butterfly-outline

I have Hashimoto’s Disease which is also known as hypothyroidism.  This has made it difficult to focus or concentrate, which is why I have been on sort of a sabbatical from this blog.  Although this is a physical disease, I want to discuss not only the symptoms and treatment, but also what this does to a person mentally and psychologically.

Many people don’t fully understand how important the thyroid gland is.  This small butterfly-shaped organ is the master controller of all the metabolic functions of all of the cells in our body.  So, when this organ is not working properly, it can interrupt and change every single part of our body and health.  Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) is majorly misunderstood; most people that I have spoken to believe that a low functioning thyroid simply affects your metabolism, which can cause weight gain.  However, this disease is an autoimmune disease that makes our body attack itself.

One of the first things that I found out was that my exhaustion was only a small part of the long list of physical and mental symptoms that accompany this disease.  I will first discuss my list of physical symptoms and then I will go deeper into the mental and emotional issues.  Ok, here’s the list of the physical symptoms.  I warn you, it’s a doozy:

  • Chronic exhaustion and fatigue. Main issue and pretty self-explanatory.
  • Weight gain with the inability to lose it. I was able to walk for miles, exercise daily, and maintain a relatively normal weight (I loved my ice cream).  Then I started to gain weight and began to be too tired to exercise.  I had little to no appetite, but even though I started to eat like a bird, I started to rapidly gain weight.
  • No more energy, along with needing a long recovery period after being psychically active.
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia, snoring, and needing naps.
  • Also, feeling tired even after oversleeping. For example, I will sleep for 10 hours and wake up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all.
  • Adrenaline Fatigue.  Too much stress can create high levels of adrenaline hormones, draining you sooner than before. https://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/adrenal-fatigue-symptoms/
  • Muscle and joint weakness. I lift my small dog now and my muscles will ache.  My reflexes are also slowed.
  • Overall pain. I’ll have to break this one down into smaller categories.
    • I have carpal tunnel in my right arm and golfer’s wrist in my left. Other people also suffer with tarsal tunnel which affects the legs.
    • Muscles and joint pain along with joint stiffness. I always have difficulty getting out of bed.
    • Chronic upper and lower back pain.  Everyday one or the other or both.
    • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This is basically when the fatigue gets worse with any physical or even mental activity, but even after resting it doesn’t get better.  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20022009
    • Arthritis in both hands. This makes it difficult to type.
    • Painful soles and heels. First steps out of bed feels like I’m stepping on hot coals.
    • Fibromyalgia. This causes a whole other set of symptoms and problems, but basically, it’s overall body pain thought to be caused by overactive nerves.  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/definition/con-20019243
  • Metabolic syndrome.  High blood-pressure, high sugar levels, abnormal cholesterol levels and weight gain around the midsection. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/home/ovc-20197517
  • Diminished appetite with gained weight.
  • Low or a complete loss of sexual drive. This includes sex being painful.
  • Heavy and irregular periods. Sometimes my period will last two weeks and then only have a few days ‘off’ and then another cycle will start.
  • Cold hands and feet. Some people suffer from coldness throughout their entire extremities.  For me, I do not like wearing socks and shoes, but I find that I have to wear, at least, slippers throughout the entire day now because my feet are cold.
  • Hot flashes coupled with cold sweats. There are also symptoms of intolerance to either heat or cold.
  • Excessive sweating with low body temperature. Other symptoms can include shivering even when sweating.
  • Swelling of my face including eyes, lips and neck. I also have swelling of the feet, specifically around the ankles.  Other people suffer with the swelling of their hands, arms, and legs.
  • Difficulty swallowing. This is coupled with extreme dry mouth.  I now brush my teeth and rinse with Biotene to counteract the dry mouth.
  • Difficulty taking in deep breaths.
  • Sore throat along with a swollen tongue. Other symptoms include pressure on the throat or burning sensation in the throat with pain or sensitivity to the neck.
  • A distortion of the sense of taste (Dysgeusia). Sometimes even the most flavorful foods will taste bland, giving me the craving of salt.  However, I have high-blood pressure so I can’t salt my food when dysgeusia occurs.
