Is thyroid disease creeping up on you? May 26, 2012Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: Baywatch, Dr. Alan Christianson, Gena Lee Nolan, Hashimoto's disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, symptoms of thyroid disease, thyroid, thyroid disease, Thyroid Sexy, World Thyroid Day
Silence Dogood here. Today is apparently World Thyroid Day, as I discovered this morning from an online article, “Could You Have a Thyroid Disorder?” from SHAPE magazine. It showcased the plight of former “Baywatch” star Gena Lee Nolan, who discovered that she had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (aka Hashimoto’s disease) after experiencing a buildup of debilitating symptoms.
Ms. Nolan decided to fight back by raising awareness of thyroid disorders, partnering with Dr. Alan Christianson, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease. For the estimated 22 million Americans who suffer from thyroid diseases—more than those who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer—this is very good news. It’s especially good news for women, who are eight times as likely to suffer from thyroid disorders as men. (It’s especially likely to turn up after pregnancy and menopause, times when women’s hormones are in flux.)
I salute Ms. Nolan’s and Dr. Christianson’s efforts, since I also suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I can give you a first-hand account of the symptoms, which tend to creep up on you so you have no clue as to what’s happening. It’s like a litany of horrors: Your weight inexorably creeps up, even if you’re exercising and eating right, and even when, perceiving the sagging scale, you increase your exercise and cut back on even healthy foods. You’re tired all the time, desperate for naps and early bedtimes. Your hair becomes dry and brittle, then starts to fall out. You feel like someone’s constantly trying to choke you, like there’s a noose around your neck, making a traditional crewneck tee-shirt or anything else that hugs the neck, like a choker necklace, impossible to wear. You can’t swallow vitamins or any other pills. Your digestion goes completely to hell. And then these puffy swellings pop up on either side of your neck. What the bleep?!
My beloved Mama died of lymphoma when she was just three years older than I am now. Seeing those swellings on each side of my neck convinced me that I had lymphoma as well, and was going the way of my unfortunate genetic destiny. But our friend Ben and my brother raised such relentless hell with me to see a specialist that I finally gave in and went to an endocrinologist.
The specialist assured me at once that I didn’t have terminal lymphoma, but instead was suffering from thyroid disease. After a battery of blood tests, Hashimoto’s was diagnosed, and I was put on a low dose of inexpensive Synthroid (just $18 a month) or its even more inexpensive generic equivalent, which was less than $9 a month. (Can you believe it?!) I felt very lucky.
Though it often is quite a struggle to diagnose thyroid malfunction—in Ms. Nolan’s case, it took 10 years to find a doctor who recognized her symptoms—the treatment tends to be very straightforward. Just take a tiny pill each morning to rectify your thyroid’s inability to function. By contrast, not getting your symptoms diagnosed and treated properly have the most dire consequences imaginable: Your immune system attacks and eventually destroys your thyroid gland, which produces the hormones that regulate all bodily functions.
So, everybody, please: If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I describe, get yourself to an endocrinologist ASAP. If you’re diagnosed with thyroid problems, the remedy is at hand, it’s cheap, and I had no side effects of any kind. Don’t wait until the symptoms have piled up to the point where you think you’re dying, as I did. Get in there and get your thyroid function tested! Your insurance should cover the tests.
For more information and support, go to Ms. Nolan’s “Thyroid Sexy” Facebook page.
‘Til next time,