Are you having a hard time getting up in the morning no matter how much sleep you get? Have you experienced unexplained weight gain? Are you feeling depressed for no apparent reason? Are you feeling like you have lost control in some way, but you don’t know why? Before you accept these symptoms as your new state of being, you may want to read about my experience with thyroid disease.
Feeling Like I Was Dying
After 35 years of being a high energy, non-stop over-achiever, it seemed like my whole world was crashing down on me. Although it probably happened more gradually than I recognized, it seemed like overnight I had no energy. As a matter of fact, I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning and I was falling asleep at the wheel on my morning commute. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, I wasn’t very happy with what I was seeing in the mirror. The pounds just seemed to be accumulating – no matter what I ate.
I’m still not sure if the lack of energy and weight gain was making me depressed or if it was just another classic symptom of thyroid disease. Either way, I felt like a shell of my former self and no one seemed to understand.
“You work too hard.” “Maybe you should go on a diet.” These were the typical responses I would get if I tried to tell someone how I was feeling. They didn’t understand I had already tried to get more sleep and watch what I was eating – it wasn’t working. Nothing was working and I was sinking into a bigger and bigger hole.
Finally, Someone Actually Listened to Me
After two years of living with these disheartening symptoms, my OB GYN relocated and I had to find another doctor. I wasn’t happy to lose a good doctor and dreaded finding a new one. This was the only doctor I had seen on a regular basis and even that was only once a year.
But, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I sat in my new gynecologist’s office for 30 minutes just filling out paperwork. There had to be a million questions attached to that clipboard and every symptom in the whole world was listed on one of the forms. I dutifully checked off everything I experienced – all the while thinking I was probably wasting my time because doctors never read that stuff anyway. Thank God I was wrong.
The first question she asked was, “So, how are you feeling today?” I hesitated for a moment. I thought, should I give her the polite, “I’m fine” – or did I dare tell her I wanted nothing more than to lay down on the examination table and sleep another 10 hours? I looked up at her and she was looking right in my eyes – she actually seemed to be waiting for an honest answer – so, I gave it to her. I said, “I feel horrible.”
“Tell me about it” she said. Then she picked up my clipboard, read through every item I checked off and talked to me about each and every one of them. After 20 minutes, she told me she believed I was suffering from a hypoactive thyroid – basically, my thyroid was not working. Further, she immediately picked up the phone and called an endocrinologist (thyroid specialist) and made an appointment for me to see him within the hour.
I cried – a lot. Someone had finally listened to me. Someone finally told me I wasn’t crazy and there was actually something medically wrong with me – serious enough to pull strings and get me an immediate appointment to be tested that afternoon. This woman was my angel.
Getting the Right Treatment and Keeping a Constant Vigil
After being diagnosed, it took a while to get the medications right. I had to be tested every three months until the doctor could find the right dosage for my particular case. It took patience; it took time – about nine months. But, they did get it right and I did feel better – 1000% better.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that all the pounds fell off instantly and I’m never tired anymore – because that’s not true. I still have to be tested twice a year and sometimes the medication has to be adjusted. But, I know what I’m dealing with and I can work with it.
Hypoactive thyroid patients tend to metabolize carbohydrates differently and I’ve got to watch my diet. But, I don’t feel like I’m dying anymore and my energy levels are so much better than before. I actually feel normal. And, I’m not sure it’s because now I know I really have a medical problem causing my symptoms – or if it’s the treatment – but, I’m not stuck in a deep depression anymore either.
Do I still get tired? Yes – if I stay up all night. Does my weight still fluctuate? Yes, but it’s usually when I’ve been eating too much “good stuff.” All in all – 15 years later and I’m doing pretty darn good.
So I urge you, if you’re feeling really tired, gaining weight without real cause and feeling really crummy about life right now – please ask your doctor to test you for thyroid disease. You might not be crazy and I might get to feel better just knowing my story might have helped at least one person to find the road to recovery.