Thyroids: The Woes of an Autoimmune Condition

Seven years this July, I had a piece of my body removed because it was destroying itself and, in turn, was making me suffer.  About eighteen months beforehand, I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism.  To be more specific, because why the hell not, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease which sounds both scary and incredibly cool all at once.  Graves Disease works much like hyperthyroidism but it’s a more exact cause for the problem.  No one really knows why this condition happens but it’s often seen in families that have a history of other autoimmune problems and it can lead to big problems.  I was prone to unexplained weight loss, hand tremors, excessive sweating, fainting & dizziness and heart palpitations.  All big no-nos when you’re a human being.  It’s like your body is constantly running on high alert and it can’t keep up with itself.   So, at my lowest, this was how I looked as a lollypop-headed person:

Weirdly I didn’t see a problem.  I’d always been overweight and wanted to be skinny so badly that this seemed like a great idea.  A condition that did the work for me and what’s a few increased risks of heart problems between friends?

Most thyroid conditions can be controlled with medication from your doctor but mine, for whatever reason, wasn’t having any of it.  So, I had surgery.  My whole thyroid was removed and, when tested, it was confirmed as Graves Disease.  The surgery was a little scary because your thyroid is really close to your vocal chords so there was always a chance that the operation could affect my ability to talk.  This really scared me but thankfully it didn’t.  When I woke up from my operation, I’d been warned about the scar I would have but didn’t consider how hard it would be to eat initially and how bored I would be lying in a hospital for days afterwards.

Nifty scar!

Since then, I watched my scar slowly heal and I’m now on tablets for life to medically provide the missing hormones that the thyroid produced.  The only real bugger is I’ve also always going to need blood tests to monitor my levels in my blood and then adjust the tablets if required.

Last year my numbers went WAY out but it took a while for the doctors and myself to twig so I was REALLY unwell.  The unwellness doesn’t just effect your physically but it shakes you mentally too.  I was depressed and paranoid to the nth degree.  I could barely eat anything and lost about three inches from my waist in about two months.  The other bugger is that once you’ve been diagnosed as having your numbers out of whack, it takes up to six weeks for the new levels to take hold so you have to keep suffering.  It was a long hard few months and my confidence is still rather knocked by it all.  How my OH put up with it all is beyond me but thankfully he and my Mum were super supportive and kept kicking me up the backside when I needed it as well as telling me to just go to bed and give in to the exhaustion.

Thyroid problems tend to effect more women than men and more generally effects women in the older age bracket. I was rather unique but it also made things difficult.  So few places talk about thyroid problems and how it affects those in the younger age range.  There are wonderful sites about thyroid conditions: here, here & here but few target younger people like I wanted.  This is why I’ve written this post to say:  You’re not alone and I can totally relate.  I think that I’ve had to realise that you can’t ignore when you don’t feel well.  It’s important to take time out if you need it and to not feel guilty about it (which I always do).  My issues linked to my thyroid are ongoing even though it’s not even bloody there anymore, I can’t ignore it or pretend it’ll just go away by itself because it affects me in lots of ways; mentally and physically.  I guess this is mostly a post for me to look back on and remind myself to not worry and to stop kicking myself for having to take a break sometimes.

So, feel free to comment, with questions or thoughts.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: My Thyroid Condition and Diet – Sisterspooky

  2. I’ve been diagnosed with the opposite, hypothyroidism, which was only caught because I had vertigo with no explication of how I got it, which then led to over a year of blood tests before I was surprisingly pulled in to start mess (surprisingly because I was always told levels were fine, instead of slightly raised but still ok)
    Thankfully I have tablets which have dropped my levels to what they want (5mg dose) and like you it’s a lifetime thing.
    I had to do a lot of research myself, like you, to find all my answers (locum doctors answer was make an appointment).

    Great post…..I always wondered about the scar but didn’t want to ask 🙂

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