- Aging & Longevity
My Thyroid...My Problem
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of the neck. Your thyroid lies below your Adam’s apple, along the front of the windpipe. The thyroid has two side lobes, connected by a bridge (isthmus) in the middle. When the thyroid is its normal size, you can’t feel it.
Brownish-red in color, the thyroid is rich with blood vessels. Nerves important for voice quality also pass through the thyroid.
The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxine, also called T4. Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development. (WebMD)
Symptoms Under Disguise
I am not sure when my thyroid decided to revolt against me and stop working with my body and choose to work against it. I do remember after the birth of my first child over 20 years ago, my thyroid test showed an underactive thyroid and I was given some pills to take with little to no explanation as to what was going on. I took the pills for a few months, felt better and being a person who hates to over medicate, decided to stop taking them.
I did have thyroid tests (blood testing and only the basic) repeated over the past 20 years and they always showed up as "normal".
I am a type "A" personality. I get things done. I do "too" much and my mode that I consider lazy at times is more than most people claim they can accomplish in a normal day. As I approached my 40's, I began to notice many kinds of ailments occurring in my body. I fought these limiting attacks and assumed it was due to age or simply my personality. When I began to spiral emotionally in my early 40's I sought out the help of my doctor and his answer was to place me on an anti-depressant. I had taken them before. Right after the birth of my first child, I also suffered from post-partum depression (at least that's what the doctor called it). I didn't correlate the fact that my thyroid was off AND I was depressed as having any connection to each other. I again, took an anti-depressant for about a year before taking myself off.
Through my 30's I felt like I was going through a revolving door of emotions. I had a stagnant, stressful marriage, miscarried, gave birth to my second child and faced the impending end of my marriage. It was during my 38th year that I decided that I needed a "happy pill" to help me navigate through the rough areas of my life. My doctor happily prescribed another anti-depressant and continued to increase the dosage, even though I still felt anxious, experienced deep sadness and had difficulty containing my emotions. I stayed on my anti-depressant until I turned 52. It was at that time, I began to spiral down that depressive slope of not caring whether or not I would open my eyes to see the next morning. My doctor wanted to continue prescribing more meds to work with my current one. My kids were worried that they were losing their mom; as I cried all the time and would go between moments of rage and then moments of gentleness and deep expressions of love. I knew I was out of control and was petrified because I didn't know how to control my episodes.
For years I have suffered from severe back, neck and joint problems. Arthritis is hereditary in my family and all of my siblings (9) and I suffer from it. A year ago, I was diagnosed with Neuropathy and then Fibromyalgia. I would get re-occurring migraines and had frequent stomach upset. Eight years ago, I had 11 surgeries; all valid to repair falling organs, faulty veins and to help with joints in my body that weren't working quite right. For the past 8 years, I have watched my once healthy, energetic body become obese, sluggish and something that opposes my wishes rather than listens to me.
For the past year and a half, I have been on a mission to reclaim my health. I weaned myself off of my anti-depressant and researched possible causes for my illnesses. Autoimmune kept coming up with every search.
Finding the Link
I began to discuss my health issues with my family members and found that most of my siblings had similar if not additional health problems to mine. We looked at the health history of our parents, our grandparents, our own children and thankfully, due to the internet, I was able to collect two pages worth of information that represented the ailments/diseases of my large family.
Autoimmune ailments run rampant in my family. Blood disorders, cholesterol, blood clots, arthritis are just a few of the ailments that my siblings and I share. My siblings and I began to question cousins as well and found that similar health ailments were shared by them as well.
Most recently, I posted on my social website, my frustration over not being able to find relief from some of my symptoms. A friend, who described a similar scenario to mine said that a specialist had done extensive thyroid testing on her and found she had what was called Hashimoto's Disease. This means that her autoimmune ailments attacked her thyroid and caused hypothyroidism. I asked my doctor to run another thyroid test and it came back for being positive for hypothyroidism.
Now, my doctor didn't call it Hashimoto's because he didn't feel he had the background to do the extensive testing that can be done on the thyroid. I am waiting to see a specialist; an endocrinologist, who will perform such testing. Needless to say, I can't wait! I am hoping that many of my questions will be answered once I get my testing done.
However, in researching Hashimoto's on my own, I am pretty certain that this is the cause for exacerbation of most of my ailments.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a condition that can cause hypothyroidism. It is also called Hashimoto's disease or chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. Hashimoto's thyroiditis develops when the body's immune system makes antibodies that attack and over time destroy the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's is the most common form of autoimmune thyroid disease. It occurs most often in women and older adults. The disease usually does not cause any pain and often goes unnoticed for years. Hashimoto's is linked with other conditions, including diabetes, Addison's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and premature menopause. I have always bordered on the line of being pre-diabetic and also developed gestational diabetes during my 2nd, full term pregnancy. I began menopause right after my son was born at 33 and had to take a fertility pill to stop my menopause so I could conceive later on. As soon as my daughter was born at 38, my body dove right back into menopause and at 53, I am done!
Some other symptoms of an hypothyroidism include fatigue, thinning hair (mine seems to get thinner every year), dry skin(my skin is so dry that I sometimes need to coat myself with Vaseline), and thick or brittle nails(I have both).
Looking at Other Symptoms
Not only did I recognize the listed side effects of my hypothyroidism, I was startled to see how many of the other symptoms I had, as shown in the picture above.
I was always tired but I was most concerned about the brain fog that I seemed to have all the time. I was always forgetting where I put things, what I had just said or what I was supposed to do. I was petrified that I was showing early signs of Alzheimer's Disease (it runs in my family).
The depression and rage that I couldn't understand were listed as causes of this disease. I have gained an immense amount of weight in the past few years even though I rarely sit still and am always on the go. My cholesterol has always been elevated, despite my diet changes and following a lower carb/higher protein diet. I suffer from a lot of muscle cramping, weakness in my hands and legs and terrible swelling in my extremities at the end of each day.
The more I read about Hashimoto's the more I am convinced that this has been the hidden culprit of many of the physical and emotional issues I have battled for years.
I have been taking a medication for my hypothyroidism for 6 months and have seen some changes in my body. I no longer feel any type of depression or rage, much to the joy of my children (and me)! My aches and pains have become duller and not as persistent as they used to be. I have actually been able to shed 10 pounds since taking the pill. Not a lot of weight but it's a start.
I look forward to having more testing done. While I realize that many of my ailments will not disappear, they may diminish in intensity. I also realize that I need to continue to make changes in my diet and eat less empty carbohydrates, more protein, less dairy and more complex carbohydrates as diet plays a huge component in healing from the effects of thyroid disease.
This will not be an easy task but it's a feasible one. I wanted to write about this particular type of thyroid disease in the hopes that perhaps, one of you reading this article will recognize yourself through the symptoms I have listed. There are quite a few thyroid tests that can be done by a doctor. The basic blood test, done on a panel blood screening is only one. Many times, the severity of the thyroid disease is not discovered using this method. The typical response is to take a thyroid medication and get re-checked every few months. While the thyroid pill has alleviated some of my symptoms, it hasn't brought my level to "normal" as shown on my last screening. I still suffer from many of the listed symptoms and I still feel, at times, like my body has taken me hostage. I dream of the day that I once again have control of my own body and I can start living life to the fullest.
Have you been diagnosed with a thyroid disease?
If you would like more information on hypothyroidism, please follow the link below for a wealth of information. Articles, photos and diet advise that give common sense approaches to dealing with this disease.