Thyroid Treatment: Before and After

About three-and-a-half years ago, I noticed I was putting on some weight at kind of a fast pace...but I couldn't figure out why. Since I didn't think my diet was crazy-high in calories, I was especially annoyed by this...oh...baggage (heh). Plus, at only 5-foot-2, I don't have a lot of vertical space on which to spread out those additional pounds. At the peak of the weight gain, here's how I looked:

I chose my driver's license picture because, first of all, it's a pretty decent representation of how I looked...not too flattering, not dramatically unflattering, etc. Yeah, and blame that particular skin tone on moisturizer with a "light" self-tanner. Liars. Secondly, this picture is dated at just the right time. Anyway...during these many months, I was cutting back on my caloric intake and getting more physical activity to try and combat the problem. After having no luck with that approach (and, in fact, still gaining weight), I talked to my doctor about it.

I was disappointed when my initial blood tests came back showing no evidence of what the problem might be. Fast forward to nearly two years later, and I was still gaining weight and nothing seemed to help. I had talked to my doctor two or three more times about it, and I had made it clear to her that: (a) I was not a closet eater; (b) I was doing things to combat the weight gain; (c) I actually know a good deal about nutrition and physical fitness; AND (d) almost no woman on my mother's side of the family has a functioning thyroid gland. Imagine how disappointed I was then when my doctor offered to give me dietary information and tried to talk to me about being "over 30" now.

Ummm...didn't I just tell her that I knew a lot about nutrition? And, further, did she think I'd just clicked onto some magic age (like 33 years, 4 months, and 2 days or something) and then suddenly...BOOM...there goes my metabolism??? Even coming from a woman, I think this is at least partially a sexist thing. I could go into great detail about it, but really the best thing to do is ask you a question. What do you think would happen if a man went to his doctor and said he'd gained 30% of his prior weight in just about 18 months and had, in fact, been doing all the right things to reverse the weight gain...and that he had a family history of thyroid disorder?

So there I go. Off to a new doctor! On the very first visit, my new doctor found the problem. Here's the thing: for some people, thyroid problems don't always show up in blood tests. But with the right kind of physical examination of my neck, New Dr. could feel that my thyroid was enlarged and, after that, she sent me for radiologic tests to determine the exact nature of the malfunction.

Within three weeks, I was on the proper medication and looking forward to a resolution of all this frustration...and a reversal of the great packing on. From what I'd read, people suffering from hypothyroidism who get proper treatment can expect to lose about ten percent of their body weight fairly quickly. I think I passed that point at about the one-year mark. Coincidentally, this picture of me with my dad was taken almost exactly a year after I started my treatment.

I've lost about five percent more of my starting body weight since then. The rest of the excess weight should come off after that but more slowly. Without any other intervention, eventually I will return to a more natural, typical weight based on my normal metabolism. The great thing is, if I ever find time to exercise (instead of studying Scrabble word lists or writing blogs...or working...or raising kids...or laughing with my friends)...if I ever find time to exercise, I will actually see progress this time.

So, good, gentle readers...don't be afraid to stand up for yourselves when it comes to your health care. Even if you don't have "MD" or "PhD" or "Esq." after your name, it doesn't mean you don't know nothin. (Triple negative! Three points! Three tiny finger gun shots into the air...pwew!pwew!pwew!)


nickysam said...

Thyroid problems are among the most common medical conditions but, because thyroid symptoms often appear gradually, thyroid disease is commonly misdiagnosed. The majority of patients present with a nodule on their thyroid which typically does not cause symptoms. The lifetime risk for development of a palpable thyroid nodule is estimated to be 5-10% and is more common in women than in men.

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Deadpan Alley said...

You're beautiful, no matter what size...but keep up this weight loss and I'm gonna start calling you "that skinny bee-yotch!"

Tina said...

You are so sweet, Martha! And I would gladly wear that name as long as you pronounced it Beeyotch.