I'm On Thyroid!
"Low Ebb" Is My Middle Name.
I currently have a pair of stylish Timberland boots as my sole (sic.) footwear. My trainers fell afoul of desolate, sinking muddy wastes. I traversed this inhospitable marshland in the tireless endeavour to stoke the fires of my career's weak embers. Nevertheless, to save myself I had to dive forward and sacrifice my own comfort, forcing me to wander shoeless, floundering amid a wilderness of confusion and discomfort, my perpetual lot...
... That introduction was not merely laced with metaphors regarding my struggles as a filmmaker, but the battle I face daily with a far more silent assailant. A covert operative that seizes me by the throat and refuses to let go, holding my entire body to ransom and depriving it of much needed vim and vigour to tackle life head on. This nefarious miscreant happens to be within us all, though works as an associate towards the upkeep and maintenance of the body for most. This is the thyroid gland.
Residing in your neck and wrapped neatly around your trachea. The thyroid is a vital and special piece of kit within the body machine. It regulates and distributes hormones throughout the body and works as a conduit, largely for the hormones created in the Pituitary Gland. The pair work in concord to deliver hormones across the body and keep it in healthy supply. The thyroid is the overseer of the pace at which a body consumes energy and produces proteins, plus regulating the flow of the body's management of other hormones. Trilodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) are the two pillars governing the thyroid and regulate hormone distribution into the body. Just this brief summary into this butterfly shaped warrior provides strong insight how vital this Facehugger beneath Adam's Apple is to deciding whether we live in a Garden of Eden, or toil in the wilderness.
So, when the gland falls afoul of entropy, it is little wonder the body flounders into a state of despair. Thyroid problems are a puzzling and unending labyrinth of symptom and treatment.
1. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid): is when the thyroid gland produces too much hormones for the body to handle. Symptoms include:
- Goiter (swelling in the neck).
- Protruding eyes.
- Excess sweating.
- Weight loss.
- Muscle weakness.
- Sensitivity to heat.
Treatment of Hyperthyroidism come in the form of suppression of palpitations using Beta Blockers and anti-thyroid drugs in order to stem the wayward production of T3 and T4. Sometimes partial or total removal of the offending gland is required, yet when the entire gland is removed, a Hyperthyroid patient becomes Hypothyroid.
2. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid): occurs when the gland doesn't cut the mustard. It fails to administer sufficient T3 or T4 to the body. Symptoms include:
- Abnormal weight gain.
- Cold intolerance.
- Low heart rate.
- Muscle aches.
Treatment is required through prescription of thyroid replacement hormones (Levothyroxine).
Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the thyroid and can result in mood swings and could even appear as bipolar. Some of these symptoms present themselves in post partum thyroiditis. Thyroid cancer is another threat. 15 in every 1,000 women are effected by Hypothyroidism and 1 in 1,000 men.
I have been Hypothyroid since... I don't know. I went on medication in December 2012 (50mcg of Levothyroxine), having received several months' worth of testing. Almost two years of treatment has made scant difference to my vitality. Looking back, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest that I have been teetering on the brink of Hypothyroidism throughout my life, a spectre haunting my fervid ambitions since childhood. Weight has always been my Achilles' Heel, starting from comfort eating as a child, and apathy has been it's accomplice. Lethargy has proven to be the well of my shadow.
I managed to shake this interloper dominating my life, aged 18, dropping several stones in weight and throwing myself into the radiant glare of fitness and health. I worked out for at least three hours a day (weight training, jogging and yoga), became very conscious of my image and was instilled with a drive and ardent desire to achieve anything. My life became a Yellow Brick Road... but the route to Oz caved in beneath destiny's other plans.
Around the age of 21, my fitness odyssey was beset, waylaid. A demon on my shoulder whispered in my ear to stop working out and I did, apathy became the master. Now atrophy is the reward for my physical prowess, I look back on my thyroid issues and cannot help but ponder on two things: when it all began and how to regain a mere shred of the former gusto, the brief dalliance lasting a few years, over a decade ago.
Crossing that boundary at 21, Coming of Age into a spiral of ever decreasing circles of apathy, tiredness, weight gain and ill mood. Being hypothyroid is like every minor irritation on a bad having been perpetually soaked into your skin. A constant leak, draining away zest. My twenties have been the opposite of roaring, a gradual erosion, landslide of drive into despair.
Now 30, I face a chronic illness that will remain with me for life, having regained all of my weight and a good several stones more for cruelty's good measure. Youth is still on my side (a little) and in this modern day and age, what was a viable treatment now could always be eclipsed by more elegant processes. But out walking today, in those boots, causes annoyance. They are heavy, clumpy and keep insistently nagging at the integrity of my socks, wrenching them down, mutilating their pride. A time comes for me to 'pull my socks up.' Though whether this depends on my own, or the caprice of medical science, I must await!
© Brad James, 2014.