So now Oprah has been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism.
Here’s the Wikipedia page for hypothyroidism.
I feel bad for her, I really do. I know what this condition does to a person, and I know how it feels to have it go undiagnosed. Depression, fatigue, a sense of impending mental break-down or dissipation. I remember with horror the inability to focus thoughts, inability to discipline oneself.
I understand how much willpower it takes to drag your body out of bed and meet the demands of the day, force yourself against the screaming drag of your own body to force yourself to exercise…only to gain weight.
No amount of make-up can hide the bad skin, no amount of careful self-maintenance can get rid of the blue bags under the eyes, the dullness of the hair.
“You look tired” gets to be like a mantra chanted by everyone you meet. Sometimes with sympathy or concern, more often with a bit of the gloat behind it. What they really mean is “You’ve really let yourself go”.
Going to the doctor to find out what’s wrong, you’re told the only prescription you need is more self-discipline and will-power.
Even the Oprah show, which made its name singing the praise of persevering in the face of insurmountable problems manages to slap you in the face, when Dr. Phil says “You’re not fat because of your thyroid. That’s just an excuse.”
I actually went to the website and left a comment. I said it was irresponsible for Dr. Phil to say something like that. I went back later to see if there had been any response to my comment, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I assumed it had been deleted.
I had gone for years with an undiagnosed thyroid problem because of just such a response from a Doctor, who refused to administer a simple blood test, despite the fact that I have a family history of low thyroid, and all the symptoms. And I DO mean all of them. The CNP who eventually ran the test said that I was in s life-threatening situation, and not just because of the suicidal thoughts.
But this doctor just gave me the smug look, and the condescending encouragement to do more push-ups…push up from the table. He actually SAID that.
Normally, I would have stormed out of his office and went to find a doctor who would run the test. Unfortunately, depression and fatigue caused me to simply shut down in shame and never mention it again…until my friend Sue kicked my ass and told me that she didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I’d better figure it out soon, because she didn’t like who I had become, and she wanted her friend back.
I’m sorry for Oprah that she has to go through this. But I’m glad that finally, she might address this really important subject, and empower women with knowledge and encouragement to speak up for themselves and demand to be tested if they suspect they have a thyroid problem.
Thyroid disorders require constant maintenance. I recently went in for my annual test, and found that I might have to have my dosage upped again. Not a big surprise. I’ve gained weight, and I’m tired and cranky when normally I would be chipper and happy. I’ve been unable to focus at my usual level in normal times, and become downright useless in times of stress. Things that were once easy, have become difficult. I’m confused, forgetful, and sad.
But I’m going to get a second test done, and it’s likely that a simple dosage adjustment will fix the problem. It’s such a simple solution. All you need is the knowledge of what your condition is, and the support of knowledgeable people to help you treat it appropriately.