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My Thyroid Journey

The Confusion of the Disease

I was always bigger than the kids my age up till high school. I was an early bloomer what can I say? I wasn't the smallest kid my age weight wise. That all changed the summer going into my freshman year. I went from 185 lbs to 110 lbs in less than a month. I didn't think anything of it at that time honestly, I was just excited to finally be small like the rest of my friends. I went from being the most fat to the smallest and that, in my eyes as a teenage girl, was the greatest thing in the world! 

Only I didn't look good, I looked sick. I got asked all the time if I was anorexic or if I'm taking something and I always got upset. I couldn't understand why people couldn't just be happy that I finally lost that weight and I was happy with myself. Looking back now, all I want to do is cry because I looked so bad. I didn't stay skinny for long though. 

My junior year of high school is where things started falling into place. I could barely stay awake longer than a few hours, didn't want to eat, didn't want anything to do with my friends, and I was angry all the time. I just overall hated myself. I didn't have the need to do anything, including school work, and I just didn't know what was happening to me and I didn't like it. That's what a lot of people do not know about people with thyroid problems, it doesn't just affect people physically, it messes with their emotional and mental state. I had to fight demons I didn't even know I had! The thoughts I had running through my mind are thoughts I would never want anyone else to think of. I would cry for no reason just because I didn't know what else to do. I would think about suicide and just stopping all the pain once and for all but luckily I knew better. I just knew something had to be wrong with me and I wasn't crazy. 

I started having really bad chest pains that made me never want to move again. I would miss school they were so bad. I went to so many doctors and specialists trying to find the cause but no one could figure it out. Finally one of the doctors looked a little closer at my blood work and notice something was a little off so she ordered more lab work to check it out. The next week I got the call and they told me my thyroid levels weren't normal. My thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were really low. Of course me being 17 I didn't really know what that meant the only thing running through my mind was, "finally, they found out what could be wrong with me!"

When I went to the doctor to get more knowledge about what low TSH levels meant I was so nervous but also happy that after months we finally had a lead to what was going on. Getting all the information was stressful. All the symptoms I was having all lead to hyperthyroidism, which meant my thyroid was producing way too much thyroid hormone. I was still confused as to what all this meant but I now knew I wasn't crazy, I really was sick. I went home and shut myself in my room and cried, after months of feeling so angry and upset about everything that I was going through was finally going to be resolved. 

That summer I had to go through radioactive iodine ablation to kill, hopefully, enough of it off. So on June 30, 2015 my dad drove me to University of Arkansas Medical Center to get the treatment. Turns out all I had to do was take a pill. Easy enough right? Well for a whole week after taking the pill I wasn't able to be in any contact with humans or dogs. It was crazy! So I took the pill and had to ride in the very back of my three row trail blazer at the time while my dad drove us home where my grandma had the dogs locked in the kitchen where they couldn't get to me. I think that was the hardest part honestly as weird as that sounds. I could easily call someone and talk to them that way but I couldn't even pet my own dog!

Well after my week was up I went back to the doctor and was excited to get the all clear, meaning my life would go back to the way it was. And it was, for a little while at least. All my symptoms started coming back except instead of losing weight I gained it, a lot of it really fast. Which I read about when I was first diagnosed was the opposite of hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is where your TSH levels are really high instead of really low like what I had before the treatment. When I got the ablation instead of killing off just enough of my thyroid hormones, it killed all of it. Meaning my thyroid gland was no longer producing the hormones my body needed to function the way it needed to. So it was just dead basically. 

Now I needed to take a medicine called Levrothyroxine every morning for the rest of my life. Now me being a teenager, I was not fond of being told I had to do something every day. I thought it was stupid and pointless so I would take it sometimes, but I wouldn't ever get any better. I got worse. Come August 2017 I get a scan of my thyroid to find I had three nodules on my thyroid gland, which could be cancer. Lucky for me, it wasn't. But it was enough to get my butt in gear and take my medicine like I was supposed to. Now it's December 2017 and after all these years I'm finally starting to get better. 

Thyroid disease is one of the most common disorders in America, more common in women than men. But a lot of people don't know anything about it, I know I didn't. That's part of the purpose of me writing this, to show some light on the disorder and to show that even though it is a burden it is bearable. You can still do everything you want to do. Working out sucks because it takes people with thyroid disorders so much longer to loose weight compared to healthier people, but in the end after you've gotten everything figured out, it's not so bad. Some people aren't as lucky as I was though. Thankfully I didn't have thyroid cancer but others do and they had to have surgery which causes more problems than just taking the medicine every morning to try and defer the odds of getting the cancer.  

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