Here's my first post in absolutely ages - just to let you know what has been happening in my life. My sabbatical took a sharp turn in the road. I have not spent the time writing to complete 'Escape from Mount Vilipend' as envisaged; I have been battling with a difficult health problem. A pain in the neck actually - literally...
It appears that I have a thyroid - together with approximately 7 billion people in the world. However, my thyroid has been misbehaving. Who knew what this tiny butterfly-shaped gland could cause so much trouble? The classic description of someone who suffers from hypothyroidism is that it "usually goes along with a slowdown in metabolism and can include fatigue, weight gain, and depression, among others."
I'd like to unpack this bundle a little further, if I may?
The 'fatigue' is something I fully understand. My fatigue has been so intense lately that I have been going to sleep absolutely exhausted between 8pm and 10pm; waking up still exhausted at 6am and then having to go back to sleep at about 10am for up to 3 hours not because I feel tired but because my body fully refuses to function any longer. This is most unusual for me as I have, in the past, been quite comfortable with 6 hours sleep a night and I've never, never had to nap during the day. I cannot explain how debilitating this is and how a simple word like 'fatigue' certainly doesn't describe even a minute part of the whole. I am so grateful that I am not working at the moment. I can't even begin to think of what life would be like if I were.
'Weight gain' is also an interesting phenomenon which many may attribute to incorrect eating or exercise regimens. What does one do when one is eating all the 'right' foods and doing the recommended exercises and still the weight keeps piling on? When every avenue seems to have been exhausted? When the medical practitioner sends one off to a psychiatrist because the 'problem' must surely be in one's head? Because exhaustion coupled with weight gain is, 99% of the time, psychosomatic and is a result of depression. What does one do when this avenue fails hopelessly and one begins to feel totally out of control?
'Depression' as it is described as sad and weepy is not necessarily the way depression manifests. Sometimes it shows itself as an absolute lack of emotion of any sort. It is at this stage that one has lost hope and merely subsists rather than exists. This is what happened to me. I felt no joy, no sadness. I was subject to neither anger nor calm. I became an empty shell. It was this more than anything which alerted me to a problem. I did think that it was a form of depression and that the exhaustion and weight gain were symptoms of the depression. I didn't for a moment think that the depression was a symptom of a physical condition.
As for the 'among others' - that list seems to be quite endless.
Well, I eventually found a different GP and, on advice from a friend, asked for my thyroid to be checked. This was about two weeks ago. The result was staggering. The standard range for TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels is between 0.3 and 3.0. Mine was a staggering 7.84.
I am now on treatment and, while it will take a while for my levels to normalise; in a couple of months' time I should be back to my usual 'Energiser-Bunny' self.
If you're feeling particularly tired, have problems with weight gain or are feeling depressed for no discernible reason, have your thyroid levels checked. It may save you a world of discomfort and worse.
When I checked, I have the following symptoms of hypothyroidism, as detailed by the Merck Manual, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and the Thyroid Foundation of America:
- I am gaining weight inappropriately
- I'm unable to lose weight with diet/exercise
- I feel fatigued, exhausted
- Feeling run down, sluggish, lethargic
- I have puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face
- My skin is extremely
- I have pains, aches in joints, hands and feet
- I feel depressed
- I feel restless
- My moods change easily
- I have feelings of worthlessness
- I have difficulty concentrating
- I have more feelings of sadness
- I seem to be losing interest in normal daily activities
- I'm more forgetful lately
- I can't seem to remember things
- I have no sex drive
- I am getting more frequent infections, that last longer
- I feel shortness of breath and tightness in the chest
- I feel the need to yawn to get oxygen
- My eyes feel gritty and dry
- My eyes feel sensitive to light
- My eyes get jumpy/tics in eyes, which makes me dizzy/vertigo and have headaches
- I have strange feelings (and pains) in neck or throat
- I get recurrent sinus infections
- I have vertigo
- I feel some lightheadedness
I've been on my meds for nearly two weeks now and still have bad days but not every day anymore and these appear to be getting less and less frequent. I can't wait for the day when I actually fell well because this is like having got over the flu. I'll know when I'm well and, at that stage, I'll let you know too. I only hope it's not too long in coming.