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Saturday February 16th 2019


Fat Thigh-roid Woes: How Did I Gland Here?!

Post Published: 31 May 2010
Category: Column, Fat Thigh Roid Woes, Graves Disease Symptoms Column
This post currently has 19 responses. Leave a comment

Please welcome Nicole Wells, one of our new columnists. Nicole’s column is about Graves’ disease, symptoms, symptoms management, health insurance issues, hyperthyroid issues, and much more. Welcome, Nicole! We’re so gland to have you aboard.

I’ve always had some sort of weight problem, and as a teenager doctors had told me to get my “goiter” checked out.  Not wanting to ever hear the word “goiter” again, I blew off that advice cause I was far too sexy (in my own mind) to ever have an unsexy word like that be associated with me.

I started to workout a lot when I got out of high school, and ever since then I’ve made it a point to make it a habit.  During college my weight went up and down, 30 – 40lbs usually.  A lot having to do with if I was working at Marie Callender’s at that time, and shoving a slice of pie into my face every single night – btw, never have and never will blame the goiter for that particular weight gain….I take full responsibility.

A few years ago I noticed that even after spinning class 5x a week, and careful dieting – I still looked like a linebacker.  The final straw was being a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding and getting pictures back – I was THAT girl.  The one that shouldn’t have been wearing THAT dress.  Fed up, I chucked my lowfat Subway sandwich out the window (damn you, Jared) and made an appointment to see a doctor.

My mother has Hashimoto thyroid, and I figured maybe I was in the same boat.  The doctor took my blood test, and long story short I was put on 30mg of Armour thyroid because she said I was indeed, hypothyroid.  I started dropping weight within a few months and felt great.  When I went back in for my tests after 6 months (and now knowing what I know, she should’ve monitored me a lot better) turned out – I now had Graves Disease.  She wanted me to come off my meds immediately, and wouldn’t give me a refill.  Ps, this is when my general distrust of doctors started.  I have heard different opinions on if I actually was hypothyroid, or if it was just the start of my Graves “mimicking” hypo symptoms, etc.

Anyways, I had no idea that anything was wrong with me, and all I saw was a 1-digit pant size and went “Suck it doc, I’ll go get my prescription somewhere else”.  After seeing an endo and realizing my heart was beating at 120 beats a minute, I still wasn’t convinced.  I spent 10 minutes trying to convince HER that SHE was wrong, cause I felt great!  This was Los Angeles, and everyone kept telling me to “keep up the good work” and “you look fantastic, what’s your secret?”  My secret?  Eat 5,000 calories a day, be close to a bathroom, and be okay with watching all the muscle on your body deplete into skin and cellulite.

It’s absurd what I did to convince myself that something wasn’t wrong.  I never noticed that my eyes took on a bulging, villainous glare – mostly because I never wanted to notice.  The explosive anger I felt during that time was because, der, “everyone is a moron”.  I chalked up the constant stomach issues to “must’ve been something I ate”.  I also was eating enough food for a family of four, and rationalized it as “I’m skinny because my metabolism is suddenly kicking in my late 20s”.  Really???

I know we’ve all had these similar experiences in one way or another, so I ask you, DT Community, if you refused to believe that something was wrong, what lengths have you gone to stay in denial in the face of your disease?

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19 Responses to “Fat Thigh-roid Woes: How Did I Gland Here?!

  1. Hey Nicole, welcome on board! I’m so sorry to hear about the shit you have gone through pre-diagnosis and the yucky symptoms. I can certainly sympathise, particularly with the weight gain, as you may see from some of my columns. I already feel guilty that we indulged some while on holiday in Ireland (I’m writing from Dublin and tomorrow we are flying back to Düsseldorf, Germany). I’m very happy to see a new face and look forward to reading more of your columns!



  2. Hey Nicole, so glad to have you as part of the DT team!! I’m already loving your column!

    When I was first diagnosed with thyca, I was cluelessly stuck in denial. I had thoughts like, “Yeah, the doctor told me I have cancer, but it’s not really cancer.” That got me nowhere but a pit of depression. Sometimes, though a little denial is a way for me to cope. There are times when it’s easier to pretend I don’t have cancer than face reality. Reality can be exhausting.

    I look forward to reading more from you!


  3. monika says:

    I definitely have gone through a similar process. In my late childhood, when I started putting on weight, my mother was always aware that it could be and probably was a thyroid issue. She had had graves disease, and she expected nothing less from me. So, that one weekend the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, when I felt like I had a rash but didn’t, we attributed to potential thyroid issues. The weight gain, we decided was hypothyroidism, but when the tests came back as hyper, we were both in shock. I was pissed off because, the way I saw it, if I had to have this disease, why couldn’t I at least have had the symptom which made me skinny? Alas, life isn’t that way. My legs still look like cepelinai (http://www.fortas.eu/upload/didzkukuliai.jpg) a traditional Lithuanian food, and, although running on a regular basis makes me feel alright, the results just aren’t there. Thanks for your letter! I can’t wait to hear more from you and your ‘thigh-roid’ (because that’s definitely how it’s spelled in my body!)

