Sometimes I Get Dropsy

It’s often obvious when hormone-poisoning is about to strike.

I start bashing my elbows into the TV stand and walking into doorways. (True story: I’ve walked into the door frame. With my face. More than once.) I also start dropping things like they’ve been greased up with coconut oil. Knives, books, plates, my toothbrush, the rubberband I’m trying to wrap around my braid… they slip from my hands with surprisingly velocity. Something wacky happens with my levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and I turn into a dangerous klutz for 36 to 48 hours.

It’s not time for my monthly hormone poisoning, so I’m not sure how to explain what happened at the gym today. I was doing a back squat with 125 pounds, which is not my max. Dave was spotting me, squatting behind me “just in case.” At the bottom of my third rep of five… I don’t know! I blacked out? I lost focus? In a millisecond I traveled back in time, ate a bag of Doritos, then time-traveled back to a millisecond after I left to re-appear under the bar?

I don’t know what the actual mechanism and explanation are, but my squat dissolved. Just came apart. Completely. I made a girly-squeaky noise that sounded like stepping on a rodent, and almost fell backward on my ass. Honestly, I couldn’t feel my feet under me. Dave caught the bar on my back and together, we finagled it onto the catch-bar on the cage.

It was awful.

It was the realization of the back squatting fear I’ve had since I transferred out of Bootcamp and into indoor CrossFit classes about a year ago. Just like when I finally smashed my legs on the box jump, the actual crashing of the barbell wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined it would be. But it did shake up both Dave and me.

I just haven’t been myself lately, and I don’t know how to explain it. Workouts are a struggle. My appetite is all over the place. I’m emotional at the wrong times and quieter than usual at others. I’ve been sleeping a ton. Things are wackadoodle over here.

So I’m playing detective.

I’ve always daydreamed about being a spy or private eye, and although in my fantasies the subject matter was sexier than “track down why I feel weird,” I can’t think of a better reason to hone my deductive and investigatory skills.

I had my thyroid checked out. After six weeks on the Synthroid dose that was prescribed, my levels are “normal.” But it might be time to talk to an endocrinologist to better understand all the stuff at play inside my veins.

Hormones! Controlling little bastards… have a will of their own.

Anyway… that was a pretty big FAIL in the middle of my 3X5 back squats, but I didn’t want to bail on the workout. I feared walking away just then would mean it would be ages ’til I’d try a back squat again. Instead, I dropped the weight down a bit and finished the sets, then did the rest of the workout I’d planned—and hit some really nice 75-lb. push presses.

I’ve started practicing my kipping swing. Just the swing… baby steps. And I eked out one nice deadhang from the box, chin resting on the bar at the top.

It’s pretty tough mentally to be “following all the rules” – eating clean, sleeping 8-9 hours per night, lifting heavy, doing workouts – and to be not feeling my best.

And it’s very difficult being on the “other side” of fitness.

Everyone says starting a fitness program is hard, but man! starting when I had nowhere to go but up was easy. Losing weight when I had a lot to lose was easy. Being enthusiastic about workouts when every session was new and shiny and adventurous was easy.

But this stuff… this “make incremental changes and hang in there to see if you get a little success out it” stuff is hard.

Really hard.

Now we’ll see what I’m really made of.

Report From The Midst

When last we left the riveting story of my ongoing adventures in functional medicine, it was August, and I'd just been to my first appointment...

Read More
Sorta Update & Things I’m Loving

It's been about three weeks since we all got "Here I Go Again" stuck in our heads. I don't have definitive news on what's happening...

Read More


  • Barbara says:

    While I suspect you are made up of STEEL, Rock N'Roll and only the best spices :), I DO hope you are able to get some answers soon.

    You happen to be one of my Crossfit hero's..ya know?

    An endocrinologist will be able to dig much deeper than your family Dr.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Barbara! This week: more investigation!

  • Aaron and Marcy says:

    You might be interested in a book (cleverly) titled Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests are Normal? It has a lot of great information. I think it's a helpful read for all thyroid-related issues.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Aaron and Marcy –> thanks for the recommendation. I'm going to check it out right now.

    And BTW, my husband and I spent a completely awesome, magical christmas vacation in Ashland at the Mt. Ashland Inn ( in… oh, probably, '93 or '94. I still really, REALLY want to go back.

  • georgia says:

    If you need the name of an endocrinologist, I have a great one I can email you. Though, she's north Austin. Keep your chin up and remember the advice you gave me: stay the course and take one step at a time until you have information on which you can take action.

    Until then: elbow & knee pads, & maybe a face mask, till the clumsies have gone bye-bye!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Georgia! My doctor referred me to Texas Diabetes & Endocrinology… I looked at their web site, and I feel comfortable checking them out. But I'll keep you in mind if I decide they don't measure up 😉

    And yes, I decided this morning that I'm done whining. I'm going to do my best, and if that means scaling — or not scaling and being last — whatever. I refuse to give in and stop moving or stop trying.

  • Amanda says:

    Hi Melissa,
    I just found your blog after seeing you on the womens only online weight loss solutions, and I gotta say your presentation was awesome to watch. Your a very natural talker!!

    The above blog note I found so funny, and speaks volumes of your good nature!

    Keep it going !!