Thyroid, Meet Me Halfway, Please
I remember the first time we met. I was a budding undergraduate, passionate about art history, determined to be the first in my family to graduate from college. Unceasingly I worked towards my goals, achieved high grades, invested extra hours in the cause. You were with me through it all but I was too preoccupied to notice. That is, until one day – it was the dead of winter, snow fell everywhere, and it was terrifically cold outside. I struggled to stay conscious on my train ride to class, noticed how markedly cold I felt despite being dressed in an ever increasing number of layers. The 1 mile walk to campus that day felt like 10, my legs felt like they were filled with lead, and my head was encompassed in a very deep fog.
Little did I know at the time that it was you, dear Thyroid. It was you who made me so cold I could hardly stay conscious, like a bear nestling in for its winter hibernation. It was you who pulled my lids shut even after 8, 9, 10 hours of sleep. It was you who made my head so thick with fog that I could hardly see the cars on the road, could hardly process my reading assignments. It was you, dear Thyroid, who taught me how to pause.
Up until you made your presence known in my life, I had tirelessly worked to achieve my goals – sometimes without regard for the growing stress levels, the late nights, the early mornings, the skipped meals. I was uninsured, then underinsured, and had little money to boot, so you and I were on a collision course from the start.
Even still, I was somehow happy when I learned your name, your likes and dislikes. Because even when all the best advice told me to slow down, be good to myself, don’t worry so much, I could not abide. But when you told me to sleep, I could not argue. When you said stop thinking, I abided. When you said eat, I foraged like a wild animal.
It’s been 7 years, dear Thyroid, since we first met. And still I feign consciousness, peel my eyes open in the morning, and fight this mental fog. And yet, I still say thank you. You have taught me to stop when I am tired, to take deep breaths and relax, to be attuned to my body, to calm my mind. You have shown me that my life is precious and that I deserve to take care of you, and me.
So, dear Thyroid, let’s find a way to make this work, we’re in this for the long haul.
Cheryl is a passionate art historian and material culture scholar who moonlights as an avid knitter and antiquer. When her Hashimoto’s thyroid isn’t taking center stage, she enjoys gardening, reading, and writing, but not arithmetic.
Tags: Dear Thyroid love letters, empowered thyroid patients, learning from our thyroid, learning how to live with chronic autoimmune diseases, proactive thyroid patients, thyroid's impact on the quality of our lives, understanding thyroid disease