  4. Sarah – What a wonderful welcome for Nicole. You’re a honey of an oat. What Nicole has been through is shit squared. Unfortunately, so many of us have gone down this misdiagnoses – pre-diagnosis mile.

    The weight gain, oh, it’s awful. As vile as the excessive weight loss can be for many patients.

    And, Sarah, I’m glad you indulged.


  5. Joanna – wonderful welcome, love it!

    I agree with you, a dose of denial doesn’t suck. I find that it can be a very strategic coping mechanism.

    (I didn’t know you had a bit of denial at first. I learn something new about you every day, my dear)


  6. Monika – Though I’m very sorry you have Graves/Hyperthyroidism, and wish you didn’t, I’m so grateful that your mother had it, and was able to diagnose you to get treatment.

    At first, I lost a lot of weight, but WITH GRAVES, while I was HYPER, I was also the exception to the rule. Girl, I gained so much weight.

    I’m sorry you don’t feel like weight management is easy, I completely understand. I’m so happy to hear that you have the energy to run. I miss running and long for the days to run again.

    Where are you at in terms of getting balanced? Do you have a nutritional program in place, too?

    Would love to know more about how you’re doing.

    Thanks for connecting with Nicole.


  7. Lori says:

    Nicole – welcome to Dear Thyroid. I’m sure we all know a bit about denial. You are definitely not alone there. I think it’s part of the process. I was in denial for 8 of the many years of undiagnosed Hashimoto’s. I had such horrible experiences with the medical community I convinced myself I could CURE ME all by myself. I can be extremely stubborn. Of course, this only added to the years of no diagnosis but after what happened, I needed to do that in order to cope with the fallout. Actually, I couldn’t cope that was part of the problem. Thyroid and adrenal gland problems can do that to a person. Coping with the reality just wasn’t possible for me at that time. The only regret I have now is that I didn’t go face-to-face with a few people, but they still might get a letter from me.

    I can relate to the weight loss and weight gain too. As you probably know, many people with Hashimoto’s can present with hyperthyroidism symptoms because we can go back and forth hyper/hypo. Those damn antibodies can do a number on a person. I ended up with huge weight gain after losing and gaining the same 60+ lb with no change in diet or lifestyle twice over. Still crossing my fingers I’ll at least get rid of enough to not worry about blood sugar being a problem.

    Glad to have you on board and look forward to reading more.


  8. nicholle says:

    I think I was only in denial while I was skinny. Then my graves became so severe that I was basically living on sugar and fat (the only calories quick enough for my hungry, hungry thyroid), so started gaining so much weight. Apparently this is very normal, given the poor diet and lack of sleep.

    It’s sad that we’re rewarded for being “skinny”, when “healthy” should be the goal. I’m glad that I got out of that cycle.

    And I’m REALLY happy to have more columns about Graves!!

  9. Sarah Downing says:

    Nicole, I too think it is sad that we are rewarded for being skinny, which is why I have written several columns on body confidence and acceptance. I have been subjected to too many cruel comments myself. I have Hashimoto’s, but until you came along I had a few hyperthyroidism topics planned, but maybe you can write about them now;-). Let me know if you need any ideas. Personally, I am always happy for ideas because I had so many at the beginning, but as the weeks go on it becomes harder to think of original ones. Luckily though, I am now several columns in advance, so can lay back and relax for a few weeks. That said, I already have several other topics I am working on.

  10. Lolly says:

    Hi Nicole,

    welcome to DT and your new column from a fellow Gravien with a similar experience. I lost weight that much I looked like a cat walk model bet your thinking wow what I wouldn’t give to look like that well what i didn’t tell you was the bulging panda eyes made it look Like i was one of the living fooking dead.

    I used to eat and eat and eat hungry all the time by then I was already on a healthy diet due to gestation. other problems, I too thought it’s something I’ve eaten or I am over doing it because being hyper with a racing heart of over 140 bmp and on the go all the time I thought no wonder i am losing weight it was the eyes that really gave the game away and i had to admit defeat and seek medical advise as my GP was less than useless. I had already been to him several times he had dismissed my symptoms, sweating palpitations, tied loss of weight as a virus saying that I looked like i needed to lose some weight don’t knock it.

    We live and learn and if only I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have left it so long.

