I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease about 11 and a half years ago after having the right half of my thyroid removed. My husband (who was not my husband yet at the time) and I were asked to lead a trip of youth on a camping trip of sorts. As part of the trip, we were sent to get routine physicals. During the exam, the doctor checked my neck and told me that he suspected I had a nodule on my thyroid that I should get checked out. He sent me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor for further testing.
They tested with an ultrasound, a thyroid scan and a biopsy. Even with all the testing, they weren’t able to determine if the nodule was cancerous or not. The recommended course of action was to remove the side of the thyroid hosting the nodule and then test for cancer. The doctor assured me that it was no big deal. I would have to take a small pill daily (for the rest. of. my. life.)… but it was no big deal. Oh… and if it happened to be cancer and they happened to remove the other half of my thyroid as well… it would be no big deal. Because apparently, if you’re going to get cancer (at 24 years old), thyroid cancer is the way to go. It’s an easy cancer to fix…so… you know… no big deal. I’m sorry doc… but cancer of any kind is a BIG DEAL!
Thankfully, I did not have cancer. The nodule was benign. But here I was… thyroid-less and medicine dependent. They also discovered during the surgery that I had Hashimoto’s disease. The doctor explained that the disease would fight against me, eventually rendering the rest of my thyroid useless.
The first few months actually weren’t that big of a deal. I did take the medicine daily. My bloodwork looked good and I really didn’t feel all that different. My weight remained the same. I was emotionally stable…. I’d never really been an outwardly emotional person.
WELL… then I got married… and then I got pregnant… and then I lost the baby. I started freaking out. Worrying that maybe Hashimoto’s was to blame. I had read things that thyroid disease can effect fertility and ability to conceive. This was becoming a big deal.
I got pregnant again and worried the whole time that I was going to lose the baby again. I didn’t. Big Brother was born a healthy 7 pounds 7 ounces. I couldn’t have been happier. However, with that pregnancy… my thyroid took a turn for the worse. It actually took me three pregnancies to realize the pattern that my thryroid disease went through each time. I felt GREAT during pregnancy. I felt GREAT the 6 weeks after giving birth… and even lost quite a bit of weight. But usually, within the first couple of months post- partum… my thyroid tanked. My levels were all over the place. I gained crazy amounts of weight (despite diet and exercise). I had post partum depression magnified. I felt like a crazy person. By my fifth pregnancy, I figured out the system and had strategies in place.
For quite a bit of the last 11 years, I have been pregnant or recovering from pregnancy. Hashimoto’s has done so much damage. I didn’t really know that it was to blame. I wasn’t educated. I didn’t know what it meant to have an autoimmune disease. I felt like a crazy person. I was all over the place with my emotions. At times, I wasn’t rationally thinking. It was, at times, a nightmare.
Like I said, by the fifth pregnancy, I had strategies in place. Praise the Lord, my husband is a super star. He knows that sleep is crucial to someone like me. He gave me every opportunity to sleep in when Baby Girl was a wee one (he still does). I talked to my doctor and asked her to regularly test my thyroid and help me stay balanced. I exercised. I started reading more and connecting with the greater online community of Thyroid Disease warriors. I started feeling normal knowing that I wasn’t alone in the struggle.
In the next post, I’ll share about how, even with strategies in place, I began to tank. I’ll share about the feeling of hopelessness that comes when you go to doctor after doctor who refuse to help you and don’t even acknowledge your diagnosis!
Read Part One of this series HERE.