You never know what’s lying dormant in your body recking havoc while you work, sleep and eat. Truly listening to you body and paying attention when things change is one of the hardest things to do. We often shrug off recurring symptoms as part of the daily grind.
When I moved to Nebraska for my first news job, I was scared and ecstatic. I was in a new place with a new job and I was taking it all in. Unbeknownst to me, my body was low key freaking out. It was in a new climate, wasn’t eating Mom’s meals anymore, on a different work and sleep schedule and not getting the right amount of exercise. My body was stressed and I didn’t even know it.
Fast forward about a year and I was already in my next job in a new city and I brought 15 pounds of extra weight with me. I was crazy self-conscious about my weight because it was in my face all the time since I had a job that required me to appear on camera. Not to mention the journalist lifestyle wasn’t all healthy eating and exercise. It was long, irregular hours and drive thru or takeout most days. After the long work day I wasn’t exactly motivated to go to the gym either.
The weight started to pack on and I started exercising more regularly, tried detoxes, juicing, restricted calories, the Subway diet, supplements and protein shakes but saw no change. The stubborn pounds stayed on and a few more joined the party.
During the same time, my Mom kept commenting on my voice and how it wasn’t sounding right. It was raspy-sandpaper sounding after talking for a few minutes. I chalked it up to having a tired voice and blew it off, yet she kept bringing it up.
Skip forward another two years, a career change and I had gained about 40 pounds. During this time, I was eating clean and exercising regularly but never saw any results. I also started noticing other things as well, I was exhausted after work. I would sit down after work and fall asleep. Most mornings I just didn’t want to get up at all. Some days I had such extreme lethargy I would just call in sick and stay in bed all day because I just COULDN’T get up. I’d have mood swings and dip in and out of depression.
It was when I started to hate what I saw in the mirror and feel like a complete failure for gaining all this weight and not being able to lose it – that I decided I would go to the doctor to see if there were any underlying issues.
I went to my primary care physician and after explaining my symptoms and testing negative for diabetes I was referred to an endocrinologist. I feel fortunate that my doctor saw the symptoms for what they potentially were and sent me to a specialist – because I got a diagnosis much quicker than many others. My endocrinologist also ordered all the types of tests up front: thyroid antibodies, TSH, T4 free, T3 free, basic metabolic panel, Vitamin D, cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone, hemoglobin and hemoglobin A1C. Legit. All the tests.
Of course, I was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder – which was hard enough to understand but it was also an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I had honestly never even heard of an autoimmune disorder which made it even hard to wrap my head around the fact that my own body was systematically attacking itself. All the weight gain and symptoms finally made sense but I realized that getting back to healthy and happy was going to be a much longer, deeper and harder journey than I expected.