In my mid-20’s, I was at a peak in my career, my professional & personal confidence were at their best & I felt like I could accomplish all.the.things!
It was in my late 20’s that I developed a cyst on my thyroid gland & all things changed. At some point I felt a decline, but I put it down to external pressure & stress causing a minor glitch. No big deal – that’s why they paid me the big bucks, all part of the job, or so I told myself. I pushed on. I found a lump, the doctors called it an ‘alien growth’, on my throat, but a biopsy proved benign, the doctors told me I was fine, no need to worry. I blindly believed this & I just kept going.
Into my 30’s now & I started to feel tired, really tired, like bone weary tired, so I stopped exercising & worked more hours to keep up, because I thought that was the reason. I started feeling a shaky & panicked, like I needed to be somewhere, do something, remember something, finish something, start something, decide something, there was always something. This would last all day & at night I would toss & turn, my heart racing, my legs writhing constantly, my exhaustion clouding my mind. I was losing weight rapidly, so NOT something I have ever been able to do & my hair started to thin & fall out. I ignored it & kept going – I kept telling myself it was just stress. I was fine, no need to worry.
Then there was a day when my then boss called me in & asked me if something was wrong & why was I not producing the results expected of a Senior Manager in my position. I was gob smacked & completely devastated, I had no idea I was so far lost, leaving so much unfinished & so utterly disorganised, but I was. The dam broke, my world flooded & I felt myself sinking. I cried every day, before work, during work, after work. It was bad. I could not regulate my emotions. I had no self control left, if I started to get worked up, it would escalate quickly & I had no ability to contain the avalanche of emotions that would come pouring out, not personally, not professionally. It was chronic, it was suffocating, it was debilitating – I felt like I had been body-jacked by my own hormones & ‘I’ was no more than a whisper of thought locked in a alien mind & body. Turns out it was also kind of life threatening.
One day in a fit of despair I touched my throat & realised not only was that alien growth back, but it had grown, a LOT. How did I miss that? What was happening to me? I dragged myself to my GP & was quickly referred to an Endocrinologist for further examination. After being poked & prodded by the specialist, I was taken up to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne for a full gamut of testing, that revealed the cyst, now roughly the size of a golf ball, was indeed the issue. The sucker had attached itself to my thyroid gland & was merrily sucking the life out of me, sending my body into overdrive & causing my thyroid to become overactive. According to the doctor, my body was working so hard it burning through a similar amount of energy to that of a runner in a marathon, every.single.day!
What I wished I looked & felt like; What I actually looked & felt like (DOH!);
The thing was, instead of resulting in an almighty endorphine rush & sense of achievement, I was caught in the midst of an overproduction of thyroid hormones causing an array of imbalances in my body & mind that were literally breaking me down from the inside out. Heart, liver, kidneys – all struggling to keep up & keep going. No wonder I felt so tired!
Thankfully, there was also a treatment, frighteningly it included taking radioactive iodine. The doctor showed me these little pills, tiny two tone capsules – take them & this will all go away he assured me. They looked so innocuous, but were filled with poison. It is very hard to reconcile being asked to willingly ingest something so toxic into your already damaged body – aren’t we all taught that two wrongs don’t make a right?!? After much discussion, research & encouragement from my J-man, I swallowed those tablets like a couple of paracetamol. It was kind of anti-climactic, no fan fare or marching band, no magical moment of ‘change’, just me sitting quietly in a hospital cubicle, alone, terrified, tears rolling down my cheeks, silently hoping I had done the right thing.
In the end, I’m glad I did it, because not long thereafter, the alien began to shrink, then eventually it disappeared. The first thing I got back was my mind. I could think clearly, see clearly, control my emotions & feel confident I was making sound decisions. Some time after that, with much hard work, healthy eating, regular exercise & perseverance, I got my body back. Put the two together & I felt healthy & whole. I felt in control & back in charge of my life, my emotions & my choices – it was amazing! For a while anyway.
As with so many things in this life, when you play with chemicals, there are always side effects. When I decided to swallow those little pills, I knew the risks, I knew it was not over for me in the long run, but sometimes, we have to live for the now & deal with the later, well, later. The eventual reaction to my action was my body betraying me again, failing under the pressure of chemical intervention. While there was no more cyst to battle, my thyroid gland had been damaged by the treatment & became under active. My metabolism slowed, I put on a LOT of weight, started losing my hair & developed acne along my jawline so painful I could not stand to be touched anywhere near my face, just for starters. Once again, I felt lost, exhausted & overloaded with uncontrollable emotions. The difference was I was aware it was likely to happen, so with a much quicker realisation & intervention, I was placed on thyroid medication & not long after I found my balance again. As before, first I got back my mind & later, with effort, I got back my body. I even managed to create life with that body, not once, but twice. Not bad for a broken down, alien growth surviving hormone bomb!
It’s about 8 years & two children later. I have become complacent about my health, my eating & my exercise. I also made a decision I thought was best. I carried on, despite the the cues, despite the signs. I trusted that everything was fine, no need to worry. I didn’t read the fucking fine print before I signed on the dotted line to unwittingly upset the delicate balance that is me & my mind & my body. I have once again been body-jacked by an alien & this one’s a real bitch.
Want to hear more? Stay tuned, part 2 to follow soon …