Oh, You Think My Thyroid Disease Is Fake? FABULOUS
Dear People with “Normal” Thyroids:
January is “Thyroid Awareness Month”. Do you know where your thyroid is?
I do, but last January I did not. Your thyroid is a lovely butterfly shaped gland in your neck that pretty much runs your entire body. It sure does. No one ever told you that? You thought your brain and heart were the powers that be? Well they are f’d without your thyroid, or with a thyroid that is not functioning correctly.
Last spring, I found out what a thyroid is and I found out fast. I became hyperthyroid pretty suddenly. All symptoms hit at once, and they hit hard. Being a busy, overworked, stressed Mom, I attributed the racing pounding heart, sweating buckets, shaking, severe anxiety, insomnia, overheating, rage/anger, loss of period, severe and rapid weight loss, increased appetite; and icky bowel changes to that … Stress.
I have had one or the other of each symptom [except the pounding heart] before here and there. Calming down, breathing, meditating or resting had always helped. Not this time. Nothing like lying in bed on a -30 degree below zero night in New England with nothing but a tank top and shorts, sweating buckets and listening to your heart beat in your ears….. ALL NIGHT. Sweet.
My thyroid was working overtime running; over running all of my systems because I have Graves Disease. It appears I have had it for a while and the symptoms have been, as I said, here and there. But last St Patrick’s Day, they all came calling and would not leave [no, it wasn’t green beer]. My actual diagnosis of Graves didn’t come until a few months later, after blood tests, scans, uptakes, more blood tests.
Luckily, during some of that time, I found www.dearthyroid.org and I began my own research and reading. When my endo said “You have two things, Graves Disease and thyroid nodules”, I knew that was what she was going to say. I was prepared for the words, but not the disease, and definitely not prepared for the reaction of the “normal” people.
So, I am writing to the world of people who don’t know what a thyroid is. I hope you never ever find out the hard way like I did. While I am still learning everyday about my thyroid, I suggest you read about yours, too. Just know where it is; know what to do to make it stay healthy.
If you think this is a waste of time, then read through some of the letters here. Read about the pain, stress and struggles that each person here has been through. Read about people who have had the whole thing removed due to cancer, and now struggle to take medication to replace the million things that your thyroid does to run your whole body. Read the letters about people who have had RAI [Radioactive Iodine Treatment] and the trouble they have keeping their levels correct. Some struggle for years to get things somewhere near “normal”.
Years of playing games with pills and doctors that don’t listen or hear.
I am not the best advocate. Being that I am a bit backward and very socially awkward, it isn’t what I would choose. I have a hard time going in a grocery store when there are more than 10 cars in the yard, I just don’t do well with people and crowds. But this thing has gotten under my skin [ha], and I speak up. Mostly I get angry and the spoken word doesn’t get my point across. So I need help, I need others to understand thyroid issues. Here are a few things that need to be understood:
1. Thyroid issues are not fake: I can speak from personal experience, there is nothing fake about sitting quietly and listening to your heart pound so hard that you look down to see if it is coming out of your chest. Who in their right mind would fake having a thyroid issue? No one. If you have any sort of thyroid disease, you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy. Not fake.
2. People do not say “I have a thyroid issue” to cover up for gaining weight. If you think that, fuck you. Go away and eat dirt. I lost nearly 30 lbs in as many days, and I was eating like I had a tape worm.
When I only knew my problem was “thyroid related” someone asked me “Did you lose a ton of weight” and I replied, “I have a thyroid issue”.
The immediate response from this person was, “Isn’t that what people say when they get fat”. Then, I just got flustered and embarrassed. I sort of hope she says something to me again, because she will have a tirade the likes of which she has never heard. Fuck.
3. We, thyroid patients, need help. We need love, understanding, and support. Don’t you dare say “Oh that excuse again”. Just don’t do it. I personally hate “EXCUSES”. Hate them, and I am not about to start making excuses about why I didn’t do something or why I spelled my name backwards [random bouts of dyslexia now; awesome]. It just is; now help me fix it. That’s all, just reach your friggin arm out and help. Turn your ear in this direction and listen, AND hear what I am saying. Support is that simple. Just listen, understand, and believe.
You will? Thanks a bunch.
Tags: check your thyroids, Dear Thyroid Letters, graves' disease, how to advocate for yourself, hyperthyroidism, misconceptions about thyroid disease, thyroid awareness month, thyroid blog, thyroid forum, thyroid support, weight gain thyroid disease, what does a thyroid do, what is a thyroid