January is National Thyroid Awareness Month, and recently, I found out what a crucial role the thyroid plays in your overall health and why it is essential to listen to your body. Several months after having my baby, my body was a mess. I was tired all the time, had bags under my eyes, felt out of breath walking up the stairs, was always hungry and gosh, is it hot in here to anyone else or is it just me?
For months I had been explaining away my symptoms with many, albeit plausible, excuses. I was tired and had bags under my eyes because I had a newborn. I was getting out of breath and feeling heart palpitations now and then because I had no time to workout and was out of shape. I was hungry all the time because I was breastfeeding. Finally, I was hot all the time because my husband kept messing with the thermostat. All of those things made sense to me, but after several months of symptoms, I had to admit that it might be more.
I scheduled an appointment with my primary care doctor to get a physical and get my bloodwork done. I told them those same excuses while explaining my symptoms and they seemingly agreed with them too but ran my bloodwork anyway. The bloodwork came back showing that my thyroid levels were very high, meaning I had hyperthyroidism. Can you guess the main symptoms of hyperthyroidism? You’ve got it: feeling tired all the time, sensitivity to heat, heart palpitations/increased heart rate and appetite, among others.
As I mentioned, January is National Thyroid Awareness Month, but I had never really given much attention to or thought much about my thyroid. It turns out though, that little gland influences a lot of big functions in your body. My malfunctioning thyroid was affecting my heart, my body temperature, my metabolism, and even my mood. Since I had finally listened to my body and sought medical direction, I then began my journey with an endocrinologist to figure out why I was suddenly experiencing hyperthyroidism.
However, just because I had a diagnosis, doesn’t mean that I could stop listening to my body. My endocrinologist did more tests and put me on some thyroid medication to help lower my numbers. And it helped. After two months of being on the medicine, I had to come off of it for two weeks to get a thyroid scan. This scan was to hopefully give them more clues as to why I was experiencing hyperthyroidism. After I got the scan, my doctor told me to go back on the medicine. But I wasn’t experiencing the symptoms again after having not been on the medicine for those two weeks. So I listened to my body and asked the doctor to do my bloodwork again before I got back on the medicine. He didn’t think it was necessary, but I insisted, and guess what? My bloodwork showed that all my thyroid levels were in the normal range! This was another clue to help the doctor in figuring out what was going on with my thyroid that might have been missed had I not listened to my body and spoken up.
I am happy to share that my thyroid levels have been in normal range the last few months, without any interventions. Why do I tell you this? Not just because of National Thyroid Awareness Month and nearly 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime, but many times, we let other voices or the circumstances we are in take precedence over what our body is telling us. We either run ourselves ragged and don’t listen, excuse away symptoms (me!), or we don’t take an active role when we are at the doctor’s office. Perhaps you don’t have any problem with your thyroid, but are you listening to your body? We are always advocating for our kids, but it is time we also start advocating for ourselves.
So, what is your body telling you? Are you listening?