    Welcome thyboard look forward to reading more of your columns on Graves disease.


  11. Nicole Wells says:

    Hi All – thanks for the warm welcome! I’m giddy from all the support we receive here, and I look forward to getting to know everyone!

  12. Quin Browne says:

    How far into denial? So deep that I was sure denial was a river in South America.

    Even now, I yearn for that 120 beats a minute side of thyroid, as I was in a size 8. Now, not so much.

    I dream of it…

  13. ThyroidSlave says:

    Oh gosh – thank you SO much Nicole!

    I too am (was?) one of the ‘fatty’ HypERs/Grave’s.

    I got so fed up of trying to explain that a very small percentage of hypER sufferers *gain* weight, rather than lose it…and people giving me *those* looks…you know, the one’s where they’re really saying “yes love keep on telling yourself that if it makes you feel better about your size”…because to Joe Public…HypERs are meant to be stick-thin and glamorous…and here was I living on air & lettuce, being sternly lectured by a dietician once a month, cycling 15-20 miles a week, jogging 2-4 miles 3 nights a week, walking 6 dogs 7 days a week and popping Xenical/Orlistat pills like it was going out of fashion…and still nlooking like a total whale…with a Morbidly Obese BMI…

    When I was trying to desperately drop weight for my thyroidectomy…it took along time for even my (normally saintly) Endo to concede that I was indeed one of those ‘4-per-cent-ers’ as he calls us, the ones that *don’t/can’t* lose weight when hyper…and that, if the surgeon insisted I get down to his target operation weight we could all be battling for years to get anywhere even close…by which time my goitre would have succeeded in its evil mission and closed my windpipe completely…thanks to my Endo finally putting 2&2 together, my surgeon was finally persuaded that we really couldn’t keep putting it off and delaying any longer ha ha!

    I guess I’m now a ‘fatty’ hypo, as I have no thyroid at all anymore…but maybe Eltroxin will sort out my weight-woes once & for all? But heck, at least now when I tell complete strangers about my thyroid woes, they’ll no longer look at me like I’m making it up…after all, us hypOs are meant to be fat aren’t we…ho hum

    Nicole – Thank you thank you thank you xxx

    Oh, and @Sarah Downing – enjoy the rest of your stay in Dublin….I live about an hour’s drive west of there 😉

  14. Sarah Downing says:

    Hey ThyroidSlave, I’ve written several columns about body confidence because I feel that society is way to obsessed with how it expects us to look. I for one am sick and tired about people ragging on me because of my weight. Right now I am a fricking Size 12, but you would think I look like an elephant considering how some of these doctors/their silly assistants treat me. One recent experience that might my blood boil was when the gynecologist’s ignorant bitch of an ASSistant pointed out that my triglycerides (vegetable fats) are elevated and that I therefore need to watch what I eat. I then pointed out to her that as I have PCOS AND Hashimoto’s (meaning I am doubly fucked in terms of metabolism) high triglycerides are a common side effect, but some doctors/their ASSistants don’t like the threat that the patient may actually know more than them, so of course she got nasty and rude. It is about time that people stoppped making fucking presumptions. Just because someone is overweight does not make them lazy and greedy. I’m actually a very active person (when I have the energy to be) and I do try to watch what I eat, but at the same time I refuse to be on a permanent diet because I want to enjoy life and part of that is enjoying food, but it’s still possible to do that in moderation. I’m very frustrated with this topic right now as I know it is something that all of us have to contend me. For me, writing my columns on body confidence, etc. were a way of me productively getting revenge on all the ignorant people who have managed to make me feel shit about myself throughout the years because unfortunately (in their eyes) I don’t look like a stick insect.

  15. ThyroidSlave says:

    Totally agree Sarah!
    What always used to upset me was the way the nurses at the hospital would ‘tut’ and shake their heads in despair when they weighed me every month…and my dietician would all but call me a liar when I handed her my food & exercise diary each time.
    Then my Endo confirmed, what I’d been thinking for a long time, in that I am (was?) a so-called 4-per-cent-er, which meant that I didn’t care so much about their reactions anymore…the medical professional who’s opinion *does* matter to me fully understood why the weight wasn’t pouring off me, and he explained why some hypers suffered with hypo-style weight gain – and that gave me more confidence than anything. Because I had honestly started to think I was going utterly insane, or sleep-eating, or having binge-eating blackouts or something totally irrational like that…none of it made sense….I turned into a fat-counting, calorie-counting, exercise-addicted freak…and the more I tried to lose it, the harder it got to shift

  16. Nicole Wells says:

    Monika – I completely empathize, when I was gaining weight and told I was hypo at first, I was like – WHY CAN’T I BE HYPER? I really regret asking that, I should’ve just said “WHY CAN’T I BE HEALTHY?”. The symptom that made me skinny? NON-STOP DIARRHEA. It’s amazing how we bargain in this disease phase. I also asked for a sexier sounding disease. “Graves”??? WTF is that. Graves and Goiter. That’s a buzzkill.

