(Photo: view from holiday accommodation during long-weekend break to Wells Next the Sea, Norfolk)
My recent eight-weekly blood test revealed that I have become hypothyroid. Me and 15 in every 1 000 women in the UK (NHS for Scotland). This is the polar opposite to my previous hyperthyroidism (see earlier blogs) and this time the symptoms are listed as:
A slowing down of mental and physical processes of the body such as…
Fatigue and tiredness: most definitely. Over the past two months I’ve found myself cancelling as many evening arrangements as possible, because I’ve been exhausted by about 6pm. If the evening has to go ahead, then I’ve tried to rest (or better, sleep) during the day. Thank goodness I’m no longer teaching – I was constantly tired and I don’t think I’d have coped. Some nights I have slept for 12 hours or longer. I took to drinking the occasional coffee – yeuch) because the caffeine boost seemed to help.
Weight gain: sadly, yep.
Increased awareness of the cold: As someone who used to tell everyone else to put on another jumper, I’ve sometimes been so cold, I’ve taken to wrapping myself in a blanket to keep warm. My resting heart-rate, on sitting down, was often in the low 60s, which was lower than my pre-Graves Disease first-waking-up-in-the-morning resting heart-rate.
Constipation: You don’t really want to read about ‘stubborn bowel’, do you? (Tick).
Dry skin and hair: I’m more prone to this anyway in the winter, so yes.
Low mood and depression: Knowing this was likely, I’ve been out walking as often as possible in a bid to stave this off. But yes, a little, and oh, the sheer effort involved in getting round my normal walking routes…
Brain fog: Yes, despite my best efforts to keep my brain active (my language-learning app, my music playing, my reading and writing. All of which I’ve often been too tired to do anyway.)
Hypothyroid friends – please accept my apologies for any belittling or lack of comprehension about your very real symptoms. I now understand they’re equally difficult and unpleasant to live with as those of hyperthyroidism, and, because we’ve been expecting it, the medical profession believed me when I told them how sluggish and lethargic I’ve been feeling.
I’ve been taking levothyroxine for the last 10 days (one week to ten days for it to work its way into your bloodstream, 6 weeks for it to have an effect). The tablets have to be taken 30 minutes to an hour before you eat or drink (especially caffeinated drinks) in the morning – thankfully not a problem these days, although back in my teaching days this would have been a struggle. I’m still tiring quickly, but at least now I can look forward to an improvement in my energy levels as the year progresses. I appreciate that getting a perfect balance can require some fine-tuning but at least I’m headed in the right direction.