Hypothyroidism: My journey from apathy to acceptance

Hypothyroidism: My journey from apathy to acceptance

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A personal account of battling ignorance and online misinformation that made a manageable condition worse.

I was 19 when I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The symptoms had been present since a long time, but I didn’t take them seriously. Neither did anyone else. I remember feeling tired most of the time, gaining excess weight, having no control over my moods, battling brain fog and stress…

I got scolded for being lazy. I struggled to concentrate, or be active. Even doing little chores at home took longer than expected. There were days when I just lay down for hours doing nothing, and felt completely drained. 

Finally, one day, when my mum could no longer tolerate seeing me in such a state, she took me to the hospital. Along with the routine blood test, we did the thyroid and Vitamin D tests too. And that’s how the diagnosis of hypothyroidism was made. 

My mum had a history of hypothyroidism, along with calcium, iron and vitamin D deficiencies. Her condition was diagnosed only after two miscarriages, and it took a long time for her to recover. She was afraid that my recovery would be just as painful.

Her fears proved right. As my thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level was high, the doctor prescribed 75 mg of thyroxine (a synthetic thyroid hormone) to be had every day without fail, on an empty stomach. I could have food only after an hour. Back then, I was in college, lacking a healthy sleep schedule. Regrettably, I failed to take the medicines regularly, and my hypothyroidism got worse. 

Today, five years later, I take 125 mg of thyroxine on a daily basis. My mind often drifts to “what if” thoughts…What if I had followed a disciplined routine and taken my health seriously when I was younger? Although my overall health has improved considerably since I began taking the medicines regularly, it saddens me to know that I may have to take them for the rest of my life. 

For a long time, I was angry – with myself, and also my mum (for having taken me to the hospital). What if there was another way to cure the condition? The internet did not help as I anxiously searched online for thyroid treatments. What I found mostly (I realise it now as a health fact-checker) was false and misleading information. There were recommended herbal concoctions; zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iodine supplements; tall claims about the benefits of losing weight. Of course, none of that worked for me!

I’m sharing this personal account with the hope that nobody else has to suffer the way I did. The message I wish for readers to take away from my experience is to trust in science. Have faith in qualified medical professionals and follow their advice. Be as rational as possible while dealing with any health challenges. Educate yourself about the ailment; don’t stay ignorant. And finally, be respectful and loving to the people who care for you.

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