  • Speech problems. This includes slurring, stuttering, and having difficulty pronouncing long or complicated words.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Basically pain in the jaw, accompanied with teeth grinding and clenching, especially when I sleep.  I am not sure if I had TMJ before Hashimoto’s, but I know that I did grind my teeth when I slept so it may have just evolved.
  • Bleeding gums. I was also warned by one of my doctors that my gums may also recede, become swollen, be irritated and/or have a higher inclination for gum disease.  I was also warned to be aware of halitosis, which is extremely bad breath.
  • Very dry skin. Very, very dry skin.  I use hand cream, face cream, body lotion, foot cream, etc.  I even started using shower lotion, followed with after-shower body oils, and my skin will still be dry by the next morning.
  • Easily bruised. Now, I am not Miss Graceful at all.  However, now I bruise even if I look at a door wrong.  I get bruises in the strangest places; right now I have a bruise on the back of my hand near my thumb.  How do you bruise there? I don’t know, but I did.
  • Slow healing of wounds. Along with bruising easily, now it takes forever for those bruises to heal (I’ve had that bruise on my hand for like two weeks now).  There is also the chance of becoming a hemophiliac.
  • Lack of coordination. Like I said earlier, I have always been a bit clumsy; however, now I feel faint if I move too quickly and I have a tendency to fall down if there is a change of elevation (like taking a couple of steps up or down the stairs).
  • Shakes or tremors. You know, like the ones you get when something goes up or down your spine; like there’s a chill in the air or you see something creepy.  However, there is no change in weather or atmosphere, I simply would get a tremor.
  • Slow focusing and double vision. I wear glasses and have poor vision to start with.  Now, it takes longer to adjust from looking at something close to looking at something far away.  And then, when I can focus on the far-away, I sometimes see two of it.
  • Blurred vision and problems seeing in the dark. Other symptoms can include a sensitivity to light, dry eyes, puffy eyes, glaucoma and/or cataracts.
  • Dizziness and vertigo. Just, out of the blue.
  • Tingling and the ‘falling asleep’ of hands and feet. This can also occur with the legs, arms, and the face.
  • Hair loss and finer hair. I have long hair and it was always thick and full.  Now, however, my hair has thinned out so much.  I started taking prenatal pills along with using specialized shampoo and conditioner to try to counteract the brittle hair.
  • Varicose veins. I am not that old; however, over the past two years I have developed so many varicose veins, I stopped counting.  Luckily, there are procedures to have them removed.  That’s on the win-the-lottery list.
  • Ringing in my ears.
  • Sensitivity to noise. This one was strange because I am partially deaf, so to have noise seem too loud is almost an oxymoron.
  • Sensitive to food, specifically gluten. I have some food allergies but it wasn’t until my endocrinologist told me to stop eating gluten that I realized how much it impacted me after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
  • Reoccurring urinary tract infections. Need to eat cranberries or drink cranberry juice everyday as a preventative measure.
  • Difficulty breathing with a tightness in my chest. I have a shortness of breath, even when I have just been sitting around.
  • High-blood pressure. Now, my blood pressure always ran a bit high, but it became impossible to regulate without medication. Also suffer from:
    • Fast heart-rate
    • Heart palpitations
    • Arrhythmia
    • Chest pain; sharp, jabbing pains
  • Constipation and diarrhea. You would think you would have one or the other but that’s not the case with me.  I either have one or the other.  Some people also suffer from hemorrhoids, hard stools, and/or excess gas.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This is accompanied with acid reflux.  In the beginning, it was hard to realize what you can and cannot eat.  Even simple sandwiches would cause me heartburn and nausea.  I’ve been told that ulcers can also develop.  Looking forward to that.
  • Frequent need to urinate. I feel like I’m 8 months pregnant again.
  • Reoccurring infections: bronchitis, colds, upper respiratory, and sinuses.
  • Lupus. I haven’t been fully diagnosed with Lupus, but I lie on the border.  This, of course, will open up a new set of symptoms and issues.

Even after coping with all of the above, I still may develop any related diseases, disorders, or cancers:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Adult ADHD
  • Skin cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Lung or breast cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • Alopecia
  • Diabetes
  • Ovarian failure
  • Cushing disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis

I will be discussing the different psychological issues that accompany Hashimoto’s, Fibromyalgia, and Lupus in posts to follow.