My day starts and ends with pills. 18 of them.
5 at 7:00am, 2 at 8:30am, 5 at 10:00am, 2 at 2:00pm, and 4 at 7:00pm. And those are just the everyday ones. I also have 2 different prescription pain killers, a prescription sleep aide, and a prescription quick action, anxiety relief that are taken as needed. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? Don’t forget that some of them have to be taken on an empty stomach while others have to be taken with food. Some can’t be taken within 4 hours of others, and some can’t be taken too close to bedtime. Some have to be taken earlier in the morning but not too close to the first ones because you have to consider absorption.
My life is a schedule ruled by pills. My meals have to be scheduled in around them because when and what I eat can effect when I can take my next dose. Actually what I eat affects everything about my body, but that’s a blog for another day. I take so many meds because I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Hypothyroidism.
What the hell is that you ask? The Mayo clinic website defines it as “a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s activities.” WebMD.com defines it as “a disorder in which the immune system turns against the body’s own tissues. In people with Hashimoto’s, the immune system attacks the thyroid. This can lead to hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid does not make enough hormones for the body’s needs.” Wikipedia says is “an auto immune disease in which the thyroid gland is attacked by a variety of cell- and antibody-mediated immune processes, causing primary hypothyroidism.”
But none of those definitions really explain what Hashi’s or Hypo IS, what it DOES, what it destroys, or what it builds.
A common analogy for describing your thyroid is saying it is like the gas in your car. You can tune the engine, paint the exterior, replace the brakes, check the oil, pump up the tires, and press the pedal, but if you have no gas, you can’t go. Too much gas and you flood the engine. Your thyroid is essential in every process your body has. Such a tiny little gland does so much.
When I was a young kid I was called “Tiny Tina”. I was small, thin, and frail even. I had DIMPLES. But then, as I got older, I gained weight at a lightning speed. So much weight, I lost my dimples. Yes, I ate too much sometimes and had a shitty exercise ethics. But, so did many of my not so thicker friends. I struggled with my weight. I developed some messed up eating habits. (That too I will cover in more detail on a later post.) Depression started ruling my life. It manifested in many ways. (Again, another blog) Acne, exhaustion, heavy periods, mood swings. It seemed like everything that my friends dealt with, I dealt with 10X worse. And that only made me feel guilty and like I was over exaggerating life. Which in turn, cycled me back in to depression. My teenage years sucked.
Fast forward to being an adult and it wasn’t much different. I tried dieting and exercise, and sometimes it worked, but mostly it didn’t. The times it did work, I felt a little better. I would get boosts of energy and would drop a pound here and there. But if I didn’t starve myself and eat less than 1000 calories a day, I gained it back quickly. It was frustrating. I want to exercise. I LIKE TO EXERCISE. I miss the gym, the sweat, and the classes. I miss that feeling you get after you have had a good workout and you feel pumped.
By spring 2014 I knew there was something really wrong with my body. This wasn’t all in my head. I was way too sick for a 28 year old woman. There were too many things falling down around me. I couldn’t keep up with my girlfriend during walks in the parks, let alone playing badminton or trying the batting cages. The looks of disappointment that I felt from the people around me were breaking me. Friends and family looking down on me and telling me to just get up and exercise, to get out more, to move, to cheer up, to smile, I just couldn’t. I was missing out on parties, and gatherings and life. I had nieces and nephews to meet and watch grow and be an aunt to that I was letting down. I felt drained of life. I ached all over. I hurt. I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. I just wanted to sleep. I had random swelling in my eyes and lips. No sex drive. Hair loss. Migraines came every time I climbed the 3 flights of stairs to my apartment. If I couldn’t do that without feeling sick, dizzy and disoriented, how was I going to do a 30 minute, 15 minute, even a 5 minute cardio workout? It hurt to breathe. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was letting every one down. I felt robbed of life. And even though I couldn’t think clearly most of the time, I still had to get up every day and work my two jobs. I had to press on. And every night I collapsed into bed with thoughts of failure filling my heart. But my doctors found nothing. No reason for all of this.
In fall of 2014 I spoke with a friend who had just been diagnosed with Hypo. Having never heard of this mysterious ailment, I went on a Google hunt. My eyes were opened. With a list of over 300 symptoms, I had 80% of them. I made an appointment with my friends doctor, and dragged my ass into the office with my symptoms highlighted, determined to make someone listen to me. Someone HAD to find an answer. Before even drawing a sample of blood, just by looking at my symptoms, going over my medical history, doing a physical exam and listening to me, the doctor KNEW. I cried in her office and hugged her, thanking her. She had no idea how much relief she had given me. To have someone finally confirm that it wasn’t all in my head. It was real. I felt lightened. She started me on a thyroid replacement and vitamins immediately.
By the time I had my next appointment and blood work done 4 weeks later, I had already lost 5lbs, gained some clarity, and felt a smidge better. Based on my numbers, I had a long way to go and needed to double my dosage, add additional vitamins, and added meds for migraines. I’ve tweaked my meds every 4 weeks since then.
In working with this doctor for the last 8 or so months, I have learned more about my body and its functions than I ever understood in the 27 years prior. I’ve also drastically changed my eating habits, lost 35lbs, stopped smoking, and have started to change the way I think about my body. You have to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs. You have to take control of your health. Just because someone has M.D behind their name, doesn’t mean they are right. DO YOUR RESEARCH. It takes hours of time spent looking into topics to know and understand what you are looking at. Get a second opinion, sometimes a third. You have to be your own advocate. No one else can speak for you. YOU alone know what you feel. You have to speak up and say it. And I know you have heard this before, but I will say it to you because it is important. You are what you eat. If you eat crap, you feel like crap. Eat well, and you will feel well. Think about it. If you eat something that was grown or raised naturally, your body can naturally process it. If you eat something that was artificially processed, don’t you think it’s going to be harder for your body to process? What do you think it’s doing to the inside of your body? On a side note, you don’t need to feed into these recently emerging and ever popular MLM (multi-level marketing) scams. If a companies basis is built around growing sales reps rather than real natural health, chuck it in the fuck it bucket. Eat real food.
Be good to your body.
So yes, my day is scheduled around my pills. But you know what? I’m ok with that. I know what each of them do, because I have taken the time to research and study them. I know the risks and the side effects associated with each of them because I have taken the time to look into them. I know the good they are doing for body too. One day I may be able to stop taking some of them as the others start helping my body work and function better. I know that while my body can’t make some of the things it’s supposed to, it has the help it needs, and I am on my way to a healthier, happier version of me. My body is a work in progress…
P.S. If you or someone you know suffers from Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s, encourage them to join a good support group… Here’s mine. They have saved my life.