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Let’s talk Hypothyroidism

Alternative title: I didn’t think I’d be writing another one of these after my “Anxiety is not a fad diet” post. But, alas, here we go again …

“I want to be Hypothyroid” I heard the voice mutter as the taps started running.

“Oh aye?” came a second voice accompanied by the tearing of paper towels.

“Definitely! Hypothyroidism makes you lose a ton of weight! And I could do with losing a bit of this I’m carrying around … Honestly this diet just isn’t working for me, been trying to lose these last 4 pounds for yonks but if I was Hypothyroid … ”

Mid-pee I knew something needed to be said … Yes right there, in the office bathroom.

“You’ve mixed up the illnesses” I began, voice echoing from the cubicle “Hypothyroidism can make it difficult to lose weight, Hyperthyroidism can result in weight loss. But I’m not sure why -“.

“- Oh … Right …” She cheerily shrilled before “I guess I’d rather be Hyperthyroid then!”

As I tried to say to her … I’m not entirely sure why anyone would wish a Thyroid problem upon their body in order to lose a few stubborn pounds … Especially without taking into account everything else that comes with the illness.

I’ve had a diagnosis of Hypothyroidism for over 3 years now, at the time I was recovering from suspected Meningitis when my GP noticed a lump in my neck which she recognised to be a goitre*. This combined with excessive tiredness, hypersensitivity to the cold, aching of the muscles and foggy thoughts prompted an ultrasound (to rule out any other possible causes for the Thyroid swelling) and a blood test (for Thyroid function).

You see, a Thyroid function test looks at the levels of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and Thyroxine (T4) in the blood. If TSH is high but T4 is low, it signifies Hypothyroidism. If TSH is low but T4 is high, it signifies Hyperthyroidism.

In a nutshell – Your Thyroid gland is an endocrine gland in your neck (it is often described as being a butterfly shape due to the appearance of its lobes) that produces T4 – Thyroxine and T3 – Triiodothyronine which in turn regulates the metabolism of other cells and systems in the body. TSH is a Pituitary hormone released to stimulate the Thyroid into producing hormones (kinda obvious from the name wouldn’t you say). *An increase in Thyroid hormone (and thus over stimulation) can cause the Thyroid to swell (Hyperthyroidism), alternatively if the Thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone it will be stimulated to produce more which in turn makes it swell (Hypothyroidism) – a Goitre can be a sign of other things too (Iodine deficiency, Cancer, certain anti-depressants to name a few – always worth having it checked!).

So in the case of Hypothyroidism, when the Thyroid doesn’t produce hormones you can experience a lovely group of symptoms such as: Depression (which is why I had my yearly bloods early when I started exhibiting symptoms of this to rule Thyroid deterioration out), Constipation (oh yeah, fun times!), brittle hair, brittle nails (sometimes even ridges!), dry skin, fatigue, extreme tiredness (I put Sleeping Beauty to shame before I got diagnosed), sensitivity to the cold (I’ve talked about this before!), cold extremities (think bed socks, slippers, 2 duvets and still you have numb toes), Carpal Tunnel, changes to the menstrual cycle, increased weight gain or difficulty losing weight … Want me to continue because I haven’t started to mention the more serious complications?

I will have to have a yearly blood test, for the rest of my life, to ensure the Thyroid hasn’t deteriorated further. I will have to take a tablet a day, for the rest of my life, to replace the missing hormone. I will be Hypothyroid, every second of every day, until the day I die.

Hypothyroidism isn’t a joke, it isn’t a fad diet … It is not something you should wish on your body. Trust me.

 

Let's talk Hypothyroidism | LHB Blog

Now that I’m off my soap box …. Who fancies a cuppa? (Pic is from my Insta)

 

Maybe I should be starting a “chronic illnesses are not…” series! What do you lovely lot think? Any Spoonies out there wanting to contribute to a guest series?

R x

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30 Comments

  1. Bloody hell, I can’t believe a person would be silly enough to wish themselves I’ll just to lose a bit of weight! Craziness! X

    • Ruebi

      It is quite scary! It shocks me that people are so concerned with weight that they would wish for such silly things 🙁 x

  2. The phrase ‘Careful what you wish for’ springs to mind o_O

  3. *facepalm* We have seriously messed up body image issues if we are wishing illness on ourselves to accomplish size goals.

