Friday, May 13, 2005

Just 5 more minutes

I’m tired today. I’m always tired. I can’t even remember a time when it wasn’t so. No matter how much or how little sleep I get, I wake up feeling the same – like I’ve been run over by a truck.

I’ve been living with chronic autoimmune thyroid disease (more specifically Hashimoto’s, one of the causes of hypothyroidism) since I was about 8 years old. The diagnosis came about when my mother finally convinced the doctors that it was perhaps not quite normal for a second grader to come home from school in the afternoon and go straight to bed until dinner time every single day. I was labeled “sensitive”, “a child who needs a lot of time for herself” (both very true, but not in relation to this situation). But my mother stuck to her guns and after extensive testing the diagnosis was finally made. Hashimoto thyroiditis. A little white, or yellow, or pink pill every day and you’ll be just fine, girlie. Right. Sure.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system sees the thyroid gland as the enemy and sets out to destroy it. The thyroid gland controls the metabolism and many other functions in the body. Because of being attacked constantly, my thyroid gland was never able to produce enough hormones to keep me going, thus the little pill every day containing synthetic thyroid hormones. Without those I would die. My demise wouldn’t be immediate, though. After maybe a couple of years my metabolism would eventually slow down to the extent that I would fall into a coma and experience organ failure. Then I would die. Nice. So you can imagine how faithful I am about taking my meds.

Anyway, it seems that the older I get, the more this condition bothers me. At my last check-up last year, my doctor of nuclear medicine told me that according to the scintigraph and ultrasound she had just done, my thyroid had finally given up the ghost. It was gone. Gone, I tell you. That was a weird feeling. Where the heck did it go? How can an organ just disappear? And wouldn’t I now feel better if it was the thyroid that was giving me all the trouble? Some people have their glands removed on purpose when they act up too much. No such luck. The thyroid is gone but the autoimmune symptoms remain.

I think it’s the fatigue and the “brain fog” that get me the most. The feelings that I'm just barely going to make it through the day. Mood swings, depression and difficulty concentrating can be part of this disease as can frequent joint and muscle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, brittle fingernails, slight hair loss, water retention etc etc. I have all those problems and more – just lovely. This morning was the first time in about three weeks that I felt well enough and had enough energy to exercise after I got up and the kids were off to school. I NEED to exercise to control my weight. Just watching what I eat doesn’t do it for me since my metabolism is so low in the first place. I need to boost the metabolism and build up muscle, but sometimes it’s so damn hard when you can barely get off the couch. Today I got off the couch and I feel good about that.


At May 13, 2005 8:32 p.m., Anonymous Bob said...

Hi, Christina! I'm surfing on in from Michele's!

I can't imagine what you're going through but offer my encouragement to keep on taking those pills and exercising too. :)

Here's hoping for more good days than bad!

At May 13, 2005 9:55 p.m., Anonymous iliana said...

halo Christina - Here via Michele's!

I've never heard of Hashimoto's. Sorry you have to go through this but it's good that today was a good day for you. Hope you enjoyed your walk.

I promise to stop by again as my husband is German and I love hearing about life in Germany. One day I hope to move over there.

At May 14, 2005 4:33 p.m., Blogger Ms Mac said...

Hi Christina, we have underactive thyroid in our family which I understand is not quite the same as you but the symptoms... my mum was so tired before she was diagnosed and has just had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome... I wonder if they're related now....?

At May 14, 2005 4:46 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Hi Ms. Mac! Yes, carpal tunnel syndrome can definitely be related to the underactive thyroid. It's a symptom of "regular" hypothroidism as well as an autoimmune one. The medication helps keep the thyroid going at a steady rate but only about 20% of people are symptom- free even with treatment.

At September 01, 2005 2:23 p.m., Anonymous Haddock said...

I just re-read this. I have an underactive Thyroid and have to take my little white pill every day. I didn't realise about the carpal tunnel syndrome. I thought my bad arm/wrist was just a pulled muscle/tendon, but even after physio it still giving me problems after 5 weeks. If it carries on I'll go see my doctor again.


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