Funny story before I start off, when I was 20, my boyfriend then saw my pill bottle in my bag and questioned if I was on drugs. I diligently explained to him that that was not a recreational drug but it was actually to treat my thyroid condition, without hesitation he immediately asked “OMG, is it contagist?! Do I have it now?!” Lord. I tried to explain in best lay-man’s terms, but, he insisted that he now had it. I hope he sought treatment for it. LOL
I was initially diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism when I was 16. It was actually an underlying symptom to what we thought was a cardiac issue at that time (heart murmur). Otherwise, I didn’t have any “apparent” symptoms at that point. Turned out it wasn’t my heart at all, and blood work showed I had a hyper-active thyroid.
Thyroid disease is literally what it says it is, a disease of your thyroid gland which sits right on your neck area. I’m certainly not a doctor or an expert by any means, but this is just my story. When I was a teenager I don’t remember having significant symptoms but as I became older I realized that I was always fairly thin (not size 0 by any means), and I didn’t really have to try to stay slim. I didn’t skip meals, I actually ate very well and hardly gained weight, so that was one of the first signs. Secondly, my body handled environmental temperatures a lot differently than the average person. I would be the first person in the room to feel hot, and I’d be the first person in the room to feel cold as well. In the middle of winter, I’d be in my tanks and shorts walking around (I still do that).
So back on track, once I was diagnosed, I established care with a specialist (Endocrinologist) and was put on medication, Synthroid. The only downfall is that thyroid disease is so “invisible”?? It’s not like having high blood pressure or diabetes where you’d notice a pretty dramatic change if you didn’t take your medication. I was pretty forgetful and always forgot to take my meds. My blood work was ALWAYS out of whack and so my doctor was very frustrated with me because we could never find the right balance therefore my dosage was always changing. Finally, I was non-compliant to the point that I drove my body the opposite way, by the time I was 18 I was newly diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. Which, some would say is worse than hyper.
From that point on, my weight definitely struggled, and became very erratic. It fluctuated like nobody’s business. It became harder and harder to lose weight. At one point some of my aunts even asked me why I look different every time they see me, it was constant slimming and then ballooning up again; a never ending vicious cycle. As I’ve aged, it’s become more and more the culprit in my lifestyle and health. In a nutshell, your thyroid basically controls a lot of the unseen mechanisms in your body such as metabolism, HORMONES, etc. I would have to stick to a very strict lifestyle in order to keep my health and physique in it’s best state, double the aerobics and extra lean and healthy food choices. Not only does a great metabolism aid in maintaining a stable weight, that in itself affects your entire GI system. And unfortunately, when I became hypo, my GI system was affected and it’s never really been the same again.
Classically, not only has thyroid disease affected my weight, it’s also done a number to my entire reproductive system, specifically my hormones. Due to all of the imbalances, I developed adult acne in my late 20’s, the painful, cystic kind :-(. Now, do understand that many things affect your hormones, and mine specifically was a concoction of a malfunctioning thyroid and PREGNANCY. And coincidentally, thyroid disease also played a big role in my fertility as well. A topic that I’m very much overly sensitive about. And as you can imagine, the condition only exacerbated with pregnancy and erratic hormone changes. Even if my medication was balanced before pregnancy, there was always a 90% chance that it would need to be adjusted intra and post pregnancy.
Today, I’m still struggling with trying to find my balance. I’ll honestly say that when I was new to the condition, I didn’t take it seriously. Over the last 10+ years I’ve learned how serious thyroid disease is and how crucial it is to be compliant. I know it’s difficult to get too detailed and technically on a blog but I sure hope I was able to give you some insight on this very common but difficult to understand disease. Bare in mind that not everyone will have the same symptoms and not every case will be as severe or as mild as another. It is definitely something you can live with, especially if you can get it under control, but it is also not to be taken lightly. I personally wanted to shed some light on it as I know that a lot of people don’t understand it, especially for our Asian parents, or just anyone outside of the medical field.
If you are curious and have questions you can definitely ask and I’ll try my best to answer. Or perhaps share your story as well. As always, thank you for reading!
– Cyndie –