(Note: the photos were taken from the websites… i don’t even remember their names now.)
Living with a chronic disease is a constant struggle that only people affected by it would understand. And having a disease that can’t be seen physically by people takes the struggle to a whole new level.
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism some 12-years-ago and have been taking its medicine on a daily basis since then. Initially, the idea of having a chronic disease didn’t seem too serious or critical to me but time proved me wrong when the disease, the passing years and the medication left its toll on me.
The insomnia and uncontrollable eating habits are just the basic effects and can be controlled by adopting other habits. The killer effects hide way deeper inside you and the people around you may not see them harming you but they mess up your life. So, what are they? Weight gain (you don’t even know what is causing it), hair loss (a never ending process but it doesn’t let you go bald too), moodiness and mood swings (one second you are loving it all and the other you want to be a serial killer), chills (suddenly you would feel hot and sweaty), exhaustion (constant want to sleep while you are an insomniac), aches and foggy brain (this one is too funny).
During my pregnancy, my doctor kept a close eye on my thyroid levels. She conducted a lot of blood tests and scans on me just to be sure and safe. If you are a hypothyroid pregnant woman then your baby is at risk; I knew this but did not understand the reasons or the threats other than this until much later, when I attended a work-related workshop and found out that hypothyroidism can be really tricky during deliveries or operations. Your blood pressure might go up or drop at any time, without warning, and you can be even comatose. This happens because you cannot control the anxiety or stress levels at the time like a normal person can. I had a normal delivery without any risk of C-section but the pain and stress during the whole process could have been lethal for my baby’s or my own life.
Tiredness or exhaustion is also a big problem – one that you always have to fight with. When they say that there is no tired like hypothyroid tired, they aren’t joking. There are times when I feel so dead-tired that I can’t even move to eat or use the loo, and there seems to be no logical reason for it. But this is not a continuous feeling; it comes and goes as it pleases. After I come home from work, my maid leaves. I am the one who is then in-charge or caretaker of my baby – yeah, that might sound mean since she is my own but that’s how I feel. Sometimes, I know that she needs to be changed, fed or just paid attention to but I just don’t find the energy in me to move and do any of the above. It may sound mean or careless but my baby is a healthy and happy child and loves spending time with me. So I guess it is fine then.
It’s not that I stay in the same mode always. But there are times. At others, I would be so energetic that I would clean up the house, tidy my closet, cook and go out and shop as well.
Next, there is lack of concentration. During meetings I look at people, nod my head and appear attentive but, in reality, I am not hearing a single thing that’s being said. Instead I would be noticing their facial hair, teeth, how canny they are, even their past lives, the paint on the wall, sound of someone stirring sugar in their tea, people talking outside the room, food, my next vacation destination, lawn prints, why the color of the sky is blue, theology, Justin Trudeau, what’s showing in the cinemas, my wish list, ways you would want to kill someone, chocolate cake, what would you do if I win a lottery… and suddenly the room comes in focus and I realize that the speaker has just asked me a question.
Sometimes, I would reach the grocery store or market to get few things and wouldn’t remember one thing. You’d say make a list; I’d say who would remind me to keep or take it with me. Memory loss is also very critical. I would be sitting in a restaurant, look at someone and would think that I know this person but how and from where and suddenly that person would say something to me and I would realize “oh damn, she is my sister”.
I also tend to forget people’s names. I have started to forget birthdays of family members and close friends. I sometimes even forget if I have taken the medicine that is causing all these issues or not.
The most alarming thing is, I forget words. I mean just imagine the pain I go through when I want to write something and I forget words. I do that when I am talking to someone or giving a presentation. My mind would skip a simple everyday word – as simple as shower, flyover, dentist, etc. – and I would just keep staring at my audience with them staring back at me and waiting. The embarrassment and then anger engulfs me; at moments like these, I can feel my face going red and the uneasiness rising in my audience because this could happen more than once in a short period.
I can very well relate to an Alzheimer’s patients. There have been incidents when I have to go to a specific place where I go at least two or three times a week – for example, my parents’ place – and I’d forget the directions or way to that place. I’d be sitting in my car, holding the steering wheel, staring at the windscreen and waiting for my brain to start working again.
I am soon going to see a doctor regarding my situation and am hopeful it will improve because I am a fighter and will not surrender to this disease very easily.
It is highly suggested that all women should get their thyroids tested, especially during pregnancies because, if left untreated, it can cause miscarriages, deformities and abnormalities in babies. It can also cause severe depression and anxiety in women. But you can beat it and learn to live with this chronic illness with the right treatment.