The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Cautionary Tale

by Melissa Bell

I'm not happy.

I just found this out yesterday morning. Because it turns out I've been unhappy for so long I've just accepted it as "normal", and that when I start to get happy again, my life will change.

Allow me to explain.

When I took my Mom to our family doctor for a recommended B12 shot, I thought hey, while I'm here, maybe I should get a shot as well, given my recent foray into veganism. And how could it hurt anyway? Our dear Dr. G. thought it might be a good idea to get some blood work done before he started handing out injectibles, all willy-nilly. I reluctantly agreed. I've been living such a healthy lifestyle lately. Actually to the point of downright boring.

And then my tests came back indicating an under-active thyroid. Like dangerously under-active. As in "Melissa, if you'd gone another year without getting this checked out, you would be seriously ill."

Who knew? Not me.

The list of symptoms for hypothyroidism is extensive and varied. Even the most common symptoms, however, one could always attribute to something else – which is what I did. Here's a sample:
- Fatigue (heck, I write – I stay up late a lot trying to get things done; who wouldn't be tired?)
- Depression (I read the news like everyone else does – aren't we all depressed?)
- Dry skin (it's nearing winter; I'm a little flaky, so what?)
- Intolerance to cold (maybe a red flag if I lived in Jamaica - but I don't)
- Puffy, droopy eyes in the morning (I'm XX years old and I'm tired from late-night writing binges – isn't that just the way it goes?)

The list goes on. So it turns out I've probably been hypothyroid for some time. Here's how my experimental diet of a vegan nature put me seriously a risk:

Turns out there are certain foods that are reputed to be "goitrogens". That is to say that they can suppress the thyroid's activity. And these foods are the ones that also tend to be labeled as incredibly healthy so there's no reason to not consume them freely: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, kale, flaxseed, tofu, spinach – and others, but that's enough for now. Now before I go any further on this and because I don't want the CWC to get any legal letters for handing out unsolicited medical advice, all of the above is just information that I've managed to piece together for myself over the past day or so. Do your own research. All I'm saying is that there I was, thinking I was eating right and helping my body out, and what I was doing was possibly and innocently causing it further damage. I had no idea I had a pre-existing medical condition that by upping my intake of those reputably ultra-nutritious foods was hurting me severely rather than helping.

I asked my doctor if there was anything I could have done to prevent my condition. He said no, absolutely not. It just happens. You either get it, or you don't. I got it.

And so I'm not happy. Apparently. The slide into hypothyroid depression/unhappiness has been so gradual that, according to my doctor, after a month of taking the prescribed medication, I will be feeling so much better that he will become my second best friend in the world.

So looks like I've got myself involved in another interesting experiment I'm looking forward to. Because, my friends, while I might not have been the cheeriest bloke at the bar of late, I've just been chalking it all up to external circumstances. I can't wait to see what happens next. Like being surprised by something suddenly showing up when you never realized it had gone missing in the first place.

Hmm. I'll keep y'all posted, you know that.

Happy Thanksgiving to our south-of-the-border readers. Hope you're all feeling fat and funky on this fine Friday – enjoy your long weekend!


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

That's terrible, Mel. So glad you found out about it before it got out of hand. So, did you leave the doctor's office with a new diet? I can see how you would have chalked up the symptoms to various other [natural]causes. Being happy again should help your comedy career.

Fri Nov 23, 02:08:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Anne said...

Hyper-t over here. I'm tempted to start spurting out advice, but perhaps that wouldn't be at all helpful. Good luck figuring out your dose.

Fri Nov 23, 07:50:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Thank goodness you accompanied your mom that day! Good luck with the medication and the new knowledge - and thanks for sharing it here.

Fri Nov 23, 01:42:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Glad you got it diagnosed!

Fri Nov 23, 04:57:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Chumplet said...

Hopefully you'll feel better soon, even if you didn't know you were feeling poorly.

When my dear hubby went on antianxiety medication, it was like a ray of sunshine. Almost immediate. I don't expect that for you, but I'm hoping.

Fri Nov 23, 07:52:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger T. Lee said...

Sorry to hear this, Mel. Hope you feel 'betterer' soon.

I'm surprised by how many people I know with thyroid issues. Be careful with your diet changes, though. I know several vegetarians who have a thyroid and they're doing fine. There's a lot of conflicting information out there.

Fri Nov 23, 08:09:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Yes, thanks for sharing, Mel. Get feeling better.

Fri Nov 23, 11:08:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

OMG! You're so sweet- will you be even sweeter when your thyroid's on track. Is the world ready? But seriously...glad you caught it. Does this mean you'll want to go out for steaks soon?

Sun Nov 25, 12:27:00 am GMT-5  

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