    • Ruebi

      I think the look on my face said it all … It was very much a “why would you …?!” disbelief look. Makes me quite sad (and a bit ranty it seems) x

  4. Well the previous commenters spelled out my thoughts exactly! #pocolo

  5. I’d be happy to do a guest post on gender dysphoria, bipolar disorder and ADHD if they would qualify as suitable!

    • Ruebi

      Ooooo that sounds awesome! I’ll try and iron out my plan for it … My days have recently been eaten by Migraines but hopefully I’ll work out the idea soon 🙂 x

  6. Having been diagnosed with hyperthyroid recently and its attendant heart palpitations, shaking and anxiety I’d happily hand back the few pounds I also lost.

    Thanks for a useful reminder that despite our desire to lose a few pounds – ill health is not a great way to get there!

    • Ruebi

      I’m with you! I’d happily take their stubborn pounds in exchange for my broken Thyroid … Ill health should not be seen as an “easy option” to weight loss because ultimately, even if you got to the weight you wanted, there are so many other issues to come from it to deal with that can last a life time x

  7. Carol Cameleon

    I knew that thyroid problems can cause other issues but must admit that I didn’t realise they were quite so many. I suppose that at least you have it under control (as such) with medication. #pocolo

    • Ruebi

      It is surprising isn’t it? I went into a research mode with Hypothyroidism as I had far more questions about it than my GP could answer … It just puzzled me that it could “just appear” (really I had missed the signs that something was wrong) x

  8. Sorry Ruebi Roo I’m about to write an essay.
    Where do I start? This is a warning I think to others as mine happened seemingly over night. The job I was in wasn’t stressful (and I’d rather not name and shame the company as they were my second employment when coming to live in Cumbria) but the situation they kept leaving me in (with a highly stressed supervisor) cause me to hate my job and want out, as every day I was getting more and more het up about going to work. In the October I got dressed in front of a different mirror and found a lump in my neck. Declaring to the doctors receptionist “It’s not killing me let someone else have that emergency appointment” I took an appointment in a weeks time. By January the lump was out and I was being told the worse. March the entire Thyroid – which I might add was in normal working order was wiped out so any Cancer cells that were left couldn’t make a come back. I decided to opt for a trail to prove you don’t need Radiotherapy and I have 2 more years left to go. No one in our family has had Cancer so it was a slight shock (infact some of my friends still don’t believe I had it as i brushed it off and made a quick recovery – this is the first time I’ve mentioned it on Social media), and I was told Stress can have a lot to do with it and someone also said Aspartame could have contributed.
    So peeps if a job gets too stressful or even a situation it’s time to change. Don’t let your health suffer. Whilst I am under control, i am trying to get back to doing the stuff I did before like being really active. It needs to be taken in stages and the annoying thing for me which Ruebi Roo hasn’t mention is the times when you end up being the wrong way and you feel like you are on a constant buzz, agitation and irritability (that’s the worse – sometimes I can’t concentrate when the TV or noise is on in the background and the Man is talking to me). And occasionally i feel not with it and find my self just starring. The thyroid is a powerful thing I have discovered, I would have never known how much this organ actually controls your body. So to hear that people are mad enough to wish this on themselves or any kind of illness for vanities sake need a good old bitch slapping some sense into them needs to happen.
    Keep with it RR you’ll get your level soon- ut the good thing is you’ve spotted the signs. I have found though that putting on weight or even losing it rapidly can make you go cuckoo. My advice If you are being more active I’d go more often for the bloods. Good luck

    • Ruebi

      Oh Linda … I don’t know where to start with this except to say I’m sorry you had to go through that! I didn’t realise that stress could contribute so much and right now I’m so glad I avoid Aspartame (and other artifical sweeteners) – they’re Migraine triggers for me … Didn’t know they could affect the Thyroid though. Have to say I get what you mean about the constant buzz and agitation and irritability (I have ear plugs at work to drown people out when things get too much) which my GP attributes to the Anxiety but is actually more noticeable when my Thyroid levels are out of sync!

      Thank you for sharing this comment … I’ve learned more about causes and symptoms and also who to ask if I need someone to bitch slap sense into people making silly wishes for the sake of vanity.

      ((massive huggles))

      R x

      PS – Feel free to come here and write an essay anytime lovely!

  9. Having been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism I too don’t know why anyone would want it. Yes there’s the weight loss, but there’s also night sweats, loss of appetite, sensitivity to heat, shakes and more. Thankfully my off the scale measures have now calmed down, but it’s something I’ll need to keep an eye on. Hope yours behaves, thanks for linking up to #PoCoLo x

    • Ruebi

      It boggles the mind … Surely being healthy is more important than removing a few stubborn pounds? When Thyroids break they really break … There’s no cure or fix for them. I’m glad your scale measures have calmed down and I hope your Thyroid behaves too! x

  10. Bravo. I’ve been living with Hashimoto’s (hypo) for twenty-five years. I also have heard the nonsense comments about people thinking hypothyroidism means you get a “get skinny for free” card. Sigh. Thanks for writing this!

