Up until a few days ago I’d been living in a fog that rarely lifted for several months. Just before COVID made its way into our lives here in the United States, my thyroid troubles returned.
The thyroid is a tricky little body part, responsible for a lot of things that make a person feel normal.
I wasn’t surprised by the return of these troubles after we brought little sister into the world. It began with anxiety that was out of the ordinary. I had a terrible sense of impending doom anytime I left the house for no reason at all. Then my heart started racing and skipping and adding beats here and there. I went to the doctor and sure enough I had an overactive thyroid. I was losing a pound a day and eating a lot of cake and potato chips. I knew I was in for a bad year from experiencing thyroid troubles before, and that’s not even counting COVID because I didn’t know how bad that part was going to be yet.
I lost some hair and about 10 pounds before I got put on a medicine that slows down the thyroid. I didn’t want to take this medicine because of the experience I had last time, which is basically that it killed my metabolism and took away my patience.
Sure enough, a few days in and I’d gained three pounds and was feeling crazy as a bat. So I stopped taking it.
After that things are a little fuzzy, but at some point I was put on medicine to speed up my thyroid again and then I really started to feel sick. I’m lucky to still have a hair on my head when so much of it is in our laundry, in the shower drain, all over the floor and basically just falling out everywhere.
For a while I had to stay going all day because if I ever sat down I just felt terrible. Driving was not fun. It made me tired and I felt that my senses were dulled. I was depressed, agitated, tired and overwhelmed. I begged Michael to sell our house and get a two bedroom apartment because I felt I could no longer handle the terrible stress of trying to keep ours clean.
The worst part was I felt like I couldn’t pay attention to the boy when he was talking to me or enjoy the first year of little sister’s life. I felt like I was pretending to be a mom as I went through the motions of caring for two children, cooking and cleaning and just trying to keep on going. Obviously this illness was worsened by the fact that throughout this entire ordeal I got no breaks and no help— except to go to the doctor— because I won’t let anyone else keep my kids or come into my house during this pandemic.
All of this is always embarrassing to me to talk about. I wonder if I’m seen as someone who is lazy, crazy and eats too much.
The reason I want to be open about it is because I’m sure there are other people out there with thyroid issues and they need to know that they’re not crazy and that someone else understands how terrible they really feel. If you’re not eating any more than you normally do and you have gained ten pounds in a month, I get you. If you have lost all of your patience, I get you. If you can’t remember a thing in the world, I get you. If your brain feels like it has a room full of short circuited computers in it, I get you.
Last week my doctor put me on a different medicine. It’s from a pig’s thyroid and it has a weird smell, but boy do I feel like a completely different person already. My house is a mess and it’s not even bothering me. I’ve had the energy and brains to play with the boy and little sister. My hair is still falling out at alarming rates, and I have a body ache here and there, but other than that I feel completely fine, normal and happy.
To my fellow sufferers of a faulty thyroid, hang in there and I hope you too feel better soon.
Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.