It’s hard to believe nearly a year has gone by without posting about an exciting adventure. Truth is, I’m on a new journey – one I never expected to be on. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. An autoimmune disease where your body mistakenly attacks your thyroid.
I had no idea that your thyroid controls every single cell in your body. I barely knew what and where it was. Sure, I had the signs. But, they were gradual and explainable. Last summer, I noticed some aches in my joints. I am pretty active, so maybe that’s the cause. I am also a “woman of age” and my periods had pretty much stopped and the hot flashes came on with a vengeance. They were more intense and frequent than anyone else I talked to. It was also a sign. I started gaining weight. Every time I stepped on the scale it seemed to go up a pound. I gained 10 lbs in 6 months. It was also a sign.The voice in my head said I really need to stop snacking, but I was so hungry all the time. I couldn’t go longer than 30 minutes after waking without eating. I carried snacks with me everywhere. I often felt hypoglycemic. Also a sign. I was running 35 miles a week, so I could explain it away.
One of the more curious signs was that I was/am cold all the time (also a sign). I have two heating pads I use daily. One on my work chair and one in my bed. You mean that’s not normal? Sores seem to take longer to heal (another sign). My running pace got even slower. I was never fast to begin with but could never understand why, with all my efforts, I could never improve. My resting heart rate was in the low 50’s (a sign). My exercise heart rate easily escalated into the 160’s and 170’s on any small hill. It’s called exercise intolerance and is also a sign. I was sleeping 11-12 hours every night and never feeling fully awake until mid-day (also a sign). I hated that I had a hard time remembering or focusing on tasks (also a sign).
In a strange twist of fate, I was about to learn something that would change my life forever. My annual ob-gyn visit was in November. Again, it came back abnormal. After an attempted but unsuccessful colcoscopy (extremely painful – Google it), my doctor decided he should do surgery and perform a cone biopsy of my cervix. Even though it came back cancerous, they were able to tell that they got it all and the whole thing was relatively uneventful. However, my blood pressure through each of these checks came back somewhat high. It wasn’t alarming, just high for me (also a sign).
What we did learn through the preparatory blood work was that my thyroid level (TSH) was really high. I remember, just before surgery, he came in all excited to tell me he found out why I am gaining weight – it was due to my thyroid. We did some follow-up work which looked for the Hashi antibodies and it was confirmed. I asked for a copy of the blood work and noticed some other interesting bits. My cholesterol was 210!! It’s never been above 150. It was also a sign. My alkaline phosphatase was low. It seemed random but turns out was also a sign.
I was excited to find out all these oddities (signs) were related. Just give me that thyroid pill! It will be my fountain of youth! Well, even though I started taking thyroxine, it hasn’t helped all that much. I maybe feel about 20% better.
Although it is difficult, I am still trying to stay active. It would be easy to stop exercising altogether but I refuse. I also refuse to think that I may not be able to experience and post about more epic outdoor journeys in the future. Till then….