Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Thyroid Blues

About a year ago, I was noticing some hair loss. I was also experiencing constant fatigue and chalked it up to getting older. It turns out my thyroid wasn't working right. This should have come as no surprise to me since my mom has taken thyroid medication since she was in her late 20's. I count myself lucky it hasn't been an issue sooner. My family doctor started me off on thyroid medication and scheduled blood work and a return appointment for two months later.

I should have known when the pharmacist said, "Hmmm. That seems like a high dosage to start with." Within a week, I was a jittery mess. This coincided with consuming large amounts of an energy drink that my daughter was selling for a high school sports fundraiser, so I'd assumed it was due to the beverage. That is, until my blood work came back. My low thyroid condition jumped to hyper thyroid, all due to the wrong dosage of the medication.

My hair began falling out by the hands full. I was in tears after a shower, asking Girl if she could see a bald spot after I felt a whole section of hair give when I combed conditioner through it.

My doctor lowered the dosage, and after two months I gradually began to notice a change in the amount of hair loss as well as an increase in my energy level. I returned to my doctor to review my new blood test results, but he still wasn't happy with my thyroid levels numbers. He changed the prescription to an even lower dosage. What I didn't anticipate was how much adjusting to the medication and the highs and lows of thyroid changes would affect me. 

Internet, can I just tell you how much this sucks? It feels like I'm starting junior high school, everyday. WTH?

I began having anxiety, accompanied by a constant sensation of heartburn and a tightness in my throat. I began losing hair again. The intense fatigue returned and I struggled to show up for my commitments. Things that ordinarily brought me pleasure began to feel overwhelming and burdensome.

In February, I stayed with friends in Ventura the night before a half marathon. I had looked forward to visiting with My Best Girl and The Kent as much as running the race, only to be overcome with terrible anxiety the night before. I seriously considered scratching the race and going home. I somehow managed to show up in the morning and finish the race in 2:17. I'd run the same distance three months earlier in 2:05.

I returned to the doctor to review my blood work for a third time, and he glowingly announced that the thyroid numbers were spot on. I told him, "That's well and good - but I feel worse than I did before I started the medication! I've probably lost a third of my hair. I DON'T FEEL GOOD!"

He returned me to the previous dosage, and I am slowly noticing improvement. The constant heartburn is gone and the anxiety is manageable. I was referred to a dermatologist for my hair loss, but he didn't see any issues with my scalp. He explained that hormonal changes produce a hair loss cycle, such as after a pregnancy. He said that the fluctuation of my thyroid levels triggered the same response.

Silver lining: This is an easily treatable condition. My hair is thinning but the only person that's bothered by that is me. The fact that I ran a 10:29 minute mile in February doesn't make me any less of an athlete. I got this.

1 comment:

  1. You're my Best Girl and I hate seeing you go through all this. I wish I could take it away. Love you!