When I turned 30, my body started falling apart. My most worrisome symptom was weight gain. I had always been slim, but in one year I gained 10 pounds. My diet and exercise routine hadn’t changed, and I was convinced something was wrong. I went to three different doctors who all told me the same thing – I was getting older, my metabolism had slowed down, and if I wanted to maintain my younger weight, I would have to eat less and exercise more. End of story.
It turns out they were wrong. A fourth doctor revealed a lump in my throat. One ultrasound, fine needle biopsy and surgery later, I found out I had the trifecta of thyroid disease: hypothyroidism, Hashimotos’s Thyroiditis, and pappilary thyroid cancer. Two weeks later, I went back into the hospital to have my other thyroid gland removed. Then, six weeks after that, I went in again for an intensive, three-day stint of radioactive iodine therapy.
That was 18 years ago. I was lucky, in that of the four types of thyroid cancer, I had the one with the highest curability rate. But although the cancer is gone, I am still affected by the disease. I, like millions of others, must take thyroid replacement hormone for the rest of my life. Luckily, it is an inexpensive drug, and after 18 years, it has just become part of life.
Here is my advice to others suffering from thyroid disease:
Don’t Be Intimidated by Your Doctors – You are the patient, and this is your life. Ask tons of questions, even if your doctor seems irritated with your inquest. Be honest about your symptoms; now is not the time to worry about sounding whiny.
See Your Doctor Regularly – In most cases, doctors will not renew your prescription without an annual examination. Many patients let this slide, and end up going a period of time without medication. Even within two months time, without your medication you will become lethargic, irritable, and all your old symptoms will return.
Take Your Medication Correctly – You’re dealing with your metabolism here, and it’s really nothing to mess around with. Take it at the same time each day, and remember that it needs to be at least an hour before a meal, or two hours after.
With regular doctors visits and appropriate medication, there is no reason thyroid disease should reduce your quality of life.