Diagnosis Story: Part 1 Early Symptoms

Welcome

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. I see some new people, pull up a seat. At the Thyroidcafe, we build thyroid awareness, knowledge and community. So I will start by sharing my story. I will post my diagnosis story over the next two blogs and would love to hear yours. You can do so by commenting below or search “Thyroidcafe” on most social media platforms. Let’s share our stories to build community at the Thyroidcafe.

A baby without a backstory

My story starts without one. Adopted in 1987, my medical history was for government eyes only. Without a family history, my early symptoms seemed unlinked. My family traveled a lot and one summer we went to California. As I sat in my aunts’ 90s minivan, I read the outside temperature, 100 degrees. I asked for a sweater. Because of my defunct temperature guage, my family affectionately called me “the hothouse plant.” At one point, there was an unusual bump on the front of my neck. But generally, I was a happy, healthy child.

The Middle Years

In my teenage years, my symptoms became more obvious, but remained undiagnosed. Dry skin formed on my face and I struggled with my mental health, but many teenagers have these problems. One distinct symptom was the pain in my knees. I would rub them and take pain relievers to cope. Eventually I saw a physiotherapist. When she initially bandaged my knees, they felt better. With the promise of braces, I thought the problem was solved. However, when taking the bandages off, I was left with red welts and swelling from the adhesive. I decided not to go back. Eventually, my pain subsided, so I no longer pursued the matter.  Later I found out she had a reputation for her malpractice and they offered compensation. Music also marked my middle years, with joy. Choir was a bi-weekly event. Because of this, I noticed a change in my voice. I moved from soprano (high pitched) to alto, (low pitched). These changes were seen as normal or part of my quirky personality. I knew I was different; I just didn’t know I was sick.

As a Young Adult

After graduating high-school, things settled down for a time. I traveled, hiked and made a fated plan, move to Mexico. Then a boy interrupted, as they do. He and I moved to a new town. Upon pursuing a job, I couldn’t even muster the energy to write a resume. Fatigue crippled me into unemployment. When I got a job, I could not keep it because of my impaired short-term memory. I would stand, adding up change at the till. Losing track, I would start over, repeatedly. My short term memory was fading.  When I would come home to our apartment, the brown couch was my comfort and cage. My stomach ached due to constipation. So much so, I pulled my body to Emergency one morning. There the doctor X-rayed me and asked to follow up. Upon doing so, she questioned my digestion but investigated no further. This was the second of many times I fell through the healthcare cracks. In fairness, depression and social conditioning crippled my ability to accurately describe my symptoms. (See this link about being your own healthcare advocate https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/hypothyroidism/talk-to-doctor-about-medication/) Months passed, and as my plans to move to Mexico came closer, my health improved. Moving back to my dad’s house, I broke up with the boy and looked forward to Mexico. My ambitions were taking shape, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Conclusion

While the symptoms of my youth seemed random, I now see them as building. Like a ramp, they grew as I did. Soon, the zeal of my youth would disappear; no, rather changed into a fight for my health and my safety.  In the next blog I will share how “it”, the climax of my symptoms, happened, the dangerous journey home, and a deceptive diagnosis.

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