Better Living Through Chemistry, Indeed

If there has been one thing I’ve been saying too much here on the blog, and even more in real life, it’s “I’m too tired.” For the last — I dunno, maybe two years? — I’ve been growing increasingly weary. I’d come home from work on Friday and not leave my apartment again until brunch on Sunday; Saturday was often lost in a haze of dozing. And at least a couple of days a week, I’d come home from work and fall asleep on the couch almost immediately, before having dinner. I still managed (as most of the posts here can attest) to go about my life, but I was crushingly exhausted a lot of the time.

Then, somewhat lost amid her MS diagnosis was the news that Eileen had also been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder — one where the primary symptom is unexplained tiredness. She told me that her doctor said it ran in families, and in chatting with Mom, it came out that our dad had also had thyroid issues. Needless to say, given this information, I quickly added “is my thyroid OK?” to the list of questions for my doctor.

And then I waited, first for a month or so until I could get an appointment for a physical, and then for another 16 weeks for a new-patient appointment at the endocrinologist. But finally, it has been confirmed that I have the same thing as Eileen has and my dad had — Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, or, as it’s more commonly known, hypothyroidism. (I’m calling it by its full name whenever possible, though. I think it sounds fairly badass, like an opponent of Godzilla or the villain in an anime movie.) And it turns out that it’s responsible for a lot of other complaints I have, not just the tiredness, but little things that I had just chalked up to aging or other factors: weight gain, hyper-sensitivity to cold, forgetfulness.

Hashimoto’s, fortunately, is a manageable disease. I’ve been on the meds — synthetic thyroid pills — for two weeks now, and I am already blown away by how much better I feel. Eileen had told me that they were “life-changing” for her, but given our genetic predisposition for hyperbole, I took it with a grain of salt. But no kidding, these tiny little suckers are freakin’ amazing.

It took a week for my thyroid level to get up to normal, but now that it is, I could honestly dance for joy — I feel that much better. But lest it sound like I, too, might be succumbing to exaggeration, this is what I’ve been up to in the past seven days: Over the weekend, I went to the Maryland Renaissance Faire, a Caps game, and, as already noted, ice skating. I’ve been to a couple of happy hours and went to a party on Friday night. I haven’t once had the urge to fall asleep while watching tv — or during meetings. Freakin’ amazing, I say again.

Now I just need to get past the one side effect my little miracle of chemistry has produced — I am starving all. the. time. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, I am hungry enough to eat my shoes. Rationally, I know that this is just my body adjusting to a new metabolic speed, but holy crap is it hard to not just eat, eat, eat.

Speaking of which, it’s lunchtime.

10 thoughts on “Better Living Through Chemistry, Indeed

  1. Sionna October 7, 2009 / 1:32 pm

    Excellent! Glad to hear you’re getting such good results.

    Are we going to have a hard time keeping up with you in November? 😉

  2. Mom October 7, 2009 / 3:08 pm

    Fabulous good news!! As long as it doesn’t keep you awake 🙂

  3. Mom October 7, 2009 / 5:38 pm

    BTW — don’t eat those awesome red shoes you bought last year!! Surely something less expensive will appease your appetite.

  4. Joanne October 7, 2009 / 6:51 pm

    Your thyroid slows down, so does mine. I had mine tested for the first time in a year, and it turns out the last pregnancy seems to have permanently kicked it into the normal range. I’m not hyper, I”m not hypo, I’m refreshingly normal. Since I”ve been hyperthyroid for about a decade, this is a little weird to me.

    Sadly, though, it means there is no miracle cure for how tired I feel. Bummer.

  5. Common Loon October 7, 2009 / 9:00 pm

    Sarah, thanks for informing us! I’m very happy that this is something manageable / livable and that you are already much improved!

    Does this mean that you will quit 3 meals / day and become a “snacker?”

    I was suprised when my thyroid got checked at my last check-up…my levels came back in the normal range, which leaves me with few confidence-boosting explanations for my weight gain or fatigue.

  6. mev October 8, 2009 / 10:23 pm

    CL: Your levels can be normal and still be off. normal is different for each person. not all doctors understand that, but there are more specific tests that can help discern that. Did they give you the test that makes you nauseated?
    I recommend The thyroid solution, a wonderful book by Ridha Arem, who used to teach at Baylor. Gives highly detailed explanations of thyroid problems and the thyroid replacement therapies that work.
    I had such severe Hashimotos at age 14 that they had to build me up over months to a high enough dose because it would have been too much of a shock to my system to give me the full dose right away…the upshot is that even milder cases than mine often continue to improve for several months after starting therapy.
    I know this is more than you needed or wanted to know, but I’ve spent 20 years with this disease so if you have any questions, I’m here for you.
    The good news is, recent research shows women with HT have less risk of breast cancer and when they do get it it tends to be less severe–probably because of our overactive immune system.

  7. Eileen October 8, 2009 / 10:30 pm

    @CL:MEV is a good friend here in TX and has been a great resource and support to me. Just thought you might want to know 🙂

  8. Common Loon October 9, 2009 / 9:27 am

    @ mev: Thank you! I did not get the test that nauseates – just bloodwork. I will have this conversation with my doctor for sure, and appreciate the information.

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