Thyroid disorders seem to be all the rage these days. All the kids are doing it. Jokes aside, the journey to healing is different for every person. Just because your neighbor also has hypothyroidism doesn’t mean that your treatment will be exactly the same. Previously, we talked about the symptoms I experienced with my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this entry, I’m going to share what I did for my treatment. Some of this advice may apply to you, some may not. As with any medical treatment, consult your doctor, whether that’s your GP, your endocrinologist, or some other medical professional before trying any of these pieces of advice.
Getting a proper diagnosis and doctor
It may seem like a no-brainer, but getting a precise diagnosis is an important part of healing. If I had only had my TSH levels checked when I was initially diagnosed, I could have just been labeled “hypothyroid”, which isn’t the full picture. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is diagnosed by testing for specific antibodies. Your doctor will want that information so that he or she can properly treat you.
Speaking of doctors, I know people who rely only on their general practitioner, I know people who see naturopaths, and I know even more who work with an endocrinologist. I am part of the latter category. Whoever your chosen medical professional is, make sure it’s someone who makes you feel comfortable, who listens to your concerns, and has solid reasoning for anything he or she recommends.
Medication is not bad
I have read websites that decry Synthroid – the most common brand of the drug that treats hypothyroidism – as worse than poison. I think there’s more to it than that. All of our bodies are different and they will respond to different medications differently. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to do your own research, but please be careful of what you read online. Anyone with any level of credentials (or no credentials at all) can post any opinion they want, claiming that it is a fact – including me, for that matter. Medication can save lives. Your doctor may recommend a generic drug, or desiccated thyroid medicine, or something else. It just depends on your personal medical circumstances.
While we’re on the subject, it may take time for you and your doctor to find the right combination of medication. My endocrinologist and I took nearly a year to find what was right for me, including making some small dietary changes (I’ll get into that in a bit). Some people find that magic dosage right away, some do not.
No more cereal at breakfast for me!
One of those dietary changes I mentioned earlier was avoiding dairy first thing in the morning. Too much calcium can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medication. I had two options when my doctor and I were trying to determine if calcium affected me – eat the EXACT same thing for breakfast every day and adjust my medication accordingly, or just avoid dairy for about 6 hours after taking my meds. I took the second choice. It wasn’t a huge sacrifice, and I still “cheat” and have cheese on my eggs every now and then.
Exercise is crucial
All my life, due to me being a thin person, people always say “Oh, why would you exercise? You’re skinny!” Well, Eunice, besides exercise being healthy for EVERYONE of EVERY body type, it is now also part of my regimen for treating my thyroid disease, THANKS. I have noticed a definite difference in my moods and mental clarity when I am exercising consistently. In conjunction with medication, exercise keeps me feeling like myself.
Creativity or crumble
It may sound crazy, but I also found that I absolutely must have a creative outlet. Ideally, several of them. I am an actor, but I also love music, crafting, improv, and writing, to name a few things. You may be skeptical that my level of creativity feeds into my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but it is SO important to feel good about yourself when you have a chronic condition. Finding ways to create is imperative for my mental health.
Ultimately, these are just suggestions for you if you are suffering from hypothyroidism. It’s not bad advice for managing any chronic condition overall. You can use these as a jumping off point to determine what works for you. The important thing is that you do not give up on yourself. You deserve to not just survive but thrive! So, go forth and be well.