It sounds like such an innocuous, old lady thing, this “hypothyroidism”.
Like something that maybe grows on your foot.
Or something your mom would off-handedly complain about after she’s had a fuzzy navel or two…but would then dutifully take her medicine in the morning with all the rest of the pills that are there to “help”.
But now that’s it has been two whole years of walking with it…now that I can look back on that December afternoon appointment with my doctor and finally be thankful…
I have learned that this disease is anything but innocuous.
I have learned that the thyroid operates, regulates, or effects virtually every system in the human body and that there is nothing going on inside of me that isn’t somehow connected to that obscure little butterfly at the base of my throat.
I’ve learned that I must work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life to get through a day without running myself ragged, physically or emotionally.
I’ve learned that if I don’t make my health as big of a priority as my children, marriage, or finances, I may not be very effective at maintaining those things which are most important to me.
I’ve learned that I can’t do all the things I used to and do them well.
I’ve learned that some people will drain my emotional stores and that boundaries are essential to the health of my psyche.
I’ve learned that God is constant and quiet and a gentleman with my hormone swings and wild mood shifts. He never leaves me or gets sick of me, and instead whispers gently to my soul that all will be well and how to do the next thing.
I’ve learned that sometimes the best thing to do is just let something go.
I’ve learned that Western medicine places embarrassingly little focus on the thyroid and that you have to go looking hard for the answers to figure out how it’s all tied together.
I’ve learned how to know when I’m doing too much, worrying too much, working too much. That the ache over my kidneys and annoying buzz in my ears means something important.
I’ve learned not to hate my body, even as I still want to. It is fearfully and wonderfully made and will never be magazine beautiful, but it is a vessel from which my children came and it is soft and loved and warm for my husband to hold and for friends to hug, and it will become -is becoming- healthier and stronger, but never will be what it was. I have made peace with that.
I’ve learned that talking about hypothyroidism is boring and so I don’t that often. I have learned what I need to know to listen to my body, and I quietly learn and read and research to help me be all I can be, but talking about it makes other people’’s eyes -and mine- glaze over, so I try not to.
I have learned how to smile and serve even when it hurts my body to do so. There are days when I won’t push because I need to be kind to myself and take care of a setback or a particular challenge, but most times I’ve learned that instead of the outward, visible strength I’ve always exhibited, my strength is now quiet, and sometimes just between me and God.
I’ve learned that my family truly is the best gift and that they love me unconditionally.
I’ve learned that whole-food Vitamin C is a miracle and that my life looks so much brighter when I take it in high doses.
I’ve learned that sometimes the trip is a lot longer than what you thought it was going to be when you set out on the new road. Sometimes the destination is never even in sight and all you can manage is getting back onto the right road after a wrong turn.
I’ve learned that sometimes problems aren’t tidy or an easy fix. Sometimes you just have to let one sit for awhile and not mess with it.
I’ve learned to avoid soy but that my body can tolerate some caffeine. (Thank you Jesus!)
I have learned that my diligence wavers, my discipline gets dodgy, and that my disappointment in myself goes deep.
I have learned that I am a loyal and faithful friend in spite of not being able to maintain a social life.
I have learned not to take myself too seriously and to laugh more because laughter makes everything better.
I have learned that I am coming into myself.
I have learned I am so loved.
And so, two years to the day, when we had a flat and we were hit with one challenge after another while fixing it…I realized that two short years ago, an adventure of that sort would have done me in, made me cry, drained me and left me depressed (truly, that little gland, when hooked up with the adrenals, it has that much sway) and set my whole endocrine system into a spiral.
But this time, I had peace and I worked with my family and we laughed and we played and we got the job done and I was happy.
I still have so far to go.
But I celebrated yesterday too.
I smiled as I thought of the past two years…
and realized just how far I’ve come.