    Lori – I was convinced that I could help myself too, but what can you do when the medical community seems to abandon you too? None of the doctors I saw ever said the same thing, and I didn’t know who to trust. I basically designated myself my own doctor, and tried my best – but Graves was wiping the floor with my face. Also, I could write a column 4 pages long on my shitty blood sugar issues, so I know how that goes – I will keep my fingers crossed for you too : )

    Joanna – I totally understand about coping through denial, and that is definitely a better way to go rather than my other option…hoping wine would make everything better. Unfortunately, I stayed in denial past the tipping point. Reality DOES blow sometimes, and being face down in a bag of Doritos (when their wasn’t wine around) was not helping me either haha. Sucks when we have to wake up, doesn’t it??

    Sarah – I have dealt with comments about my weight my whole life, so girl, I’m right there with you. Thank you so much for all the support, and yay we’re facebook friends so we will definitely keep in touch on there too. I hope you had a blast in Ireland!

    ThyroidSlave – I had a doctor tell me I was hyper, and that my body was gaining because it was in the beginning stages of Graves. I also heard hypo from another doctor. You seem to have a great handle on this roller coaster you’re on, and at least you have a sense of humor about it. I think that’s KEY when everything is upside down. Also, having to explain any of this bullshit to anyone without thyroid issues just BLOWS. So glad we all have this community that just understands, and doesn’t need all the explaining : )

    Nicholle – I was living on sugar and fat too. I don’t know if it’s cause my body craved it, or just cause I was able to eat all the forbidden foods I denied myself over the years. Nachos at least 3x a week. Sickening. It’s sad though, because we don’t nourish our bodies at the time we need the most nourishment! Vicious cycle.

    Lolly – hahaha “bulging panda eyes” – my new favorite expression for Graves Eyes now. YES!!

    I love that we’re all bringing each other up, and that everyone is so supportive. When I tried finding a support group for Graves, I found ONE in San Diego – a 2.5 hour drive from me. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I love that DT exists for all of us, because we all know how alone these diseases can make us feel in our relationships, jobs, families, friends, what have you. No one really understands fully unless they’ve been through the shit, and it’s wonderful to have a community that exists and just completely understands. Have a great week everyone!

  17. Sarah Anne Carney says:

    Nicole, great article! No denial here, I went to an endo at the first notice of a goiter and had RAI two days later. I didn’t pay attention to the weight loss because I was dieting….thought it was working lol, only to be diagnosed with Graves. Hearing I had Graves was much better than hearing that I had one week to live or something of that nature. I will gladly take Graves over that alternative. It’s been 3 weeks since the RAI. I can see better. The shaking hands has almost diminished. I’m not starving anymore. I can think more clear. Thought this was all from not getting enough calories. Not looking foward to gaining any large amounts of weight, because as pointed out, society puts a big ‘must have’ on a size 1. Our bodies don’t make us who we are, and we must remember that and not allow anyone to let us believe otherwise. Our heart, our intentions, how we think, how we treat others…that’s what’s important. Anyone who treats us otherwise because of too much weight or not enough, needs to be told, “Heaven is not segregated; and niether is hell”. Smile. I am looking foward to reading more from you.

  18. Nicole Wells says:

    Hi Sarah Anne, I’m so happy you’re feeling better after the RAI – and so early too! 3 weeks and not feeling that spike that docs warn us about is great. I had RAI 6 months ago and it took awhile for things to calm down.

    Don’t worry about the weight gain, but yes, that’s easier said than done. I’ve put on about 25 since RAI, and we have to remember that we lose a lot of muscle mass from Graves too – so try to focus on how your body feels, and not on what the scale says.
    I’m trying to lose some of the fat now, and it’s great to be able to exercise again. It’s also important to remember to not be so hard on ourselves – we’ve been through a lot with this shit disease, and things will take time.
    Hope you have a great night, and again, I’m so happy things are looking better for you!

  19. Melissa says:

    Hi Nicole, Catching up a little for the 1st time on your writings, thank you for sharing. I cannot believe our paths have crossed again (is L.A. really that small of a town? Time & time again…proves it is) and I wish it was under completely different circumstances. Although I have lived in a bit of a bubble (or hiding under a bridge like a troll) since the Graves diagnosis, running across you on here reminds me that I used to have an active & fun social life. I look forward to exchanging L.A. resources and I hope that you are doing o.k.

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