First, I am covering my ears and saying, la la la la la la. Doom and gloom and layoffs and plagues and locusts, I'm not listening. We need to relax. These may be tough times, but things could be and have been a lot worse, and keeping up with the bombardment of information about the end of the world as we know it isn't helping anyone.
But just to get it out of all our systems, let's all take a few moments with this video and remember how many other times the end has been upon us:
Feel better yet?
And now for the Public Service Announcement (PSA):
Please get a physical every year that includes blood tests.
I'm proselytizing because I recently saw a doctor after going five years without a check-up. I had lots of excuses. We moved twice, it was too much of a pain in the neck to find a new doctor and make sure he took my insurance, blah, blah, blah. I've never been afraid of doctors, but at 47 I wasn't in any hurry to see a doctor when I thought I felt fine. I figured if I went in with no real complaints, she'd find something horribly wrong with me.
I finally stopped procrastinating and went. I had nothing of note to report. Two days later, she called to say my blood tests indicated that I have hypothyroidism. "Hmmph. So what kind of problems does that cause?", I asked.
"It can cause weight gain, fatigue, depression and dry skin to name just a few of the symptoms. Your thyroid regulates your metabolism, so it can really throw you out of whack if it's over active or under active. The good news is that we'll put you on thyroid medication and although it may take a little time to get it regulated, we can fix this and you're going to start feeling lots better."
Some of the early symptoms of hypothyroidism can include: cold intolerance, fatigue, weight gain, abnormal menstrual periods, constipation, depression, irritability, memory loss, loss of libido, joint or muscle pain, paleness, thin and brittle hair, thin, brittle fingernails and general weakness. Late symptoms may include: decreased sense of taste and smell, dry, flaky skin, hoarseness, puffy face, hands and feet, slow speech, thickening of the skin, migraines, wounds that are slow to heal, and thinning of the eyebrows.
Something like ten percent of the population has some kind of thyroid disorder and it's estimated that there are probably hundreds of thousands of people who are undiagnosed. Men and women of all ages can develop hypothyroidism, but the majority of people who get it are women in their forties. My thyroid wasn't doing much of anything and although I had just about every symptom on the list, I just chalked them up to the aging process and figured I'd have to live with it.
Two weeks after starting to take the medication I felt much better. I'm not freezing all the time like I was (sweet -- now Scott and I won't be battling over the thermostat all winter) and I'm not constantly exhausted. After eight weeks on medication, my hormone level improved, but not enough, so my doctor increased the dosage and I'll have to keep going back for blood tests until it's in the normal range. Apparently this can take a while to figure out.
Knowing there's a reason for the annoying symptoms I've had, but not paid much attention to over the last couple of years and that there's something (easy) I can do about it improved the way I felt immediately. I was especially pleased to know I had an excuse -- ahem, a reason -- for the weight I've put on.
Hey, come on. I have a thyroid condition!
Please get regular physicals and see a doctor if you're feeling run down and and crappy. There may be a medical reason for it and there's no reason to feel bad if you don't have to.