from cameras so my embarrassment could not be immortalized would not change the way I looked. In fact, it would only leave my loved ones with no physical memories of me if I died. How did this happen?

I do not know how I got here. I exercised regularly. We did not eat out a lot. Desserts and sugary items were not normal in our home. Being the parent of a Juvenile Diabetic, you learn to eat healthy quickly. When did I get so out of control? I discovered there was a real problem the month I was getting ready to go to Key West for my wedding anniversary. For 2 months I had been seeing a personal trainer 3 times a week. I was mountain biking on the weekends, and going to the gym on my own 2 other days a week. No weight was being lost. The weekend before Key West, my husband and I did a fast and a cleanse. He lost over 10lbs.  I did not lose an ounce. There was definitely something wrong with me.

I went to the doctor with my concerns and the testing began immediately. It would be over 1 1/2 years before a semi diagnosis and some sense of normalcy would return to my life. During this time, my body began shutting down and my marriage began failing. Although we did not know it at the time, I was in serious physical trouble.

There was so much wrong with me that the doctor didn’t know where to begin. I underwent every test imaginable (or so I thought). They would figure out the answer to one thing, only to discover something even more sinister was wrong with me. There seemed to be no end to the sickness, no solution to the problem.

I began sleeping 20 hours a day. I couldn’t do simple tasks like dressing myself or loading the dishwasher. These activities would leave me breathless and weak for at least 30 minutes. I could not even feed myself cereal. The effort it took to get the spoon from the bowl to my mouth required too much energy. My hand would shake so much from the strain that the spoon would be empty by the time it reached my mouth. I would even fall asleep while sitting on the couch talking to people. I was sleeping so much because it was the only way my heart could sustain my body. I went on a heart monitor to watch for signs of heart failure. My body could not maintain itself unless I was asleep.

I became depressed and desperate for a way to end this nightmarish way of “living”. This was not how life was supposed to be. I couldn’t take care of my kids, husband, or myself. What I would discover years later was that I had multiple endocrine diseases. The one that was causing most of my mysery (which wouldn’t be diagnosed until 2014) was Hashimotos Thyroiditus. This disease will actually kill you if left untreated and unchecked.

I was a young mother of two beautiful girls, a wife in a failing marriage, and I was dying….