My no big deal moment happened a few Wednesday's ago when I received a phone call telling me I had Hashimotos Disease. Hashimotos is an autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroid or low thyroid levels. This is nothing new for me I have had low thyroid since I was nineteen when I had a routine physical and found out so taking thyroid meds for over thirty years has been second nature. The odd part to me is why, why after all those years did not one doctor ever check my antibody levels to see if I actually had Hashimotos? If you understand autoimmune disease in any sense you know that if a person has one autoimmune disease it sets them up to have multiple autoimmune diseases, hence my arthritis. In Hashimotos the body see's the thyroid gland as something that should not be there so the antibodies decided to attack it trying to get rid of it. In every autoimmune disease the body decides it wants an organ, joints, muscles, etc to be gone. The body see's them as a threat and the body being so amazing attacks like when you have a cold the immune system tries to get rid of it but in autoimmunes the body see's what is suppose to be there as a threat so it attacks. It sounds so simple but it is actually quite complicated not only because of what happens to the body, at times without the person knowing, but how it makes life a living hell for the person living with it.
The diagnosis wasn't as much of a surprise as the fact that I was told, "It is not big deal." Are you kidding? No big deal? Here we go again. It is a big deal. I wonder if the person who called me knows what the thyroid does? From the Hormone Health Network:
Having thyroid hormone levels that are too low (underactive thyroid gland)Sometimes the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, which is called hypothyroidism. When you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, parts of your body work too slowly.
Symptoms of underactive thyroid include
- Feeling tired
- Feeling cold even when other people are comfortable or even warm
- Having a slow heart rate and dry skin
- Being constipated
- Gaining weight even though you’re not eating more or exercising less than usual
- In children, growing very slowly
Having thyroid hormone levels that are too high (overactive thyroid gland)Sometimes the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone, which is called hyperthyroidism. Think of your body as a car and your thyroid as the engine. An overactive thyroid makes your body idle too fast.
Symptoms of overactive thyroid gland include
- Feeling nervous and irritable
- Having trouble concentrating
- Feeling too warm even when other people don’t feel warm
- Having a fast heart rate and diarrhea
- Having trouble sleeping
- Losing weight without trying
Having a lump in your thyroid glandYou can have a lump or swelling in your thyroid gland, called a nodule (NOD-jule). Nodules may have no effect on how the gland works, or can lead to too much thyroid hormone. Most nodules are benign (not cancer), but some can be cancerous.
Patients are told as soon as you start to take thyroid meds you will feel better but what about those of us who don't feel better? Those of us who suffer for years only to finally be diagnosed? I may never have been diagnosed had I not asked my new primary doctor about this. Both of my girls have Hashimotos so I figured I did too. I knew it ran in families so when they were both diagnosed I knew I had to have it. Funny part is with Hashimotos your thyroid levels can fluctuate from low to high, high to low, even on the meds. It needs to be checked every six months to keep an eye on the medication dosage. Symptoms come and go like the wind. You might have them for a week and then they disappear as fast as they came. It's odd. Many times after becoming pregnant or after giving birth a woman will develop Hashimotos. Sadly after birth a woman's symptoms get blamed on postpartum depression or you're a mom you are busy. It's no big deal. Really? Imaging trying to live, raise children, keep up a home, work, have a social life and friends with absolutely no energy, it's no big deal? Then on top of that doctors that think you are just a busy mom. It's a big deal. It makes me so angry how this shit has affected my life and slowed me down. It makes me even more angry that my children must suffer from this crap. When I hear disease behind a word like Hashimotos I think it should be taken more serious. We hear heart disease and the red flag goes up why not with Hashimotos?
I am beyond thankful that I finally do have the diagnosis because it helps me to sort things out in my head after all these years. I don't want sympathies or that's too bad's I want to educate people. I have said it before and I will continue to say it, "A person knows when something is wrong with their body. Search for a doctor that will listen to you and fight for you. If you have to go to a hundred doctors then so be it, go!" I am happy I finally have found one. I am now seeing a endocrinologist who is keeping an eye on my thyroid gland. He will redo blood and ultrasounds regularly to make sure things stay as they are. Is that relief? I'm not sure but at least I have the care I should have had years ago with this matter. I plan to do some intense research on Hashimotos once I get settled into our new home.
One other important take away from this is the fact that autoimmune disease can take years to diagnose. This has been thirty three years for me. Thirty three and that is unacceptable, at least to me. Remember there are over one hundred autoimmune diseases and many of them have the same symptoms or symptoms that overlap one another. They are hard to diagnose but you must continue to fight for yourself and for your health if you know something is wrong. A person knows how they feel more than any blood test or sometimes even more than a doctor. Don't ignore the signs and symptoms. Don't listen to the "It's no big deal's," take charge of your health. The next time someone complains or tries to talk to you because they don't feel well, listen, they are probably suffering much more than they are telling you. You can be that compassionate, empathetic soul that the world seems to be too busy to be anymore.