Five different women have approached me and asked me about hypothyroidism since I quit hiding and began ever so slowly to share my struggle.
This piece is dedicated to them.
Sometimes it’s not until you start to feel a little better do you realize exactly how sick you were.
Sometimes one little part of us can grow so quietly dysfunctional it wreaks havoc on the big parts of us.
And sometimes it can be going on for years without us even knowing.
Around mid-winter last year I did something I rarely do and I went to the doctor. My blood pressure was creeping up right along with my blood sugar levels and I couldn’t take off any of the weight I had gained over the past couple of years.
Knowing how anti-synthetics I am, my doctor prescribed a low dose of thyroid replacement in a natural form. I took it as prescribed and felt better for a little while.
Eventually though, I realized it was just making me more tired so I pitched it and went back to doing what I usually do: try and try to eat better…exercise better…feel better…be better.
Then somewhere around Thanksgiving, all my efforts sunk into one big bleak pit of fatigue and flatness and depressed feelings.
I felt like I couldn’t move.
I felt like I was hiding from my family…from my friends…from the LORD.
I felt angry.
I felt half-dead.
This wasn’t the life I wanted for my babies and my precious husband.
I missed being able to sit down and read. I missed being vibrant in my faith and in my family. I missed having time with the LORD. I missed being strong.
I missed being ME.
I went back to the doctor and he sat with me an hour and he asked me if I was depressed and on my appointment note this is what he wrote in big letters:
SHE LOOKS TIRED.
She looks tired.
He said he’d prescribe an antidepressant.
But it wasn’t just depression. I was depressed-feeling, but it was in my body.
Something in my body wasn’t working.
I cried and he patted my shoulder and I realized I hadn’t even put makeup on that day or for so many of the days prior…weeks? Months? I’d lost count.
When was it that I’d last felt like me?
When was it that my husband last came home to a smiling and joyful wife?
When was it that I’d last slept through the night and not awakened feeling groggy and sluggish?
When was it that I last had the energy to hold a real conversation with anyone?
When was it that I last was excited to move this body that was gifted to me?
When was it that I last felt the joy I carry?
I’m so thankful for a doctor who listens.
I’m so thankful he cares about the person and not just the numbers and he said “we’ll watch this closer, you were on too low of a dose.”
So I picked up my little natural pills again-my piggy pills I call em- and I came home and I quit caffeine, sugar, gluten, grain, alcohol, and dairy that very day.
The next week I spent in a fog of naps, hot bone broth, thyroid research, and more naps.
I read everything I could get my hands on that pertained to thyroid disease, adrenal dysfunction, paleo eating, and hormonal balance.
My husband did dishes and fed kids and gave me big hugs and let me sleep like I was his ailing princess.
I came out of the fog with a clarity I’ve never felt.
I cried when I realized how long it’d been since I felt good. How long my children haven’t known the REAL me. How long my husband has been so very patient with my unexplained mood swings and fatigue.
I cried and then I was mad and I hated my thyroid and I wanted to punch it in the throat but that wouldn’t work now would it so I decided I would just learn everything I could about how to live with this little organ that I knew hardly anything about but that had betrayed me and was ruining my life and stealing my hair.
I threw out my coffee pot and replaced the morning java with an apple cider vinegar drink that has all sorts of natural yumminess from coconut milk to turmeric.
I baked up our homegrown chickens and kept a pot of bones boiling almost daily.
I started reading the labels for hidden gluten.
I asked my husband to do something that practically kills him: inject me with two shots of vitamin B12 in my leg every week.
I learned how to cook vegetables in ways I never have before.
I was realizing that every five or six days my clarity and vim would start to wane and this proved to me that everything I’d been reading was true: I needed to slowly up the dose of the little piggy pill until I found a level that would keep me in maintenance mode. So that’s what I started to do and finally I began to feel my jerk thyroid start to work efficiently which started to get the rest of my machine running.
So for the past six weeks I have been logging symptoms and vitals and paying closer attention to my body than I ever have in my whole life. I have been living on an online thyroid discussion group and scouring every single post as I learn more about this disease and how it effects so many. I have been highlighting up my Stop the Thyroid Madness book and loading up my old-lady pill box for my morning and evening supplements.
I explained to my husband that the bitch of this thing was that every single day I now have this 500,000 piece puzzle sitting out unfinished on the coffee table in my brain. I have to work at it and poke at it and ponder the patterns moment by moment and day by day until I get this thing figured out. Which is about when things change ever so subtly again.
So I power it and I puzzle it and last week for the first time in months I had enough energy to lace up my walking boots and take to my driveway. Over the week I worked my way up from a 15-minute walk to a half-hour one.
I started smiling again. I quit needing a power nap at 3 p.m. I bought new makeup. I colored my hair.
I opened my Bible for the first time in a long time…that worn and beautiful marked-up book I once delighted to read daily…and I worked my way through the Psalms to that favorite familiar, number 23, and I read right there in my very own scrawl, -a take-away from my old preacher’s sermon during my baby Christian years I’m sure- there in the margin with all the other chicken scratches and next to the circle around “green pastures”…in the second verse where He makes me lie down I had written
shepherds will put wounded sheep on the best grass.
And I knew right then that I might’ve been feeling like I was hiding from Him, but He wasn’t hiding from me.
I knew He’d been there all along and that just because I wasn’t vibrant didn’t mean He wasn’t visible.
I knew my flatness doesn’t make Him forget me.
I’m in a green pasture.
I’m on the best grass for my healing and I will stay right here until my shepherd leads me elsewhere.
A thyroid diagnosis could be so much worse but there is no getting past the fact that it is a robber of vibrant life. And anything that robs life from me robs it from my family and from my job here on earth so I will keep fighting and nourishing and working and puzzling and plowing to figure out my best health and straightest path back to vibrant.
I know I have a way to go. I’m beginning to have subtle symptoms again which tells me it’s time to bump up a little closer to my maintenance dose.
And I know with thyroid and adrenal problems, close attention to what goes in the body will always be needed and I will most likely have to take a thyroid hormone replacement for the rest of my life.
I might not ever get back my six-pack abs or my razor sharp vision.
It’s been a little heartbreaking to not have the focus to write.
It’s almost made me cry to have to take a book back to the library half-read.
But as I get closer to my new normal, there is one symptom I’m taking close notice of.
That symptom is hope.
I’m starting to feel aware again.
I’m starting to feel joy again.
I’m starting to feel alive again.
I’m starting to feel like ME again.
And I’m not hiding any more.
Please see the list of common symptoms and resources for hypothyroidism at the end of this post. I don’t want anyone on this planet to go without a diagnosis or treatment of this disease and dysfunction that robs so much life. Our doctors aren’t perfect. They are still learning. There is MUCH for them to discover about thyroid health. You might need to search to find the best health care provider for you. Be your biggest advocate and don’t stop until you get the answers you need to help you build your best health. Most of all, don’t hide. There is hope. If I can help you find it, please tell me.
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm
Mmm, when my hopes and dreams are far from me, and I’m runnin’ out of faith
I see the future I picture slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache are falling down my face
I find my peace in Jesus’ name
In the Eye of the Storm ~ Ryan Stevenson
Some Common Signs/Symptoms of Hypothyroidism: (Please note there are many, many more)
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
- Thin/splitting nails
- Ridges/grooves in nails
Stop The Thyroid Madness (Books 1 and 2)