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Do you remember the moment you realised or found out that you had a thyroid condition? I remember it well.
I had been feeling ill for a long time. Over a period of five years, my health had steadily declined.
Following swine flu at sixteen, I then ended up in hospital with another strain of flu which, this time, developed into pneumonia and put me on life support.
Between then, eventually coming out of hospital and receiving my diagnosis of autoimmune hypothyroidism, my health only gave more indications of a thyroid issue that were missed. I lost 80% of my hair by eighteen years old, I had unexplained muscle cramps and aches and pains in my legs, I always felt tired and went through bouts of feeling truly fatigued, until eventually, I was constantly heavily fatigued.
I spent five years going back and forth to the GP surgery, complaining of all these mounting and worsening symptoms. I avoided googling anything because I knew that was rarely a good idea. However, a doctor eventually thought to take some blood and run tests checking for things such as low iron, glandular fever and a thyroid issue.
It was this particular GP’s last day at work before retiring and so I often wonder if I just caught her on a good day, where she was willing to go all out on the tests because she was retiring an hour later anyway. Had I seen someone else, would I have been waiting even longer for a diagnosis of my thyroid condition?
Anyway, after leaving the appointment, I decided to Google the phrase that summed up how I felt so well: “I am always tired and achey”.
Lo and behold, ‘underactive thyroid’ filled the search results. Clicking through to the NHS website page about it, I was taken aback. It listed everything I’d been complaining of for years. I then Googled ‘thyroid problem’ .
A light bulb switched on as I read other patient experiences of having this health condition. Comments explained how people were bed-bound with fatigue, had to give up their job due to ‘brain fog‘ (something I’d never heard of before) and experiencing leg cramps, migraines, acid reflux, fatigue, depression… my ‘separate issues’ were all there.
As a sudden wave of shock came over me, I felt stuck to the bed I was sitting on. My body froze like stone; everything suddenly pieced together. All the symptoms I had been going back to the doctor’s with, the aching legs and ill health, all the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle I never realised were connected, slotted together. It was a bizarre moment. An awakening if you will, five years in the making.
And sure enough, the test results came back a few days later to confirm Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, with an off the charts TPOAB result of “greater than 1300”, and ‘borderline’ hypothyroidism with a TSH of 9.
I couldn’t believe how easily I found the plausible answer for all my health complaints, yet doctors had kept missing it for years.
When I discovered my thyroid condition, my life changed forever. After all, I was diagnosed with a ‘chronic illness‘.
Do you remember the moment you realised you had a thyroid condition? Or received your diagnosis? Feel free to share in the comments.
My book Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate: When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired, which builds on this article and covers how I went from being undiagnosed with thyroid disease, to being diagnosed but still unwell, and then finally taking control of my health again.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include “Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate” and “You, Me and Hypothyroidism”.