Thyroid disease

The problem with once being a doctor a now being a stay-at-home mom is this.  I know what to worry about and I now have the time to worry.  Yes, I am still busy but it is amazing how easy it is to tune out car-pool chatter and tune in hypochondriasis.  On any given day, I vacillate between feeling great and being certain I have less than a year to live.  It is exhausting.  On a nice sunny day, one of my favorite things to blame is the thyroid.  It is small, palpable, can cause any number of minor symptoms and many of them are easy to treat.  These are my optimistic days.  I am exhausted and can’t lose weight.  Must by hypothyroidism.  I am frenetic and my skin is dry.  Must be hyperthyroidism.  Of course, the real culprits are too much caffeine, too little water and not enough time on the treadmill.  For even a brief time, it’s more fun to blame something I can’t control and something that can’t talk back.

What is the thyroid?

1.  The thyroid is a gland that is part of the endocrine system.  The endocrine system basically consists of all the hormones and the hormone-producing parts.

2.  The thyroid is the largest of the endocrine glands.  It has two lobes, resembling the shape of a butterfly and sits in your anterior neck, in front of your trachea.  If your doctor ever touches your neck and tells you to swallow, this is what he or she is feeling.

3.  The thyroid takes iodine from your diet and turns it into thyroid hormones.  These are released into your bloodstream and brought to all the cells in the body.

4.  The thyroid is critical for maintaining the body’s delicate hormonal balance.  As any woman over the age of 14 knows, a slight hormonal imbalance can ruin the your day and the day of anyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with you.

5.  An under-active thyroid results in hypothyroidism and an overactive thyroid results in hyperthyroidism.  More on these tomorrow.

The problem with this topic is, even as I write it, I am wondering if I should run out and have my thyroid checked.   There have been many times I have hoped for an abnormal result so I would have an excuse for my behavior.  If you don’t already know the symptoms of an abnormal thyroid, read on tomorrow.  You too will be wondering where you fall on the TSH spectrum.  I may take the summer off and work on an over-the-counter thyroid test, something like a pregnancy test.  You pee on a stick and find out if you have a disease or are just really bored.  I will make a fortune and retire early.  Retire from what, I am not really sure.

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