With January being Thyroid Awareness Month, I thought this would be a perfect time to share some tidbits on how this has been a huge issue for me personally.
I’ve touched on my struggles before in living with long-standing hypothyroidism, which basically means my thyroid gland isn’t producing enough of the hormone needed to properly control my metabolism. I’m not alone on this front, as experts report that roughly 59 million Americans have a thyroid problem and a majority don’t even know it (kind of like that whole pre-diabetes problem). Those of us in the Diabetes Community are more prone to thyroid issues (those with autoimmunity probs and overall metabolic issues). Women are more prone than men, but that doesn’t exclude guys like me.
In fact, I spent most of 2014 working to improve my overall health, and taking better care of my thyroid was a big part of that effort.
At the start of last year, I just wasn’t feeling good and healthy; it wasn’t one specific thing, but a whole host of issues ranging from blood sugar swings, to fatigue and poor sleep schedules, eating and exercise habits, and just how much positive versus negative energy was swirling around in my world.
Starting to see a new endo was the first move, a gentleman I refer to as “Dr. Healthy Bug” for anonymity here. During an intro meeting for him to assess all my health parameters, we started piecing together a full picture of where I stood, and what needed to be done. It was an interesting process of elimination, making sure that one by one, each individual health issue I’m dealing with wasn’t specifically to blame for my overall feeling of crumminess.
Now, to be perfectly honest: my thyroid’s been an issue for me going back to my teen years, so for roughly 20 years now. And I know that when it’s off, it can make a person feel cranky, tired all the time, less focused, and blood sugars can be skewed (not to mention other endocrine functions not being at 100%). I’ll admit I hadn’t been taking my thyroid meds on a regular basis for months, and we didn’t even have a valid lab test to use as a starting point. I’m not sure why this is, but after 30+ years of type 1 diabetes, burnout comes in all sorts of forms — not least of which is sometimes getting lazy about making any efforts for my health beyond the essential 24/7 tasks of testing glucose and dosing insulin.
Needless to say, Dr. Bug ordered a test of my thyroid level right after the intro appointment. But it would take another eight weeks of regular medication use in my body before showing any change. Ugh, lots of work to do, and I’d have to be patient.
The good news is that this gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get my daily thyroid pill routine to become a priority again. I take a generic version of Synthroid, which is pretty much considered the first-line defense treatment. Eventually, we figured out I needed a bit higher dose, and so by mid-year we made that adjustment and I saw things start balancing out — that, in combination with being more attentive to what I was eating, where my glucose levels stood, and trying to get on a more normal sleep schedule. It’s all pretty basic “get your act together with your diabetes health” kind of stuff — but boy, did I need some support getting back on track.
The second half of the year was better, in that I had an improved sense of well-being, and that Dr. Bug and I now had an overall picture of what was going on with me; we’ve been tweaking the carb ratio, correction, and basal rate settings on my pump and generally fine-tuning things ever since.
Now, a full year later, I feel much more rested and balanced and I am sure that my managing thyroid levels is a big part of that!
The start of a new year is always a time of refreshing resolutions and getting our health back in order, and I’m glad to actually be (for once) reaping the benefits of last year’s resolution! Balanced thyroid = a happier, healthier me.
How about you — have you had successes in dealing with thyroid issues in terms of your diabetes? What have you experienced?
A Few Notes on the Thyroid, FYI
What Does It Do Again?
“The thyroid is a little butterfly-shaped gland that lives in the middle of your neck, and it’s part of the body’s endocrine system, where diabetes also dwells. This system controls your body’s metabolism. One of the thyroid’s primary responsibilities is to manage your metabolism by producing two thyroid hormones: T3 and T4. An overactive thyroid can cause weight loss, a quick heartbeat, and other signs that your body is “on the go” a little too much. The opposite, an underactive thyroid, leaves people feeling sluggish, and causes weight gain and slow heartbeat. Essentially, your body’s normal equilibrium slows down.”
For more info on thyroid disorders, treatments and diabetes, see our “411 Info on Diabetes + Thyroid Disease.”
Earlier this week, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) announced the kickoff of a new year-long campaign with an appropriately-named site, Thyroid Awareness. It offers learning materials on various thyroid conditions, instructions on how to check your neck gland, medication info, a 60-second video PSA, 10 Questions to Ask about Thyroid Health, and info about their Same/Same/Same initiative emphasizing the value of taking your thyroid meds at the same time every single day. I found this handy, keeping in mind my newfound efforts to take my meds properly and consistently.
This AACE campaign supposedly builds on the awareness efforts they launched a few years ago, then declaring blue paisley as the official awareness theme color/pattern for thyroid conditions. No kidding… they hadhigh hopes for recreating the pink ribbon effect. But it obviously didn’t take off, as the paisley ribbon is now nowhere to be seen at the new awareness site or on the American Thyooid Association site or any others that we could find (?)
Also, it seems the 15th International Thyroid Congress (hosted by the American Thyroid Association) is taking place on Oct. 18-23, 2015, at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. Just in case any of you had a professional interest in this topic (or love of Mickey Mouse). See www.thyroid.org.