The replacement hormone you’re given (thyroxine) helps up to a point. But I certainly wouldn’t say I was back to ‘normal’ – not for me, anyway.
After several years of living with this condition, I’ve realised that my body does not appreciate being ‘pushed’. I seem to have a certain amount of energy but if I go beyond these limits my body will slow down again, the symptoms return, and something has to give – and it takes a long period of rest to recover.
And when I say ‘being pushed’, I mean that quite broadly. It’s things like:
The only advantage I can see of being hypothyroid is that you rarely get stressed – you just don’t have the energy. But occasionally factors beyond your control force you into that position, for example sudden, tight deadlines at work forcing me to work more intensely and for longer hours.
Closely linked to this is:
2) Lack of sleep
Poor sleep seems to be part of the deal with thyroid conditions. And if you’re stressed it’s obviously more difficult to wind down. A few nights of poor sleep and my body struggles. So I’ve changed my routine to avoid exercise in the evenings, and I try to eat early and go to bed early at the same time each day.
The trouble is, that means I have to think twice before going out in the evenings, which can make for a dull life!
3) Intensive exercise
I used to do aerobic-style exercise regularly. In fact, I’d always try and exercise my way out of illness and push myself back to health. A year ago I decided to stop trying to go back to my previous exercise regime, and I felt better within weeks.
It seems that exercise intolerance is a common complaint with hypothyroidism. Gentle exercise definitely helps, but if I go beyond 60-70% of maximum heart rate I will pay for it. Try telling that to a fitness professional – they are constantly telling you to ‘push yourself’ beyond your comfort zone in order to get fitter!
So I stick to walking and aqua-based exercise, which seems to put less stress on the body. And I’ve started yoga and stretching classes to help with relaxation and muscle ache.
Of course, after figuring out myself what I needed to do, I then went online and found lots of other people extolling the same things ie:
- Eat healthily
- Get lots of sleep and stick to a routine
- Avoid stress
- Avoid intense exercise and try yoga
If only the doctor had told me this in the first place, instead of just giving me the pills and saying “you should feel fine now”. I might have started to feel better much sooner!