A cloud followed me everywhere. Its shadow enveloped me in its murky darkness; numbing out my senses, fogging my brain, ultimately drenching my life with woe and misery. Or so it seemed. For it was not my environment or my relationships which were responsible for the strain. It was my physical predicament. Over a period of a few months, I aged multiple years. It was hard to breathe while lying down, I had to prop myself up on pillows to allow for a smooth flow of oxygen to my lungs.

After furiously searching for the root of my ailment on the internet, I self-diagnosed it as ‘sleep apnea’. The cramps at night were written off to lack of calcium and ‘restless leg syndrome’. The growing lump at the base of my throat was what worried me. Was it throat cancer or was it just some kind of deformity which had gone unnoticed before? All these qualms niggled my mind relentlessly, but I did not visit a doctor.

Clothes started getting tighter, my face looked puffy in pictures, the sparkle had gone in my eyes and in my spirit. My self-confidence and sense of self-worth were also getting snuffed out. Yet, for inexplicable reasons, I did not visit a doctor. To this day, I cannot justify this to myself and less to anyone else. The internet remained the source of remedy to all my ailments and I trudged on.

Getting up in the morning was a Herculean task; bathing the children, feeding them, keeping up with their daily activities burned me out. By nightfall, I was a zombie. My husband would look forward to movie nights at weekends. The better part of my intelligence was put to work in figuring out ways to stay awake, to keep the drooping eyelids propped open, or to merely find a position in which I would not be noticed dozing off. I had not experienced this kind of lethargy in my entire life, and I was lost.

Until one day I finally mentioned the symptoms to a friend who encouraged me to go for a general checkup. The doctor took a mere three seconds to diagnose me: hypothyroidism. The tests showed an almost completely inactive thyroid gland. The doctor was surprised that my organs had not started shutting down. Thus began my journey to gain my spirit, my life, my relationships back.

I can taste the highs of life again; yet there are still those lows when I have to siphon every scrap of energy to function normally, but yes I have learned to cope, and to accept that I have to listen to my body and adapt my lifestyle accordingly. I was in fact lucky to be diagnosed before any permanent damage happened. One needs to stay very closely tuned to one’s health and body; a lesson I learned for life. 

BTF comment

As Saira's experience sadly highlights, symptoms of thyroid disease can often be missed or confused with other conditions. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described in this article, please visit your GP and ask whether they will consider performing a blood test to assess your thyroid function.

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