I heard the diganosis "Hashimoto's Thyroidits", or "The H" as I call it about 10 months ago. I was feeling the effects of the hypothyroidism again that was diagnosed around the time I became pregnant for the first time. I asked my GYN at a routine check-up for medications and she sent me to see an endokrinologist for the first time in my life.
as a small child I remember having issues with my thyroid gland. At
this point, it was enlarged - in hindsight probably the early stages of
Hashimoto's, when the antibodies start attacking the thyroid gland and
it reacts with inflammation and swelling. Since I am from Bavaria, where
a nutritional lack of iodine traditionally causes goiters, I was put on
an iodine supplement and the family doctor continiued to check the
enlargement, until it was gone by the time I was a young teenager. Now, I
know that the iodine supplement was probably the worst they could have
done supporting the progress of Hashimoto's.
From then on, nothing
obvious happened for a long time. I had phases of extreme fatigue and
suffered from sometimes serious mental depression, for which at some
time I took medications, but no-one thought about the thyroid glands.
I was 23 and tried to get pregnant, I mentioned the thyroid issues in
the past, which run in our family, for the first time to a doctor. I had
come to see him mainly for my continuous fatigue, depression, and what I
feared the inability to conceive. He sent me away with a prescription
for Zoloft and a follow-up visit in two weeks. At home, I researched the
effects of the medication, which was, among others, increased risk for
early miscarriages, stillbirths, low birth weight and disabilities in
the baby. At this point I refused to take the medication and went back
to my scheduled appointment with my CPC at the Army hospital. He became
quite mad at me, but still I could convince him to order a blood test to
check my thyroid levels, if only to proof to me that I was a complete
nut-case. Unexpected for him, the levels came back low; and for a reason
I still don't know, he ordered a test that is usually given for
hyper-thyroidism and would have left me unable to become pregnant for at
least 6 more months. I was devastated, but unable to receive help from
anywhere else. I was about to schedule the appointment when I
surprisingly had a positive pregnancy test. The beta test at the
hospital was positive too, and they also checked my thyroid levels
again. A couple of days later I received a call at work to come to the
hospital immediately. I was scared as I had no idea what was wrong.
Obviously, the thyroid levels were dangerously low and I was put on 150
units of syntheroid immediately. The doctor I saw this day told me that
he couldn't explain how I could have gotten pregnant with these levels
to begin with and didn't give me much hope for a healthy pregnancy
and/or child. Still, we welcomed a healthy baby girl 8 months later.
took my medication until my husband left the Army. I was feeling well
for about a year when the fatigue and depression returned. I had an
appointment with the GYN and she ordered blood tests and put me back on
medication, 50 units this time. This was again around the time I became
pregnant the second time. This time, I also had a healthy pregnancy and
Again, we moved and I got off the medication. And once
again, during a well-woman check-up I asked my GYN (this time in
Germany)for a blood test and medication. She looked at me funny and
wrote a referral to the endokrinologist. There, I also asked for a blood
test and medication, telling the doctor about my experiences in the US.
She couldn't believe it! She asked me a whole list of questions, mainly
regarding my medical history and prformed an ultra-sound. That's when I
first heard the diagnosis Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. At this point, my
anti-bodies had widdled down on my thyroid glands which are about half
the size of normal ones and black on the ultrasound, which means the
tissue is very dense. She put me back on medication after a blood test,
50 units again.
For the past 10 months I've been doing well. I will have to go back once a year for an ultra-sound to check for tumors. Ten months ago, I was luckily tumor-free. Once I have
tumors, the thyroid gland will have to be removed to prevent thyroid
It is sometime scary to think that I live with a ticking time
bomb in my body. The medication will have to be adjusted should we try
to conceive another baby and again during pregnancy, which makes me feel
dependent. Physically, I feel well. Most of the time I am fit; mostly
physical depressions, however, return periodically.
Once I've received the diagnosis, I have read a lot
about the disease and accounts by other "Hashis". I consider myself
lucky that the symptoms are mild and I respond well to the medication.
But still, the knowledge of what might be ahead remains, and I will have
to live with it for the rest of my life.