Sorry for the couple-day break, our wireless router got fried in one of the thunderstorms we’ve had this week! I am sure you’re dying for the conclusion of my crazy-awesome-cool story of how I found out about my hypothyroidism. If you haven’t read the last two entries, I suggest starting there.
When I left off, I had just gotten back from Spring Break in Galveston, and had missed the appointment I made with my university’s counseling center about my worsening depression.
One Sunday after church, I was exiting to my car when I noticed my pastor walking out to his car as well. I intended to simply give him a wave, but he stopped me and we entered into a conversation.
“How was Thailand?” he asked.
Now, when I answered this question, I usually smiled and said “GREAT! BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!!!!” This time, I was feeling honest. “I don’t know, Matt, I think I am still processing it.”
“Why don’t you shoot me an email and we’ll talk about it.”
So, later that day, I sent that email, and a week or so later, I found myself sitting in his office. We started by talking about Thailand,and the frustration I felt about how low my mood had dipped while I was there. He asked the general questions that get asked when one admits to being depressed, have you thought about suicide and whatnot (I’ve gotten trained numerous times about this, working at a camp for so many summers.) I had been on two missions trips in which he was a leader, so he knew about my body insecurities and progress with that, so we talked through those and how those may be related to my depression. Then, almost out of nowhere, he asked:
“Have you ever had your thyroid checked?”
“No,” I said. I had heard about the thyroid, usually in relation to “that glad that overweight women blame for their problems.” Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you where it was in my body.
He told me that his wife has had troubles with her thyroid, and he urged me to get it checked out.
And I did.
I felt convicted by his seemingly-random question, so I acted quickly. I was scarcely out of the parking lot when I called my mom to schedule an appointment with my family doctor. A week later, I had the blood test results. It was my thyroid.
T3 is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland, and normal levels (I am talking simplistically here,) are 80-200. My level was exactly 80, meaning I was at the lowest end of the spectrum possible to be considered “normal.” For my body, 80 was MUCH too low, because I had hypothyroid symptoms. “I want to get you up to the mid ranges,” my doctor said. So he started me on a low dose of levothyroxine.
I wonder, to this day, what would have happened if I had gone to that counseling session at the university. Would I be on anti-depressants that didn’t actually get to the root of my problem? Would I have had a good cry, but still have no clue what was causing my depression? That session with my pastor, and his out-of-the-blue suggestion, coupled with some pills that I take an hour before breakfast, have changed my life. It alleviated YEARS of depression, and today, my mood dips only on occasion.
Now, isn’t that crazy-awesome-cool?
And, just as an end note, if this sounds anything like you, depression, being cold a lot, constipation, weight gain, and/or anxiety, I would urge you to get your thyroid levels checked out by a doctor. It is a simple blood test, and it could give you a good picture of where your health is.
After finding out about MY thyroid problems, I found out that a lot of people in my family, including my mom, sister, grandmother, and uncle, all have had thyroid-related issues. And, in a lot of cases, just a pill in the morning, and advocating for yourself, makes a world of difference!