A week ago today I started taking the synthetic hormone levothyroxine to treat my newly diagnosed, but not newly existing, hypothyroidism. At first, the medication was truly magical. A transformational experience.
For those not in the know, when you take this kind of synthetic hormone to help boost your thyroid function, it’s not just taking a pill and all is well. There’s a certain level of commitment that comes with it. You have to have an empty stomach. No food for at least 3 hours before taking the pill. And no food for at least an hour afterward. Stomach problems? Make sure you don’t take any antacids for at least four hours after you take your levothyroxine. You’ve actually got to put some effort in to even taking this pill.
But as I found out that first week it’s worth it. Let me take you on a little guided tour of a typical day for me this past week.
3:30am – Wake up, check my watch. Realize it’s too early to take my pill if I want to make it through the whole day. Go pee because a full bladder is what woke me in the first place. Go back to sleep.
4:30am – Wake up and realize that I can now take the pill which has been on my mind for the past hour as I fade in and out of sleep. Take the pill. Drink a lot of water because the pill bottle says so. Go back to sleep. Soundly. Have some trippy dreams that seem like sleep halucinations.
6-7:30am depending on the day’s schedule- WAKE UP WITHOUT AN ALARM?!?!? Stretch. Yawn. Sit upright in bed and smile because you know what… I feel like getting up today. Make the bed, get dressed, feed the cat, have a kitchen dance party to something poppy while I unload the dishwasher, and make my oatmeal.
6:30-8am depending on the day’s schedule: Dive into work. Or start reading. Or head to the beach with my friends. Do things. All of them. And with great focus and energy. Rejoice and feel literally like a different person.
12:30-2pm – Even though I’m not terribly hungry I realize I should eat lunch. Make something tasty, sit down, and eat. Revel in how much I’ve gotten done before lunch because it really seems like a miracle.
But something else happens in that 12:30-2pm window each day. The crash. I go from having this amazing, even, smooth, sustainable feeling of energy with no anxiety and not a hint of depression. I feel like I can conquer the world. And on a couple of those days I think I did. It was like easily packing 12 hours of productivity into 6 hours but then…
Suddenly I hit this brick wall that only an hour before was an easy path through the day. I am exhausted. I am unmotivated. I am unable to think straight let alone focus on anything I need to do. And I feel like I need to rest up between answering emails or slack pings. I don’t know anything. I’m back to that feeling of being too tired to do anything.
This morning the crash came early. And by early I mean… if I didn’t KNOW that I had taken that pill this morning I would swear that I did not. As a matter of fact… seriously I’m going to go double-check… Just a sec…
Yep. I definitely took it. But this morning I made myself get out of bed just like a have done thousands of times before. With no energy. I made the bed but it didn’t bring me joy. I fed that cat but I just wanted him to shut up and stop meowing. I made oatmeal and unloaded the dishwasher but there was no kitchen dance party. I didn’t even have the energy to put the music on.
And to be clear, this is the future. All I have to do is ask out loud for a song to play and it does. But I didn’t have the energy to decide what I’d even want to hear in the first place.
I did all the morning things, though admittedly out of order. And then I signed in to work and poked at a few things here and there before realizing that I was…
Wow. Well, I was about to fall asleep in front of my computer. Energy level: -3. went to lie down and promptly fell asleep. HARD asleep. Drool and pillowcase wrinkles pressed into the side of my face. I woke up after about an hour and made myself jump back into the day. Some work email. Opened some posts I need to catch up on, but I haven’t had the energy to read them yet. I wouldn’t retain the information if I did.
I think this falls into the category of things the doctor said might happen. She said 10 days, it’s been seven. But you know, I’m an overachiever. It is what it is. And I guess what it is is a journey. And despite my previous assertion that the levothyroxine is ground up unicorn horn pressed into a tablet shape, it seems it might actually be medical science.
I’m reminding myself of the big lesson I’ve learned this week. All these years I’ve thought I was weak and lazy because I have no energy to do anything ever, I was actually a badass. Because most of the time I didn’t let the exhaustion get me down. I pushed forward and did my best. And sometimes my best was pretty damn good, even feeling like I was moving through the air feeling like it had the density of pudding.
So I’m trying the day again. I’m waiting to hear back from my doctor. Fortifying myself with breakfast tacos. And getting a little bit of work done despite the need to just lay here and stare at the wall.
But I’m doing all that from the couch…