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January, 2012:

Symptoms

I’ve been asked by a few people what my hypothyroid symptoms were (or are) after my post last week. I’ve also had a few people speak to their wives on my behalf, since if anyone has Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism it seems to be your wife, even if you’re not a married heterosexual man (or lesbian, I don’t judge). You might want to check you don’t have one (a wife, that is), but if you find her have her blood tested.

Today I discovered that there’s a connection between hypothyroidism and left-handedness. Between that and the fact I’m likely to die younger than non-southpaws, I really don’t see the point in being a lefty. It only seems to help your chances if you want to become the US president, but I really don’t, what with my being Canadian. But note this whole paragraph is an aside because being a lefty is not a symptom of hypothyroidism but an odd correlation that’s creeping me out.

Does my preference for cats mean I have a brain parasite? Most likely.

You can find lists of hypothyroid symptoms online. What possibly tipped me off that something was really wrong was that my hair was falling out. I have a lot of follicles, so it really didn’t make a difference, but it was bad enough that I cut half my hair length off just so it wouldn’t clog my shower drain and vacuum as much.

Another thing was the sense that I was suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summertime. Which, granted, was achievable last summer in Vancouver, which only technically could be called a summer because of the date. But I was feeling generally tired and sad and wanted to sleep lots, despite the fact that it was summer (sort of) and I’d bought my dream condo downtown above a Tim Hortons and surely this meant my life was complete.

I also had a bit of weight gain but I think that could be attributed partly to living above a Tim Hortons and also to other meds my doc had me on. Once I went off them the weight came off, but I went off those and went on synthroid at the same time so it’s hard to say for sure.

That’s most of it. There was also some muscle weakness which went along with being tired. And the fact that I could get a full night’s sleep but when waking up in the morning I’d feel like ass and want to sleep in indefinitely. And that I can feel unnecessarily cold, though that wasn’t as noticeable in the unnecessarily mild summer months.

Of course, none of this couldn’t be written off as symptoms of stress, or getting older, or of being a lazy git. Which is probably why my doctor seemed to be humouring me when she let me take the blood test. But I was right, ha ha, I am hypothyroid, I’ve won.

It’s only since starting the synthroid treatment, and feeling much better for a while and then feeling worse again, that I’ve realized that I’ve probably been hypothyroid for longer than half a year, and it probably is Hashimoto’s, because I recognize the swing of a particular symptom coming and going: brain fog.

I hate you, brain fog. You are the shittiest symptom for someone in tech support. When I was a DBA I could usually kick a database until it started working properly without anyone noticing that I was guessing. But as a tech support engineer I have to understand another DBA’s database problems from only their answers, files and output and explain to them how to fix it all. And some of them want to know why the problem happened, or why they should do as I’ve suggested (“because I said so” hasn’t worked so far). And this sort of work requires a clear head, which I haven’t always had.

The last few weeks were the worst, though I also had a bad cold and then a bit of stomach flu for good measure. It would be past 2 pm and I thought it was 11, and wondered where the hours had gone and not because I’d been busy working. I would discover a customer issue I’d started answering 30 minutes before but had completely forgotten about in the meantime. And I would get confused about stuff I normally knew how to answer, sometimes needing to pass the work to a coworker with a functional mind. For someone like me, where work is so much of my life (there’s that and the cat, basically), it’s been horribly frustrating to be so dumb and confused yet at the same time entirely sober.

I’m starting to feel better since the weekend, so I guess the higher synthroid dosage is working. I worry that this yo-yoing of mental competency is going to continue for much longer until the right drugs and dosage are determined. It’s bad enough what it does to me, but if I’m not working at my best, my coworkers have to pick up the slack, and that’s hardly fair as they’re all in other countries and I can’t buy them beer in thanks. And they already think so poorly of Canadians, since their best example is a slow-witted chick who likes cats, donuts and hockey.

Middle aged

I got teased today for being middle aged before my time, or potentially before my time as the word “cougar” was used despite any evidence for it.

The reason I’m middle aged is the whole hypothyroidism thing. When I’d web-diagnosed myself in November the blood test showed I was only kinda sorta hypothyroid (TSH level of 5.9, where “normal” was somewhere under 5 or 5.5). My doctor even said we could forgo the synthroid drug since it was only slightly off, but I had been feeling somewhat shitty since the spring and wanted to try it out. I did end up with an abundance of energy for a while, my apartment got cleaned and I finally had a housewarming party and was more productive at work. Then that kind of waned but you can’t be on speed forever.

So I wasn’t completely surprised but still pissed off that my 6 week checkup had my TSH level now at a 9, which is the wrong way it’s supposed to go (TSH = thyroid stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary gland, higher values means it’s trying harder to get the thyroid to work, and taking synthroid should make TSH levels drop). The treatment is a higher dosage of synthroid, but my doctor now thinks I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune disease where your body is attacking the thyroid.

Everything I’ve read on the internet says that Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism are most common in middle aged women. So there it is. Next stop, menopause!

I get another blood test in 6 weeks that should indicate the Hashimoto’s or not, though it doesn’t really matter, treatment is the same. But besides the sadness over the loss of my few remaining shreds of youth, I am also upset to have acquired an actual disease. I’ve had plenty of injuries and I’m far from sane, yet I had avoided “disease” up until now and I thought I still had some time to limp about in the pastures of moderately good health.

Having older parents (I mean, older than average) means that in recent years I’ve watched them get diseases like they’re buy 4, get the 5th one free. Diabetes, parkinsons, rheumatoid arthritis, several kinds of cancer, collect the whole set (note I’m including stepparents here). I have absolutely no desire to get past 60 as they make it look like retirement is just what you’re doing when you’re not at the doctor’s. And here I am, starting early.