Stuff no one tells you about thyroid problems.
I had my thyroid taken out in October 2012 after my doctor found a tumor. I thought I was pretty healthy before, but that all changed. If someone says “oh, let’s take out your thyroid, your life will be so much better!”… Run. It’s not worth it. Well, I guess it is, but day to day… life kind of sucks.
- •You have more bad days than goodMondays are the worst. I literally cannot get out of bed. It’s not like I party it up on the weekends – I’m like, the most boring 33-year-old. Ever. But it’s like my body just refuses to do Mondays. That must be a sign.
- •… and even good days go downhill.On days that I *can* get out of bed, the fun doesn’t last. By 2 or 3 in the afternoon, I’m toast. So. Tired. There isn’t enough coffee in the world. My evenings are non-existent. Work, commute, cook dinner, eat, watch something on TV, bed. That’s it. Typically I fall asleep (or close to it) on the couch about 8:00 – obviously thinking it’s super hella late (like 11:00 or something) – and then drag myself to bed.
- •You will gain weight and not be able to lose itI went to the gym three times a week for a year and worked out with a trainer. Cardio, weights, the whole nine. The measurements, weight, and body fat percentage? Start to finish, exactly the same. I’ve tried the 21 Day Fix, Beyond Diet, Weight Watchers, low carb, low sugar, eating only salads, diet pills, you name it… nothing works. I weighed sixty pounds less when I had my thyroid taken out. Granted, I’ve lost 8 pounds, but that’s taken an act of god and an executive order. Not really.
- •... and your beauty standards change.I used to wash my hair every day and it was shiny and healthy and rich… now it’s every three days with dry shampoo in between. What happens if I wash it every day? Bald spots. Yeah, that’s sexy… And forget about manicures, I can’t keep nails long enough to get them painted. Even with Biotin supplements they crack and break and peel. It’s gross, especially for someone planning a wedding. And forget luscious, supple skin. It’s dry, it’s cracked, it’s painful…
- •You’ll think you’re going crazyThere are days I can’t remember anything. Literally. Nothing. I’ll be talking and forget a word – like a random word – and then people just look at me. I’ll walk into a room and forget why I was there. I misplace things on a daily basis.
- •… and you’ll change your way of doing things.I’ve always been pretty organized, but now I find I need to write everything down. I make lists, and have a planner, I have notebooks and pads of paper everywhere. As soon as I think of something, I have to write it down, or I’ll forget.
- •You’ll become totally OCD about your medsNot being a morning person… I still get up (semi-conscious) for a minute at the crack of dawn to take my pill. Because you can’t have coffee for an hour after you take it. And coffee is life.
- •... and your blood tests.I can show you all my test results from the day I had my thyroid out. I get it tested every 4-6 weeks, so it’s a lot of numbers. I know what the “ideal” and “optimum” ranges are. I know when I’m going to have a bad test. I drive my doctor crazy with all my questions.
- •You’ll do a lot of readingWhen I first learned I had a thyroid problem, I immediately went to Barnes and Noble and bought The Complete Thyroid Book by Kenneth Ain. I treated this kind of like a college course – highlighters, notes, the works – and learned a lot about what was going on so I’d be prepared to talk to my doctors. Shit gets real when they start throwing the “c” word around. There’s a lot of information out there, but read it, and ask questions.
- •... and you'll see a lot of differing opinionsNaturally dedicated or synthetic? T4 only? Or both T3 and T4? Once a day? Split doses? Name brand or generic? There are a lot of different schools of thought. It's confusing AF. I've gone to six different endocrinologists and been on four different medicines. I've had people tell me I'm not doing it right, I've fired doctors. I'm a work in progress.
- •Eventually you'll develop a "new normal"Well, that’s the hope anyway. There’s a myth that your doctors will eventually get your levels right and you’ll be on the right dose of medication. Eventually you’ll get to only have your blood taken when you don’t feel right, or to check that your levels are maintaining a good range. I haven’t gotten that far yet. And it’s frustrating to think I might not – 20% of thyroid patients never get to their “normal”.
- •... but until then, I wait.