“And the diagnosis is…” Stories of Hypothyroidism 3 (Final)

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!



3 thoughts on ““And the diagnosis is…” Stories of Hypothyroidism 3 (Final)”

  1. Your story has really encouraged me! I have had this over all “something is not right” feeling for the past few months. Mix that with irrational anxiety, constipation, feeling cold A LOT, and random “hopelessness” feelings during the day (there have been no suicide thoughts thank God). But, I had my thyroid tested recently and the levels were very low, almost as low as they can get before they’re out of range. Also, they’ve dropped significantly since last year. I’m assuming I’m going to be out on thyroid medication, so, my question to you is– was there really a life changing difference in the way you felt after taking the medication and being diagnosed? I’m really clinging to the hope that I’ll feel better after Im put on thyroid medicine.

    1. Emily,

      First of all, I am so glad that you found my story uplifting! I, too, was at a very low level that wasn’t necessarily in the “hypo” range, but I had all of the symptoms. As for your question: YES! I am going to encourage you that it isn’t an over-night process. It took about a month for me to start feeling better. However, I did notice that my depression lessened when I started on the lowest dose. The doctor will start you on a very low dose and work your way up until your levels are normalized. It wasn’t until this year (three years after my diagnosis) that my levels are finally coasting at a healthy level. It took a lot of adjustment, and self-avocation. YOU know your body better than anyone. When I felt like I was getting hypo symptoms again, I made sure that my doctor tested my levels. My levels have been up and down, and I need to see the doctor a few times a year to make sure that things are normal. But, the depression has gone away, my body temperature is normal again, and other than normal life-stress, my energy levels are normal. One good thing about the medication is that it is not super expensive if you have medication coverage, because it is such a typical drug. I’ve had to switch brands once because my body liked one over another, so you can play with that as well when you get into your “thyroid groove.” My last piece of advice is if you go on the medication, don’t stop! Your thyroid hormones are so vital so the processes in your body. You’re never really “cured” of this, so even if you feel better, don’t discontinue your medication. This is a “for life” thing.

      IF you have any more questions, I would love to answer them! Good luck with everything!

      1. That is great to hear! I definitely understand that its a life long thing. Thanks for the advice. Im glad you’re doing better! I feel really encouraged that ill feel back to my normal self again once we get this all straightened out 🙂 Thanks for replying!

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