10 years with hypothyroidism

I don’t think I will forget the day I was told I have to take medication for the rest of my life. I remember the secretary at my doctor saying, “it’s not as bad as you think.” Little did I know, I was about to board one hell of a rollercoaster for the next 10 years.

Let’s break it down. What is hypothyroidism?

Aka: Under-active thyroid.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone.   What does your thyroid hormone do? The main purpose of thyroid hormone is to “run the body’s metabolism”, and so, those without are subject to suffering the effects of a slow metabolism.

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Dry, rough pale skin
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance (you can’t tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Decreased libido

(I’ve highlighted the ones I suffer with the most)

                      Always chatting on Snapchat : @StephanieOQ! 

I wish I could tell you that most people with thyroid disease see a disappearance of their symptoms as soon as their thyroid hormones are addressed with medications. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some people may continue to have a persistent reduction in their health-related quality of life, even when their hormone levels fall within the “normal” laboratory reference range.

Signs & Symptoms – do you have thyroid issues? 

– Overweight: I was always a little chubby, but I was eating next to nothing in the months before I was diagnosed.  That just doesn’t make sense. Once I began taking medication, some of the weight came off as my body gained back a little bit of balance. Overall, I looked less “swollen.”

– No voice: I was taking throat lozenges like they were going out of fashion. My thyroid was swollen and led me to having no voice. It was painful but just seemed like a bad throat infection.

– Tired as hell: Now, when I say tired, I mean tired. I was sleeping all weekend, without breaks. I was leaving the classroom to rest my head against the wall in the bathroom. I would come home from school and get into bed in my school uniform, literally. It was painful!
When I first began taking the medication, I noticed further symptoms such as dry hair, skin and nails and being fatigued very easily which all stayed for years, even though I had been replacing the hormone for years.

Tips on managing life with hypothyroidism:

Blood tests – Get blood tested religiously, never skip one! It means you can always ensure you’re taking the right medication for your needs.

Exercise – Loosing weight can be really difficult as naturally, my metabolism is really, really slow. However, by incorporating fitness into my lifestyle has helped me boost my energy, endorphins and kept me slim!

Acupuncture  – From insomnia to headaches to depression to fatigue. I was having it all. The acupuncture was something I was hugely skeptical about but it really, really changed my life. I did it for about 3 years and will always revisit if I feel I have any issue at all.

Going to bed very early – I have to admit, ever since I experience chronic tiredness, I have become accustomed to going to bed early. I have the fear that if I don’t catch enough Zzz’s, I won’t be able to catch up on myself. You can’t do anything when you’re exhausted to the bones.

Natural remedies –  

  • Tyrosine is a nutrient involved in thyroid hormone production and conversion. It can be found in protein but you can take supplements if you feel as though you’re not getting enough protein.
  • In addition to selenium, zinc plays a role in the conversion of the thyroid hormone T4 to T3. Nuts, legumes and turkey are all high in selenium.
  • Research has shown a strong association with vitamin D deficiency and people with hypothyroidism. Be sure to have your doctor check your levels of vitamin D and take supplements if needed. It’s always a cause for concern for us Irish people!
  • Vitamin B is important for people with hypothyroidism because the B vitamins have many interactions with thyroid function and hormone regulation.
  • You need an adequate supply of iodine to make thyroid hormone. Iodine can be helpful for those with regular hypothyroidism but it can be fuel on a fire for those with autoimmune thyroid problems.

Good skincare – Because my skin is so dry, I have to use skincare that is REALLY moisturizing. The best ones,  I find are, Declare, Sephora masks and Clarins.

 

By taking my medication every day, I have been able to maintain a normal mostly symptom-free life. But it hasn’t always been that way.

The medication I was on for about 7 years just wasn’t working for me and unfortunately, this is the medication that is subsidized by the government so patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism don’t get a choice.

Luckily for me, my doctor thought of a better idea…7 years down the line. The hormone Armour Thyroid is a hormone replacement that is made from a pigs hormone. It’s a natural product, very rare and quite expensive.

Armour Thyroid changed my life.

The Eltroxin I was prescribed (and most people are) only treats one of the two hormones that work together to support your thyroid function. As you can imagine, if you’re only replenishing one hormone out of two, you’re only achieving half the result.

This lady has been on Eltroxin, but changed to Armour Thyroid. Look at her before and after:

Being tired is a common occurrence and  most women find they put on weight extremely easy however, if you do feel as though you’re suffering these symptoms, it’s no harm to get a quick blood test at the doctor.

A note to all you SnappedUp.ie readers:

I was dumbfounded when I talked about hypothyroidism on Snapchat (@StephanieOQ) the amount of you who are also suffering was crazy and to hear your stories,  tips and advice made me (for the first time) feel comforted in this experience.

I hope this is the launch of a new beginning for a little thyroid community!

Let me know your thoughts on Snapchat (@StephanieOQ), Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!

 

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Stephanie O'Quigley