    • Ruebi

      Hi OneDizzyBee!

      Usually I hear the skinny comments or the free prescription ones … Either way it bothers me that so little is known about Thyroid disorders to the extent that people don’t see beyond what they consider positives about it. They don’t seem to see it for what it really is. Which is probably why it took so long for me to drag my jaw off the floor after that conversation!

      R x

  11. WOW. I almost commented, “I can’t believe anyone would say something so tacky as ‘I wish I were hyperthyroid’ to lose weight” but sadly, sigh, yes, I can believe it. Bravo to you for holding your composure in that situation.

    • Ruebi

      I kept reminding myself that they were being either incredibly naive or incredibly ignorant – while it didn’t make it ok, it did make me feel sad for their lack of understanding rather than angry about their use of an illness as a joke. I still can’t fathom why someone would wish an illness upon themselves to lose a bit of weight … Surely health is more important than vanity?

  12. I also have hypothyroidism! I have be diagnosed for 20 years now, doesn’t get easier .

    I’ve been lucky and has behaved. Pregnancy can affect it, so can having surgery (heard of thyroid storm, it can kill you). It can be depressing not losing weight, and just see it gaining, knowing the health risks associated with that and hypothyroidism.

    Wish people would understand their bodies and some nasty comments can be avoided (non here).

    Take care.

    • Ruebi

      I completely agree with you Vicky!

      I felt like saying to them that they don’t see the blood tests, the daily medication, the types of foods I eat, the exercise I do, how ill I get from a basic lurgy bug, how cold I get from a slight drop in temperature, etc etc … Mine behaves (for the most part), thankfully. But all people see is how slim I am without considering the ‘work’ (I don’t really consider it work) to be this way, they don’t see that I don’t want to be slim – I want to be healthy! To give my body the best I can because it already deals with enough day in day out.

      I worry that to some being slim is seen as better than being healthy. It’s scary really.

  13. Yeah they don’t want Hyperthyroidism either! The most common cause of that one is Graves Disease which my sister has and that causes eyesight problems, heart issues, and yes it causes weight loss but also weight gain. My poor sister now yo-yo’s between a size 10-16 and has no control over it.

    She also suffers with all the symptoms ov an overactive thyroid, anxiety, sweating, fatigue etc.

    Like you she is on thyroid meds for life as well as beta blockers for the heart condition. And she has to have thyroid and cardio exams every three months. It’s likely she will have to have surgery to remove her thyroid.

    Nobody should be wishing for these conditions as a weight loss tool!

    • Ruebi

      I agree, they shouldn’t be wishing for it as a weight loss tool! Amazingly I’ve heard comments like this multiple times since the blog post was written. It shocks me how naive (or ignorant) some people can be when it comes to wishing something irreversible such as this on their bodies. There are so many things that even with medication aren’t that easy to control.

      I really want to give yourself a great big hug! I’m so sorry she’s having to go through this 🙁

  14. This is a helpful post, thank you. My wife has been diagnosed as hyper- and is on medication and has an ultrasound scheduled for her thyroid tomorrow. She’s been devouring all the information she can find. It’s a familiar story of having all the symptoms for years but having them dismissed. It’s only recently she found a GP that has taken her seriously.

    Wishing for something like that as a weight loss tool is beyond dumb even if said in jest. I applaud you correcting them in such a calm way!

    #WeekendBlogShare

    • Ruebi

      Hi ShoeboxofM, The initial process can be quite a scary thing at times as it can be so overwhelming. There is so much information out there and some of it is utter tripe! I had no idea what Hypothyroidism was when I was first diagnosed and a couple of times when having my bloods done I’ve asked questions about the tests only to have GP’s look puzzled and recommend books. Frustrating.

      I hope everything went ok with your wife’s ultrasound!

  15. Pam

    Funny, I went through the same thing except my nodules led to multiple FNAs and finally removel of the left side of my thyroid. It sucks! Taking medication for the rest of your life and struggling with symptoms when you miss a couple of doses. Not sure why anyone would wish for that. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ruebi

      Even now I have no idea why someone would wish it upon their body … When my dad was ill over Christmas/New Year I missed quite a few Thyroxine doses (as I just wanted to be at the hospital) and the side effects of that were evident. It was a reminder that I can’t just forget about it. That whatever else is going on, I still need to take that tablet in order to stay well. That I’ll always rely on that tablet to stay well … And sometimes, even that will need to change dosages.

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