Last year, and quite possibly for years prior, I had some trouble with my thyroid gland.
Not many people know much about the thyroid, so here’s a run-down:
“The thyroid gland is situated at the front of the throat, below the larynx (Adam’s apple), and comprises two lobes that lie on either side of the windpipe. The thyroid gland secretes hormones to regulate many metabolic processes, including growth and energy expenditure. If the thyroid gland is overactive or sluggish, the metabolism will be affected, leading to a variety of symptoms that are easily misdiagnosed. Around one in 20 people will experience some form of thyroid dysfunction in their lifetime. Women are more susceptible than men."
In April last year, I started feeling a bit off. Like the kind of off that makes you think it’s all in your head. Some days I felt fine, other days I felt ordinary. I honestly put it down to stress because I was going through some changes with my job; applying for a permanent role and going through the interview process for your own job is a very strange situation. There was also uncertainty about what would happen if I didn’t get the job. So I continued to power through, whilst trying to do some self-care to take care of these stress symptoms. It didn’t seem to help.
In the end, I didn’t get the permanent role and had to start madly applying for jobs. I was a mess. The shock of not getting that job completely gutted me. I have since found out that it was some political bull***t and it was honestly for the best.
So as I said, I was a mess. I felt like there was a fist squeezing me just at the bottom of my ribs, in the middle. It was getting worse; I could feel it in my chest. I was on edge, anxious, jittery, sleeping like crap, having messed up dreams and could cry multiple times a day. I continued to work out because I know exercise helps my mental state.
Because I was focusing on the workouts, I was hungry more often. So I was having healthy snacks and getting enough water. But my digestion just wasn’t sitting right and it was getting worse. After a week of belly aches and bloating I decided it wasn’t all in my head. I got blood work done and it came back that my thyroid was hyperactive, as in overactive.
My GP was worried; she was sending me for scans. I wasn’t displaying any of the normal symptoms, except hunger, but my weight wasn’t dropping dramatically (like it should have been). Although, the anxiety was pretty damn real, I think I was scared to admit it back then. You might think, “Overactive, what’s the big deal? It’ll help you lose weight.” No, it sucked, nothing ever felt “right”.
After getting these results back I did a mid-intensity workout, and I couldn’t get my heart rate down. I felt like I had low blood sugar, you know that awful jittery feeling? But I had eaten and wasn’t dehydrated. Eventually after about 6 hours, I felt a little better. According to my Fitbit (I know, not 100% accurate, take it with a grain of salt), my average daily heart rate had gone from 59 to 76. That felt high to me, as a mostly-fit, 28 year old.
Of course, most people with thyroid conditions have underactive thyroids, not overactive ones. So google was no help, I was more confused than ever. The scan results didn’t confirm or deny anything to the doctors and they booked me in to see a specialist.
The GP informed me to stop taking my fish oil capsule, multivitamin and limit salt and fish. As a gym-goer, this is very counter-intuitive and as I’d been taking them for years, it was a bit of an adjustment. Fish oil and salt is pretty useful for recovery.
It got me thinking, for that year I was stuck at 83-85kgs, had my thyroid been underactive? I asked the specialist that and he said there’s no way we’d ever know if no tests were done at the time. He also looked at my new test results and my levels had improved. But he was still a bit hesitant to just let me go on my way. But he did tell me to go back on my fish oil and my multi-vitamin, because in his words “Iodine has nothing to do with the thyroid”. Now I don’t know if the entire internet, two GP’s and radiologist are wrong, but this is what he said. I’m really don’t know who to believe but I did go back on my supplements.
Fast forward to now, after a follow up appointment with the Endocrinologist, and two follow up blood tests…. The verdict? “It was a blip”. I know, right? How crazy? I will add that I’ve been on the pill for years; literally nothing changed except I was quite stressed about work at that time. So, there’s literally no explanation for my initial blood results or feeling jittery.
The point is, if you feel off, see your doctor. At least look into it. And I don’t mean WebMD, it will say you have a tumour. Seeing your doctor might give you answers and help you feel better. Or it’ll give you a reason to see your doctor, which isn’t a bad thing either. Listen to your body, take care of yourself; because the longer you leave it, the worse it could get. And possibly have long term affects. You’re worth asking the question.
P.S. Feel free to reach out if you want to know more about my experience. Or more about what I learnt about the thyroid.