Diabetes Blogs

Me and My Thyroid

girl nervously picking at hands A health writer with an endocrine-related concern contemplates whether to worry herself reading all she can online or wait for the results of medical tests. (Photo: Unsplash, Boram Kim)

As a health writer, I’m always warning people against self-diagnoses. While the Internet can bring news or supplement knowledge, it doesn’t—in my mind—replace a good endo and a reliable medical test.

But rules are made to be broken, right?

In the fall, my thyroid showed a blip that made my endo waggle his eyebrows.

“What’s up?” I asked.

I’m not completely sure, but your thyroid level is a little off,” he told me. “You might have hypothyroidism.

Immediately all my medical sensors went up. I had written about thyroid disease, both hyper and hypo, and knew that as a woman in my age group with type 2 diabetes, it was really nothing out of the ordinary. I also knew that taking a synthetic hormone every morning could get the levels under control.

But I couldn't help feeling annoyed. I have worked really, really hard to prevent getting complications from diabetes. I eat right, I exercise, I take my medication, I take my sugars. And yet, here was a sign that despite all of that, I was human and vulnerable to complications.

So,” my doctor said, “I think we should take another blood test and meet up in a few months to see where we are.”

To Google or Not to Google

I left the office, and despite my rule not to go straight to Google, to Google I went. Where I pulled up every possible article I could find. And sat down with a cup of coffee and read them all.

I’d like to say that I was comforted by the information, but I’d be lying.

It wasn’t that the many articles scared me, although here and there I ran into words like nodule and cancer that did raise my blood pressure. It was more that given the deluge of information, I couldn’t help but get ideas.   

And because I also have a working imagination, I immediately realized that I did have all of the symptoms and signs. My hair wasn’t falling out in clumps, but hadn’t I noticed—if I really leaned into the mirror—some thinning? And didn’t it look more brittle? Well, maybe not, but my skin was certainly flaky. At least around my lips. Or was that simply the change in the seasons? But my mouth had been feeling dry, and had I recently gained or lost weight? Maybe, but I had been dieting. Had my brain been foggy? And what about feeling cold? I had grabbed a sweater on the way to the movies the other night….

In short, I made myself totally crazy. Pre-diagnosis, pre-second blood test. I gave myself not only hypothyroid but also hyperthyroid issues, because really, who could be sure?

I made a note to ask my doc if you could have both at once.

None of this information was bad to have. I appreciated being able to educate myself so quickly; to have PubMed at my fingertips to read studies from around the globe. But—and I’ll be the first to admit it—it totally freaked me out.

Now, three months have passed. I went for my second blood test and am awaiting the results. I’m looking forward to letting my body—and my doctor—inally clue me in on the definitive answer.

Fingers crossed.

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