This weight gain all occurred in a time span of approximately two months. I finally had to admit that a gain of more than 20 pounds in 8 weeks' time seemed a little strange. I made an appointment with the doctor.
After many, many tests the doctor finally decided that he needed to do an exam on my thyroid. Looking back, I'm not quite sure why he didn't start there. Perhaps my recent issues with my reproductive system were throwing him off, too. However, on my mom's side my grandmother, mother, and aunts have hypothyroidism, and on my dad's side there are several family members with the disorder as well. It seems pretty apparent to me that a thyroid test should have been ordered early on.
Sure enough, I was found to have hypothyroidism and was put on medication that I will take for the rest of my life. In a lot of ways having a thyroid disorder is no big deal. It seemed pretty normal to me, having grown up around all sorts of people who took thyroid medication and lived perfectly normal lives. On the other hand, it is amazing how much of our body's functions are regulated by the thyroid gland.
This was the first time ever that I was ashamed of my body and embarrassed. My husband at the time, Brian, told me on more than one occasion that he was no longer attracted to me. I was fat, therefore ugly, and I was just going to turn out to be a lazy bum like his mother. Thanks, dude! I started wearing my shirts untucked and trying to hide from the world.
I can honestly say this medical problem was a turning point for me. I gave up in a lot of ways. Through the car accidents, through the endometriosis, through the surgery for ovarian cysts, I stayed positive and happy. The diagnosis of a thyroid disorder, and the negative attention I got from my husband at the time due to the physical consequences, was the straw that broke the camel's back. As far as I was concerned I was going to be fat for life and that was all there was to it. I had been handed my life-time sentence, and there was no use trying to keep up a good image anymore.
The truth is, I never had to try to be thin before my thyroid gland became in issue. I was naturally thin, and my eating habits seemed to regulate themselves. I recently found out my parents were at one point worried I could be anorexic. I think that is ironic, considering my memories have always been for a love of food. I just didn't have time to eat. I was constantly busy doing this thing or that as a teenager.
With that being said, not all of the weight gain was due to the thyroid problems. As a young adult living in an apartment I couldn't afford, I simply didn't know what to do with myself. My husband didn't like to do the things I was used to doing, such as throwing a ball around, riding bikes, and exploring walking paths nearby. My active, carefree, lifestyle changed to one of sitting around watching movies and occasionally going out to the Moose Lodge with one or both of our sets of parents. In my mind, that's what growing up was all about. It was time to stop playing around and be mature.
If I can pass one piece of advice along to my daughters regarding health and growing up, it would be that maturing doesn't mean giving up play. It simply means that one knows the appropriate time for horsing around and the right time for being serious. On your off time, go for it! Never stop swimming like a fish, riding bikes down hills, and jumping on trampolines until your legs feel like jello. These aren't activities reserved for adults. They are the parts of life that make life enjoyable and keep your body young.
So, while my thyroid gland has decided over the years to work less and less efficiently and my dose has consistently increased, I have recently learned that I can counteract those effects. I have to work harder than a person without a thyroid disorder, but it can be done. I will never loose weight as fast as I would like, but it can be done. The changes of gaining weight back are higher, but I can take steps to make sure that doesn't happen. How? I have to work harder than the average person. I have to increase the intensity of my workouts, I have to increase the number of workouts, and I have to eat a lot less than I would if I didn't have a thyroid disorder. But, it can be done.