Patient Stories

Body on the Fritz? The Culprit May Be Your Thyroid.

Posted In: Thyroid conditions Margaret Anderson | January 9, 2014 | 02:10 PM

No one told me that when I hit 40, the warranty would begin running out on all of my body parts. And it wasn’t just the sagging breasts, cottage cheese thighs, graying hair, failing eyesight and hearing loss-- I’m talking about the parts that actually sustain life!

Seventeen days after my birthday, my appendix went on the fritz and out it came. I thought I had just eaten a bad burger, so I waited 18 hours before going to the hospital. After driving myself there (my hubby was crabby and I didn’t want to bother him), I thought maybe I just had a bladder infection or an ovarian cyst. Oops! Wrong on all accounts. Anyway, I recovered.

Five years later, I began to enter perimenopause. My periods were erratic. Sometimes they were so heavy that I would need to change clothes during the work day. I couldn’t sleep well at night, in part because my legs were so ‘buzzy.’ I thought maybe I had Restless Leg Syndrome. I would lie down to take a short nap during the day and wake up two to three hours later feeling more exhausted. Little by little, I gained more weight. I was a wreck!

I went in for my annual “Dr. Don’t Touch Me” exam. We discussed my heavy periods and the assorted other problems I was having. The doctor ordered blood work to discover what direction my body was heading.

A week later, I got a call from the nurse telling me that, according to my blood work, my thyroid was acting up--or I should say, acting down. I had hypothyroidism. I asked if that was the cause of my weight gain, heavy periods, inability to sleep well at night, and all the rest of the symptoms. The nurse confirmed that my low-functioning thyroid was the culprit.

“Yeah! So there is a medical reason for me being fat and lazy,” I said. What a relief! The irony in this is that my sister, six years my senior, was experiencing similar issues and was diagnosed with the same thing only two weeks later.

The fix was and continues to be rather simple. I began taking a synthetic thyroid replacement drug. It took about a month to really notice that all of my symptoms improved. My periods (or what was left of them, because I really was in menopause) no longer caused me a wardrobe malfunction. And the heart palpitations I was experiencing, that I had contributed to anxiety, also improved. Who knew?!

It took a little longer for my sleep patterns to return to normal, but eventually those improved also. Some other symptoms that I hadn’t even realized were occurring also got better; for example, I had been constipated a lot and didn’t realize the connection.

The only thing that didn’t go away was the added weight. I’m not talking about 30 pounds here: maybe 10 – 15 pounds total, but enough to be a bother to me. At first I was pretty bummed that my waist was thicker and my back now looked like the Michelin Tire Man, but I have grown accustomed to my new shape. I have nicknamed my poochie belly “Pookie” and have a lot of laughs with family and friends about it. I work out all the time and eat right and Pookie just keeps me company.

Keeping track of my thyroid is quite simple. I go in every six to 12 months for a simple blood test. Fortunately, I have only had to increase my meds once. Most days, I forget I even have a thyroid issue. The only real inconvenience in my day is to remember to take my little purple pill.

If you find yourself dealing with somewhat benign symptoms, be sure to check with your doctor. If I had put together the sum total of all of the quirks that had been happening with my body, I probably would have found relief a lot sooner.

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