In the spring of 2014, I was diagnosed with a thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. My doctor proclaimed it was the worst case he’d ever seen and classified my case as Myxedema, another term for severely advanced hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. As January is Thyroid Awareness Month, I thought it would be helpful to share my personal thyroid health journey.
Although it sounds like a Sushi restaurant, Hashimoto’s is a disease classified as such back in the early1900s. At the time I was diagnosed with this condition, I was so fatigued I’d fall off my chair while working at my computer screen, or in the driver’s seat of my car when I pulled in to our driveway almost too exhausted to drag myself up the walk and through my front door.
Everyone knew something was wrong. I’d gained nearly 20 pounds over a short period of time. My skin was ashen, my voice had changed and I was extremely lethargic. I was misdiagnosed with bad allergies without a doctor’s visit; prescribed antihistamines, and then prednisone until my regular doctor returned weeks later.
Through the confluence of poor judgement, bad advice, my regular doctor being away, and my own stubborn tendency to mindlessly “Power Through” until things got better on their own, I was fortunate to finally get help at the right time and was told if I’d waited much longer; well I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post. I also thank a good friend who diagnosed me correctly and advised me of the urgency of my situation.
I’d even managed to bamboozle my late husband who’d served as a Navy Corpsman, a medic for the Marines. Hearing Rich’s description of my state, I was ordered to come to my doctor’s office immediately once he’d returned. I was put on an nebulizer machine and blood panels were ordered. My Thyroid numbers were off the chart and I was put on a strong dosage of Levothyroxine. Within five days I began to breath regularly and my energy began to return.
My doc used me as a case study for his interns and would often have them come and meet me during my numerous follow-up visits. Their eyes’ widened as they observed my chart and then looked up at me! With time and meds and many bouts of bloodwork, I slowly lost weight and regained my normal routine and life. Within one year’s time, my energy level was even better than it had been prior to my diagnosis.
Recently I’d written that I’d share some helpful tips as I’d try to make small improvements in the way I navigate the challenges of my own daily life these days. Being widowed, our own health is often neglected. But I’d learned the hard way not to go down that road. Two posts ago I revealed how Tapping Therapy helped me reset during tough moments. The other day I read about other “Helpful Hacks” that I wanted to explore.
One hack suggestion is that right-handed people occasionally use their left hand for tasks such as brushing one’s teeth (and vise versa). The logic being that in doing so, we activate another area of our brain that can lead to creativity and thinking outside of one’s life box. I like it’s simplicity and I’ve tried to incorporate this in my daily schedule now.
But for me, it’s also an analogy. What if you lost the use of your prominent hand? Would you be able to carry on without something or someone you may take for granted each day. How would you compensate and get through your day when faced with such a major change? It can be difficult, but helpful to consider these things.
In the wake of the prolonged period of being shut off from the world during the last two years, a whole lot of health issues emerged. We’ll never get the true stats on that I’m afraid. So many people neglected their blood work and routine doctor visits. So many dismissed healthful eating habits and made excuses not to exercise. I realize everyone’s circumstances differ, but if we’re honest, we know there’s something small we can do each day; a “small” step taken now may not appear so small years later that when we look back.
Hashimoto’s can creep up slowly and then present with a boom. It’s also hereditary. My Great Aunt had it and lived to be in her late 90s. Always ask for thyroid blood work if you have any symptoms to catch it in its early stage. I have been very responsive to treatment, but every one is different.
In the wake of widowhood, I’d lost fifteen pounds without even trying. A Silver Lining of grief. I actually liked how I felt, but as I re-entered the Land of the Living, I regained a few pounds. I’ve made “small” changes to address that. Recently, my doctor here in Georgia told me my blood work results were incredible. I’m feeling very good most days. This is something I can “control”. Being mindful, making those honest personal assessments and subsequent adaptations are the only genuine ways to “Power Through” by making not so small steps at a time.
Have a great week.