Dr Google and I

Well, it’s been a few months. It must be time to discuss my health again.

Last week I went to the doctor to discuss, well, I wasn’t really sure what I needed to discuss. I needed a specialist repeat referral for my nose issues (nasal polyps) and I also just generally felt like things weren’t quite right. I had had a ticking eye for about, oh I don’t know, maybe four months. Yes, pretty much straight. And I was tired. Still. Despite changing my diet and everything. There were other fairly vague things too – headaches, other ticking muscles, those sort of things. I hate to call them symptoms, they were too small and too vague and I wondered if I was just making it all up.

The doc said that I should go and get a blood test to check mineral levels for the ticking eye and ‘while we’re making a hole in your arm’ to just generally check everything. ‘All the over forty stuff’. Great, I thought, an old people blood test.

I had to fast breakfast. They were checking my sugar levels. I hate fasting. It’s one of those spiritual disciplines I’ve never got into. But I managed and they made that hole in my arm and then I bought a coffee and a croissant, and feeling all Parisian I got on with my day.

The next day was a rather huge teaching day. Students in a lab all day.  During my lunch break I received a phone call from the doctors surgery. I had abnormal thyroid levels, the nurse told me, and the doctor wanted to see me next week.

I was floored. Totally. I had been so sure that nothing was wrong, and then to be told that I had a thyroid problem was totally out of left field.

At the end of the day I went home and Dr Google and I went to work. I looked up all the thyroid symptoms and decided that as I was tired all the time and wore five layers in the cold and  had a bit of a slower bowel than most and had been putting on weight all year I had to be hypothoridic. Hypo means low levels. Symptoms of low thyroid levels include constipation, lethargy, depression, cold sensitivity, and weight gain.

I talked to a few people about it. ‘I must have low levels’ I said. ‘It’s the only thing that makes sense’. I had almost a week before seeing the doctor and I worked myself into quite a state. I got to the point where I decided that the worst thing I could be told is that nothing was wrong. I was so hopeful that fixing these ‘low levels’ would fix all my problems.

I found that the treatment for hypothyroidism is taking hormone tablets and that no surgery would be needed. I thought this could be the silver bullet – making me slimmer, more energetic, and more easily able to get through my day.

‘Am I too excited?’ I wrote in my journal, ‘What if nothing changes?’

I bet you can tell what happened next.

When I finally got to the doctor after almost a week of stressing she told me that I had hyperthyroidism. High levels of thyroid hormone. Dr Google and I got it completely wrong.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include anxiety and a need to keep on going, to keep moving. I can see that so clearly as I look back over my journal entries.

I wrote things like:

It’s 930 am and … I haven’t done the budget yet. I haven’t done much at all. I just put the shirts on to wash and I’ve written a list and eaten breakfast and read the bible and chatted to Moz.

It’s now after lunch and I’ve realised that I need to live in the moment. You see, the doc may or may not have an answer that will improve my life but today I need to live for today. Today I am tired, I have a headache and a sore throat. … I can’t sit here in dreamland planning what my life is going to be like. I don’t even know if the blood test said that my levels were high or low.

So today I’ll continue to potter around. Might watch more TV, might read, might sleep. Recovery is the name of the game. … I ‘m pretty pleased though – I’ve done most of the washing, a little grocery shopping, cleaned the kitchen.

So instead of depression, anxiety. Instead of lethargy, exhaustion. Then there’s increased appetite (which for most people is coupled with weight loss but I seem to be one of the lucky 10% who gain weight instead). The body just generally speeds up and there’s a little risk of death by heart attack – I’m glad I finally listened to the messages my body was trying to tell me.

Still, there is no great drama. I take a nasty drug (that could do horrible things to me but I’ve decided it won’t) and in a few weeks or months I’ll probably start feeling better! The thyroid hormones are so important to body function that the body stores them just in case you start running low. So I need to use up some of the stores before I start to come good.

But I think I’m already feeling the effects of having this dealt with. The anxiety has started to drop. I’ve become more able to relax when I’m relaxing, and I felt a heap more energetic during my work days last week.

I have also become aware of some symptoms that I managed to completely overlook before. My heart pounds regularly like I’ve been running up a hill, but without the hill. I had just ignored that before. There are other things too – I can bore you with the details in a private message if you like!

I’m glad that I have the thyroid to blame for my lack of mindfulness. And I am so glad that I got checked out. And so grateful that I live in a place where I can get easy access to proper treatment.

It took a bit of processing, like about five days of constant processing, to get to this point of acceptance but I just want to say to you all, if you think you and Dr Google make a great team, maybe you should try chatting to your GP as well 🙂

Onwards and upwards.

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