I really need to stop reading the internet. My Aunt warned me not to read any more on the internet. But I didn’t listen.
Last June, I went in for my yearly physical. Disclaimer: it had actually been 2 years since my prior physical and I figured I had better check in on myself. I had gestational diabetes with all 3 pregnancies which puts me at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future, so it’s kind of important to get my yearly physicals to make sure I haven’t developed the dreaded disease; I try to keep up on that.
After a quick physical inspection, the doctor then asked me a series of questions before sending me to the lab for standard blood work. One of the questions she asked was,
“Are you depressed?”
I paused for a minute, caught a little off guard. If I was being totally honest, sure, you could say I’ve been struggling with a bit of depression. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know what I’ve been through this year. I figured it would be almost inhuman to NOT feel some sort of depression.
I was going to answer “no”. After all, it wasn’t as if I was unable to get out of bed in the morning. I had no thoughts of hurting myself or others. To be put on meds was the last thing I wanted. There was no reason to be a drama queen about it.
But when I opened my mouth, the word “yes” escaped my tongue. I surprised even myself.
I explained to her that I had gone through some traumatic events this year and that I was also dealing with the loss of my mother to dementia. She asked a few more questions [“Are you frequently tired?” “Yes”, “Do you have low energy?” “Yes”, etc]. She told me that she would add a hormone check to my lab work.
A couple of weeks later, I learned that I have hypothyroidism, meaning, my thyroid is not creating enough hormones. She put me on medication, told me I could choose to be monitored for a while or choose to meet with a specialist. Of course I chose the specialist. So, over the past 5 months I have met with the specialist, had an ultrasound on my thyroid (which revealed nodules), had even more blood work done, had a very painful biopsy which required needles going through my neck and the conclusions are this:
1. I do not have thyroid cancer (hooray!!)
2. I have an auto immune disease called Hashimoto’s Disease, which basically means that my immune system is attacking/destroying my thyroid.
It’s not the end of the world. I have to take a pill everyday for the rest of my life. Once we establish the right dose of medication (4 months and we’re still working to figure it out!!) monitoring and adjustments will continue to be needed, as it is a progressive disease. I will have to have monitoring and possibly more biopsies in the future (ick!).
When the doctor gave me the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease, he told me,
“You can read about Hashimoto’s on the internet.” [Really???]
I like to educate myself, so I took his advice. And this time, I wish I hadn’t because it brings back one of my greatest fears. Dementia. I read that hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease can lead to dementia. Yep, it’s true. Thyroid problems can lead to memory problems. I even read posts from real people who were experiencing it. Whether being on the right dose of medication will help or not is yet to be determined; I’ve read mixed reviews. Although I did read that it can be reversed with proper medications.
The truth of the matter is this: I already find myself having “brain farts”. This isn’t made up because of my findings; for a few years now I’ve been blaming my forgetfulness on “pregnancy brain” or “mommy brain.” And maybe it is. But every time I think of that evil disease called dementia, my fears settle in. When I see “thyroid” and “dementia” used in the same sentence, I feel even more uneasy. I know that fear is no way to live life, but how can I not fear that I will share a similar fate as my mom?
For every time I walk to the cupboard only to stand there with a blank stare, unsure of what I was looking for; for every time a name slips my brain; for every night I forget to sign my son’s homework packet; for every time I just don’t have it altogether, I worry: am I headed down the same road as my mother?