I know I am not alone in describing the emotional toll of health and medical diagnoses as a mental rollercoaster. While I know that my weight loss has resulted in no more plantar fasciitis, no more monthly cycle irregularities, and no more weight-related aches, I have always had other issues. Issues that no doctor has ever taken the time to properly diagnose. This past week, I went from a high of happiness knowing that my weight loss reversed another ailment, to a low of being diagnosed with something that I have probably had my entire life.
The Thyroid Problem Symptoms
Since I started puberty at the age of 14, my cycles have been irregular. My weight didn’t really start creeping up until my early to mid twenties. Pretty much every year of my life I have had a women’s wellness exam where I articulated to my doctor that I was irregular with severe cramping and heavy flow. How irregular? I was going 3-8 weeks between cycles with one instance of a 9 month gap and no resulting baby.
In 2006, a doctor assumed thyroid issues which were confirmed with the TSH blood work. I was prescribed Synthroid and dismissed. While the medicine helped me mentally – because I had been an emotional nightmare – none of my other symptoms changed. I continued to be irregular to the point where we were buying pregnancy tests a few times a year because I was “late” and there might be a chance.
In 2012, my husband and I decided to pursue fertility options while still in Canada. They did the standard blood work – cholesterol, chicken pox, STDs, and other variables that might affect a healthy pregnancy as well as checking if I ovulated every month. The results – I wasn’t ovulating regularly. While I was bleeding, I wasn’t always releasing an egg. My full menstrual history was revisited and the cure was a prescription for Clomid with monthly blood work to see if it triggered ovulation. Eventually they found the right dosage for ovulation, but nothing took. We moved to the states and put babies on hold.
In 2013, after moving to the US, a doctor felt nodules on my thyroid and the referrals began. In under 24 hours, I knew the nodules were not cancerous, so I was to simply continue on Synthroid. My other symptoms continued.
Almost 30 Years Later
In March 2019, I finally got to see an endocrinologist who sent me for a new thyroid ultrasound. The discovery? My nodules were gone! My weight loss and healthier lifestyle made them disappear! I was ecstatic! Could I stop taking Synthroid? Had I completely reversed everything my obesity had created? On Friday, March 29th, the morning before my Bsides Austin presentation, I received the news. I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease.
The Effect on Me
While I know I am not dying, this has hit me hard. I have been struggling to understand why it took into my 40s for a doctor to finally listen, pay attention to my symptoms, and dig further. In addition to always knowing I had something else going on with my body, I have been dealing with pressures – internal and external influences – of having children. Married since 2003, the pressures and assumptions that I would produce children started from the engagement in 2001. Ever since we got married, we always just figured it would happen.
Now that I finally know there is something else going on with me, I am hoping I can move on and continue focusing on me physically. I actually feel like there is some closure, but I think I will always be a little upset. Upset at the possibility that an earlier diagnosis might have made a difference earlier in my life. Upset that no doctor listened. Upset that it took so long to finally know more.
I am now simply hoping that there is nothing else going on. Hoping that cancer and other family illnesses never come in to play. Hoping I can completely let go and move on.
Keli Hay is a certified personal trainer using her weight loss success to help others.