Monday, November 4, 2013

Mai Theek Nahi Hai - I'm Not Okay

I mentioned back on Karva Chauth that I've been struggling with my Hashimoto's lately. This has brought up a challenge that I don't think I've ever really discussed at length here. Just how do you tell your Indian in-laws you're not okay in this situation.

I don't speak the language well enough and I don't think they would understand all the ramifications of a thyroid disorder. I tried to explain some things to them while living in their home but this struggle is not one I've dealt with this entire relationship. This is tedious ground.

I'm absolutely fine. Yet, at the same time I'm not fine at all. This disorder is very complicated. I can get up and do whatever I want. I'm not debilitated or limited in any way physically. BUT, my body feels like I've been ran over by a truck when I'm at rest. So basically if I sit down to rest, which I feel like I need tons of, I can't muster the strength to get back up. I feel like I haven't slept in years but at the moment I'm sleeping 8-14 hours daily.

I'm trying to be kind to my body as it fights this and I know too much sleep can be bad but I can't avoid it. My body crashes into sleep so intensely that I can't even find the endurance to keep my eyelids open. Yet, there is nothing medically wrong with me other than the thyroid disorder. To look at me, you would think nothing is wrong but some dry skin (normal for this time of year) and maybe some dehydration.

It's even difficult to explain! I know I can't do it justice here. This is something you have to experience to understand it. Even those who live with me can't seem to fathom how intense this fatigue really is. They don't understand why I have to rest mid-shower just to finish washing my hair and they don't think it's normal that my shoulders start hurting while I'm shampooing. Neither do I but there's not much I can do to stop it. The random pains I'm having, I think are scaring them.

This only makes it more difficult to explain to a family who is worried about me, powerless to help, and can't even understand what I'm trying to convey. So when I talk to my in-laws and they ask me how I'm doing, I just respond "theek hai" and give the phone back to my husband. I can barely hear them on the phone (my ears are really sensitive as part of this drama) and I find their words incoherent (thank you brain fog).

This is one aspect of intercultural relations that I find frustrating. I very much want to talk to my in-laws and tell them I'm fine, just having some tiredness that won't go away but I can't. I've been trying to work on my Punjabi but it's still slow going and I don't think hubby knows how to translate some of the words we would need to use anyway.

Communication issues are probably one of the hardest challenges we face in intercultural relationships. Not only can the words sometimes be hard for us to speak, we may not know them. Sometimes even if we know them, the other person won't have the same understanding of what we're saying. They may perceive our words differently. Then comes the challenge of not disrespecting culture.

In the US, people almost always ask if you're okay, how you're doing, etc. but they don't expect any other answer besides "fine," "okay," "good," or something else equally as simple. They're not interested in hearing you tell them you're not well, you're sick, you're tired, etc. Unless the person is close to you, they don't want to really know much about your true status at all.

Since my in-laws are close, I feel the need to be more truthful with them. I am fine, I'm just in dire need of better medicine. I just have no way to explain that without a myriad of suggestions coming my way of how Ayurveda will cure me. It just might but it won't provide me much short term comfort or allow me to continue functioning in my day to day life while I drink something that scares me lol. I have trauma-related issues with drinkable medicines. Ayurveda is difficult for me.

I have hubby reassure my in-laws that I'm eating for optimal health (I'm eating almost all veg these days and a good amount of it is raw food. Though I should warn those of you suffering with thyroid disorders, it was recently discovered you should never eat raw broccoli.) I can offer them reassurance that I'm taking my medicines and getting plenty of rest. But I can't comfort them into knowing this is a struggle I must face that no one can fix for me (short of a good doctor). It makes me kind of sad that I can't communicate with them on this level. :(

What struggles do you have that you find difficult to discuss with your in-laws?
How do you bridge communication gaps like this? (Ones that require big words and technical terms.)


  1. Don't worry not understanding, misunderstanding and refusing to understand are all very real and desi not exclusive to intercultural or racial relationships. Raw broccoli impatcs thyroid is an old knowledge.

    Hope you feel better. This reminds DG she needs a blood work done.
    Stay strong.
    Desi Girl

  2. That really sucks. I can understand that nobody will truly get what you deal with. It must be very frustrating. Also with the inlaws - they will constantly worry and feel helpless. It must be hard.

  3. I take it very carefully. There's just something about Synthroid (I'm guessing it's something the levothyroxine is mixed with to form the pill itself) doesn't agree with me.

  4. It definitely is. I would love to be able to talk to them but this isn't a skill I've mastered. I need to get better with the language and learn how to navigate the conversation so that it doesn't seem like I'm dramatizing, etc. :P Some days it seems like I'll never get there even though I know I will.

  5. Thank you! I appreciate the insight and I'm very glad to see you back. :)

  6. Alexandra MadhavanNovember 7, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Ask your hubby to explain to them?
    Just talk to friends etc. Find solace in close friends.

  7. I came to your website through madh mama. Go to stop the thyroid madness website. I hope it helps you understand better. I am a hashimoto patient myself.