I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease in 2008. I had gone to the doctor because I had been feeling very fatigued. I didn’t feel like myself. I had trouble waking up in the morning and could not stay alert during the day. All I wanted to do was sleep. I had always been an early riser, type A person who usually had plenty of energy, so I knew that something had to be wrong.
Before reaching a diagnosis, my doctor listened to me explain how I was feeling and then ordered blood tests. One of the tests measured the level of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) in my system. My TSH level indicated that I was suffering from Hashimoto’s Disease. I had never heard of it. My doctor explained that Hashimoto’s Disease was an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. Basically, my immune system was attacking my thyroid gland. This caused my thyroid gland to produce less thyroid hormone. Consequently, my TSH level was elevated because my body (specifically my pituitary gland) was trying to stimulate my thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone.
It was a little confusing. I was even more confused about how I had contracted the disease. I wondered if my lifestyle, eating habits, etc., had caused this disease. What could I do to get my body back to “normal”? Was there any cure?
My doctor said that there was nothing that I did to cause this disease. She believed it was just genetics. There was no cure. There was only a way to control the progression of the disease. She prescribed the drug Synthroid. It is a pill that is taken daily. I was a little frustrated. I was glad that there was something I could do to improve my condition; however, I was disappointed that I had to take a pill every day. I had hoped that by simply eating in a more healthy way or exercising more that I could somehow cure myself. I did not want to accept the fact that I would have this condition for the rest of my life.
After my diagnosis, I read many articles pertaining to Hashimoto’s Disease. I had at first thought that the only complication that I could expect from this disease was the fatigue that I had experienced. I learned that this disease is a gradual one, that starts with symptoms like fatigue and sensitivity to cold. If left untreated, Hashimoto’s may lead to uncomfortable and serious conditions like the formation of a goiter, heart disease, and depression.
I also learned that some people believe that a healthy diet and exercise have the ability to alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease. I’ve found personally, that I feel better when I exercise regularly and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. I try to stay away from preservatives and prepackaged food. Taking Synthroid daily and having the doctor screen my TSH levels regularly have helped to control and slow the progression of my disease.
Living with Hashimoto’s disease has made me more aware of how fragile my body can be. By taking steps to control the disease, I have also taken back some control over my body. I am so thankful that my doctor recognized my symptoms and diagnosed my disease early enough to stop it from progressing into a more serious condition. I am hopeful that in the years to come, a cure will be found.