My Life With Hypothyroidism

5 Sep

 

Hypothyroidism isn’t something that people think a lot about. Even the medical and science community haven’t given it too much thought.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism when I was somewhere around the age of 6 or 7. If you don’t know a lot about the disease, the quick and dirty is that the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the right hormone. This hormone controls pretty much everything metabolism in your body. Believe me when I say this: metabolism is huge. When I was a senior, I pulled out my photo albums from my childhood and looked through it with my boyfriend and his brother. His brothers first response was wow, you were so skinny! Yeah…that was before my thyroid crapped out and I wasn’t on medication.

When I was diagnosed, things weren’t terrible. I don’t remember it very vividly, but things really only went downhill. I was on medication for a little while for it, but not only did I have to have expensive blood work done every 3 months, but the medication wasn’t exactly cheap. Due to financial reasons, my mom decided to take me off the medication. Time went by, I gained weight, but life went on. Some time, I think around 5th or 6th grade, I went back on my medication. Once again, I had to have blood work done every three months, and when you have my veins, its a terrible experience. I remember one time was especially gruesome. They tried 8 separate times, on both arms, to get the veins. I looked like a heroine addict pretty much 100% of the time.

I was back on the medication. I didn’t feel different. I went through 5 different doctors from the time I was diagnosed to the time I graduated high school. Some times they would take me off the medication purposely for their tests, only for me to gain more weight. Most of the time I couldn’t remember to take my daily pill, and the biggest reason for that was I didn’t feel anything whether I was on the medication or off. There was no validation that it worked, so I wasn’t reinforced to take it. I was still at home then, so although I couldn’t remember, my mom did a pretty good job of reminding me to take it.

When I got to college it was a whole different story. I couldn’t ever remember to take my medication, and because of that, my hair started to fall out more than it ever had, and I could barely keep my eyes open. The fatigue was overwhelming, and I struggled with life itself until my junior year of college. I gained 50 lbs my freshman year, handfuls of hair came out every time I showered, and I couldn’t wake up for class. I was so extremely tired that I spent 12 hours a day sleeping and I still couldn’t function during the day. Mixed with outside stresses, I failed all but one class my fall semester of sophomore year.


As a junior, I started to make things better. I found a great doctor, who takes the time to make sure the medication is tailored to my specific need. She also put me on a different medication. It is the old school hormone that they get from pigs, but for some reason it actually works when the synthetic human hormone failed. For the first time in my life, I felt a difference when I took my medication. Pounds didn’t exactly fall off, but one sign that the medication is working is that you begin to lose small amounts of weight without trying. I was waking up after 8 1/2 hours of sleep feeling fantastic.

Today, I still struggle with taking the medication regularly, but only because I have a problem getting refills and scheduling appointments. I can’t afford blood work every three months (hello…college student here) or the doctors visits, but I’m making it work. After being off the medication for a few weeks and struggling with depression, fatigue, and weight gain, I’m back on it. We discovered, what is now a long time ago, that the only way to effectively get blood from me is with a butterfly needle (the one they use for babies) in the back of my hand.

I still have one problem. It is extremely frustrating that the only method of medicating is oral. I can’t accept that this is the only way it will work. Birth control is a once-a-day hormone pill, just like my medication. There are so many other methods for birth control, that I want some for my condition! Why can’t I use a patch? Or a subcutaneous implant (implanon-like)? Or a shot? Why must it be a daily pill?

Do you know anyone with hypothyroidism? What is something you’ve struggled with?

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