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11 April, 2012

Something other than a PBP post

As some of you know, I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. (Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Basically, my body is trying to kill my thyroid gland.)

This whole process has been a very interesting one for me on multiple levels.

You see, this happened because I changed doctors. I hadn't been to the doctor since before Little Foot was born, and I was beginning to get all agitated about it (as my family was very good about the preventative medicine things, so there's a certain amount of 'but I haven't had my appointment' deep-seated in my psyche).

And we did a little interview thing as my first appointment, rather than the checkup, and he asked me about my health concerns. And one of the things I said was "I want you to run my thyroid numbers. I was treated for hypothyroidism as a teenager, and I like to monitor my condition."

So, in among the other blood tests he ordered, he ran the thyroid numbers.

Not only did he run the standard three thyroid numbers, he ran the antibodies numbers, and bam. There it was.

But the great thing was that before he mentioned the antibodies, he said, "I don't like your TSH number. It is too high."

My previous doctor - at the same practice - would, I felt grudgingly, run those numbers for me every year. And I would get numbers like that - one time, that TSH was notably higher, even - and she would say "It's within the lab parameters. You're fine." Somewhere along the line I learned that some regulatory agency's recommendations wanted to see lower numbers, so I mentioned that to her, and "It's within the lab parameters. You're fine."

Now, consider what Wikipedia says about Hashimoto's: "Given the relatively non-specific symptoms of initial hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis is often misdiagnosed as depression, cyclothymia, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and, less frequently, as ED or an anxiety disorder."

I've been in and out of treatment for depression with anxiety features for years. I have chronic fatigue issues (which are not entirely related to my Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, also treated by this shiny new doctor).

It also has relationships with celiac disorder - which runs in my family, and for which my brother has been in treatment (I have a mild gluten sensitivity). And cardiac stuff - and just around when I went to the new doctor, I was having intermittent tachycardia / heart flutters, which have magically completely cleared up now that I'm on a minimal dose of levo.

It is nice, for a change, to have a respectable invisible disability condition. There isn't a blood test for depression to prove that there's a real problem involved. DSPS, well, you just have to go to bed earlier, kid, stop making excuses. PTSD? Drama queen. But no, I have magic numbers to prove that there is something that this is treating. It's oddly comforting, to be dealing with something that most everyone believes is actually real. There are actual antibodies. They actually do damage to the endocrine system. Science shows it!

Yeah, this is cynical of me. But at the same time as this I've been watching a friend deal with the sort of utter contempt that mental health stuff can bring out in others, and for all this culture's valorisation of the life of the mind and the desire to escape the body, we really do put a lot of stock in those little numbers, don't we?

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