You know what makes relationships so difficult? There can be a million and one reasons why one of you is “off” and two million and one chances for the partner to not notice. Was it something I said? Boy, that topic always sets us off! He sure is extra grumpy today.
And with first responders, we often think about PTSD and what difficult call interrupted their sleep. PTSD and addressing mental health should never be ignored (Check out NVFC’s Share the Load program for more help). But sometimes it’s even simpler. Thank goodness for simple solutions.
We shared our story of a rather simple solution we discovered when my husband learned about the challenge of low testosterone, especially in first responders. You can see our story here in this video. Since posting that, we’ve heard from lots of you who have been tested and now “know your numbers.” and are seeing similar results. No, it doesn’t fix every marriage communication and sleepless night related challenge our fire families face. But if you don’t know your numbers, you may be missing out on a simple boost to get back in the game.
Wives, I’m talking to you. You know how difficult it can be to get your man to see a doctor sometimes right? And you are probably (hopefully!) the one person in his life who has seen him through many seasons and can recognize when something needs a little adjustment. Here are 5 signs your husband should consider getting his testosterone levels checked.
1. He’s just not the man you used to know
You still love him, even when he’s tough to like but you are longing for that man you used to know. Sometimes this isn’t an overnight realization. There isn’t just “one thing”. But it’s a series of things you notice over time. And the disappoints start piling up. We used to do this all the time. I can’t remember the last time we did that. And most often, this realization occurs when you see another couple or a friend he used to hang out with, and they are still active and involved in what used to be your favorite things to do together. Softball games, hiking, bike riding, working out, hunting. Have these disappeared from his schedule? Is the desire gone?
There is tired from a hard day/night at work and needing sleep. And then there is can’t peel yourself off the couch during the day nor out of bed in the morning for days, weeks or months, kind of tired. It could be depression and that needs to be addressed as well. But so often this stems from a physical deficiency (I’m talking to you ladies too. Winter is right around the corner and the natural Vitamin D is about to diminish in some of our neighborhoods). Maybe we are missing something in our diet. Or have hormonal changes. When you get your low t numbers checked, a whole set of other “numbers” are checked as well so the doctor can determine what factors may be causing symptoms such as lethargy and exhaustion.
3. Irritable and Grouchy
Aside from the 97 other things that can make a firefighter irritable and grouchy (lack of sleep, PTSD, the stress of the job, financial burdens, working multiple jobs) it could be as simple as low testosterone. Working through PTSD, stress and depression are difficult enough on their own. Adding another physical barrier such as low testosterone makes life seem impossible. Want to know the first thing my firefighter did after he found out he had low t and started to receive treatments? He finally made that appointment with a counselor to start working through some PTSD topics. Life suddenly looked a lot brighter all the way around.
4. He talks about quitting the fire department
I am convinced they all say this at some point in their life. While it’s a dream opportunity for almost everyone initially, the grind of call after call can wear on you. But especially if your body is not cooperating mentally or physically, it can seem like quitting is the only option. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if this is just a down season and he needs some lifestyle adjustments to compensate for the wear and tear the fire service has taken on his body? Dreams are put on our hearts for a reason. We all have our own unique dreams. To see a firefighter walk away from what was once their dream is a sad, sad story.
My husband struggled to put this into words before he started treatment. But after he started receiving treatment he was able to see that his “drive for life” had been gone. His drive to work out. To study for that promotional exam. To train more and learn more and be more. Now his drive is back and while there are days (and calls) that might still make him think about turning in his gear, he’s able to see that for what it is and get back on that engine to help that next person in need.
5. He hasn’t been to a doctor in 5 years.
This. Is. Obvious. Oh, and further strengthened by this survey of 2400 firefighters regarding their health. Going to the doctor for a regular check up is good for everyone. And not all departments offer annual physicals, or perhaps they are not checking the testosterone levels. Don’t just drop it on him or bark it in his face or surprise attack. But please encourage him to get checked out? Check this post for some tips on how to approach him. (the official post on proper nagging for necessary and important health reasons)
We are certainly not saying that low T is a problem for every firefighter. Or that fixing it fixes everything. But it’s so easy to check. And research has shown us that the results are very effective. Ladies, you know how important it is to go for your annual female check up. It’s preventative of other larger issues and gives you the opportunity to address topics like your mood and your energy levels. Encourage your husband to “know his numbers” and do the same.
If he is not already receiving this kind of check up through his fire department physicals or his family doctor, consider checking with a Low T Center with over 50 locations across the country.
To learn more about the Low T Center, please complete this form: