There was a time roughly about 10years ago when I was thin.
Painfully and strangely thin. I remember looking in the mirror and being able to see my chest bones and thinking this really isn’t right.
It wasn’t deliberate, I was eating, probably not enough, I agree, but I certainly wasn’t deliberately starving myself. Honest. I was very, very stressed at the time, lots of things were overwhelming me, life had got the upper hand and for the first time I didn’t know what to do.
It wasn’t just the weight loss there were other symptoms too.
As things stabilised so did my weight and I didn’t think anything of it. Until it started tipping the other way and then I felt that I had been hit over the head with a brick.
Around 4 years ago, there were times I would get up to go to work, make it to the bathroom door and just turn around and crawl back under the duvet. Putting one foot in front of the other was painful, not painful in an emotional way, but painful in a physical way. It was how I would imagine walking on knives to be like. Days when I got up ‘normally’ I would still spend 10minutes on the side of the bed working my feet, rubbing and stretching them believing that many years of dance, stupid shoes and age were catching up on me.
My housemate mentioned that I was taking an awful lot of time off work and was surprised that I didn’t have HR on my back. Up until then I hadn’t realised I was calling in sick or turning up late quite so regularly.
Cold I was so bloody cold, one summer I didn’t even get to wear any summer clothes, its was a typically British summer but pleasant enough outside, but nope, I was wearing my winter jumper and sometimes a scarf as well!! It was around this time that I watched a chat show with Robin Williams talking about his OHS and he mentioned that one of his symptoms before he had surgery was that he felt he was winding down like a like clockwork toy….
Oh. Me too, Robin. Me too. Time to tell the Cardiologist.
So I did. She took my tiredness very seriously. So began six months or so of various tests, at one point she speculated that maybe another hole had opened up in my heart, the terror that idea struck in me was unfathomable. The test is quite funny, they push tiny air bubbles into your blood stream then make you hold your nose and blow down it while they are monitoring the flow of blood through your heart to see if the bubbles actually move through the heart chambers as they should or whether they skip over middle of the heart and end up on the other side thus proving that there is a hole.
No hole. Phew!
Other tests, blood tests, the dreaded bicycle stress test, ECG, Echocardiogram, and finally an Angiogram which is a story in itself I may tell one day.
The only results that had changed told them that the leak in my Aortic Valve was worse than they thought but not bad enough to warrant the symptoms I was presenting.
So I went home, struggled with my weight gain which was worsening, damaging my confidence to dance (which I was still trying to do), my mood was dismal, and I felt I didn’t know my own body at all. All my doctor at the time would say was ‘its your age’ which made me feel I was complaining about nothing.
I moved house signed on with a new doctor had all the blood tests that new surgeries put on you when they find out you have a CHD and I was called in.
The Dr. read me a list out asking me if I suffered with any of these symptoms.
- Changes in the menstrual cycle. – Boy, from being the regular as clockwork woman to I don’t even have a fucking clue about my own fertility or body anymore. Check.
- Dry hair and hair loss. – My housemate often complained loudly about the amount of my hair she found in the shower, um sorry yes that is me. Check.
- Dry skin. – Thought I was getting old. Check.
- Fatigue. – Check, check and check again!
- Greater sensitivity to cold. – Fancy spending summer in your winter woolies and moaning about how cold it is to your friend in a T-shirt. Check
- Slow heart rate. – Thought it was the CHD. Check.
- Unexplained weight gain. – Sob. Check.
- Muscle/joint pain. – Check.
- Puffy body/face. – Check.
You have, he told me, a underactive Thyroid gland (Hypothyroidism) and it had probably been underactive for a good few years.
Oh. It wasn’t anything, anything, anything to do with having a Congenital Heart Problem.
So, I’ve had Hypothyroidism for two years now. It is incredibly common.
The thyroid gland in the neck is important for regulating the body’s metabolism. With an underactive thyroid the gland does not make enough of the thyroid hormone called thyroxine. So I now take Levothyroxine to build up the thyroxine levels.
The Dr. even suggested that when I was painfully thin, my thyroid was overactive as the anxiety and insomnia and weight loss were all symptoms of that, and some thyroids do see-saw from one extreme to the other.
My feet have stopped hurting in the morning, though some days I have muscle/joint pain – but it’s bearable, I hardly have days were I can’t get out of bed, I am slowly beginning to feel more at home in my own body.
How do I feel? I feel less crazy…. 😉 I still don’t like the weight gain or my puffy face. Having Hypothyroidism means its is very, very difficult to lose the weight once it’s there. I hate it to tell you the truth, it will never sit well with me.
But on the plus side I get all my prescriptions free so all the medication that I am on for the CHD is free, which is a silver lining if you remember my ranty blog about paying for my prescriptions.
Funny, it never even entered my head that I could get another illness, I had a CHD I couldn’t possibly get ill from anything else. But there you have it. I can. You can. It’s not all about the CHD.