Let's Talk About Your Thyroid

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in June of 2016. It was a casual thing. I went to visit the doctor for an annual check up. They ran some blood work, and after receiving the results, they called me. They said, "Your thyroid levels look low, I'm prescribing you some medication for it." And that was that. No one took the time to explain to me what having a malfunctioning thyroid gland means for me and my health. No one explained the many varying symptoms. No one gave me instructions on how to properly take my new medicine. No one told me this would be a condition that sticks with me for the rest of my life.

Before my diagnosis, I had no idea what the thyroid did. I wasn't even sure where in my body it was! In short, hypothyroidism is when the thyroid, the butterfly shaped gland located at the base of your neck, does not produce enough of the hormone that regulates your body's metabolism. Without enough of this hormone, your whole body is thrown out of whack. 

Since my doctor chose to take such a lax approach to my diagnosis and my care, all of my knowledge of this illness I carry has come from the Internet. I've learned that almost every symptom I was feeling - chronic exhaustion, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal issues, unexplained weight gain, irrational irritability - can be blamed on the thyroid. The 50 MCG of Levothyroxine that I take daily MUST be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and then I have to wait 30 minutes before eating anything, or the medicine will not absorb properly. I should revisit the doctor every 4-6 months to have my T3 and T4 levels checked and then have my medication adjusted according to results. I am also more likely to struggle with infertility, be deficient in Vitamin D, experience more severe mental health issues, neuropathy, and even heart disease.

I felt very alone in this diagnosis. I felt like I wasn't a priority to my doctors. I didn't know anyone else with this condition. And honestly? I didn't feel well! And the worst part was, this thing was never, ever going away. 

So how am I moving forward? 

I have to make my health a priority. I've set reminders on my phone to take my medicine, take my vitamins, and get outside for a walk every single day to soak up some vitamin D and get some exercise. I've spoken up about this illness and found out I actually know a lot of people with hypothyroidism. I've joined some communities online and I don't feel alone anymore. Most of all, I needed to come to terms with this lifelong diagnosis. My hypothyroidism is something I will carry for the rest of my life, so managing my health and knowing my body is now Priority One. 

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