For years, I have been plagued with a lot of undesirable symptoms: Fatigue. All-day sleepiness. Brain fog. Frequent colds and infections. Heavy-feeling limbs, as though it’s a lot of effort to lift my arms or walk. And significant weight gain. Though I am still a healthy size 4/6, I used to be a size 00/0 until about five years ago, when I started gaining 5-10 pounds per year (37 pounds total).
I went to the doctor in 2009, and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid. The resulting inflammation from Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, can lead to an underactive thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, especially amongst women. It is diagnosed via specific blood test for thyroid peroxidase and from a symptoms assessment by your doctor.
I was put on medication for the thyroid issue in 2009, and I felt a little better for a while.
But I still continued to feel tired a lot. I slept through alarms sometimes. I often felt like I couldn’t focus. I had a lot of muscle aches. And I was still gaining a significant amount of weight.
Like many women, I blamed myself. I thought I was going to sleep too late. Or maybe it was my diet or exercise regimen. Or perhaps I was being lazy, or unmotivated, or just getting older. I even thought a few times I mustn’t be thinking positive enough! I assumed it was all my fault.
However, my fiancé suspected there was something still amiss with my health, even though I vehemently denied it. He booked an appointment for me with an endocrinologist. I was initially mad about it — I didn’t want to go with a passion. I thought he was making something out of nothing. I didn’t want the hassle or the potential drama. I thought I could take care of myself.
But this week, after five years of suffering from fatigue, muscle pain, and significant weight gain, I finally got an answer from that endocrinologist.
My new diagnosis is a little too personal to publish on a public blog, but the endocrinologist may have saved my life. She certainly has improved the quality of it. Her diagnosis was spot-on. Though I’ve been on medication for less than a week, I feel as though I’m seeing more clearly, am able to focus better, and have a lot more energy. For the first time in years, I woke up on my own — without an alarm clock or anything! — at 6:30 AM this morning. And I suspect that I will lose weight and suffer from fewer colds and infections as well.
If you don’t feel healthy, don’t blame yourself. Don’t think that it’s all in your head, that you are a hypochondriac, or that you are making a big deal out of nothing. As women, we tend to want to do things for others and not draw attention to ourselves. We tend to think we’re bitches or drama queens or terrible people for refusing to take “no” for an answer. But you can’t take care of anyone if you’re not healthy!
If you don’t feel well, search for the right specialist. If what a physician says to you doesn’t feel right to you, get a second opinion. There is no need to suffer. Fight for your health and for your right to know what is amiss with your own body. Trust your instincts and what your body is telling you. Get answers, and find the help and the treatment you need.
Even though I’ve only been on medication for five days, I feel incredible. I can only imagine what the next few weeks and months will reveal.
I hope that this message empowers someone else out there to get seen for their health issues. No matter how long it takes, or how many doors you have to knock down, it’s well worth it. Remember: The best investment you can make is in yourself. (A special thank-you to my fiance and my endocrinologist!)
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