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The Remarkable Difference Adequate Treatment Makes

I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It’s an autoimmune disease in which my body attacks my thyroid. The thyroid controls basically, you know, every bodily function. So if it’s under attack and starts to function poorly, your (or, rather, my) whole body becomes a sad mess. This affects both physical and mental stuff. The treatment I use is a combination of two synthetic hormones that supplement the hormones my body either isn’t making or isn’t properly converting into other hormones.

For more than a year, I’ve felt like this condition was getting worse. And the lab tests showed a decline, but were still kind of okay-normal, but suboptimal, and I was just too scared to bring it up with my doctor.

Then in January I got feeling bad enough, and the test results were finally suboptimal enough, that I went to my doctor and checked in about getting an increase in the dosage of these hormones, which after some hand-wringing about how they could actually be hurting me, she eventually agreed to. About a week before that appointment, I started taking a selenium supplement, which has been shown in medical studies to help Hashimoto’s patients.

In early January, I was having a lot of really bad days. I was too sleepy to accomplish much in the first week. I had an eight-day headache. My joints were constantly aching. Sometimes my muscles ached, too. I felt stupid and slow. Exercise sounded like something that would be difficult to get through both because I wouldn’t really be able to breathe afterwards and because it would just aggravate my joints more. Getting up in the morning was very difficult. Many days, I was not confident in my ability to meet my basic adult obligations.

About a week after starting the selenium supplement, I began to feel kind of like a person again. I hadn’t really, not for the first three weeks of this year. I felt like maybe I was capable of dealing with life.

It takes about 4 weeks to notice much of a change from a dosage increase in thyroid meds, and 6-8 weeks for it to show up on a serum test. But today is two weeks since my dose increased, and I can feel a difference in my body and my attitude. Yesterday I went swimming for the first time in more than a month. I got up, took my medicine, braided my hair, kissed my husband goodbye, wished him a happy morning of playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, and was on my way. I swam for I don’t know how long, but I swam until my legs started to say, “Please, no more, thanks.”

This morning, I went for a walk. It was a one-mile walk. A couple of weeks ago, I would do this same walk, and at the end of it, I would need to just sit for ten minutes to catch my breath. This morning, I came in, sat for a minute or two, and started making breakfast. I hard-boiled some eggs. For the past couple of weeks, all I’ve been able to do was mix up an instant breakfast powder with milk.

My mind isn’t as sharp as I’d like yet, but I feel optimistic that it will be in the next month or two. I still get sleepy mid-afternoon, but I get a few hours of good thinking-time in at work before that happens. I can’t convey just what a difference it is to feel like things are getting better, like it’s possible for them to keep getting better.

I need to remember this feeling. I need to remember, next time I start to feel low, that I can take control, I can talk to my doctor, and I can make it better. I have that power. I need to internal-locus-of-control this thing, and I can. I can. That’s the hardest, and most important, part to remember.