What Does Autoimmune Awareness Mean To Me HD In Oregon
I had thyroid cancer, and I am not sure if this counts as an autoimmune disease (autoimmune = the body attacks itself). How and why my cancer developed I don’t know. I had no thyroid issues before the cancer. – Fact is that I don’t have a thyroid gland anymore and that I need thyroid hormone replacement medication every day for the rest of my life.
Thyroid hormone replacement medication (I take levrothyroxine) is a very fickle compound. First it is measured in micrograms that are an extremely small amount. A little bit too much of the good stuff and you become “hyperthyroid” and have some of the symptoms of a patients with Graves’ disease (an autoimmune illness), a little too little and you are “hypothyroid” and you experience the symptoms of a Hashimoto’s patient (another thyroid related autoimmune condition). And believe me, neither symptom are pleasant to endure (and oddly some, like fatigue, are exactly the same). – The other unusual property of the medication is that, different from a headache pill which kicks in after about 30 minutes, the dose takes often six to even 10 weeks (according to one of my endocrinologists) until you as a patient feel some effect on your symptoms. So, it takes a very long time to tweek and adjust in order to find a good balance, that works.
So, why do I think that awareness towards thyroid autoimmune diseases is so very important? – Well let me break it down into groups:
M.Ds. that are not endocrinologist (those are doctors specializing in the endocrine system which the thyroid is a part of) often “pooh-pooh” thyroid treatment as “oh, you just take a little pill every morning”.
Also doctors need to become aware that thyroid diseases indeed change the metabolic system of a patient and can indeed cause weigh gains or losses. Please, no more:, “oh, you’re just fat and depressed, my dear”.
It is also very important to find a compassionate endocrinologist who listens and treats your symptoms, and not some thyroid engineering nerd who only sees numbers and (ill-defined) ranges. Doctors need to be made aware of that need.
I think patients need to be made more aware as to what exactly is coming at them. They need to know that some cannot tolerate the synthetic hormone replacement medication, and that some doctors are reluctant to prescribe natural thyroid hormones (e.g. Armour).
Patients also need to be aware that it is really difficult to explain a thyroid autoimmune illness to ones family and friends.
Finally patients need to psychologically understand that this disease is chronic “forever” until you die.
Family members and friends of thyroid sufferers need to become aware that Ã¢â‚¬”, no, the person is indeed really very very tired and not slacking off or “shirking their dutiesÃ¢â‚¬.
- The Public
Lastly, the public at large need to be made more aware of what kind of an illness thyroid autoimmune disease is. Too often one gets a “huh, what the heck is that?” Response.
Also awareness, hopefully, will improve interest and funding into the causes of thyroid diseases. Why do they happen?, How can we prevent the body from attacking our own glands? Why is thyroid cancer on the rise?
In summary I hope that more people will learn to understand to live with the disease, or to live with a loved one that suffers from the disease. – Also I hope that doctors will know more about the symptoms and how to treat, and equally important, when to refer a patient to the right specialist.
HD in Oregon
If you haven’t read Dee’s letter “Thanks To My Mad Hyper Skills, I’m Hairless and More“, about her diagnosis and mistreatment, please do, as well as the wonderful conversation about memory issues, finding the right doctor, symptoms and much more.
Tags: autoimmune awareness month March, autoimmune disease awareness, HD in Oregon, thyroid autoimmune diseases and disorders, thyroid cancer in men, thyroid cancer patients, What does autoimmune awareness mean to me