My name is Hanne and I have no idea what I am doing. I am a dinosaur when it comes to computers. I also have thyroid disease. Hashimoto’s actually, and it is all very confusing. I want to share my story to see how many people have been unfortunate enough to encounter the same or similar problems. My end goal is to try to change the laws worldwide in terms of how thyroid disease is diagnosed and treated. This is my wish: to save myself and all the people in the world who suffer needlessly with the long list of symptoms that come with this disease.
In 1996, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, given a prescription for Synthroid and was told I would be taking this for the rest of my life. Fair enough. I didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t have a computer back then and I didn’t research this disease at all. All went fairly well for several years, ten years actually, until I went on to have my second and third child. After baby number two came in 2004, I had a difficult time recovering from the delivery of this baby. I never seemed to get rid of the pregnancy “mask” and I slowly started to become unlike myself.
I couldn’t take the baby weight off, my hair was falling out like crazy. I was emotional, I became extremely withdrawn, I avoided all social settings. It got so bad I didn’t even want my oldest daughter to have play dates. I became extremely forgetful and it really started to affect the relationships I had with my friends and my family, not to mention my husband. Two years later, I became pregnant again and I was feeling pretty desperate by the end of that pregnancy. The week before my due date, I was begging my doctor to get this baby out of me. Again, a very slow recovery, and all my symptoms had tripled.
It’s hard to pack in the full story, but I went on to have an even worse memory, and long story short, I eventually felt quite psychotic. One day I went to the bank to use the mini bank machine to make a deposit and I had forgotten where to put the envelope. I couldn't figure it out. I phoned my husband, sobbing with grief as I felt so defeated. At this point, I had been to my doctor periodically complaining about this and that, my hair, my memory, my mood, my weight. He made comments like, “It’s your age, it’s your ethnic background to be a big woman (I am Norwegian) you’re postpartum (two years after my baby was born, my hair shouldn’t still be falling out). At one point, when my youngest was still a baby, he prescribed antidepressants to me while I was still nursing my baby!...I never filled the prescription.
Finally, I did some research and realized that all my symptoms fit with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I also realized that my thyroid wasn’t capable of producing the hormone T3 so I went back to my doctor and suggested he let me try Cytomel. He accused me of requesting him to do something unethical and that I was just trying to assist my own weight loss! Can you imagine that? I wrote him a letter and told him that I was just trying to help myself and needed his support. He then wrote me back and basically fired me as his patient. I was mortified! I was so devastated! I felt so abandoned! I then ended up getting a walk-in clinic doctor to send me to an endocrinologist who ended up putting me on the very same medication that I had requested my other doctor to put me on in the first place. Much time had passed when this happened and my health had really gone downhill.
Later, I found a fantastic naturopath who was on the same page as me. However, it is still a struggle. I'm paying for all the medications and the trips to the naturopath out of my own pocket -- it’s so expensive. Anyways, I can tell you all that the symptoms of thyroid disease and depression often mirror each other and I wonder how many people are out there taking antidepressants who actually have thyroid issues and could be feeling a lot better if they were on the right medication. Perhaps it’s all just one big conspiracy. Also, how many people know that one of the most common side effects of thyroid disease is infertility? How much money is being made in fertility clinics? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think it is fabulous what doctors and scientists are able to do to help people have babies, but how many of these people have a thyroid problem and don’t know it? And how would they?! Seems no one knows how to test for it properly or treat it properly.
The onset of Hashimoto’s and the elevation of antibodies will be accompanied by a variety of symptoms, including anxiety, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, weight changes, depression, hair loss, muscle/joint pains, menstrual irregularity and fertility problems, constipation and dry skin, to name a few. Not everyone will get all of these symptoms – some get a few, some get several, or you might be unlucky like me – I have most of them.
These days I am struggling with most of these symptoms, but one that wears me out lately is my difficulty with sleeping. If you have several of these problems and you can’t get enough rest, then it makes life pretty tough. Enough whining. I could go on talking about this for days. I haven’t even mentioned all the ways this terrible disease is affecting humankind. My goal here is to get whoever decides what goes in the medical books and whoever is teaching this to the future doctors of this country, and worldwide for that matter, to change this situation – the way they diagnose or fail to diagnose and treat people for this problem has to change!!
Before I end, I can also tell you that according to Dr. Marita Schauch, author of “Making Sense of Women’s Health”, it is estimated that 200 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease. In Canada alone, there is a staggering number of people affected by this condition. Recent studies indicate that one in every three Canadians has a thyroid disorder. Of these, as many as 50% are undiagnosed.
But, I guess that’s not so strange since most doctors only follow the method of measuring the insufficient TSH lab test. Well, I look forward to hearing your feedback on this.
Take care of yourselves!